I have never enjoyed flying. Although I would stop short of saying that I have a fear of flying – after you have been in a small plane flown by your wife who has never flown one before, you tend to put trust in the capable hands of a professional pilot.

However, that is kind of the problem we are being reminded of by the media – you can’t.

The awful, tragic news of Germanwings flight 4U 9225 quickly moved it’s focus from the news of the incident itself to the apparent murder-suicide of the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz.

As a society, we need someone to blame and as part of this, the media will also create a moral-panic (Cohen 1972), causing the proletariat (that’s me & you), to want to find out more about a certain event or linked events.

A quick look at the bottom of an article on the BBC website will show you links such as;

Other links will take you to other similar incidents from history;

Other incidents thought to be caused by deliberate pilot action
  • 29 November 2013: A flight between Mozambique and Angola crashed in Namibia, killing 33 people. Initial investigation results suggested the accident was deliberately carried out by the captain shortly after the first officer (also known as the co-pilot) had left the flight deck.
  • 31 October 1999: An EgyptAir Boeing 767 went into a rapid descent 30 minutes after taking off from New York, killing 217 people. An investigation suggested that the crash was caused deliberately by the relief first officer but the evidence was not conclusive.
  • 19 December 1997: More than 100 people were killed when a Boeing 737 travelling from Indonesia to Singapore crashed. The pilot - suffering from "multiple work-related difficulties" - was suspected of switching off the flight recorders and intentionally putting the plane into a dive.

On a slight tangent…

Forgive the personal anecdote, but there’s a link here (I promise).

I was once on TV. Specifically the BBC breakfast news. Back in 2002, I was a sixth-former at Mount Grace School, Potters Bar.  A train had come off the rails at speed on a bridge and crashed into Potters Bar station, killing 7 people and injuring 76.

The next day, I was at the shops when a reporter and camera crew approached me and asked me if I would get on a train again. I said “I don’t know, maybe” (Groundbreaking I know).

Of course I have got on many trains since then and haven’t really given it a second though, but aside from actually being at the scene of the accident and watching the media coverage for hours afterwards, I felt genuinely scared and upset at the time and felt compelled to give the dramatic answer.

Perhaps I fell for the moral-panic?

As always, comments welcome below (But nothing about ‘Oh you live in Potters Bar, can I come round for tea? @1stBarnard).

One thought on “Flying & Moral Panics

  1. Shame about that plane crash. But they happen very infrequently. Considering how many planes have taken off and landed safely since then, it’s a very minuscule fraction of the whole.

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