A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show's TV-G rating is misleading. The graphic, realistic nature of the subject matter is much too strong for kids and should probably be previewed even for teens. Each episode documents events leading up to aircraft crashes, explosions, and other emergencies, and actors re-create the points of view of all the players, including passengers, pilots, and air traffic controllers. Interviews with survivors and family members of victims can be very sad, and dramatized scenes of passengers panicking and crying can be disturbing even for adults. On the flip side, the show offers an intriguing, in-depth look at the conclusions drawn from post-disaster investigations.
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What's the story?
AIR EMERGENCY documents the events leading up to some of the most high-profile aircraft crises in recent history, including the 1999 crash of EgyptAir flight 990. Actors re-create scenes from the point of view of pilots, passengers, and ground personnel while the series offers a near minute-by-minute recount of how the emergencies played out. Interviews with survivors and victims' family and friends offer personal glances at the traumas -- both physical and emotional -- suffered by those involved in the tragedies. Computer-generated images portray crashes and offer a close look at mechanical mishaps, and video footage and photos are used when they're available. Experts weigh in with their views on contributing factors like weather, errant technology, and the professional judgment used by pilots and air traffic controllers, while investigators describe the efforts that followed each disaster.
Is it any good?
While the series rates high on the intrigue scale -- playing to many people's need for facts and reason in the face of terrible crises -- viewers need to know that much of the subject matter can be emotionally disturbing, even for adults. Dramatized scenes of passengers screaming and crying and pilots scrambling to control a diving plane are very intense, as are the realistic computer images of fiery crashes. Video footage shows aircraft wreckage falling from the sky, bodies covered by sheets, and the anguish of mourning family members.
In short, Air Emergency isn't a good choice for young viewers or for anyone who's even slightly squeamish about air travel, as it will seem to confirm nervous passengers' worst fears. Parents would be wise even to preview the show before allowing teens to watch to make sure the content won't be too upsetting for them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how aircraft industry professionals train for possible emergencies. What expertise do safety personnel, air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants have? How can they keep cool heads under pressure? How do emergency workers on the ground prepare for emergencies? Is a program like this exploiting a painful experience, or using it as a teaching tool? What's the difference? Parents may also want to discuss the statistical likelihood of experiencing such an emergency, since teens may need some reassurance, especially if they ever travel by air on their own.