Flight 447 Tragedy

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Sadness

Sadness

The headline could have been the plot of a good book: “a plane lost in the Atlantic ocean“. Unfortunately, the reality was much much darker…

The news caught my eye on Monday morning. Maybe it is because we are travelers, maybe it is because we were going to fly from Rio de Janeiro to Paris a just few months ago (we eventually bused back to Buenos Aires), or maybe it is because it was an Air France flight. Who knows: some news just hit home.

The first press releases were quite mysterious. Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro had left Brazil at 19:00, local time. It was expected in Paris about eleven hours later and never made it. It suddenly disappeared off air traffic controllers’ radar screens at about 1,000 kilometers from the Brazilian coast. Early Monday morning, there was still some hope, mostly because planes have a kerosene reserve.

But a few hours later, the mood was low on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as it became clear the plane was not going to show up. Passengers nationalities were being released as officials set up a crisis team in the Parisian airport. There were 228 people on board, and none expected to be found.

I went to work and I couldn’t get the tragedy out of my head.

First, the families. Given the unexpected nature of the disaster, the plane was first announced as “delayed”. Eventually, families, relatives and friends were told the truth. Can you imagine the nightmare of waiting for your loved ones at the airport and finding out they would never be arriving? The sudden shock and the lives that were changed forever, in a single second? I can’t. The thought of it send shivers down my spine.

The look on people’s faces at Roissy was one of disbelief, helplessness and incomprehension. What happened? Nobody knew for sure, which made the news even more disturbing. A lost plane? When we think of plane crashes, we think of landing or take-off crashes, and those are usually, well, on land. Images of these accidents are shocking but there are real, here, right before our eyes. But what happened above the Atlantic Ocean will remain somewhat mysterious and unreal.

And I was thinking of the passengers too. Hopefully, hopefully, whatever happened happened fast. But deep down, when the news first came out, I thought of a horror flick I had seen a few years ago, Open Water. In the movie, a couple of scuba divers are left behind stranded at sea because the tour operator forgets them. They try to survive in the shark-infested waters, dehydrated and scared.

And even if there was very little hope for the plane passengers, I kept on thinking of that movie. What if the plane crashed in the sea and potential survivors were stranded in the Atlantic Ocean? I prayed the rescues would located the wreckage quick enough.

The following day, parts of flight 447’s wreckage were found 650 km northeast of Fernando de Noronha Island. These debris confirmed the worst hypothesis: there were no survivors and the place had indeed crashed into the ocean.

The cause of the crash remain unknown. Finding the black box won’t be an easy task since it must have sank pretty deep. Meanwhile, there are so many hypothesis that it’s hard to know which ones are actually likely: could the plane have been stroke by lightning? Experts say that planes are designed to handle such events. Could it be just a combination of unfortunate events, triggered by the weather?

Speculation is rampant. Sure, it is weird to see a plane disappear, but I have very little patience for the usual conspiracy theories. A meteorite, the aliens, a geo-magnetic hole (what the hell is that?), a cosmic ray (same question), a portal to another dimension… I read them all. We have this visceral need to know and to understand, especially when the news is shocking. Rationalizing, imaginating, speculating — we are all aviation experts suddenly.

I don’t know what happened to flight 447. I doubt we will ever do. Nor that we will know how the passengers and crew reacted and felt in these fatal few minutes. We have to accept that we can’t understand and predict everything. But we can feel sad and empathetic.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

21 Comments

  1. I’ve been following the news every since…je ne peux pas croire qu’un avion peut disparaitre comme ca. The plane just went pouf! I hope they can find the rest of the wreckage and the passengers. My heart goes to all the victims’ families. This is truly horrible…

  2. I worked for American Airlines for 30 years. Even though I was in data processing we were on the same property as the maintenance base and were surrounded by fleets of beautiful aircraft. Whenever a commercial airliner went down we all reacted with sadness and alarm. Was it one of ours? Did we know someone on the flight? It was like losing a member of the family. I still react that way.

  3. I feel really sad about it too. I’m not sure if it’s because it was Air France or that I have to cross the Atlantic in July, but I keep imagining what it would be like to be a passenger on that plane. It’s so scary.

  4. Yes…it is terrible!
    I guess one should be prepared to die without advance notice…
    I am taking the plane to go back to Europe tomorrow… quite scary if you start to think about it…

  5. It is a tragedy indeed 🙁 I haven’t followed the story very closely but I remember my husband telling me that the fight had disappeared. I just mentioned to him that some wreckage had been found and he told me it turned out it wasn’t from the plane at all. I looked up some info on it and found this in the wikipedia entry for the missing flight:
    Some pieces of the aircraft’s wreckage were thought to have been discovered on 2 June, however, on 4 June it was confirmed by Brazilian and French officials that debris spotted was most likely from a cargo ship, as was an oil spill.

    I think they are still pretty certain the plane went down though. Such a shame 🙁

  6. The tragedy of flight 447 has been on the news everyday ever since the crash happened. I just heard on the news this evening that the debris they found a few days ago and which they thought to be debris from the plane, actually doesn’t belong to Air France.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/05/air-france-crash-debris-atlantic

    Events surrounding the Air France plane that crashed and practically disintegrated raise more questions then they answer. And the authorities are back to square one.

    When I first heard the news of the crash, I instantly thought of the passengers. What happened to them? Did they even have time to realize what was going on? Did they know they were going to die..?
    My heart aches for their families and friends…

  7. It’s a terrible event and like so many people we first thought of the people on the flight. Now our thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost their loved ones.

  8. This crash has lots of angles. Not to be glib, but it has such mystery. The news we get is changing daily. First they find debris. A 20′ section, a airline seat, etc. Then it “is not”.
    Where did the impost-er debris come from? Some say sea junk, some say from a ship.
    We have witnesses that say they saw a white flash in the sky followed by a object falling and falling apart.
    It goes on and on.
    Maybe it was aliens or portal to another dimension.
    Maybe it was a crash.
    Either way they are gone, poof. gone.
    Thats’ what must suck for the families and loved ones.
    Not knowing.
    Until then, we can only imagine.

  9. @Bluefish – I know, it is just so unexpected and so weird… I read the first news’ title three times to actually realize it!

    @shionge – I know, it is truly terrible.

    @Tulsa Gentleman – I totally understand that. I think a lot of people can relate even more strongly for a reason or another. I certainly hope you didn’t witness too many incident during your career.

    @Seraphine – I know… I feel bad.

    @Jennie – Yeah, same here. I fly often enough (are like you, across the Atlantic) to be a bit scared!

    @Sidney – You will be fine, accidents like that are very very rare, fortunately.

    @beaverboosh – Yes, passengers were from a lot of different countries… there was a Canadian too.

    @Breigh – You are right! I wrote the post on June 3rd, and they were sure it was the plane’s wreckage. Man, that’s even weirder now.

    @Beth – Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.

    @Final_Transit – Same here… kept on thinking of it.

    @Angele – Thanks for the link, I should update this post. I had no idea, because there were so sure it was indeed the Air France wreckage.

    @stephen – I must say the debris thing is weird. There were pictures and it did look like a plane wreck, with the oil spill and all. Gee, how much debris are there in the Atlantic South???

    I’m quite skeptic so I don’t buy any alien theories but I’d be curious to know what happen… and we will probably never know fr sure.

    @Agnes – Yes… 🙁

  10. Why did you say ” or maybe it is because it was an Air France flight.”? Is it a bad flight to take when travelling?

    This news has got to be the weirdest in recent years. Reminds me of the Bermuda Triangle.

  11. Hi Zhu,

    This tragedy really shocked us all here. I was feeling the horror of the situation,the sorrow for the families.
    Really so bad.
    There was a memorial mass at Cathedrale de Notre Dame, that had a lot of people outside in the sun, just listening ( no cameras inside),reflecting or praying.
    I have been telling our friend ( who is flying with us in September), not to think about this too much. Because if we do, then we can just prepare ourselves to stay here and never travel again.

    Bises XX

  12. Are you a Lost fan? I think they’re all on the island…

    Joking aside though, this is such a tragedy, and I think the very strangeness of it makes it even more sad. You’re right, we do like to understand the “why” and “how” of the universe, and when we can’t, it’s crushing to our little human brains.

  13. Hey Zhu,

    Girl, this was terrible!

    Like you, I too began to think of the relatives and mainly of the passengers (can you imagine what it must have been like?): what a tragedy!
    I can’t even begin to think what my reaction would be if a relative or a friend were on that flight *nodding*.

    I confess that all sort of conspiracy theories took over my brain…but now they are saying the plane was hit by a storm and they blame the speed sensors…my Lord *nodding*.

    I loved the Brazilian people: they were hoping that the plane had landed in an Island somewhere…talking about hope and faith (and that is one of the positive aspect about this marvellous country)! Deep down I wished they were right, but unfortunately it was not the case.

    My heart is mourning for those human beings. May the Light be with them.

    Cheers

  14. Very sad. My parents fly Air France quite often, so of course it gets me to worrying… planes scare me, of course, car accidents are a more likely way to get injured, but the concept of dying in a plane crash seems more horrific.

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