There's something about being flung through the air in a metal box filled with other people's farts held up by a mere principle of physics that has a tendency to make people a little queasy. We're talking, of course, about flying.
It's one thing suffering the horrors of air travel once every so often to facilitate ruining seaside towns in the Med, but for the pilots and cabin crew the fear is just part of the job.
You would have your suspicions that earning a living based in the skies might result in a decreased feeling of shitting yourself when flying but, according to a thread on online forum Quora, the professional flyers are just as scared as the rest of us.
In fact, they were discussing the little things that their expert knowledge makes them notice when things aren't going as well as they could be.
"Sounds are always useful, but a passenger cabin is often pretty isolated from any sounds that might be indicative of a problem," said Tom Farrier, a retired pilot. "Smells on the other hand travel around quite freely, and some (e.g fuel, hydraulic fluid, superheated bleed air) are pretty distinctive.
"An unexpected, significant shift in the angle of the Sun can be your first sign that a course change is being made. Lots of chiming summoning the flight attendants to the intercom is another cue worth noting."
A fellow former captain, Jon Cheshire, added: "I count the number of seats between me and that exit. It only takes a quick glance. I do this so if ever necessary, I can in the dark, or underwater, or if there is smoke, or if upside down, I know beforehand where the exit is, and I can blindly count the number of seats by touch to reach that emergency exit row, because I have counted them. It's quick and easy to do, every time."
It isn't just pilots who notice problems, too. Brent Beacham worked on the trollies. As cabin crew for a major American airline that shall remain nameless he knows that we can prepare for landing before the captain advises.
"An alert, seasoned cabin crew flying into LAS (Las Vegas) in the summer, for example, will know to expect a bumpy ride, from hot air rising off the ground, on approach," he said.
"A pilot might or might not take this into consideration and might give a lower altitude prep time in the middle of the bumps. Again, a seasoned crew will know to wrap things up approximately 20 minutes out before the bumps start.
"So as a passenger if I saw the cabin crew preparing the cabin early and hear the landing announcement I would know to expect turbulence."
Helpful? Probably not. Maybe just use the departure lounge beers to ease the nerves.
Featured Image Credit: The Simpsons / Fox
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