As midnight on December 31 began to work its way slowly across the globe, the news began to leak out hopefully – with only hours left in the year 2017, mankind was on the brink of history: for the first time ever, there were no recorded fatalities for the year from commercial airline travel anywhere in the world.
Obviously as anyone fearful of flying has been told millions of times, commercial flight has always been statistically the safest form of travel. And it’s not close. For two decades of my life I was petrified of stepping aboard an aircraft, and can’t count the number of times I was informed that I had a greater chance of dying in a car accident on the way to the airport than having my plane go down.
My response was always the same: that may be true, but it’s also true that I’ve got a lot better chance of surviving a fender bender on the interstate than I do slamming into a mountain traveling 500 mph. Thankfully having kids has made me a lot less scared of death (parenthood will teach you there are far more terrifying things than the end of your mortal existence, say like a six-hour marathon of the Bubble Guppies on TV), and so I fly regularly now.
And while most of us somewhat seasoned fliers were thrilled to hear the good news about the impeccable safety of commercial flight reaching another milestone, we weren’t overly surprised. Commercial aircraft are now so smart, so technologically advanced, so sophisticated, that they essentially fly themselves. A quick survey of the most recent and famous air disasters reveals that the common denominator in virtually every single one was human error.
But apparently we all were overlooking the greatest reason for this magnificent achievement in aviation history: the presidency of Donald Trump.
Since taking office I have been very strict on commercial aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!
Now, it’s unclear exactly what the President meant by being “very strict on commercial aviation.” Perhaps he meant that he has tightened regulations at the FAA. No, there’s no record of such action, and even if there were, such regulations would have no influence or authority over the millions of flights outside the United States, but maybe that’s just part of his genius that we aren’t meant to understand.
Of course this isn’t narcissism on the President’s part. Of course it’s not an indication of his almost comical obsession with being praised and respected. Of course it’s not a reflection on the state of our national character that we have elected in successive terms men who take credit for stopping the rise of the oceans and for keeping planes in the sky.
If you flew in 2017 and you’re alive today, stop thinking such things and just show some gratitude to the man who made it all possible. If you don’t, there’s nothing saying the Donald will continue being so benevolent.