Freaking Scared of Flying!

5 min read

Am I the only one? It doesn’t seem so. Which actually makes it even more scary.

I love to think of myself as a World Citizen. But the truth is, if anything, I’m nothing more than a part-part time European one, simply too scared to do long distance flights and therefore haven’t been outside Europe yet! I know, that’s like never have had chocolate or wine.

Being in the wine business I really need to get around and I also do get up on that flight different times a month. I love to get out there and visit other countries. Who wouldn’t love to see as much of this magnificent world as totally possible?

My fear started around 10 years ago. I was on a domestic flight from Firenze to Rome (or the other way around). Until that day I had never, ever been afraid of flying. I actually wanted to become a fighter pilot when I was a teen. Convinced to become one I went through different initial consultations to figure out if I’d be fit. I did have a chance, they said, my height was perfect, just had to loose a little weight. I could live with that but then I got kids and decided to let go of such ambitions. As my kids got bigger I started to travel more. Some ten years ago my partner in life and I lived in each our country which had us flying back and foreward several times a month. Flying was absolutely noo problem back then.

But then on that Alitalia flight a very hot day in July, something happened. I was sitting on row 3F, so by the window. The flight was not very full, a guy was sitting one seat from me, so at 3D – he too was totally cool with flying, I could tell, because it wasn’t until the ‘end’ of what happened that he closed his laptop and looked up.

If I remember correctly the flight time was estimated to approx 40 minutes. Of course the actual flying time of the distance would be much less, around half of those minutes, considering Fiumicino Airport in Rome and the one in Florence being located some 200-ish km / 124 miles from each other. But airplanes have routes and other airplanes to respect and therefore it just takes a little more to arrive.

The flight attendants soon started their onboard services offering coffee and tea or something cold to drink. After around 20 minutes of flying a loud ‘”PHOOOOOH” occurs. I raise my eyes from my new bought Enoteca Pinchiorri ‘cook’ book and just look around for some seconds. A moment after the seat belt sign is put on and the captain announces “flight attendants take your seats”, which they rushed to do, pulling their trolleys back with them. At first, the guy in 3D had his head in his computer and earbuds in, I’m not sure how much of the ‘incident’ he got to follow. So instead of looking at him I tried to analyse expressions from some of the other passengers around us. People had stopped reading and were now looking around. Again. Again. And continuously. Nobody never wants to panic, our flights’ passengers were no exception. The expression on the faces of the flight attendants revealed worried minds; no smiling, no talking, no direct eye contact. Of course, they too could not have a clue about what was going on. Now the guy in 3D had pulled out his earbuds and closed his laptop. He looked a me while I hurried to look out the window, trying not to show my concern.

The seat belt sign remained on till arrival, the flight staff had been kept seated all along. Those 20-something minutes were, as you can imagine, very long.

We finally landed and I looked so much forward to getting an explanation on what had been going on up there. Convinced to get it I happily stepped aside on the aircraft’s doorstep, waiting to get to talk with someone. The purser approached me and kindly asked if there was anything she could do for me. Yes, I said, and asked what had happened.

Nothing, she promptly answered. I figured I’d probably not explained myself well enough or that she hadn’t understood my question, so I asked again, pointing out the details: “When we were up in the air at around 20 minutes of flying there was a very loud ‘”PHOOOOOH”. Seconds after the captain put on the seat belt sign, told you and your colleagues to take your seats, you literally ran back with your trolleys, your faces were pale, you avoided eye contact and kept seated for the rest of the flight till landing when the seat belt sign was turned back off”. So, I actually got a bit scared and would really like to know what happened?”

“Nothing happened” she replied with a smile kindly nodding her head with a ‘gotta-go-nod’.

So I took off. And since that day I’ve been scared. I’m telling you, that is really awful. Flying that much and going over the ‘if I die now’ rituals several times a month. I always do my outmost to keep a positive mind -actually, my mind does it by itself- so, I think this fear is surely good for a very important matter; it has taught me, and is continuing to teach me, that now is now, tomorrow might never come. And it daily fills me with gratitude of all the wonderfulness life has given me.

Two days ago on the flight back from Bergamo til Copenhagen, an approx. 2-hours flight, we had turbulence half of the time. All live-and-die-thoughts went through my head for the 5th time in the last month, so I’m just like, I really think that I learned the gratitude-lesson and is there anyhow I could pass on to the next level and get rid of my anxiety? I will go and see a therapist but I’m not ready for it yet because such therapists, specialising in fear of flying; what if they trick me into getting rid of my anxiety without me really understanding what this is about? So I know its about not being in control and that scares the hell out of humen beings. But I really need to hear how other people feel about this. So many people fly much more than me, many people even on a daily basis? Are such people afraid too or are they just cool?

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