Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flying Into the Fear

In two days, I am getting on an airplane with my seven-year old daughter, and I'm scared shitless.

Every time I step onto one of those marvels of modern technology, I have frightening visions of dropped oxygen masks, emergency lighting, twisted metal, burning flesh, and phone calls to loved ones dancing in my head. For years I wouldn't wear stockings on an airplane because I heard they can melt to your skin in the event of a crash. I admit it; I am a certifiable ninny when it comes to air travel. It certainly doesn't help that nearly every time I take a flight, there is a recent plane crash somewhere that grabs the headlines. (I don't know what kind of karmic nightmare I am destined to relive, but I feel I've paid it many times over.) Today while news surfing, I found not one, not two, not three, but FOUR stories of unfortunate flying "incidents": The tragic Air France 447 crash, an emergency landing of a Spanish jet, a missing helicopter in New Mexico, and the congressional hearings on the Miracle on the Hudson crash landing. OK, God. Enough already. I'm officially pissing in my drawers.

My plane paranoia started back in Chicago when I was a little older than Emma. Back in 1979, there was an American Airlines crash just outside of O'Hare that was captured by several amateur photographers. Unfortunately, the seedling of morbid media was planted; the pics were shown on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and replayed on our local TV news broadcasts ad infinitum. As an impressionable ten-year old, the recurring image of that plane going down in my hometown seared into my permanent memory bank. Over the next thirty years, my aviation fears intensified with each new disaster. The disturbing videos from one fateful day in September of 2001 were the final blow.

While I am fortunate enough not to have actually been in a crash, I have experienced a handful of white-knuckle flights where I was totally convinced that the plane was going to plunge into the ground like a well-thrown bar dart. I recall one particularly harrowing flight to Colorado Springs about fifteen years ago where we circled the airport for over an hour while bouncing around like a friggin' cork on the ocean, wishing, waiting, hoping for the wind shears to die down so we could land. Finally, the exasperated pilot announced, "We're gonna go for it. Tighten your seat belts and say a prayer." Oh joy. That was comforting. Passengers were embracing each other, crying, praying, clutching crosses and rosaries, throwing up, strangling armrests, and generally having total, full-on emotional meltdowns. I was basically an amalgamation of my flying compadres, vacillating from crying, praying, puking, and pleading. I shit you negative, the descent was more intense than any hardcore thrill ride at a Six Flags amusement park. After finally finally FINALLY landing safely on the runway of the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, I didn't know which activity I wanted to do first: have a cocktail, go to church, or sleep with the businessman who sat next to me on the plane. All three sounded very inviting after enduring that God-awful Plane Ride From Hell. (I ended up doing only one.)

Flash forward fifteen years and a hubby and child later. In forty-eight hours, I am going to get on another silver bullet, but this time I'll be toting an impressionable third-grader with me. A good mommy would realize that the chances of dying in a plane crash are infinitesimal, regardless of what the newspapers portray. A good mommy would gracefully accept that if it is our time to go, then it is our time to go. A good mommy would rise to the occasion, making sure her daughter feels safe, comfy, and happy. A good mommy wouldn't drink three screwdrivers at the airport bar before stepping on the jetway.

Hmmm...I wonder if Good Mommy will show up on Friday.


For your consideration and/or comment:

How do you feeling about flying?


Visit to take a peek inside the award-winning Opening the Kimono!


No comments: