Saturday, September 16, 2006
Fear of flying

I’ve traveled quite a bit in my 38 years, both for business and for pleasure. You’d think by now I’d be over my fear of flying. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give in to my fear by not flying, but it’s a struggle.

Yesterday, as I headed back home from my most recent business trip, the fear resurged again the instant the airplane began its take-off. As we began taxiing down the runway with neck-breaking speed, my heart lurched, I gripped the arms of my seat, and I repeated my prayer, “God, please allow us all get home safely!” As the plane cut up at a sharp angle into the sky, leaving the reassuring solidness of the ground, I broke out in a sweat and felt clammy all at once. My stomach felt a bit nauseous.

My mind began racing with random thoughts. I told Oronzo that I loved him just before I boarded the plane, right? If something happens to me, Snuggle Bug will know how much I loved him, right? All my affairs are in order, I think. God, please forgive me for my sins! I don’t want to plummet to my death in a horrible plane crash, surrounded by strangers , I have so much living to do yet! Did I tell Oronzo of my recent Blogger password change? I meant to tell him he could share my blog with my family if something happens to me. Climbing up into the sky at an alarming speed in a very heavy metal object just doesn’t feel natural. Why is there so much turbulence? Is the plane falling apart around us?! I wish the guy in the window seat next to me would slide the shutter down so I don’t have to see the ground beneath us from such a steep angle and getting farther and farther away. I’m closing my eyes now. God, please let us get home safely!

Once we got level in the sky, I stopped sweating and the chills passed. I was able to concentrate on the magazine I was reading and even managed to relax a bit and take a few sips of water. I don’t typically eat anything while flying. It’s safer if I don’t. I even took a few peeks out of the window and saw the checkerboard landscape beneath us and the fluffy white clouds all around.

Landing in the plane didn’t bother me nearly as much as take-off, but listening to the ear-splitting thunder of the brakes working frantically to slow down the momentum of the plane to a stop alarmed me a bit. It always feels as though we’re going to be flung into the nearest building because the plane couldn’t slow down in time. Thankfully this flight went well and I arrived home safe and sound to a smiling little boy and a grateful husband, both happy to see me again. Thank you, God, I thought as I reached out to each of them.

I think the biggest reason I dislike connecting flights so much is because I have to be subjected to these moments of panic more than once in one day!

My fear of flying is diminished greatly when I’m traveling with Oronzo. There’s something comforting in knowing that if we crash, I won’t be alone, I’ll have him to hold my hand. I know, it’s rather a selfish thought but there you have it.

I’ve heard that flying is much safer than driving a car, and I’m sure it’s probably true. But when I’m sitting in my seat, feeling as though the back of my chair is flat against the floor of the plane because of the crazy angle of ascent and my entire body is shaking due to the vibrations of the plane as it labors up farther and farther into the sky, I’m not feeling very safe!

So, is there anyone else out there that has a lingering fear of flying that you just can’t overcome? How do you cope? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.
7:26 AM

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Sue said...

I never used to have any fear until we had near catastrophe coming home from Mexico! (the plane nearly went down)
People screaming, all the overhead racks flew open, beverage cart racing down the aisle and the plane rapidly descending.
No we didn't crash, but it was terrifying...
How do I cope now? A small pill before a flight (and lots of prayers!)

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Autumn said...

I hate flying..If I was suppose to fly I would have been born with wings..Call me a cab, buy me skates, or better yet just give me my walking shoes..
Glad you got home safe and sound

At 11:59 AM, Blogger cmhl said...

I have a horrific fear of flying. I have to tamp down the horror when I think how thin the metal/ floor is beneath my feet.. eeeeeeek!

glad you made it home safely!!

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Pass The Torch said...

It makes me nervous, but not terribly so. I'm usually more preoccupied with making sure our ears are clear (I had a really bad flight once because I was plugged up with a cold.)

Now we're all drunk with Dimatapp or Sudafed every time we fly.

No wonder I'm not scared;)


At 2:41 PM, Blogger pithydithy said...

I am absolutely terrified of flying. As I tell my mom every time she tries to explain to me the irrationality of this fear, even if cars are more dangerous, I can imagine no more terrifying and horrible a death than a plane crash. Small probability. But of something that scares me so much.

Oh, wait. I'm supposed to be offering comforting advice, right? Ummmm...well, I breath deeply. I remind myself of how lift works and that it does work (stick your hand out the car window while driving. What a comforting force.) Does any of this really work? Not really. Like you, I travel quite a bit and I hate it every time.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Tricia said...

I do. I am most afraid of taking off - landing does not bother me as much. I generally pray fervently during the taxi and takeoff, waiting to hear the telltale ding that we are at our cruising altitude. If the fear lingers, I just continue praying - not about myself or the flight but instead for anyone I can think of.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Beck said...

Um, I'm like that. In cars. Seriously. There are a few places that I can go to without being in a panic (I don't drive.), but most places? White knuckle terror grip the whole way.
I can't even THINK about flying. You're braver than me.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger MugwumpMom said...

You are definitely not alone. I know several people who will not fly. You are so brave to push through it like that.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Granny said...

I was 40 before I ever set foot on a plane and then only because it was the only way to get from A to B in a hurry.

All went well until I realized every time I got up to use the facilities I was walking very carefully down the center of the aisle.

After all I wouldn't want to throw the darn thing off balance. I think it was a 747 but still you never know.

I've flown a few times since then but I've never been comfortable. I try to forget I'm in the air.

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are soooooo not alone!!!! I have had this problem for years, but continue to fly under duress (even to Korea twice to bring home my children!). I practice all kinds of relaxation techniques - deep breathing, etc. And ... now I take an anti-anxiety medication. Talk to your doctor ... it really helps!! Mine is inderal which is not addictive, and not mind-altering (i.e. valium). Good luck!

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Karla said...

Girlfriend. You are not alone. I am terrified of flying.
When I was a little girl, my dad built and flew planes. He had a bi-wing. It was cool and all, at four years old, but... One of his friends took me and my mom up in his Cessna one day. He started doing crazy stuff, not loopty-loops or anything, but enough that all I remember from that point on (and remember, I was FOUR!) is being in the floorboard for the rest of the flight. Been terrified of the thoughts of flying ever since.
I was also afraid of planes and helicopters flying overhead. I did grow out of that one...kinda. ;)
I've flown once (round-trip) commercially (8/31/01 and 9/8/01) from NC to WA State. I was heavily medicated. Lorazepam. Love it! The morning before our flight out to WA, I spent 20 minutes in the bathroom...relieving myself. For 20 minutes. Straight. (TMI-sorry) I had to take a second pill. Then I was slightly fine.
I still have dreams of flying places and realizing once I'm there that I don't have my happy pills to get me back home. Terrible.
And I do remember the trip - except for the part where I was asleep, so maybe not the best idea for travelling alone. Anyway, by the time we landed back in NC, my happy pills had helped me to fall in love with flying. I was prepared to go on the next mission trip through our church to Guatemala. I wanted to go to Germany. Then ... the dreaded day in New York, DC and Pennsylvania happened. :(
Anyway, you're a brave woman...not merely for flying, but for facing your fear and conquering it. I admire you. I'm just a chicken. Buck-bwuck. :)

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Oh my just described exactly how I feel when I fly! I don't enjoy it at all. You're lucky that you can relax enough to read a magazine though - I get motion sickness reading on anything! I have to take dramamine whey I fly and I'm usually just about to fall into a deep sleep by the time the plane takes off. I remember flying with my mom when I was younger and she would always say a prayer to help calm me, words she used were "Please God wrap your arms safely around this plane. Be with the pilots as they guide us safely to our destination." I use pretty much the same prayer when I'm flying. I always have to ask God to wrap his arms around the plane. I'm so panicky when I fly. are so not alone!

At 10:19 PM, Blogger healing hoves said...

thanks for stopping by, I am anxious for jesse to get the kind of spiritial feeding I have been receiving for the last two years in recovery. I have been quilty I must say of putting my own recovery first and putting the family on the back burner. Still I also believe that until I could learn to accept and love my ownself I could never be good to them the way I needed to be anyway. So now it is time for mom to step up to the plate. Jesse is timid and shy and on top of that has to live in a wheel chair, so God has told me Sonja get that Child where I can feed her, and I have learned to listen to my friend God.........have a good weekend........sonja

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous trisha said...

Glad that you made it home alright. It must be horrible flying for you. BTW, about the picture you asked for, we are having some computer problems now and I have to do all my computering from an internet cafe. As soon as we get our computer back up and running I will make sure you get it. Sorry for the delay!

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Larae said...

I fly all the time and have been doing so since I was a baby. I just have been writing it off like it's no big deal and I could handle it, for a while there I actually looked forward to it. But after 9/11...all of that fear came back! I'm flying today actually for vacation..and I'm nervous already. I agree with what you said about having your significant other there with you, how it makes it really does! I don't get to fly with my significant other today..but thankfully I've got my mom going with! She always calms me down by repeating "when God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it" =)

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Third Mom said...

I fly a lot for business, and although I'm not afraid of flying, I have the same moments right before take off, and to a lesser degree when the plane lands. It's a combination of air accident statistics and an awareness of my mortality.

A prayer and something to read are the only antidotes I've found.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Lela said...

You have totally just described exactly how I feel when I'm flying, the feelings, the thoughts. Wow! Not that I'm glad that you feel that way, but it does make me feel so much better knowing someone else goes through the same thing. I think that you are SO brave to fly alone, knowing that it will be a challenge for you. You are braver than you think.

At 6:24 PM, Blogger abebech said...

I have a terrible fear of flying. How do I cope? At least benadryl.

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

I adore flying! I love the freedom to relax and not deal with traffic, to get where we are going faster and the adventure of it all.

I do not fly often though. I am so sorry that you have such a deep fear ... hugs!

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Nabeel said...

see it's not the fear or flying .. but in fact it's the fear of dying .. think about it.

At 1:45 AM, Anonymous Mieneke said...

I am not afraid of flying but I am not entirely convinced that that's not because it just don't register with me that I am so far up in the air.
On my first flight on a commercial airline ever, I just told myself it was like stepping on a bus.
Turbulence I experience as big potholes. Basically, I kid myself.
And it works! :)

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I never had a problem UNTIL I HAD MY KIDS. Now the thought of plane trips turns me into a quaking mass of jelly.

Because of our lifestyle plane trips are not the norm, we drive to vacations since we normally only have a couple days and go away but still local. I think the last time I flew I was pregnant with Thing 2 and had Thing 1 with me to visit a friend in TX. He was just 14 months - I WAS A WREAK. I am fine onc we get up there but getting me ON the plane is a white knukling experiance - all while trying NOT to teach the kids to have a fear of flying.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Faith said...

I didn't have a fear of flying until recently. I am scared out of my wits to fly to Texas in October - but I am doing it anyway!!!

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

My Dad flew on the Air born Looking Glass, the plane that flew 24/7. They actually fueled in the air, so as, there would always be a plane air born. Because I grew up with my Dad pretty much living on a plane, I never developed that fear. In fact, when it comes to dreams, flying is in the top ten for most common dreams representing a feeling of happiness of freedom. Falling represents fear or depression. I believe your fears resurfaced due to the recent 9/11 resurgence honoring all of the victims and their families and all the feelings we had were brought back up again. Hope it gets easier for you. :)


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