Sunday, December 13, 2009

Which profession produces the worst drivers? Well, guess what! It also produces the worst fliers. (Good thing authors weren’t included in the study!)

Just ran across this item on AOL News and it immediately took me back to my flying days. But before I elaborate, I shall first tell you the answer: Doctors.

This study was reported by Reilly Brennan, Editor in Chief and Programming Director for AOL Autos. An award-winning journalist, Brennan has written for Motor Trend, Automobile… Magazine, Winding Road, Monocle. He says: “Per year, every 1,000 doctors average 109 accidents and 44 speeding tickets, landing them at the top of the list. Are these sleep-deprived residents and interns too tired to stay on the road, or do they just enjoy playing God in traffic?”
But he also points out that “many of the professions on the list tend to get called into duty with some urgency.”

Now back to flying.

The Cessna 150 my instructor used for training was called “Patches” for good reason. The cowling was red, the pilot side door was yellow-striped, the rudder was blue with white stripes, and the rest of the plane was the original gray and white. It was, in short, the product of a series of cannibalized crashes. And the pieces did not always play well together. The door, for instance, didn’t quite fit and once flew opened just as I was banking over the red and white checked water tower. That was the downwind leg of the landing pattern and I couldn’t have been 20 feet above the thing.

Anyway, Patches’ condition, according to my instructor, was the direct result of the airfield’s proximity to UTMB (Univ. of Texas Medical Branch). Yes. All the crashes were caused by doctors. But why? Those guys are brilliant! To which my laconic, WWII-type teacher replied: “Oh, I dunno. Reckon they feel they’re above it all.” After which he slapped this thigh and cackled raucously over his pun.

That was long ago, of course. At this point in my life I’m grateful Mr. Brennan didn’t include authors in his study. We are probably the most dangerously abstracted people out there. We’re always rehashing or even sounding out bits of dialog, considering plot intricacies, etc. while we’re driving. Frankly, I’d rather be flying with a squadron of MDs than, say, Stephen King, Jean Auel, or Erma Bombeck…