We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle Series L-1011. Came off the line twenty months ago. Carries a Sim-5 transponder tracking system. And you’re telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?
– Richard Schiff as Toby Zigler in The West Wing
I think the man across the aisle from me wants our plane to crash. Just before takeoff, when the flight attendants were announcing the need to power down all electronic devices, I saw him select a playlist on his iPhone and slip the phone into his pocket.
A few hours into our flight and he’s still sitting across from me, still listening to his music…and we’re still in the air.
My phone is off, in my pocket.
It will stay there because I have been told that is where it should be.
Thirty minutes later, we’re still in the air, and guy-across-from-me is still listening to music on his phone.
It strikes me as counter to my nature that I don’t follow the evidence and have my phone out during the takeoff and touchdown.
I admit it seems highly unlikely that my phone, my Kindle or my iPod would take down this 757. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to have them on the plane in the first place.
But I don’t know.
And that’s the key.
I don’t understand the system. Aviation, engineering, electronics – all these are outside the areas of my expertise.
In this system, I have an amazing amount at stake. I am thoroughly invested and committed to its success.
Entire sub-systems and interactions are beyond my understanding. Thus, I keep my mouth shut. If I decided to study aeronautics, become familiar with everything involved in the process of moving a plane from one side of the country to another, then would I have a space to speak up.
When my life and the lives of others are on the line, it’s probably best not to disrupt a system I do not understand.