I have always been, in a very minor way, afraid of flying. Unlike most people who share my fear, it is not due to a lack of faith in the hundreds of scientists who developed airplanes. It is not due to a deep-seated belief that god didn't intend for us to fly and will strike me down with hundreds of lighting bolts and proceed to flood my hometown (he does that anyway). It comes from a simple lack of faith in the ability of the pilots to fly airplanes based on their employers' track records.
You see, airlines frequently make pointless rules that clearly demonstrate no concept of cause and effect or proper logical reasoning. Anti-terrorism precautions are a great place to start because a bomb can be hidden in many places other than the shoe. After the underwear bomber I was half expecting TSA to ask me to drop my pants, but I was happy to notice they had learned their lesson.
However, nothing worries me more than a flight I had recently from Seattle to New York. It was first delayed because some of the instrumentation was buggy. Ok, fine, shit happens, just get me to NYC sometime. 45 minutes later the pilot happily announced that we were ready to take off and had decided that, rather than fix the instruments, he would simply not use them.
Already this means that the pilot was either a ballsy idiot or that the people who make the planes don't actually know what instruments are needed and take an approach worthy of the TSA and include every sensor under the sun just in case.
However, this worry was dwarfed after he told us that we would take off shortly. Half an hour later, the plane had not moved when the pilot's cheery voice came on explaining that he had forgotten to use electric motors to get the engines started.
Now in case you are not familiar with jet engines, they have to be jump-started in order to work. Something has to start spinning the turbine before the jet does. A pilot claiming to have forgotten to jump-start the engines half an hour in would be like a driver sitting impatiently at the steering wheel before he remembered that he had to put the keys in the ignition. When the plane finally started moving I was half elated to be going somewhere and half scared shitless knowing that the man in charge of making a 975,000 pound airbus float through the sky from Seattle to NYC forgot how to start his own plane.
So when somebody of this caliber manages to get through flight school, get a pilot's license, and become employed by United, this worries me. What other soggy-headed voles managed to find their way in?
I propose that all pilots go skydiving before they fly passengers. That way, my pilot could have forgotten to jumpstart his parachute before trying to fly around steel birds.