Fear of Flying
|Don't let your fear of flying stop your adventures from becoming a reality.|
By Rick Steves
Like many people, I'm afraid to fly. I always think of the little rubber wheels splashing down on a rain-soaked runway and then hydroplaning out of control. Or the spindly landing gear crumbling. Or, if not that, then the plane tilting just a tad, catching a wing tip, and flipping over and bursting into flames.
Despite my fears, I still fly. I remind myself that every day 30,000 planes take off and land safely in the United States alone. The pilot and crew fly daily, and they don't seem to be terrified. Professional sports teams fly all over the place all the time and never crash.
I guess it's a matter of aerodynamics. Air has mass, and the plane maneuvers itself through that mass. I can understand a boat coming into a dock — maneuvering through the water. That doesn't scare me. So I tell myself that a plane's a boat with an extra dimension to navigate, and its "water" is a lot thinner. Also, the pilot, who's still "flying" the plane after it lands, is as much in control on the ground as in the air. Only when he's good and ready does he allow gravity to take over.
Turbulence scares me, too. A United pilot once told me that he'd have bruises from his seat belt before turbulence really bothered him. Still, every time the plane comes in for a landing, I say a prayer, close my eyes, and take my pen out of my shirt pocket so it won't impale me if something goes wrong. And every time I stick my pen back in my shirt pocket, I feel thankful.
Wondering which airline to choose? For me, it doesn't matter; I have no favorite. If I arrive in Europe safely on the day I had hoped to, it was a great flight.
For other travel tips, check out my annually-updated Europe Through the Back Door.