Rocky View Publishing reporter faces fear of flying and takes to the sky
Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 11:08 am
When I was assigned to take photos of Junior Aviation Day on June 7, my blood turned cold as the thought of willingly getting into a small aircraft for a flight above Airdrie filled me with an unsettling panic.
My heart started to race and tighten as if the Grim Reaper himself had reached in and given it a squeeze. I could hear the blood rush through my veins in a rhythmic th-thump and the pressure in my head made me think it might burst.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I am not a fan of flying. I can get on a plane with a lot of support from a travelling companion and some liquid courage but inevitably, I end up clenching my jaw, slamming my eyes shut and clinging to the nearest person throughout the majority of a flight.
Take off is terrifying, turbulence is a living nightmare and landing is an uncomfortable mix of horror and relief.
I find the washrooms on commercial planes to be at once mysterious and dangerous and have yet to allow myself to venture into one, opting instead to hold it in no matter how urgent the situation becomes. It’s not only that I fear getting up while the plane is in the air, I also fear the toilets will somehow suck me out of the plane and eject me thousands of feet above the ground. I have this image of me covered in that awful blue toilet water as I’m falling toward the ground.
I realize this is irrational on many levels. I have never heard of someone being sucked out of an airplane washroom but in my mind it’s possible and it will happen to me.
My mouth was dry as I drove to the site where I’d face off against my fear. Sweat trickled down my back, not from heat but from a rising panic, as I got closer to the airport.
I parked my car and the terror was full on, gripping me in its vice-like hands. My heart felt as though it was in my throat and I could feel the tears welling up. I called my husband to tell him I loved him just in case things didn’t go well and to let him know I have life insurance.
He tried to tell me it would be fine but I could hear the chuckle in his voice. I knew he was laughing at me.
I took a deep breath, pulled up my big girl pants and made my way to the flight zone. I kept telling myself ‘you are a professional and you can do this’ as I boarded the small six-seater plane.
I looked in awe at all the dials, buttons, screens and thing-a-magigs in front of me as I sat in the front seat next to the pilot. Surely with all this technology everything would be fine?
We made our way down the runway and I could feel the plane speed up as the ground raced beneath us and then all of a sudden we were lifting off the ground. I wanted to slam my eyes shut and block it all out but I was there to do a job so I whipped out my camera and started taking photos.
Soon we were in the air and it wasn’t so bad. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it exactly, but I didn’t hate it.
The cloud cover made for a bumpy flight and there was one point where I caught myself holding my breath but as I forced myself to exhale, the calmness flooded in. It was OK. I was OK.
Still, as the plane slowed to a rest after the flight I was very eager to get out of that stifling aircraft and onto solid ground where I only had to worry about tripping over my own feet.
I had done it. I had survived and I had a neat experience to tell people about.
I’m still not sure how I feel about using the washroom on a plane but I do believe now I can survive a longer flight.
I might need to take my camera along for the ride and pretend I’m there on assignment, but I think I would survive.