I fly a lot, and of all the things that concern me, a meteor hitting the plane was the least of them. Now that has changed, thanks to Discovery Magazine. First I figured the chances were so minute that no one would care. Now looking at this article they are saying it might be a 1:20, are you freaking kidding me? How is the so holy TSA going to remedy this one? Maybe they will change shirt colors again, that will show them!
Back in 1996, after the initially very mysterious explosion and crash of Flight 800 from JFK to Rome, there were numerous eyewitness accounts of a “streak in the sky” just before the crash. This led to the “missile theory” of the crash, which was eventually attributed to the explosion of the center fuel tank by the NTSB. But, also at the time, it was suggested that a meteor of sufficient size could have struck the plane, bringing it down.
Obviously for any given flight the chances are very, very small that a meteor will bring down an airliner, but as Hailey and Helfand pointed out in a letter to the NYT in 1996, the correct question to ask is this: “What is the probability that, for all flights in history, one or more could have been downed by a meteor?” They concluded that there was a 1-in-10 chance that this could happen…let’s use their logic, brought up to date somewhat, for 2009, for Flight 447.
(Via Discovery Magazine.)