Someone Get Me a Xanax: On My Fear of Flying

I used to be very scared of flying. I was okay through my childhood and teenage years, but something changed in college. It happened when my family and I were returning to the states from Manchester a few summers ago. Out of nowhere, the plane dropped right out of the clouds and very nearly slammed into the earth. That’s what it felt like, anyway. People screamed. My mom was scared, and when your mom is terrified, that’s how you KNOW that this is not a drill. I was so petrified I could do nothing but squeeze her hand as tightly as she gripped mine.

After that, the more time I spent on a plane, the more I realized, “Hey, it makes no logical sense that I am up here in some tube hurtling toward some faraway place.” Plus, the more you fly, the more your chances of dying in a plane crash rise. It is a logical fear based on probability. Numbers. Those things don’t lie.

I’ve pretty much gotten rid of that all-consuming terror, mainly by binging on articles and full episodes on YouTube about awful crashes. The lower the survival count, the more I need to know everything about what happened. It’s counterintuitive, but there’s almost always a section where they talk about how aviation has evolved to avoid whatever took the plane down, so I feel reassured that things are much better now.

I don’t get too panicky on flights anymore, even during turbulence, and I can look out the window, even when we’re landing at LaGuardia and it looks like we are flying straight into the sea.

And yet. When I read this story about a Southwest captain who accidentally told all the passengers, “we’re going down,” I had to stifle a shriek at my desk.

During that scare on the flight back from Manchester, if I had actually heard the pilot mention that we were going to crash, I would have Lost. My. Shit. And maybe actually passed out. Kudos to everyone on the Southwest flight who kept a cool head. Everyone who didn’t, I stand in emotional solidarity with you because I would have been in your club. I am, above all, thankful that the flight landed safely. And that I wasn’t on it, because if I had been, you’d never get me on a plane again.

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