From the very moment that man conquered flight on the dunes of Kittyhawk, there would always be more airplanes set to traverse the skies above us.
Here, in the 21st Century, the sheer number of aircraft in the sky at any given time is unfathomable.
And this doesn’t even take into account every military flight, nor does it represent drones, satellites, or hot air balloons.
The very idea of this cloud of steel and glass covering the nation at any given time can be a daunting one, and it makes us all the more grateful for the hard work of men and women in the aviation field. Without their tireless work, we would be living under a virtual minefield of mechanically unsound airplanes.
But, accidents do happen. Often, they are tragic, but sometimes they are just plain weird.
A mist of fuel dumped by an airliner with an engine problem as it made an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport fell on several schools Tuesday, causing minor skin and lung irritation to 56 children and adults, officials said.
The fuel sprayed out of the plane in two lines and the strong-smelling vapor descended at midday in the city of Cudahy and nearby parts of Los Angeles County, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of the airport.
The vapor fell on five elementary schools, but all injuries were minor and no one was taken to hospitals, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sky Cornell said. It didn’t force any evacuations.
“That’s a great sign,” Cornell said.
All the fuel evaporated very quickly and nothing flammable remained in the air or on the ground, he said.
People were treated with soap and water, Fire Inspector Henry Narvaez said.
Some children were directly in the path of the wayward petrol:
Park Avenue sixth-grader Diego Martinez said he and his classmates were outside for physical education class when they saw the airplane flying low overhead.
“It was very close,” he said.
Shortly afterward, the air filled with the pungent odor of fuel.
“It was very strong, the odor,” the 12-year-old said.
Delta, who operates the aircraft, and the Federal Aviation Administration are both investigating this absurd incident.