A Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing last Friday after suffering a five foot tear in the jet as it cruised at 34,ooo feet. Wait, that's not the scary part.

Southwest Airlines works it's planes longer each day than any other airlines, but Boeing officials said that wasn't to blame for the giant tear in one of it's 737-300 jets. In fact, a Boeing senior engineer said the company didn't expect cracking in the aluminum skins of the planes for many more years. What? Expect? That begs the question, what is the shelf  life of a Boeing 737-300?

I would like to see a chart or some travel info on my 737 before I board that some beach. I need some reassurance here. "Ladies and gentleman this is your captain speaking, we will be flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet, winds are out of the west at 21 knots and our flight time to Detroit will be about 4 hours". "Oh yeah, we're not scheduled for a rip in the side of this jet for at least 2 years, flight crew prepare the cabin for take off".

This is not the first time something like this has happened  to a Southwest flight. Thank goodness Federal officials have ordered inspections on 175 older Boeing 737's to check for cracks on a 50 foot section of roof panels and rivets called the lap joint. Air traffic controllers falling asleep, drunk pilots and now cracks in jets showing up a little earlier than expected. Remember the good ole days when all you had to worry about on your flight was a little monster on the wing trying to tear the jet apart, but the booze was free then and you didn't really care.