Ed Driscoll

Jet Carrying 150 Plunges into French Alps; No Survivors Presumed

“A jetliner operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings plunged from the sky and crashed Tuesday in a remote area of the Alps in southern France — and all 150 people aboard the Barcelona-to-Duesseldorf flight were believed dead,” the New York Post reports:

Flight 9525 took off from Barcelona at 9:55 a.m. local time and crashed roughly an hour later in a rugged region of snowpacked peaks and rough terrain, said French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet.

Photos show a scene of shocking devastation, with the jet’s fuselage smashed into smithereens and smoking debris scattered across a mountainside as rescuers search the area.

Gilbert Sauvan, of the local council, said the largest piece of debris was the size of a car.

“The plane is disintegrated,” he told Les Echos newspaper.

Christophe Castaner, the mayor of nearby Forcalquier, told France Info that “One of the black boxes has been found,” but the cause of the crash remained a mystery, as the pilots did not issue a distress call.

CNN will likely be switching into obsessive coverage over this story for the next several days; at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw asks, “Why are we so fascinated with plane crashes?”

We lose far more people to other travel related problems all of the time. Globally speaking, there are an average of 1.3 million people killed in automobile accidents each year, or nearly 3,300 per day. In the United States alone we average slightly more than one hundred car crash deaths every single day… two thirds as many as are presumed lost in this latest airline catastrophe. And yet we don’t feel that same type of fear when we get into our cars as we do when the engines ramp up on the tarmac and our plane begins to accelerate toward takeoff.

I think it’s just something hardwired into our biological circuitry. There’s something uniquely terrifying about hurtling through the air 35K feet above Mother Earth. It’s an unnatural condition, and one which we never manage to entirely ignore because we are landlocked creatures by nature. I still recall an only half joking comment my father made in the weeks before I left for Navy boot camp on this subject. He was an Army man and had little use for the other branches. When asked, he said that you could have a choice of riding in a Jeep, on a ship or in a plane. “If my Jeep breaks down,” he said, “I can get out and walk.”

That’s probably the root of it right there. We know in a logical sense that our car might be in a fatal accident. But we also know that if we survive the initial crash, there’s a fair chance that we might get out and walk or crawl away from the danger. When the plane goes into a dive from five miles up there are no such comforting thoughts in our minds.

Not to mention, after 9/11, our first thought is — what caused the crash? As for that, watch this space.