Letters to the Editor

SUBJECT: Fear of Flying
FROM: 
Kevin Rose <kerose@worldnet.att.net>

I wanted to tell how I am conquering my fear of flying:  by taking flying lessons and working towards a private pilot certificate.

This may not be for everyone; it works for me, possibly because of a technical background as an avionics engineer.

Turbulence has always been tough for me, but experiencing it as a pilot-trainee (and slowing to maximum-design turbulence speed) when I'm at the controls, shows me it is not something to fear.

One time, when the pilot of a Canadair Regional Jet suddenly chopped the power, I thought we were going to dive to the ground and crash.  That did it!  I resolved to never fly again.  But, knowing that wasn’t a reasonable solution to my fears, I decided to learn to fly myself.

It wasn’t easy.  I came back shaking after my first few times in a Cessna 172.  

"What am I doing up here?"  I said.

But I stuck with it and soon began to enjoy the training.  By the time we started practicing stalls, emergency procedures and emergency landings, the rest of my fears slipped away.  I recovered from each potential emergency very nicely.

Now that I am authorized to solo in the local area and land at two other airports nearby, I am finding true enjoyment of flight.  It is also comforting to know I can choose to drive, fly the airlines, or fly myself. 

I used to get upset with airline agents when I encountered delays, missed connections, and lost baggage.  My attitude was: 

“I'm paying for this; I demand exemplary service.” 

But, as a student pilot I have learned the complexities of flight.  I will never again complain of airline delays, lost baggage, or missed connections. 

A Cessna 172 is complex enough.  A plane with turbine engines is all the more complex; I'm amazed that airlines do as well as they do.

Another side benefit of learning to fly: I'm now more relaxed in day-to-day life (my wife is very supportive of my learning to fly).  Just about all my friends are amazed that I can fly -- even after 100 years, flying is a great achievement.  It's a great way to meet new people.

I recommend learning to fly as a way of combating a fear of flying.  While I don't plan on becoming an airline pilot, I might acquire a Flight Instructor rating so I can teach what I now love.

[See the Faq on the Fear of Flying, Ed.]

February, 2001

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