From a young age I have always had this strong desire to travel and adventure to every corner of the globe. Always jumping at any opportunity to book a flight and travel abroad at any cost. However booking the flights is always the easiest part, taking my seat is always easy as well. It’s what happens next that leaves me on edge for the full duration of the flight until we are back on the ground.
Let’s rewind back to my childhood. As far back as I can remember I have had an enormous fear of heights. This stemmed from falling from someone’s shoulders when I was very young during some sort of relay race at a rugby presentation day. Anyway this fear developed further and further to a point where I recall staying in a hotel with my family and having to take two lifts to arrive at our floor. The second lift we took I was sitting on the floor. I guess in an attempt to make myself smaller and fall that meter less if the unlikely chance that the lift started to free-fall. I can recall at the age of 10 flying from Sydney to Melbourne with my older brother finding refuge on the floor during turbulence. Basically this fear of heights mixed with somehow getting a plane up in the air and mother nature’s plans has developed this incredible anxiety I have now once the plane begins to move.
Every time before I board a flight it’s as if I have ignored the previous experiences as the excitement of getting abroad always trumps this. Then once the airhost closes the doors I think to myself “Oh god not another one.” My heart sinks. Soon followed by VERY sweaty palms. With any slight movement, it’s like I am on edge. The plane is called onto the runway, and next thing, I am praying in my head that everything will be A-Okay.
On each flight we motor down the runway gathering as much speed to launch into the sky. Now I don’t know if it’s just me but I still to this day think how the hell does this enormous A380-800 get off the ground. We launch and 30 seconds into the flight it’s as if the engines turn off! Silence over the wing, I think to myself is this meant to be happening. The plane begins to turn almost to the point where I feel like we are at a 90-degree angle to the earth. Pushing up through the clouds, we finally hit cruising altitude.
After the vast amount of flights I have been on in my life both domestically and internationally, it’s quite ironic someone like me is so fearful of being up in the sky. You would honestly think I would be a good at this by now. To be honest, my fear of flying is getting worse and worse with each flight. Perhaps it’s the smaller little propeller planes we continue to fly with. Each time I fly anxiety and sweat just take over me, and there is no chance of sleep. I have these little pep talks in my head with no successful outcome. I stay completely still as for some reason I feel like this is going to help and I rarely use my phone or laptop on a flight. Arriving on the ground could not sooner. It’s an immediate relief, and I ignore the fact that I am going to put myself through this once again in the near future.
My Two Worst Flying Experience:
- Sydney – LAX (Delta Airways)
Before take off, the flight crew informed all passengers that we might experience a little bit of turbulence on our 14 hour flight. Personally I feel they could have expanded on this point a little more. Moments after take off it was as if Mother Nature was pissed off at everyone aboard this flight. She was throwing us about like a rag doll. After some time the flight finally found a nice cruising altitude. This was a small window of opportunity for the airhosts to serve all passengers their meals before turbulence was once again out of control. To watch an airhost serve food on a flight screaming out, “What do you want beef or chicken”, whilst the overhead compartments break open and they were tossed around in the aisle was outrageous. Note to any traveller: it’s extremely hard to consume a meal with crappy plastic cutlery and holding a beverage with your other hand. The highlight of this flight besides the solid 13 hours of turbulence was the second time we began to cruise nice and easy. This peace was quickly interrupted by the pilot saying, “Seat belts on immediately.” There was no please or anything. I have never in my life experienced anything like this before and hope I never have to again. Even though the flight was nice and cool, I was sweating from head to toe, and I can guarantee you could see the fear in my eyes!
- Hanoi – Luang Prabang (2015)
We boarded our little 50-seater propeller plane and were soon steaming down the runway and up into the air. Everything was surprisingly smooth, almost too perfect for words. Oh wait, I spoke too soon. I swear the moment I turned and told Kelly that this was going to be a perfect flight with no clouds in the sky, the flight attendant immediately said over the speakers, “Keep your seatbelts fastened nice and tight. We will be experiencing some turbulence.” “We will be.” Who ever says this… at least lie and say there may be a possibility of turbulence, not that there will be a 100% chance that we are going to experience this. Anyway I am already on edge sweating buckets at this point. We then fly into what I could only describe as the eye of the storm and begin to drop meters and begin to be tossed around.
I’m not sure what it is about flying in Asia that scares me so much. Perhaps the fact that the pilots don’t do as much training as other places around the world or the fact I like being in control of the vehicles I am in, but I didn’t feel safe. I honestly thought that was the end, until the voice of an Australian pilot came over the speakers. A breathe of fresh air and reassurance of home, I knew I was in safe hands.
I understand the fear of flying is no laughing matter, and honestly it’s an fairly irrational fear that I wish I could easily overcome. As my life revolves around the next adventure and travelling the globe, I somehow manage to get myself into boarding that flight. Sometimes we just need to try and overcome these fears. Turbulence is another story!