Flying gives me a lot of anxiety.Not the flight itself or heights, but a fear of falling.I don’t do roller coasters for the same reason.A lot of people find this odd because I was also a paratrooper in my late teens and early twenties.Those people have also never landed in a Loblolly pine tree in pitch black darkness.
International flights aren’t as bad for me.The sheer size of the plane and time at cruising altitude allows me to almost forget that I’m in an aluminum can traveling at 500+MPH at 30,000Ft. with my safety completely entrusted to a crew of people I’ve never met.Alcohol may also play a contributing factor.
About 25% of people have a fear of flying so I’m not alone.It’s a 1:4 chance you feel the same.Aviatophobics unite!
I don’t get pre-flight jitters and my inflight experience vacillates from as calm as a Hindu cow to sweating profusely.It’s to the point that I keep extra shirts near the top of my pack so I can change.
This is the typical flight experience more me:
I’m in the terminal:
I’m excited and ready to get on the plane.After all I’m going somewhere! I’m tired and probably a little greasy from traveling two and half hours to the nearest international aiport.I’m also wondering if that TSA agent is really going to call after feeling me up on the first date.
I’ve boarded the plane and gotten to my seat:
“Finally!Let’s light this candle.”
We back away from the terminal and begin to taxi.This is interrupted by the pilot coming over the intercom to inform us that we are being delayed because a passenger who isn’t on the plane and just happened to have an Arab name had their luggage loaded(This really happened).”Say what?”
“No big deal.I can handle this.”(I look out the window) “Is the wing suppose to bend like that? Is that a piece of duct tape!?”
The seat belt light goes off.I immediately get up go to the lavatory to change shirts.I come out and get a confused look from the guy waiting to go next.I know he’s thinking,”That’s not the same guy who went in.”
I scan the cabin,”Where is that drink cart?”
I catch an inflight movie,wrestle with a pack of peanuts,and marvel at the thought of WiFi on an airplane.
A jostling of the cabin wakes me after just getting to sleep.I’m like, “WTF was that?”The seat belt sign comes on again accompanied by the voice of the pilot who is way too calm.
During Approach and landing:
I white knuckle the arm rest.My inner monologue sounds like Jack Nicholson reciting, “Goosfraba”.
I hear the tires screech.The nose wheel sets down.I’ve survived a certain doom.Next time gravity…next time.
After the de-planing:
“That wasn’t so bad.Let’s do it again!”
I know the facts.Traveling in a car is far more dangerous statistically but a phobia isn’t driven by rational thought.So here are some ways to cope.
1.Rememeber the facts
Airline travel is one of if not the safest modes of transportation.The only reason air disasters are reported is because they are infrequent.
Based on the statistics 1:4 people are likely feeling just like you but you don’t see them reaching for the oxygen mask do you?Relax. Read the inflight magazine but don’t read the safety card.Pop in your ear buds.Watch a movie. You will get through it.
Talk to your doctor before you leave.They will likely have no problem prescribing a few Xanax to get you over the hump.A few inflight drinks is enough for me though.
The main thing is to not let irrational fear control you and certainly don’t let it deter you from traveling.Recognize it and you can overcome it.
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