Monday, July 6, 2009

Come Fly With Me!

Are you afraid of flying? An estimated 50-million Americans admit to some level of fear …. a tally which predates 9/11!

After countless flights here, there and beyond …. and years of hearing, “Flying is safer than driving!”, I checked the numbers. Great. Now, I was feeling foolish and fearful!

Then I discovered Layne Ridley’s self-help book, “White Knuckles.” Never mind that it was published more than 30 years ago. The author – once a fearful flyer herself– combines time-honored scientific facts, mental exercises, empathy and humor. As a matter of fact, her wit had me laughing out-loud at 37,000 feet – a first!

Ridley writes, “As far as I’m concerned, the world is divided into two kinds of people: normal, intelligent, sensitive people with some breadth of imagination….. and people who aren’t the least bit afraid of flying. The latter are usually all right otherwise. In fact, you usually don’t notice anything is the matter with them until you get them up in a plane and see that vacant look on their faces. Then you find out a person you thought you knew is mysteriously unable to register the difference between being in the air and being on a bus.”

Like Ridley, it’s important that I appear completely nonchalant. See, what trumps my fear of flying is a larger phobia: Displaying fear!

For instance: (I'm excerpting again.)
No use dressing for success if you’re going to cringe like a whipped dog for two hours. I tried to look bored. (Now, it’s hard to look bored when you are jerking in your seat at every bump as if you have been slipped twenty volts). So, I tried to look bored, but energetic. When I finally could not, possibly, under any circumstances, sit there one second longer, I’d pat back a little yawn, stroll to the bathroom – and make deals with God. In the toilets of major airlines I have fervently renounced every sin in my life.”

So, do I consider myself cured? For the most part, I think so.
And no, I don’t give all the credit to this book. Hubby has a real Passion for aviation, so that’s a big motivator.

Still, I cling to certain behaviors, study the emergency procedures and keep a keen eye on the flight attendants’ expressions.
If nothing else, I might slip up and serve as comic relief for somebody else!


  1. The first time I flew I was 15 years old. I flew alone - no adults. I was to old for the attendants to take me by the hand, but I still was a kid. I flew from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. I think the flight was only 20 minutes long. Back then, we were already in the air when the stewardess told us about the oxygen dropping and how we were to put our head in our lap. Well, I didn't know they did that all the time. I kept waiting for the oxygen mask to drop down. Before it did, we landed. I can now say what I would do if the plane were to crash, sit quietly there waiting.

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  3. I love to fly! To me, it's a wonderful adventure. Unfortunately, my husband is one of the white knuckle flyers, so we stay on the ground most of the time.

  4. Love flying. You're probably not the only one making deals with Him:) Post made me smile.

  5. My husband and I met on a personals website. I took my first plane trip in Dec. 2006 to go to California for our first meeting. That trip I was to afraid of what would happen when we met to be afraid of flying. In the four flights I made after that I found that I liked flying but that I could not step over the crack between the plane and the boarding ramp if I was on a daytime flight.

    On one flight the crack was so wide that I was standing there trying to convince myself I could do it when the stewardess saw me and assumed I was afraid to fly. She came out an got me and lead me into the plane while diverting my attention with her conversation.

    One inside the plane she started to guide me to my seat but by then I was fine. She never figured out that it was heights (ie: seeing light under my feet) and not flying I was afraid of.


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