Search the Site

Flying to Brazil

I am scheduled to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September for a lecture and then to Rio de Janeiro for a book festival. I have never been to Brazil before and, until this horrible plane crash in Sao Paulo the other day, I was very much looking forward to the trip.

Now I am not.

As someone who flies a lot, all I can think about is the families of the people who died, now having to face the fact that their moms and dads and friends and neighbors won’t be coming home again. Their grief will probably be magnified by the very public investigation of the crash.

I have seriously considered canceling my trip. Then I start to argue with myself.

The rationalist in me says:

1. The odds of a fatal plane crash are still extraordinarily low, though obviously less so in some places.

2. There has probably never been a safer time to fly to Brazil than after a fatal crash, since safety will now be a foremost consideration.

3. I am pretty sure that the troubled Sao Paulo airport where the crash just happened (Congohas) isn’t even the same airport I’ll be flying into (Sao Paulo International).

But then the human being in me says:

1. As the plane is getting ready to land in Sao Paulo, it will be impossible not to think of the recent crash, and it will be impossible not to keep my heart from racing, and thinking about my wife and kids, and who knows what else.

What would you do? How do you persuade yourself not to be frightened in a case like this? Or is being frightened a healthy response?