Fear of Flying

Famous aviatophobics include Stanley Kubrick, Isaac Asimov, David Bowie, Kim Jong Il, Lars von Trier, Josef Stalin, and Whoopi Goldberg.

A turbulent airplane is a litmus test for being a superstitious person. I don’t believe in anything, but I get damned psychic when I fly. I suddenly see signs, symbols, and coincidences at every turn. Flight numbers synchronize with auspicious dates. A morbid song plays in the cab on the way to the airport. Maybe there’s an eerie crossword puzzle clue in the in-flight magazine. Or a Hugh Grant movie that makes me want to die.

My fear of flying fascinates me because it’s so illogical. Rather than denying my phobia, I’m learning to examine it. To dig into it. I’m teaching myself to steer into the skid.

Some notes:

i. The average age that somebody develops a fear of flying is 27. This is due to an increasing awareness of mortality as well as control issues that stem from the fading recklessness of youth.

ii. I developed a fear of flying on my 30th birthday during some turbulence somewhere over South Carolina. Something got rewired. Now I’m permanently irrational. I wonder if it can be reversed or if I’m destined to a life of white-knuckle travel.

iii. According to NASA, the average person is more likely to be killed by an asteroid than to die in a plane crash. You are also more likely to die while blogging. Sleep well tonight.

iv. Someday I will board an airplane without re-enacting David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’. Which is tonight’s song:

David Bowie – Space Oddity
from Space Oddity. Philips/Mercury, 1969 | buy mp3s

v. Famous aviatophobics include Stanley Kubrick, Isaac Asimov, David Bowie, Kim Jong Il, Lars von Trier, Josef Stalin, and Whoopi Goldberg.

vi. There’s no such thing as an ‘air pocket’. Turbulence is caused by erratic movement along the jet stream. Because the earth rotates at a fixed speed, there is an absolute ceiling for how bad turbulence can get, and airplanes are designed to withstand twice as much.

vii. A self-help site asks, “Have you ever considered what holds your car up? It’s not really the tires, it’s air pressure – about 32 psi. That’s a lot of weight for just some air to support! Think about it…”

viii. Your chances of being involved in an aircraft accident are approximately 1 in 11 million. Your chances of being killed in an automobile accident are 1 in 5000.

ix. You have more of a chance of dying from the food onboard than being involved in an accident. You are more likely to die while blogging.

x. Virgin Airlines recently released a ‘Flying Without Fear’ iPhone app.

Time to get some sleep before my flight. And I’m not going to worry about volcanoes spewing molten glass into the sky.

Sources: Sources: Wikipedia, MSNBC, and other notes from compulsive Googling.