Chances are, if you were in an airplane crash, you wouldn’t be reading this.

I am among those who’ve never experienced a plane crash, although I was on a flight that came perilously close to being involved in a mishap.

It happened as a flight from Minneapolis was about to land in Memphis in the 1970s. Just before the wheels touched down on the runway, the pilot of the big jet pulled up and went around for a second landing attempt. He came on the speaker system as we were ascending to explain that another plane had gotten onto the runway we were about to land on and he’d decided to “go around.”

My wife and I were on a flight from Chicago to Las Vegas that was struck by lightning shortly after takeoff. Although the strike produced a loud noise and a bright flash, the plane was not affected because airliners are built to withstand lightning strikes.

On a flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, we lived through perhaps a half-hour of severe turbulence between New Zealand and Fiji. The Boeing 747 shook violently, causing us to fear that the wings might break off, but we made it though. Again, airliners are built to handle such occurrences. A glass or two of New Zealand wine also helped.

I recall a flight from Milwaukee to Chicago that was turbulent from takeoff to landing. My uncle and I were on our way to Florida, and I watched him pay virtually no attention to the bouncing, while I kept wondering if we’d wind up in Lake Michigan. My uncle had served on a sub-chaser in the Aleutian Islands in World War II, where he occasionally recalled experiencing 40-foot waves.

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