It sounds ridiculous. That someone like me, who has taken about 1000 flights in my life, is suddenly scared to fly. Well, it’s not quite so sudden. It’s more like two years old now. I wasn’t too worried at first. Mostly because I figured it would just go away. But it hasn’t. It’s gotten worse.

It all started when I went with my sister down to Vegas for my birthday. It was a relatively short direct flight during a clear day. There was really nothing to be worried about. We were chatting excitedly about our upcoming escapades, when suddenly the plane dropped. It was unlike any other “turbulence” I had experienced before. The plane jerked and dropped violently. There was no warning, no indication what could be happening. Drink carts fell over, people panicked, overhead bins flapped open flinging out their cargo, flight attendants all rushed to their seats.

The terror went on for a good 15 minutes. I was crying. A lot of people were. The pilot didn’t give us any update so I knew it was bad. There was just radio silence. Nothing but the desperate gasps and whimpers of my fellow travelers every time we would hit a “pothole in the sky”. That was what my sister called them. When she saw me going hysterical she instantly reverted into Mom-mode. I was only distracted for a few seconds at the hilarity of her analogy.

When I looked out the window, the wings of the plane seemed to be twisting and the plane was no longer level. I was pretty sure we were somehow sideways. There were no clouds, the sun was shining, so I could only deduce it was mechanical. We were goners.

I tried to recount all my important moments of my life so I could get some meaning. Thinking this was the end, I wanted some clarity. I couldn’t believe my sister was sitting there pretending it was going to be ok. I was glad I was with her and not alone. But for a fleeting moment, I kind of wished we would have gone down AFTER the trip to Vegas. At least that would have been one great last hurrah.

In any case, the plane didn’t crash. We never did get an explanation of what happened, but one of the more seasoned flight attendants did admit that was the worst he had ever seen. As soon as we landed, I began making mental plans on how I was going to get back to Edmonton in a week. Train, bus, car, heck, I would have walked. I was never so glad to be back on Earth. 

So yeah, that was a little over two years ago. I have taken a few flights since, but seems I have some PTSD. I get extremely nervous, sweaty, out-of-control shaking, tearful, hyperventilating. The flight attendants almost always think I am a first time flyer and treat me with kid gloves. I’m too busy trying to deep breathe to explain this is a recent development. They wouldn’t believe me if I showed them my passport.

I usually get special treatment and even congratulatory chocolates right before we land. One sweet steward saw my predicament, and knelt beside me.

He whispered his secret: No one knows this but I am actually “Superman” and if anything goes wrong, I will fly under the plane and lead us down safely.

Seriously. I am a 40-year-old woman. But I was in a space that I actually entertained the idea for a little while. Bless his heart. There really are some good people out there. His story wasn’t really doing it for me, but the fact that he was trying to do it for me, did.

So I need to get past this. I have read stuff and watch videos about getting over the fear of flying. I even went to therapy. But so far, I am still grounded. Any one have any ideas of what I can do to solve this? There is a cruise or two I want to go on, and this is really cramping my style.

Today I am grateful for caring, comfort, empathy, humor, and facing fears.

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