Fear of Flying

I used to be afraid to fly.  Mostly right after 9/11.  Perhaps it was irrational, but the idea of being completely helpless while 30,000 feet in the air is not appealing.   Call me a control freak.

After getting on enough planes that fears tends to dissipate.  When put into context, flying is far safer than getting in a New York City taxi (though if the cab crashes I could walk away….in a plane, most likely not)

I always tell myself that turbulence is not worse than the swaying of a train or the bumpy potholes on the narrow lower Manhattan streets.  You get bumps no matter what type of transportation you use.  Hell, I almost fall over every time the subway makes a stop or takes a sharp turn.  (I have stopped bringing cups of coffee on the subway for the sake of myself and my fellow straphangers)

Experiences lose their impact with time.  Flying and the fear that comes with it falls in that category.  At least it does for me.    It isn’t that I am unaware my very insignificant existence could end quickly on one of these flights.  Rather, it is that flying is now commonplace.  If I were to worry every time I got on a plane the emotion would consume me.  Instead I read a book, listen to music, write, and from time to time get drunk in the airport bar.

This leads me to an interesting experience I had on my way to Chicago  Monday morning.  I was sitting next to a young lady who was nervous to be flying.  She informed me that  if she grabbed my arm at some point that I should not worry. 


She was also wearing her lucky sweatshirt.  This was apparent because it appeared as if it had not been washed in a great many months.  

Hey, I get it.  You don’t wash your lucky sweatshirt.  Whatever gets us to Chicago.

She was incredibly nervous and, as nervous people tend to do, she was talking incessantly. 

She was home visiting family

Her boyfriend

Her favorite football team

And then……….she mentioned what she did for a living.

She was in the Air Force.

“Pardon me?  Did you just tell me that you are in the Air Force?”


“And you are afraid to fly?”

“I work in a cubicle!!”

“So you never fly?”

“Well, yes, but I am usually up front?”

“So you fly with the pilots who can explain everything to you and you are still afraid?”

“But when I fly with the Air Force I have on a headset so I don’t hear the noises from the plane.”

Hmmmm……..flying in a military plane is not scary, but a commercial airliner is??????   It didn’t seem to add up to me, but who am I to judge.  She is serving her country and I’m not.

We hit some turbulence and she freaked out, elbowed me in the ribs, grabbed my arm.  I could have been in a cage match with the punishment I was taking.   She was either scared or practicing Kung Fu moves.

Good thing the landing was bumpy……….

The point of the story is that there is no reason to be afraid of flying.  None.  What is going to happen will happen.  I’m not going to waste my time worrying about something far out of my control.

It is kind of like when someone says, “Have a safe trip.”

My response is typically, “God willing…..”