Needless Loss of Life

To quote from our above clip’s accompanying text… as it appeared over at YouTube…

Stephen Colbert and Jon Batiste offer their condolences and discuss the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.

My condolences, too.

Admittedly, as neither an avid sports fan / team follower nor a seasoned air traveler, up until I viewed this vid, earlier today, I hadn’t really been paying this foggy weather related tragedy all the attention it is due.

The discourse between Batiste and Colbert thoughtfully addresses the grief of the families, friends and fans. Anyone who has ever experienced the loss of someone near and dear… regardless of the circumstances… can relate… will feel the tug on the heartstrings.

Also noteworthy is Colbert’s appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board… i.e., urging the NTSB to make “black box” flight recorders mandatory equipment aboard helicopters. The data from such devices could make for more flight-worthy aircraft, and ultimately, that would save lives.

True, my own travels, as a commercial airline passenger, to date, have involved only a couple of Michigan to California trips. But, factoring in how my very first flight, ever (at the age of 49), involved a foul weather experience, I believe I have an inkling as to what may’ve been going through the minds of Bryant and the other passengers during their final moments of life.

My basic game plan had been to attend a family reunion of two (following the recent death of our family matriarch). I also had some high hopes that, by vacation’s end, I’d be able to [1] get my mourning into perspective, [2] elevate my mood, [3] better accept that “life goes on” sentiment and [4] reestablish some ‘live each day to the fullest” determination.

However, it was during my return flight that I began to wonder if the home I was heading for would be Earthly or Heavenly. Mechanical difficulties had delayed, by three hours, our departure from the Golden State. We did eventually hightail it back to the Great Lakes State, but, by that late afternoon, clashing cold and warm fronts had produced severe thunderstorms.

In the air, that meant major turbulence, which not only, inwardly, unnerved me but appeared to have a similar effect on our (supposedly) unflappable flight attendants (one of them nearly losing her footing and getting floored. On the ground, unsafe wind velocities of 129kph / 80mph had closed down the control tower and necessitated our hour long holding pattern… as well as an unscheduled, diversion to Pittsburgh to refuel.

Yet, oddly enough, throughout, I did experience solace on multiple levels. From a purely practical standpoint, prior to takeoff, I had caught a brief glimpse of our pilot who appeared to be a confidence elevating veteran. From a philosophical perspective, were I to perish in a crash, it’d have been following my fun in the sun, California, celebration of life. Even on the spiritual plane, I was fully covered. I’d be testing my “wings” to soar upward from the mangled wreckage to attend yet another… albeit otherworldly… family reunion.

Obviously… I did luck out and survive. Now, if only each member of the entire Kobe Bryant entourage could say the same.