I've taken about 40 commercial air flights within the past year, including my last one yesterday to land at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Yesterday I also visited the memorial near Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, where Swissair flight SR111 went down just off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 229 occupants. It was moving.
So a major chill went through my entire body when I heard a radio report that an Air France flight with some 300 passengers aboard had crashed at Pearson today. I had been working at my computer looking out my window at the rain, dark clouds and lightning, while listening to heavy thunder farther in the distance, when the plane went down around 4 p.m. But the weather was no worse than most summer thunderstorms we get around here. I went downstairs to tune in to CNN to watch the non-stop coverage for two hours as more news leaked out about the crash. Eventually it was revealed that everyone aboard the plane survived, despite heavy damage and a huge fire that sent flames and smoke billowing on a runway I was close to yesterday and right beside a highway -- the busiest in Canada -- that I drive on frequently. A huge wave of relief swept over me and I returned to my computer.
I watched a plane fall from the sky and a pilot die at an air show when I was a child in Stratford. Shane Antaya, a guy I went to high-school with (I had a bit of a crush on his sister), was a Canadian Air Force pilot who died when his Snowbird plunged into Lake Ontario during the Canadian National Exhibition's air show in 1989. Despite these tragedies, I've never had a fear of flying, and I won't develop one now. But moments like these, and today's narrowly averted disaster, really make you think about things. I'm just so glad that everyone made it out alive this afternoon.