Do You Have a Fear of Flying?
A couple of days ago, I was talking about travels with someone I met. He said he doesn’t like to travel because he’s afraid of flying. Curious, I asked why.
With a slight hint of embarrassment, he answered, “I feel like I don’t have any control on an airplane if something goes wrong.” I have heard of that reasoning at least once before. The premise is that if you are not in the driver seat, you are left helpless if anything goes wrong. I nodded in acknowledgment, as I recognize that it is not always easy for people to share their fears.
The conversation made me wonder: Is the fear truly about not having control on an aircraft? Or, is it more about not having control over one’s fate in the event of an accident, which extends into the fear of death? If it is the latter, I think it’s a perfectly rational fear. Mortality is what makes us human, and it’s a reminder that each of us only has finite time.
Is it really about control?
If it’s just a matter of having control, I have a slightly different take which may help ease some fears. While I generally believe in free will, I also believe that no one has “full” control in the first place. You don’t have control over the family you’re born into, the color of your skin, the initial lot you’ve been given in life. (Note: I said “initial” as I’m a firm believer that one’s lot in life can be changed).
Still, there are just some things you don’t have a lot of control over. Sometimes you meet someone who’s going to change your life when you least expect it. You could be at the right place at the right time. Conversely, you could also be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
For these reasons, I’d assert that you don’t have control aboard an aircraft anymore than if you were on a train or a ship. As we are all interconnected as part of society. I tend to believe that we have to rely on each other to do the “right” thing. For cars to stop at red lights at an intersection. For people to go to work so services are operational. For people who are trained in their jobs to do their jobs right.
I’d like to think that I’m in the care of people who are well-trained in their jobs. I trust that they are well-equipped to handle any situations, and that my odds — and that of my fellow passengers — are better with them than if I (or other inexperienced passengers) were at the helm. On that vein, I suppose I don’t worry about having control on an aircraft as I expect pilots and crew to take great care and pride in their jobs to get passengers to their final destinations.
If you’re afraid of flying for whatever reasons but you still fly, congratulations on managing your fears. In many ways, fears are normal so long as they are not all-consuming. Fears give you the opportunity to think about the reasons behind the fears. It sometimes forces you to see the bigger picture: What’s most important? What’s not? Sometimes these are the questions that give you the “big” perspective, and it is one of the things I love most about travel.
That is not to say I don’t have any specific fears around flying, but that’s for another day.
Do you have a general fear of flying? Is so, what is it about flying that makes you nervous?