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Perspective: Is Air Travel Evil?

public domain
Nadar, self-portrait

The 19th century French photographer known as Nadar was quite an enterprising fellow. He started out as a sketch artist and once set some sort of record for the number of tiny sketches he could get on one page: 250 in all. Magnifying glasses in Paris must have sold out.

But Nadar didn’t stop there. In time he became interested in traveling by hot air balloon. First, he went up by himself and marveled at the view. He said it gave him a serene perspective on life and removed him from all the evil vanities of human endeavor.

But I wonder what he’d have made of contemporary airline travel. It hardly detaches us from the evil vanities of human endeavor. I’m often seated next to a self-important businessman wearing Gucci shoes, adding up multiple figures on his expensive tablet. Or I’m seated next to someone who slurps her drink while I’m trying to sleep. And then there are those who barely have any clothes on, save a pair of shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt: no doubt would-be, stuck-up body builders.

Even Nadar went on to spoil his airborne experience. He oversaw the building of a vehicle that would hold nine people, with separate compartments and even a wine cellar. It drifted over four hundred miles away from Paris and came down suddenly in Hanover, injuring several of the passengers. Nadar grew tired of being up there by himself and sought company. This was a mistake. Ballooning should be meditation, not transportation. That’s the only way to get the evil out.

This is Tom McBride, and that’s my Perspective.

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