A fear of flying led one businessman to conquer his phobia with knowledge, understanding, and respect.
April 26, 1998
I was a terrified
frequent flyer. Business forced me to travel,
but it wasn't pleasant. My
fears were so strong that, at one point, I
went to my boss' home on
Saturday to cancel a trip with him, closing
the conversation with, "So,
that's it. Fire me, demote me, but I
ain't gettin' on another
you ask, "let me get this straight. This is a supposed
to be a story
about learning to fly, not refusing. What's the point?"
The point is that for a large number of fearful fliers learning to
is a perfect antidote for what ails them. But more important,
that if those who choose to learn become some of the best
GA pilots in
the air. Yes, I mean pilots not airplane drivers.
their incredible need to know, need to understand,
makes them ongoing
students. Part of overcoming fear is
understanding. Long before my first
flight training, I read
everything I could get my hands on about
meteorology, and airline operations. I subscribed
to the Air Line
Pilots Association magazine. I even wrote an article for
the fearful fliers in the back of their planes! Does our own
deserve less diligence? No!
Second, once past the
barrier of starting training, the
overwhelming joy of flight eclipses all
else. Sure, the first stalls
aren't fun. No, you won't be as confident as
your CFI that you are
ready to solo. Yes, you may have checkride jitters
for every license
or rating you earn. Yet none of that compares the the
freedom, the privilege of being able to play among the clouds.
in, instruments green, pull back on the yoke, and the earth goes
away. You're free.
Finally, having earned the privilege of solo
privilege becomes a sacred trust. In return for the
extended to the pilot, the pilot agrees to be held entirely
accountable; to exercise his or her privileges responsibly; to be
"I'M SAFE" before each flight (no
Fatigue, or doubtful
not a fearful flier?
So much the better. Are you still willing to
respect the privileges you
are about to earn, to the same degree? To
train as diligently? To fly as
responsibly? To celebrate your
experience of flight as joyfully?
I'll never command a B-2, or drop the hook on my F-14 for a
landing at night, or feel my 747-400 contact the runway after
IIIb approach and landing. But I've trained, and I've
loved, and I've
lived flight with the same intensity. And, by God's
grace, I am part of
that same community of men and women who value
the sense of
accomplishment and the ultimate accountability that
Moreover, through my training, I can better appreciate the
and skill of of these more advanced pilots while holding
myself to the
same standards for professionalism and attitude.
What about you?
Ready to accept the same responsibility, in return
for the privilege of
flight? Great! Then, let's go play among the