Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 10 Fear of Flying

Included photos and video from flying in the friendly skies.  I share these because fewer and fewer people have the desire to fly anymore.  Look what you are missing, there are advantages. I make no claims as a cinematographer but if you have never shared the sky with lightning, the short video clip is somewhat interesting.  I am not sure why it came out blue and why the crack across the sky didn't come out.  I was filming for the entire 45 minutes but have spared the audience and edited the sequences closer together. The landing you can just fast forward if it's not your thing.

1. My very first flying experience was amazing.  I was stoked and I was prepared. I was playing Steve Miller, "Big Ole Jet Airliner don't carry me too far away" on a cassette player/walkman when you were still able to have electronic devices turned on during take off in the good ole days.  I was flying to Disney World in Florida in the late seventies/early eighties and I loved it. That was many, many years ago.

Golden Gate and Bay Bridge in San Francisco during takeoff from the air.

2. Approximately 6 flights later and a span of 3 years, I was on a return trip from Florida.  I remember distinctly it was an L1011 airplane.  I do forget the airline because they are no longer in business but I think their name began with an "A, E I O or U". I always flew with them. I did a little homework on this and it just so happens the airline was Eastern Airlines and the L1011 (some of them are still in service).  Wikipedia (who else) lists airplanes and airlines and they also list notable incidents.  Mine was not listed.

3. We were half way into our flight, so it was an hour or so into the air.  My seat was directly in front of the galley.  For those who may be a little younger and do not know what that is, airplanes used to have kitchens on them and they always fed you pretty good.  The galley was in the center of the plane, so my back was facing the wall but I was on the aisle seat and in good earshot of all communication between the stewardess (flight attendant) and the captain by phone.

Grand Tetons from the air.

4.One engine is down?, I heard her say.  The dialog caught my attention.  When she said, three engines, I went into that pocket on the seat in front of me.  L1011's have 4 engines.  Hm mm, I am still cool but I noticed my palms began to sweat. I was in on the whole drama.  The captain did not make any announcements to the passengers until we were about 15 minutes away from Philadelphia but I knew what was happening as it was all going down, no pun intended.

Lake Mead from the air.

5.  The stewardess reinforced the emergency evacuation plans, we were told to get out the instructions in the seat and review one more time and were given specific instructions on how to prepare and get into crash position.  You have all probably heard it before, lean forward, bend over and kiss your seat goodbye. The captain was amazingly calm as he instructed us exactly when to position ourselves.  As we were coming in for our landing you could see all the fire trucks and emergency vehicles and their lights racing along the side of the plane.  We landed safely but I did suffer a psychological heart attack.

Nashville at Night

6. For years, I have had a fear of flying from that one incident but I try not to let my head dictate what my heart wants to do.  We made plans to go to Ireland on our honeymoon and you can't catch a train so I went to a psychologist to cure my fear of flying. Again, a dated story, it cost $50 for this stranger and I mean stranger then me, to explain the breathing exercises I could do while I was in a panic in the air. They are similar to those exercises the ladies are taught when they go into labor. Totally useless for most of the event, your focus is elsewhere.

Memphis Highway from the Sky

7. I fly a few times a year now, if I am lucky. It has been many years in between. I congratulate myself with each and every successful flight I make.  I have a friend who is a pilot and also a friend who is a flight attendant.  They are very responsible people, who take their job and responsibility very seriously.

Arriving at DFW, Dallas is a big city.

8. My issued seemed to be, I had no control over what that plane was going to do and I think that experience affected many facets of my life where I felt I needed to be totally in control.  It really is a relief on those days when you realize you don't have control, you have to place your trust in someone else. It's tough to trust some one else, every one is leery of the other guy. Maybe I am naive, but I have to believe there is more good then evil in this world.

Sunrise over the city of Dallas during takeoff at DFW.

9. My last air trip began last Tuesday night.  We flew standby and the last flight out opened up.  The airport was quiet, we walked right up to security.  There were 12 people standing around and nine of them were security.  I was wearing a dress, no jewelry, no watch, no metal went through the metal detector then the x-ray machine,  and I beeped.  I was really surprised because I have become an expert traveler and obey all the rules. The husband always gets stopped because he forgets to do something. I started to go back through the arch way and the tsa agent was friendly enough and he said, no please walk into this area. "Me"?  I  said.  "I don't think I have any metal on"?  He tells me, no it's a random pick you are the XX person.  I'll keep the XX secret for the sake of security. I go into this glass encased area and they ask me to hold out my palms and they swab my hands, scan them and say thank you, have a nice day. I found out later they were looking for traces of explosives on my hands  I would never touch explosives and I am surely no terrorist. I'm pretty close to a little old lady.  My paranoia snuck in because, I had an earache earlier in the day and I found old ear drops that had Cipro in it and I wondered if I had any on my hands.  Turns out I was clear. I flew 3 times round trip over the past week and my legs were searched not groped and I was wearing a dress?? and my hands were swabbed twice and my breasts and abdomen were, as I was pre-warned, touched lightly. I was also asked if I wanted to go to a private area to be searched. Really? Nope I want this to be seen for my own safety and peace of mind.  I am not one to question authority, but do the innocent have no rights anymore.  True the search was not invasive in my opinion because I had nothing to hide but still just the thought that you can be subjected to that kind of treatment anytime is saddening. I surely do not have a better solution but what are we doing to ourselves? It just doesn't seem to make sense to me, who are we really protecting and who are we allowing to break us down.

10.  I no longer have a fear of flying or of airplanes, I believe, the airlines and crew do the best they can. I hate the baggage fee though. Shouldn't that be included with your tickets, have regulations and charge for excess? All my flights were smooth, including my return flight to Philadelphia.  We did circle for 45 minutes due to the lightning storm Sunday night. (see video)  I did find it strange that security was nothing on September 11th.  We only had to walk through a metal detector, not even the x-ray machine.  It is no longer a pleasant experience to fly.  You are confronted immediately as you enter the airport, it is not for pleasure anymore. My biggest fear now is what more restrictions will be impose on innocent people when those who are responsible for the terror dictate who is suspect and who is not. I understand, it is for our safety and the safety of those we travel with but must we be stripped of our dignity? I had to place my arms and hands spread out to my sides. Privacy means nothing anymore. What is the famous saying "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"?

Lightning over the Philadelphia International Airport
It is good that tragedy has created a whole new department in the government and a whole slew of new jobs in the tsa to protect us but how much innocence has been lost?  That is the scary part to me. We have to travel to stay connected.  Segregation and exclusion has never worked in history.

Coming in for a safe landing at the Philadelphia International Airport.  The view begins somewhere over Wilmington.

I flew on September 11th this year which would typically be a huge feat for someone who had a fear of flying. My fears have significantly changed. I am more afraid of people now and I am ashamed to admit, I too was profiling certain people and watching their movements at the airport and on the plane.  That just can't be a "good" thing. Ten years ago, I personally, because of my own fears would not have been able to see the sights I've seen or taken the pictures from the air and around the world that I have taken. I feel I have made great strides in overcoming my fears (some of them) and have learned to appreciate the freedom and what we are capable of doing, not focusing and dwelling on limitations. That my friends will only leave us grounded and get us nowhere. It does seem the world is headed in the wrong direction.

I went through two of the busiest airports in Europe without incident.  In my own country, I was a suspect.  That is very disheartening.

1 comment:

  1. Keep on posting these types of articles. I like your blog design as well. Cheers!!!