I'm scared of flying. But I also really enjoy flying sometimes. I'm most scared of take off and after that I can get some pretty good work done during the actual trip. That is, if I'm not clutching the armrest and trying my hardest to see through the clouds out the window and try and understand why the plane is shaking up and down, left and right. I know what causes turbulence and I know that turbulence alone never puts the airplane in danger. It just feels so damn scary! Over the last few years I have read many books on flight, aerodynamics, a book called Stick and Rudder - which explains the basics of flight and is and a great read; I've read pilots' blogs (which I find fascinating) and I also receive a Fear of Flying newsletter every Wednesday. Having the profession that I do - concert violinist - I have no choice but to get on a plane. But I never know how I'll feel during the flight until I'm on the plane. My emotions have ranged from
tearing up crying on takeoff; very shaky and sweaty hands for a good while; panic; screaming out loud; to perfectly calm; no butterflies and feeling really excited about being up in the air and seeing the ground below me in this amazing way!
Yesterday's flights were ok, though after not flying for nearly two months I was a little shaky. The first flight was on a 737-800 (738). I like those planes fine - they're near the top of my favorite planes to fly. I'll talk about the top ones in another post. The takeoff from Philly was a little bumpy like it always is but thanks to a good friend I call lorazepam I wasn't terribly bothered. I thought about the heavy, hot fuel swooshing around the fuel tanks only a few times. :) Our Captain (or First Officer) was a man of few words....I heard him utter three sentences to the cabin. "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff", "I'm turning the seatbelt sign off, but please keep it on while seated", and "prepare for landing". I don't know about most people but I like it when the pilots talk to the cabin and give us information such as our altitude, possible turbulence in our path, what states or cities we're flying over, or just say "don't worry, even though the turbulence feels really scary, we're not going to fall out of the sky..." ok, so maybe they never put it that way, but that's how I take it. I like hearing from the pilots. It reassures me that everything is going fine up there in the cockpit. I often think that if I were able to sit in the jump seat of the cockpit for a few flights I would be cured of my fear of flying. But unfortunately short of becoming a pilot or flight attendant, that is now impossible. I once bought two DVDs of cockpit views from Lufthansa flights over the Atlantic and watched them in their entirety. Well, it wasn't the same as being in the cockpit. Not that I would know....except for one very lucky time, when I was 12 and was let into the cockpit mid flight on an Austrian Airlines flight just to peak - it was awesome!
Now where was I - my second flight yesterday was on an ERJ145. I am NOT a fan of regional jets. I don't like them and if I can avoid it I won't book myself on them. Luckily the flight was pretty smooth. Turbulence in a CRJ or an ERJ is pretty awful to sit through. Once I was on a CRJ700 and the turbulence was so bad (probably felt like light chop to the pilots but to me it felt much worse) that the flight attendant told me to stop panicking, that I was scaring the other passengers and also asked me why I fly if I'm so scared of it. She was quite condescending and not at all pleasant, and part of me really wanted to tell her where to go and what to do once she got there, but I refrained. I'm sure those four-letter words are best when not used in an airplane, or directed at a flight attendant....it was a regional airline, which brings me to another dislike about flying - regional airlines. But again, another post. I arrived to my destination then as I did now and that's the most important thing. Now I get to perform one of my favorite pieces this weekend - the Korngold Violin Concerto - and I couldn't be happier about it. That is, until I get on the plane for the return trip home. Then I'll be shaky again.
Until the next takeoff,