An Amazing Safety Record.
I seem to spend a lot of time planning my travels. Not so much the flights, of course. As long as I’m heading east from here, I’m pretty well limited to either American or Hawaiian Airlines since I’m in their frequent flyer programs. There’s a pretty good selection of destination options, too … even from Maui. Hawaiian flies from here to most of the major west coast cities; American has non-stops to L.A. and San Francisco and Dallas, from here.
And on the subject of flying, I had a conversation some months ago over a meal on VIA Rail from Toronto to Vancouver. A woman at our table expressed the view that she would be wary of flying to Hawaii because it’s a five-hour flight. In fact, I believe the flight from the west coast to Hawaii is the longest over-water flight in the world without an alternate landing site.
So just how hazardous is it?
Answer: It’s not. In fact, while a handful if private flights have been forced to ditch for one reason or another, there has been only one incident of a commercial flight not making it. That was in 1956 when a PanAm plane lost an engine and had to ditch near a Coast Guard vessel about halfway to California.
There were 31 passengers and crew members aboard the propeller-driven Boeing Stratocruiser. Everyone survived and, in fact, the only loss of life occurred when the aircraft sank, taking with it a shipment of several dozen canaries that were in the plane’s cargo area.
Considering how many flights there are between the West Coast and Hawaii every day, to have only one incident since Day One—and none involving a passenger jet . . . well, what a testimony to the reliability and durability of today’s modern aircraft and to the people who build and maintain them.