Flight Club: Getting Over Fear at 37,000 Feet


I Had To Get Over It Eventually…

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

— Jim Morrison

HOUSTON — Easter weekend 1994. That was the last time I had set foot on a plane. In fact, until Memorial Day weekend this year, it was the second to last time I had traveled anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon (I went to Atlanta in 1996…by car). I can’t really explain why I hadn’t, but I just, well, hadn’t. That particular Easter, we spent it in Miami. A year prior to that, my family and I had gone to Disney World in Orlando, and Busch Gardens in Tampa. As a young child we went on Family trips almost every year. Most of them by plane. I LOVED flying. It was fun. I remember going to California 20 years ago (which was the last time I was on the West Coast). We went to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. It was great. Disney Land was a blast. We’ve flown to Florida multiple times, driven to New York and Philly, made numerous drives to Chicago and Cleveland, went to The Bahamas, and even flew from Birmingham, Alabama after my Uncle Tommy’s funeral in 1990 (after a 14-hour cramped and hot car trip from Detroit o_O!) However after the Florida trip in 1994, that was it. No more airports, or baggage claims or connectors. Just 16 years of driving everywhere. And 16 years of hearing about plane crashes…and that little thing called 9/11. Suddenly hopping on a plane wasn’t very cool to me anymore. I actually wanted nothing to do with air travel and avoided it at all costs. Then along came NABJ this year, in San Diego. Much too far for me to hop in my truck and roll out like I have done for years. I was fretting getting on a plane but knew I had to conquer that fear that had built up for the last 16 years. Let’s Go.

When I missed NABJ last year in Tampa, it was primarily for two reasons:

  1. I was horridly broke.
  2. I balked at getting on a plane to fly down to Florida.

I said to myself that I was gonna go to NABJ this year regardless of where it was gonna be held. Then I saw the host city: San Diego, CA. A grand total of 2,340 miles away from my apartment. Ain’t no way my ass was gonna push my 2003 Ford Escape with over 160,000 miles on it through nine states. My truck is gangster, but not that gangster. So I had to swallow my fear and get my arse on a plane. The thing is, I wasn’t scared of things like terrorist attacks. The hell with that. I’m gonna beat a fool’s ass if he thinks he’s gonna take down a plane with me on it. I’m from Detroit, dammit! My hang up was the fear of at anytime that plane could go down, or as we’re cruising in for a landing, something malfunctions and goes horribly wrong. That irrational fear basically held me back from traveling for 15 years. It was to the point where, if it’s within an 800 mile radius, I’m driving. That’s it.

Yet, here I am, sitting in the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston for the second time in less than a week (BTW, this airport is awesome. How the hell can a place that’s named after such a terrible President be so damn awesome?). And I will say that in a week where a lot of good things happened, it all started by combating my fear of flying. I’m man enough to admit that I was scared to death of getting my ass on that plane on Wednesday morning. I was literally shaking in my seat. But once the plane got airborne, I began to remember why I loved flying as a kid. Looking out from the window seat and seeing everything beneath you is a humbling feeling. I’m a geek. Seeing the tops of Thunderstorm clouds off in the distance and seeing lightning strikes BELOW you are just plain cool. By the time I got here to make my connecting flight to San Diego, I was good to go. It was just me, my oversized headphones, my iPhone/iPod, and my laptop with 4 movies on it.

Everyone has fears. It may not be flying. For some of you, it’s heights, for others, it’s a fear of public speaking. Some people are deathly afraid of Spiders, while others are Claustrophobic. Some people fear water, others fear failure, but everyone has something they fear. It’s all about conquering that fear. If I don’t hop on those two flights, I don’t get to San Diego and have the best weekend I’ve had professionally ever. I gotta keep this relatively brief because it’s almost time to board my connecting flight back to Detroit, but when I write these blogs, they aren’t just to inform and entertain (“Infortainment” as I like to call it), these are still meant to give you an insight into who I am. Am I cool with flying now? We’ll see after I get back home later today. The major thing is that I’m a lot more open to hopping my ass on a plane now than I was six months ago. Besides, NABJ and Conclave are a week apart from each other next year in Philadelphia and Atlanta respectively, and I’ve gotta hop a flight to at least one of them (likely ATL). So why not man up & just do it? If you have something that is keeping you from making a bigger move in your life, no better way to change it then by facing it head on. Now if you excuse me, I have a plane to catch. I’ll holler at you when I get back to Detroit.

Until Next Time, From Houston, That’s The Way It Is. Sunday, August 1, 2010.

The 253rd day since the Detroit Lions’ Last Victory.

Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ

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6 Comments on “Flight Club: Getting Over Fear at 37,000 Feet

  1. Most folks worry about crashing but that is the least of your worries flying in a metal tube at 38 thousand feet. I won’t say what those things are – the less you know the better…signed “Oh Stewardess”

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