Monday, March 11, 2019

A dark day for aviation

Fat Albert grows up
Toronto, ON
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I'm a bit of an avgeek, but only if you replace "bit of" with "psychotically over-the-top". I've loved airplanes since I was a child, often lying face-up on our lawn for hours on end so I could watch jets paint the blue sky white with their contrails.

Why? I don't know. Part of it might be the absolute magic of hundreds of thousands of pounds of exotic materials hauling themselves into the sky and flying clear across the planet in less time than it takes to assemble LEGO's latest Millennium Falcon special edition set.

More likely, it's the transformative nature of aviation technology. It connects us, and opens up opportunities to improve our lives that wouldn't otherwise be feasible.

The numbers also tell us it's incredibly safe.So safe that you're at much greater risk of an accident on the drive to or from the airport than you are in the air.

But still. News of a major accident always hits like a ton of bricks. And yesterday's loss of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 - a Boeing 737 MAX - just after takeoff from Addis Ababa hits especially hard, as 18 of the 157 souls on board were Canadian. As the victims' stories are slowly made public, the heartbreak becomes even more overwhelming than it already was.

It's the second hull loss involving Boeing's latest model in 5 months, and parallels to October's Lion Air crash are eerie. The shadow hanging over the world's top-selling single-aisle commercial jetliner reminds us that even miraculous technologies have their limitations, and the miracles we take for granted today were - and continue to be - built on the unintended sacrifices of too many innocents.

I shot this last year, as I was jazzed to see my first MAX in the metal, those split scimitar winglets standing out in all their efficient, artistic, engineering glory. If only it could have remained so pristine.

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