Thursday, May 14, 2015

Aviophobia: A Fear of Flying

I recently helped one of my metalhead friends manage their fear of flying enough to get them to set foot on an airplane.  His fear stemmed from a childhood memory of watching some TV movie on the Air Florida crash in the Potomac River back on January 13, 1982.  Others I know have the fear from the Aloha Airlines roof detachment in 1988.  Very few though, attribute their fear to the cataclysmic events of 9/11 or other terrorist acts such as Pan Am 103's destruction over Lockerbie, Scotland.  

For me, flying is a religious experience.  I have my rituals I do when I get on ANY plane, such as patting the fuselage just behind the entry for my own vanity and good luck.  Also, I always try to get a window seat, so as not to get my knees run over by the carts when they eventually come by.  That, and I love a good window seat with a great view so I can keep my window shade open as the geography unfolds below me while I read my book or listen to my music.  Believe me, there is nothing better than watching our descent into somewhere spectacular like the old Hellenikon Airport in Athens, Greece; the approach into Beirut, Lebanon; or coming in over the hustle and bustle of a gateway like Los Angeles or New York/JFK.  I am at peace with the world while I travel, not so much on the ground.

As far as my friend goes, he was referred to me by a mutual friend, and I started chatting with him.  It's amazing the amount of fear childhood memories can have on grown adults (right, Pennywise?)!  I can understand, though.  You're in an aluminum can tens of thousands of feet in the air, with a little porthole to view out of, if you're lucky, and your life is in the hands of a seemingly competent professional who knows what they are doing.  Oh, and the plane you are on is of a certain age, or not, and you're up against the elements, kinda.  

We spoke at length about planes crash, why some of them did, the financial state of various airlines, how the whole traveling thing works, which airlines are safer, which ones have better customer service, etc. etc.  Me being the air travel guru, I had hopes that I put him at ease.  In most cases, a little education like this goes a long way towards helping someone overcome this phobia, or they get over it and take their first flight.  Others treat it it with drugs or alcohol.  My friend will be getting over it shortly after his first flight, which he booked with Southwest Airlines.  Good for him!

As for me, time to wrap up this blog and plan another trip with my wife, if anybody has any questions or needs help with this, hit me up!