I’m convinced of a flaw in the human psyche.
It is this:
A small valley town not more than 15 miles from here has a ford – a shallow area in the bed of a river paved so vehicles can cross. It floods regularly. Brave souls who believe that buying a four-wheel drive has somehow gained them the keys to the kingdom get stuck in it just as regularly. They stand on their car roof waiting to be rescued.
There is a fire station in the town. It is less than three minutes away from the ford.
We have an institution that goes under the title of ‘Health and Safety’, which decrees that firemen may not rescue motorists in this particular situation. Instead, the Air Sea Rescue Service has to launch a helicopter from 40 miles away to lift them off.
Could the firemen do it? I have reliable affirmation that they could. It would be relatively simple. The motorists may very well drown (in fact recently one did), but they must stand on the bank and watch.
The City of London airport lands passenger aircraft in the midst of the City. Aircraft using London Heathrow also overfly the metropolis at possible 60 second intervals, I believe. The newest generation of passenger jet carries huge numbers – up to 850 people.
Nobody wants an air accident, yet we know they happen. Infallibility is as false a concept as perpetual motion, sooner or later something must go wrong. And the prospect of a massive passenger jet carrying 850 souls crashing, as a helicopter did the other day, onto a busy London street is too awful to contemplate.
There was a time when over-flying of population centres was forbidden. There was a time when you could rely upon a fireman to come to your rescue, rather than stand looking at you from ten or fifteen feet away. Health and safety for the individual at whatever cost, crossed fingers for the rest of us. Until the nightmare comes true, of course.