Laura Blumenfeld: Fear of flying is irrational, but pack a teddy bear
Now I wanted to become an intrepid traveler, like Benzon. So I asked the investigator the essential question, the real reason I had contrived to tour the NTSB. What did Benzon do to feel safe a mile high? He always carried the NTSB's crash-scene checklist. But what else?
"A little stuffed animal," Benzon said, stifling a chuckle. "One of those Beanie Baby squirrels."
Nuts, the squirrel. Nuts flew with Benzon to Kabul, Afghanistan, to reconstruct an aircraft that struck a mountain, to Greece to sleuth the mystery of a failed pressurization system, to China to inspect wreckage in a rice paddy. His wife had given him the plush toy. "She said don't lose this or you're going to be in trouble overseas." The squirrel travels in Benzon's checked bags, never in carry-on.
"I'm afraid," Benzon said, "I'd lose him."
Laura Blumenfeld, author of "Revenge: A Story of Hope," is writing a book about World War II. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.
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