Fishing with Birds! Cormorant Fishing in Yangshuo, China

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If you are one of the 20 million or so people that suffer from aviophobia (fear of flying), you might not want to read this. For those who like to be informed, however, there are a couple of facts about air travel you should be aware of. After all, you’re putting your life in the hands of pilots, cabin crew, maintenance teams, air traffic controllers and the whims of Mother Nature when you take to the skies. There’s an inherent vulnerability that requires a lot of trust when you buckle up and take flight. Air travel is still statistically the safest form of transportation, so keep things in perspective, but here are a few things the airlines never tell you that you probably should know about.

1. There May Be a Few Loose Screws

We expect a little hardware discrepancy when we put together IKEA bookshelves, but it seems a tad more unsettling when it comes to aircraft maintenance. Apparently a few loose or absent screws is a common and acceptable occurrence. In fact, one commercial aircraft maintenance manual specifies that “one missing fastener in 10 is permitted on a side but not on a leading edge of the panel,” with the added safety caveat that these missing screws not be adjacent to each other. We have to have faith that the aviation experts know what they’re doing when setting these guidelines, but it’s not a very comforting thought, is it?

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