A few weeks ago the Washington Post ran an editorial by Patrick Smith, a pilot and writer whose work I have been enjoying on Salon for several years now. I missed it at the time, but caught some of the letters to the editor in response, and honestly was kind of surprised by the vitrol. What are these people angry about, I wondered? This is the guy who has never failed to rail against airline stupidity and TSA uselessness and these folks are responding as if he’s some sort of apologist?
How do you go from a writer who writes this:
I don’t know about you, but each time I settle into one of those blasted seats, the first thing I wonder is what malformed extraterrestrial creature it could possibly have been designed for. Clearly it was not intended for a human being
to a reaction like “Nice try, Mr. Smith,” implying that he’s a co-conspirator?
It’s a fair reaction, I suppose, to someone not familiar with his work and previously stated opinion. Smith is no more a passenger advocate than industry apologist – he’s a writer about the flying experience and not afraid to give a moronic passenger their lumps either. It’s to his credit that in his followup on Salon this week he takes his lumps – which he, rightly I think, identifies as partly caused by the headline WaPo stuck on his piece for him – and uses it as a jumping off point for some interesting facts about pilot careers. The swipes he takes at poor industry service on page 2 would probably come as a significant surprise to the people who think he’s an airline shill.
I highly recommend his work. He’s an entertaining writer and full of neat facts about the flying life. Some of it I knew by virtue of my amateur pilot dad, but there’s plenty more in there that’s new to anyone who’s never been behind the throttle of some big iron. Check it out.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs