I'm off to Scotland this evening, to visit my mother. I'm flying from New York to Edinburgh on a Continental Airlines 757. To get from Washington National to New York Newark, I'll be catching a Continental Connection flight - on a Q400 flown by Colgan Air.
I almost never know precisely which flight I am booked on. My wife books the flights and I turn up at the airport, hopefully the right one at about the right time. It always seems to work. So there I was getting ready this morning, knowing I was headed home to Scotland, but not precisely sure how.
I check the BBC News website and see there has been a crash. I click through to the story to see what aircraft was involved. "Hey," I say to my wife, who's brushing her hair, "there's been a crash in New York, everbody killed. It's a Continental Q400, flown by Colgan Air."
"You're joking," she says, looking alarmed. "That's what you're flying."
How do I feel? Not immediately concerned for my safety, but ask me again when I get to the gate. I've covered aviation too long to think the sky will be raining down Q400s for the rest of the day. Accidents almost always result from a chain of events that is unlikely to repeat itself, at least within 24 hours. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
All morning I've been trying to check in online for my flight and haven't succeeded. Maybe Continental's website is malfunctioning. Maybe they are changing the equipment. Anyway I am about to leave the office for the airport. Wish me luck.