I had a interesting flying experience this morning. I left the Lincoln Airport at 7am for a 80 minute flight to Denver. As we approached Denver the captain came on the loud speaker and said they were having super bad fog in Denver and we were in a holding pattern. About 20 minutes later he came back on and said the weather in Denver was getting worse and we were going to have to land somewhere to refuel. As we were landing in BFE Colorado all of a sudden it sounded like we were taking on like fricking flak or something. The captain came on and said we had just been hit by a bird but everything was OK. After waiting 2 hours for a “certified” United inspector to make sure the plane was OK, then the short flight to Denver, waiting a hour or so to get rebooked, I am finally set to go and am currently sitting in the East United Red Carpet Club in the Denver Airport where I am writing this.
While we were on the ground waiting for fuel/inspection of bird strike I got thinking about all to people who tell me they don’t attend industry conferences/events because of their fear of flying. It’s VERY common.
6 years ago when I went to my first conference I was shitting bricks. I had a MAJOR fear of flying. I did not think there was a possibility the plane was going to crash I was sure of it!!!!!
It took me a long time to get over my fear of flight. I don’t think anyone (including my wife) knew how scared I was to fly.
It was not until I started doing some research online and educating myself as well as doing some cognitive behavior techniques that I started to do better.
I know a bunch of people out there are like, “Shoe, did you know that USA TODAY did a report that your odds of being in a fatal airplane crash are xxxxxxxxxxx to 1”.
GUESS WHAT JERKY. That doesn’t help me when the captain comes over the loud speaker and tells us that he would normally never land a plane in these conditions but we are running out of fuel and need to get on the ground – then we come out of the clouds sideways in a CRJ-200 with golfball size hail pelting the hell out of the plane and it feels like we are flying in a hurricane. You can shove your stats up your ass! When its doing down I’m crying like a bitch making promises to God that I will never be able to keep (like I will never masturbate again). (That actually happened to Tigh and I last summer – the bad plane ride part.).
So… here is what helped/helps me. Now I am cool as ice on planes. Even in a shit storm.
1) More flying (duh). The more you do it the easier it is. I am going to cross 75k miles this year pretty easily. I think I’ve spent more time in a plane then in my H2. The plane rides smoother (and probably gets better gas mileage).
2) Know the stats. It does give me some comfort to know that like 95% of airline fatalities happen within the first or last minute of the flight.
3) Learn about turbulence – Almost all airborne anxiety comes from turbulence. My wife puts on a death grip every time we hit a bump.
4) Make sure your seat belt is low and tight (always). In my hundred so flights I have seen probably a handful of injuries where people have actually hit the ceiling from totally unexpected turbulence. The seat belt sign was not on at any of these times.
5) Control your breathing. – If you start to have a panic attack take deep breaths in (hold for 5 seconds) then out (hold for 5 seconds) repeat until you start to chill. Make sure you are taking DEEP breaths with your diaphragm and not just half ass ones cause you will pass out from hyperventilating.
6) Scare the shit out of yourself. – I actually got this tip from DR Jack Shepard in the very first episode of LOST season 1. He told Kate when he gets a panic attack he tells himself to bring it for 10 seconds and scare the crap out of himself. Sometimes when I feel a little panicky I will be like ok lets do it (thinking to myself) OMG WE ARE GOING DOWN (picturing crashing and blood and guts everywhere) then thinking about what people would say about me and how my family would go on. This works amazingly well when I have used it in the past (I think I did it like once). You feel totally calm and thankful to be alive.
7) Focus on your happy place. There has to be something that gives you an enormous amount of joy in this world. What ever that is focus on it. For me it used to be World of Warcraft (I know NERD ALERT), Then it was my wife, and now it’s my daughter Juliet.
Well my plane is about to take off. While I tried to keep it on the lighter side I really hope some of these tips help you guys.
And if anyone has any other tips to ad please do so!