Fear of Flying

My mother always loved flying. I never understood this part of her psyche. A woman who feared the water because we might drown, feared exercise because we may have a heart attack and feared microwaves because we may get cancer. She loved being jetted into the air in the big steel tube. She wouldn’t think twice about flying 10 hours to Europe.

Just as much as I refute all the other phobias my mom has and take the contrarian side, I share the opposite view of flying.  I have had to fly for two reasons, my business life in my early years would have me flying 100 flights a year regularly. Second, my obsession with seeing 100 countries before I turn 60.
Last week as my wife and I were landing in my 75th country, Turkey, the unexpected happened.  The cloud cover was low, making for bad visibility. We started our descent and broke the clouds a few hundred feet over the red tile houses. Just as my wife commented on how she loved the architecture, the large Airbus made an erratic turn on it’s side. We looked to be coming in diagonal to the landing strip. The pilot then throttled up and the plane went straight up in the sky like a rocket ship. I could hear the joints of the plane make unnatural noises as if the steel was bending. I grabbed my wife’s hand, she was amazingly calm and tried to ignore our current plight and calm me down by making small talk. But there was no denying the yelling in the plane, the man across the aisle from me started to cry and then pray. I tried to calm him down and told him we probably were just changing runways. I waited for the pilots to come on the P.A. system and calm us down, nothing.

The plane then sped up full throttle and jetted out away from Istanbul airport. My wife asked me if I remembered where the life preservers were, I did. We looked at each other and spoke fondly as we thought this may be one of those moments where it could be our last. Then I started to think this could be more then a bad landing. I wondered if someone not so good could be flying the plane. I accessed what makeshift weapons we had, I remember the airport security person had allowed my wife a small pair of nail scissors. I looked around the plane to see if there was any movement of passengers. There was not. Still nothing over the public address system.

Then, as quickly as it happened the pilot made a sharp bank and landed us safely. The cabin erupted with applause, some continued to pray, women had mascara running down their faces from crying. Everyone asked what happened but no one would give us an answer. I have never been so happy to be off a plane.

It probably wouldn’t have even phased mom.

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