TODAY'S LIST: Five myths about flying

If you travel a lot and think you know everything about flying, some of these might surprise you. Here are five myths about planes, according to a commercial pilot.

1. Planes don't basically fly themselves these days. The technology is definitely better. But even on routine flights, the pilots constantly have to tell the computers what to do. Also, 99% of landings and 100% of takeoffs are still done the old-fashioned way.

2. The air on planes isn't full of germs. Some of it is actually fresh air that comes from outside the plane. The rest is recirculated air, but they run it through hospital-grade filters that capture at least 95% of the microbes that are floating around. And there's a total changeover in air every two to three minutes. So if you always get sick when you travel, it's probably from touching things.

4. Flying isn't more dangerous than it used to be. It might feel like it is, because of high-profile accidents in the news. But the chances of crashing are about one-sixth what they were in 1980. And even then, they were really low.

5. Turbulence doesn't make planes drop hundreds of feet in a few seconds. It might feel like it, but only because it's hard to gauge. In reality, planes hardly ever drop more than 20 feet, even if you're in heavy turbulence.


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