Blunt Force Trauma

I didn’t know Kobe, or anyone else who died on the helicopter. I don’t watch basketball as I don’t have television, although this year I have been following it on ESPN, what with all the changes and “super” teams and a new understanding that they aren’t just running around shooting the basketball at will. But somehow, I keep thinking about the accident, dwelling on the sad situation that caused these people to be catapulted out of this world and into the next, by blunt force trauma.

I find it weirdly comforting to think that the occupants of the helicopter had, at most, a scant few seconds to realize they were doomed, probably not even that given the impact speed in the vicinity of 150 mph. Compare that to La Mia Flight 2933, which carried the Brazilian Chapecoence football squad and their entourage; Germanwings Flight 9525, an airbus jetliner which was crashed by a suicidal pilot in the Alps; and the Convair CV-240 chartered by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Perhaps the word “merciful” is not completely appropriate given the multiple fatalities, but I would rather not have idle time before the impact to worry about my demise, given a choice.

I, like so many others, wonder at the pilot’s actions at the end of the flight that caused it to slam into the hill at 150 mph, to transition from an attempt to popup out of the clouds into a steep dive to the left of initial flight path. I wonder if we will ever really know the reasoning for the dive which ended so abruptly with the horrific loss of life.

Many years ago, I traveled from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Providence, Rhode Island on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The second leg of our flight, from Chicago, Illinois, was about four to six hours late, as I recall. I remember staring out the airplane window as we were descending. All I could see was fog, part of the wing, and the lights on the wing. We were descending for quite a while and the view never changed — fog, wing, lights. Suddenly, the landing gear came up, the lights went off, the flaps were retracted back into the wing, and we climbed out of the fog up into the night. When we landed at the airport 20 or 30 minutes later, the ground was visible for some time before we touched down. You could surmise that the fog had lifted, but that could be wrong. The first person off the plane that night was the pilot, and he went off the call the air traffic control and give them a piece of his mind. I know what you’re thinking, there weren’t cell phones.

Maybe the fog cleared, maybe it didn’t. Having grown up on the east coast, I suspect it didn’t.

Maybe we were on the correct landing path, maybe we weren’t.

Maybe I was almost a victim of Blunt Force Trauma, maybe I wasn’t.

But when I remembered, I said a silent prayer, thanking that pilot for having the guts to trust his instincts and get the hell out of that fog, to quit descending into the murk, if he even had a glimmer of an idea that maybe, just maybe, we were in the wrong place.

Am I living on “bonus” time? I’ll never know.

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