Chart: Airplane violence over time
Nate Silver has a proven track record for using statistics wisely, which is why I was intrigued by a chart he posted on his blog fivethirtyeight.com today.
The chart tracks "violent passenger incidents" on airplanes since the 1930s, when commercial aviation became a big deal in the U.S.
He got his data from PlaneCrashInfo.com, the most complete (but not perfect) database of aviation calamities on the Internet. From the database, Silver compiled the number of passenger fatalities from sabotage (such as bombings to collect life insurance or to make a political statement), hijackings, and pilot shootings. He also counted deaths on the ground caused by the crashing of the planes.
Because many more people fly now than did years ago, he has done the math to see how many violent deaths there are per billion of passengers who fly.
The chart shows that about 22 passengers per one billion enplanements were killed as the result of violent plane incidents during the 2000s, but deaths on the ground because of 9/11 added more than 3,000 deaths to the total. So there were 151 deaths in the U.S. for every one billion passenger boardings.
The surprise to me is that deaths due to violent passengers, both in the sky and on the ground, has been a feature of flight for a long time.
That is not to minimize the tragedy of 9/11 by any means. As Silver says, "Since the beginning of commercial air travel, a total of about 6,500 people have been killed as the result of Violent Passenger Incidents—nearly half of those, or 2,995, came on 9/11 itself." It was a horrible day, and there are terrorists out there who want to repeat the uniquely awful tragedy.
That said, the chances of dying from airplane related violence has been pretty steady since the 1930s.
100,000 free Megabus tickets
Starting today, Megabus is offering 100,000 free seats on 28 bus routes for travel between January 6 and March 20, 2010. Here's the breakdown: 40,000 of those seats are for travel to New York City, the rest reserved for other routes in the Northeast and Midwest. Use promo code GETAWAY to get a ticket. As always, this offer is subject to availability, and a 50-cent booking fee applies. If your dates are flexible, you're more likely to get a free seat; there are only a certain number available on each route and each travel day. The free seats are a joint venture with NYC & Company, the Big Apple's official marketing and tourism organization. Check out their website for a listing of winter events and promotions. For instance, Restaurant Week starts on January 25. Megabus operates double-decker buses with free WiFi, power outlets, and reclining seats. Budget Travel gave Megabus an Extra Mile Award in 2008. MORE Megabus puts more seats on sale Megabus starts to offer service alerts by cell phone Megabus: A first-person account of a mishap
D.C.: Baby panda Tai Shan is leaving town
Since his birth on July 9, 2005, panda bear Tai Shan has become the tourism symbol of Washington, D.C. He appears on the city's subway fare cards and tourism posters. He's boosted attendance at the National Zoo, and drawn tens of millions of fans to the "panda cams" on the zoo's website. But officials announced today that the four year old bear is heading to back to China. I'll be wearing black and white in mourning. The exact date of Tai Shan's departure has not been set yet. He needs to get his visas approved, I guess. Panda details and photos at DCist. MORE Zoo Babies 2009
Sexy or Sexist? "The Girls of Ryanair" calendar
The low cost Irish airline Ryanair gives the word "take-off" new meaning with its racy annual 2010 "Girls of Ryanair Calendar, for about $15 via ryanaircalendar.com. About 800 of the 4,000 employees "volunteered" to put forth their sexiest poses to be among "the girls of Ryanair." All sales benefit a children's nonprofit. If your girlfriend gets angry, say it's for charity. MORE How Americans can fly Ryanair "10 Awesome Foreign Airports That Make Ours Look Awful"
Craft & Design museum turns 5
San Francisco is home to plenty of fantastic museums—SFMOMA and the deYoung immediately spring to mind. But next time you're in town, consider the San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design, located at 550 Sutter Street, less than two blocks from Union Square. The museum, which just celebrated its 5th-birthday, focuses on commercial art and design. Past exhibitions have featured 12 local graphic designers, a retrospective of wine labels, a collection of toys designed by artists, and the latest modern pieces from West Coast furniture designers. SFMC+D caught my eye because of its current exhibition, Michael Peterson's Evolution/Revolution. Peterson is a Pacific Northwest artist who uses wood to make beautiful, unexpected sculptures and objects. He emulates natural elements and their effect on wood; for example, he sometimes uses bleach to react with the surface of the wood, just like sun would "bleach" it over time. SFMC+D is open every day but Monday, and admission is a suggested donation of $3 for adults; kids 18 and under are free. Read the Seattle Times review of the exhibition. Check out all 26 of our hotel reviews in San Francisco, or fantastic reader photos in my Budget Travel.