Book Trailer The Noble Train

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fear of Flying

Jets hitting turbulence and throwing passengers into the roof. Jets disappearing over the ocean with no real clue as to what happened--everyone dies and even the black box cannot be found. Small airplanes that auger into the ground after the pilots have a conversation about icing on the wings. Airplanes that catch fire, lose wheels, lose parts, land in the Hudson after birds take out the engines. Is it any wonder people have a fear of flying?

Statistically planes are safer than cars. Tell that to the people who vanished after flying into hundred mile an hour winds over the ocean. Or the people who literally went through the ceiling when their plane hit turbulence. There is just something about getting into this sealed up tube with a bunch of other people and feeling all that steel go off the ground that is unsettling. Man was not meant to fly. We know this. We have to to go great lengths to do what birds do effortlessly. And sometimes it just doesn't work out.

Look at the people waiting to get on a plane and compare them to the people getting off a plane. Night and day. The people waiting are glum, absorbed in their magazines or their study of the plane that will hurl them into the sky. The people getting off are happy and humming to themselves--we made it we made it we made it. Is there anything stranger than watching the city beneath you turn into small building blocks as you go above the clouds and enter a world of vaporous monsters and roaring engines straining to get you up to thirty five thousand feet where gravity will be held at bay for the next few hours? No. It goes counter to everything we are about.

We are given a fear of heights. It is a protection mechanism. Don't stand on the edge of the cliff, don't hang out of the tree too far. Our ancestors took heed. They had too. There was no one taking their ticket and sticking them in a steel tube with kerosene burning engines that would blast them above the earth. They just had to worry about falling off cliffs or down steep inclines. But we are told that flying is perfectly safe. Everyone flies. So they do. But some people don't come back.

I took the train once. It was full of people who don't like to fly. They all had horror stories of the one flight that got them back to the old iron horse. They were stories of moments of terror while planes dropped and oxygen masks popped out. Moments where they saw their lives flash before their eyes. The difference is they didn't buy into the statistics that say we are perfectly safe. They made a decision. They just quit flying.

Books by William Hazelgrove