I love to fly, I really do. I enjoy being in a plane, the service, the entertainment; everything really. Thanks to my partner (who is aviation obsessed) I have also learned a lot about the industry and am a junior level aviation geek. I know just enough to be dangerous, but to also really enjoy it. I never had an issue with flying until a few years ago, on a flight that sort of changed the flying experience for me.
I was flying into Dublin for a long weekend escape. It was my first time in Ireland and I was excited. As we approached the airport the pilot came on to let us know that the winds were exceptionally strong and that while most flights were being diverted to England, we were given the go ahead to try to land. When you’re in a plane these are not terms anyone wants to hear, but aviation is not a democracy and before I knew it we were all strapped in and getting ready for the big event. We had great seats and in front of us the flight attendants sat directly opposite. They were ashen. Gone was the normal flight attendant banter, nothing but fear radiated on their faces. They stared down at the shoes – transfixed – with a slight tremble in their hands and quiver in their voices. Once again, not what passengers want to experience during a flight.
As we made our final approach, coming in for the landing I could feel the wind start to take over and we were tossed around like a toy. Back and forth, it didn’t seem possible that we would be able to level out for a proper landing. I really thought that was it, I thought that we were going to land and roll wing over wing. The physics may not have even allowed for that, but that was my fear as mere seconds were left before we would land or something else. Somehow, above all odds (at least in my mind) we landed on point, right side up no worse for the wear. The color returned to the faces of those trained professionals opposite me, and they led the cabin in a rousing round of applause. The noise was deafening and the relief washed over the passengers in an audible exhalation of air.
We’d done it, we survived. Afterwards the flight attendants leaned over to me and said, “That was pretty risky.” Yet another thing one shouldn’t tell passengers, especially recently terrified ones. While frightening, that singular moment wasn’t enough to turn me into a more cautious flyer. But it made me more frightened of common occurrences like turbulence. With each new experience, including one flight where we dropped what felt like thousands of feet in just a few minutes, that fear increased.
Today I still love flying; I still enjoy each and every time I climb on board a plane, ready to depart for a new adventure. But if anything, anything, outside the ordinary happens, especially turbulence, I’m a mess. I don’t scream or cry, but I am truly and sincerely terrified. In fact, I’m writing this during one of those encounters to help get my mind of off things.
None of us are static creatures, we’re always evolving, for better or for worse. Sometimes that means adding some unnecessary stress into our lives, including fears. But those fears don’t have to define us or even dictate what we do. But I did want you all to know that even someone who flies all the time can sometimes be scared of it. That’s not the challenge, the challenge is knowing that I’ll be scared and still offering myself up to it. Why? Because even though it can sometimes be scary, most times it’s not and it’s always worth it in the end.
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