Humans were not designed for flight

In two days I am about to travel halfway across the country.

It is nothing remarkable and far from newsworthy but I am already having the occasional night sweat.

My speech is more shattered than normal as the nervous energy jumps across my body.

Irrational as it may be, I am embarrassed to say that I am vaguely afraid of flying.

It is not the sort of impressive fear that results in screaming hysterics and sobbing fits at the sight of overhead lockers and smell of re-circulated air. No, my fear is a quieter more pathetic beast. I pretend that I like nothing more than hanging mid-air in a metal box and start making rabid conversation with anyone in earshot. I eat whatever food is put in front of me, make lame jokes, stare manically at my book and try not to imagine what it would sound like if the engine suddenly stopped.

I had done a pretty impressive job of putting the fear resolutely out of my mind until I read this article this morning. You can imagine my joy. Someone pass the Valium.

The strange piece is that I used to love flying. At 12 years old I was set on a career as a commercial jet pilot. At 16 I was well on my way, taking flying lessons every weekend in a Cessna powered only by a spinning propeller. At 21 I was high over Kenya looking down at the Great Rift Valley from the cockpit of a 6 person plane listening to Dylan sing ‘Hurricane’ at the top of his lungs.

Then one day someone took off my rose tinted glasses and unkindly stepped on them.

As a child I assumed that everyone’s parents flew separately. I cheerily accepted the news that mum and dad got on separate flights when they were going on a trip without me ‘just incase one of them goes down’. Today I all too clearly see their orphaned child worries for what they were.

Luckily my fear of flying is neatly balanced by a need to travel. My compulsion to go to new places, meet new people and periodically get back to England to spend a night with old friends in the pub, forces me to buckle up and pray.

It seems like I’m not alone. A friend of mine recently told me that she phones her friends and family before a flight ‘just incase’. So, I shall follow in her happy footsteps, stop writing and get on the phone right now…

Once upon a time flying was glamourous and relaxing. Could someone bring back those easy days please?

3 thoughts on “Humans were not designed for flight

  1. Great piece. Love your writing style.
    Where are you off to? I quickly got over my fear of flying well over 20 years ago, when I realized that you can just go to sleep!
    Good luck!

  2. Did your parents really travel separately for that reason? Alex and I travel separately because otherwise we bicker like crazy if we travel together! He is one of those people that queues up to board the plane when there’s a queue of 100 people, whilst I’m still at the MAC counter waiting for my personal call (yes, i’ve been called before… twice actually…)
    Fab writing as always!

  3. Meals – I love it. The ‘personal call’ makes the final boarding call sound very grand indeed. Are you one of those airport runners? I lost a sandal doing that once. My parents did indeed fly separately when I was younger ‘just incase’. I’m clearly less important these days as they fly together everywhere with no compunction…how rude

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