In the same way that Taken 2 makes me never want to include Liam Neeson in any of my European travel plans, Flight makes me never want to get into a plane. While I’m pretty sure the people behind Flight didn’t intend for it to be a PSA for road trips, it certainly ended up feeling that way to me. So thanks Denzel Washington for forcing me to think about the fact that on top of my pilot having to deal with bad weather, I know have to think about him nursing a hangover as he flies us through the friendly skies. Ugh.
Spoiler alert: he’s wearing sunglasses in that photo because he’s drunk! Not because it’s sunny and not because he wants to give people secret stink eyes,but because he’s wasted. So on that note let’s begin on this incredibly rational look into modern day flight.
First of all, let’s start with the obvious basic fact that planes are scary. While I can accept the science behind flight and I can accept the fact that millions of flights succeed in getting to their destinations every single year, I can’t help but pray for my life whenever we experience some mild turbulence. My mind can flash through so many crash scenarios in 30 seconds that I should probably just make a short film called “One Billion Ways You Can Die on a Plane — And One Million Ways You Can Use the Opportunity to Sneak into First Class.”
Now we move onto the second of all, the movie kicks off with a plane crash. It’s the kind of plane crash that can happen to anyone at anytime on any flight. One second you’re up in the air wondering how many times you can reread Skymall and the next second your captain’s like “everyone please take their seats. The plane’s falling apart as we speak and I have little to no control over anything happening right now.” That’s how fast everything escalates in this movie.
Luckily for passengers on the plane, Denzel Washington manages to land the plane safely. Turns out that he’s some kind of super pilot who can land a plane upside-down. Sure, let’s go with it. Except twist, he still gets in trouble with everyone for being drunk and high. Yep, drunk AND high. Suddenly, I’m not paying attention to the movie, but rather the fact that pilots could easily get drunk and high before flying a plane.
What’s stopping them? Sure you could say an ethical responsibility to keep all the passengers alive, but that’s not always enough to encourage people to make the right decisions. At least not 5-8% of people. Yep, I made the mistake of googling pilots and alcohol abuse and found some disturbing stats.
An article titled, “FAA Program Helps Pilots Address Alcohol Abuse Problems,” makes it clear that the FAA knows about alcohol abuse among pilots.
Although federal law says pilots may not consume alcoholic beverages fewer than eight hours before flying, the National Institute for Alcoholism Research has estimated that alcohol abuse and dependence affects approximately five to eight percent of all pilots. Without a program that allows pilots to get help for alcohol abuse and holds their positions until they can return to work, the condition would remain underground in all but the most obvious circumstances.
I guess it’s good that they’re addressing it, but WHAT?! In the same way I used to believe teachers lived in their classrooms, I also believed pilots spent their off time talking about their top 5 favorite take-off jokes and the 10 best times they got to say,”please fasten your seat belts.” I cannot believe this is something I now have to worry about.
Unless of course I do just quit planes altogether. I did experience the Oregon Trail enough in my early years to know how to travel via covered wagon (Conestoga if I wanted to splurge) and I’m much stronger now than I was then. And I think we all know that means I could carry as much buffalo as I want.
So that’s always an option if I want to avoid intoxicated pilots flying me around.