Up, up and away!
500 Words: My Secret Fear
The book said “Avoid looking at the onboard flight map” – so I studiously avoid it.Do I really want to see the countries I’m flying over?Particularly this year? After one plane disappeared off the face of the earth and another was shot out of the sky?But I’m here now, on the plane. A long haul flight to a continent far, far away from my home in rural Australia. My first overseas flight since I flew to New Zealand thirty five years ago as a uni student.Our flight to the UK had been booked months in advance, ten months in advance in fact. My secret fear of flying has been with me for years, and was steadily growing worse. I don’t know when or where it started. My flights to and from New Zealand all those years ago were non-eventful, so I couldn’t blame my journey to the Land of the Long White Cloud for my current state of fear.But when the opportunity for an overseas family holiday presented itself, I pushed my fear aside, hoping that the months that stretched ahead between the ticket purchase and actual takeoff would give me enough time to get a grip.Unfortunately, those months didn’t see me being less afraid of flying. If anything, my fear got worse. Internalising my anxiety didn’t help. I found myself becoming paralysed at the thought of spending hours in the air.When there were only about two months to go before our trip, and my fear was consuming my waking and sleeping moments, I knew I really had to do something. I mean really had to do something. I couldn’t let myself or my family down – I had to be able to fly. Freaking out at the airport or, worse still, on the plane, was not an option. It was time to confront my fear.I took a three-pronged approach. I typed ‘fear of flying’ into to my search engine, and read everything I could on overcoming my fear. I was even able to do an online course on the subject which opened my eyes to the world of flight and explained how planes work and what they are capable of. It allayed many of my deepest concerns.Next, I did more research to find a book that I could buy, physically hold and read from cover to cover, over and over again, to help me understand and conquer my terror.And lastly, I prayed a lot.Over the course of our four week holiday, we took six flights which saw us travelling from Sydney to Dubai to London to Paris to Malta and back home. I can’t say I was totally relaxed the whole time, but I did manage to enjoy the journeys without embarrassing myself or my nearest and dearest.Has my fear of flying actually gone? I don’t think that it will ever completely leave me, but I know now that I can manage it and accept it.As for the onboard flight map, by the time I was on the second last leg of my journey, I was able to take a sneak peak and secretly enjoy the thrill of knowing where I was in this wonderful world of ours.