2007/01/06

Flying Scares The Crap Out Of Me

Boeing is poised to overtake Airbus in booked orders, and though it's true that nothing lands as smoothly as an Airbus (on a clear day when it's obvious that the computers are doing the work), I have to say that Boeing's recovery is great for America. On the other hand...

... Flying scares the crap out of me!

And you know what? It didn't used to be this way. I've been flying since the age of two, and there was a time--not so long ago--when I looked forward to plane travel. I can still remember the excitement of leaving the ground. Not any more...

Is it a lifetime's worth of turbulence and bad landings? Nope. I'm a pretty logical guy, and I know that the chances of my dying in a airplane crash are about the same as my replacing the Decider as our next president. Hell, I'm more likely to die outside my flat. Crossing a single street in this pedestrian shooting gallery I call home is more dangerous than all the plane flights I'll ever take.

And what about aircraft themselves? More air-worthy in my opinion. Planes can do things, handle weather, deal with crowded air corridors in ways that your average 727 could never have attempted. But perhaps that's the kernel of the problem. When a more robust aircraft has to cram in to an approach pattern with dozens of other planes, things get a bit dicey...at least from the passenger's perspective.

I mean, has anyone else noticed how fast aircraft descend from altitude these days? I can remember, as a child, how aircraft used to go 'nose up' with the engines revved down, to gently sink though the atmosphere. Now-a-days the engines rev up, the nose goes DOWN, and planes are flown toward the ground. EEK! F*ckin feels like falling. Ah...that's it then. Now matter how hard I try to convince myself that I'm not about to die, a high-bank turn with the nose pointed at the ground convinces me that all is lost.

I don't care how much more efficient it makes dealing with the number of flights, rapid steep descents executed simply because modern aircraft can take it f*cks with your passenger's heads, and don't we pay the bills? Huh? I don't like having to get off a plane, with my legs shaking, to face a smiling pilot who says, "Please fly with us again," when all I want to do is grab him by the throat and scream, "Thanks for scaring the crap out of me, ASSHOLE!"

27 Comments:

I love being up in the air and looking down on the world. For me, it puts everything in perspective when cities look like tiny ant villages. But I hate air travel because it's so uncomfortable. First there's the TSA bullshit you have to put up with at the airport. It takes about two hours just to get from the curb to the plane. Then you're packed in like cattle heading to the slaughterhouse. It's usually my luck to get surrounded by crying babies on all of my plane flights.
Kvatch,

I totally agree with you. When I was a little kid I enjoyed flying, it was fun. Now, not so much. My dad had his pilot's license and I've flown enough to recognize pilot errror when I see it. My last two flights I saw it. No third time's the charm.

I like the train, I can see the countryside.
My pilot friend tells me that they have a very small window to land due to the number of planes in the air. So, when the tower says land, they mean right now. Gish! I don't like to fly anymore because I feel like just one of the herd of cattle that they shove on board.
Comandante...you know, the discomfort of air travel doesn't bug me that much. Sure a train would be nice--Deb's certainly got a point there--but that's not going to happen in the US. You're point about 2 hours from curb to seat is well-taken though. What a pain that is.

Deb, see above. Trains would be great, but extensive rail systems in the US are a thing of the past I'm afraid.

Peacechick, I've always suspected that what you're talking about is part of the problem. A pilot friend of mine also said that the particular 'posture' (nose slightly up, nose down, whatever) of modern aircraft on descent is just a function of the design. Of course neither of those realizations help in the least.
I'm with the Commandante: love flying, hate the discomfort. I usually bring a map so I can tell where I am and identify all the landmarks on the ground...and since I went digital, I now bring my camera whenever I fly. Got some reasonably decent pictures along the way.

But I resent the hell out of having to take my fucking shoes off.
Flying blows my eardrums in half! It would be a walk in the park for me, well that may be the wrong cliche' for your post, kvatch, but it would be a hell of a lot more enjoyable if my ears would not explode and make my head feel as if it's filling up with gravel! :>) or :>/
But I resent the hell out of having to take my fucking shoes off.

As of a few months ago, official TSA policy was that they could not ask you to remove your shoes without cause (not sure what that means). I tried this on a TSA rep at SFO, telling them that I wouldn't remove my shoes until after I'd passed through the metal detector. The pissed-off rep told me that if didn't want to remove them I could sit outside the checkpoint till my flight took off.

[sigh]

TPM, yeah...I have problems with that as well now-a-days. Didn't used to, but I've got pretty bad allergies these days, and that has an effect on how well my ears respond to pressure changes.
I hate flying. Evertime the plane takes off I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Landing is not so bad
I'm with graemeanfinson and Kvatch. I hate taking off. I feel like i'm barely hanging on when the nose is up and my ass is lower then the pilots seat!!! Landing is good because I know it will soon be over.

The thing that REALLY trips me out is the idea that we are all flying around up higher then Mt. Everest!!! Sitting in those stupid torture chairs being fed something called, "chicken" (or "vegetarian opition" for me) and trying to pretend that we aren't defying physics.

No, man was meant to stay on the ground and out of the ocean is my credo.

I'm with Deb, take the train.
Graeme, James the Frogette agrees with you guys, and statistically you're right to be more nervous on takeoff. Me...it's landing just cause of the 'nose down' issue. Like I said, feels like falling.

And James, I with you on the ocean thing. Just say no.
Just the thing to send me off to sleep...when I'm getting on a plane to Alabama tomorrow.
Kvatch,

I've taken the liberty of commenting on this article on my own blog. I was going to link to it, but couldn't figure out how to do it.
Thanks for sending the correct URL to your article. I've corrected it on my blog.
I have noticed that landing is a lot faster than it used to be, and my palms sweat a little now. But all in all, a thrill seeker like me just enjoys it most of the time.

By the way, a very late Happy New Year to you Froggy. Good to know you.
Sorry Fred...safe trip. Just keep thinking 'probability, probability, probability..."

Cranky, thanks for the mention and the correction.

Praguetwin, seems I get more and more nervous with each passing year, though my amount of flying has been constant. And...Happy New Year!
I used to find flying exciting, too. But I'll admit, my feelings changed after the Jedi were born. Train travel is worse, though. I'd rather take my car if at all possible.
While I still have no problem with the actual flight itself (although the packed in like sardines feeling is certainly true), I am boycotting air travel until the TSA is castrated.

I am not a terrorist, and I refuse to allow myself be treated like a criminal simply because I wish to visit another city in my own country.
Julien, if I had a car... The motorcycle was OK for short trips (150 miles or less), I could still rent, but the insurance kills me.

Sewmouse, I certainly understand how not wanting to deal with TSA would inhibit one's travel plans. "Paper's please!"
I prefer small planes to the air bus but I love to fly. I love airports. But I don't love the hub system and the TSA bullshite. It's no fun to fly anymore because you spend more time on the ground in lines than you do in the air.

I don't mind a rapid descent either as long as it's pressurized right. Otherwise, I get the ear thing too. It's so bad sometimes that it feels like railroad spikes going through my ears and it takes hours, sometimes days for my ears to pop.

Belated Happy New Year to you darlin.
Many thanks Libby. To you as well. I long for practical rail travel, but I just wouldn't do here without bullet trains.
Oh man, I totally hate flying. Remind me to tell you my KLM story one time.
I love flying. The only reason I would have stayed in the Army was if I could have stayed in an AirEvac unit. After coming off active duty, I joined a Guard unit in Denver that flew BlackHawks. When we moved to Minnesota, I got put in an armored unit with no tanks and no real desire to train seriously so I got out. I miss riding in the helicopter though.

My wife hates flying though and we are flying to Nashville at the end of this month. Anyone know of a good drug to keep her from freaki9ng out and getting us arrested
I hate flying so much that a few years back I got Xanax just for flying. I took one on a flight from LA to DC, which was so turbulent (we hit a storm) that some folks screamed and some threw up... but the pilot NEVER got on the damn speaker and said things would be OK, which made me shout, "Next time I'm taking TWO XANAX!" So on the return flight (this was Jet Blue) I did take 2 Xanax... and lost my cell phone...
More than anything else I hate the crowding on a plane. I don't fly that often, and every time I get on a plane there are more rows and the seats are smaller and closer together. It sucks. I'm driving or taking the train from now on.
Mags... I'll hold you to that the next time the Barbarians meet.

Me4Prez...me too...when I was young and all the way to the age of about 35, but after that... And BTW, read what Helen says regarding Xanax. The Frogette takes Xanax (by prescription, and it does help with her own problems with flying.
Helen, like I said above, the Frogette uses Xanax as well. I myself can't take the stuff. It's TOO DAMN GOOD! Had a prescription once (doctor's orders) and stopped after about a week. The stuff was a frickin' wonder drug. I felt like I was functioning on a higher level. Had I help taking it, I would have lied, cheated, stolen, anything to get more.

Tom, I don't mind the crowding so much, but then I'm not a very big guy. These days the knees do get a little creaky on long flights, but that's about it.
There are several reasons why approaches like this are being flown these days. Airspace restrictions have already been noted. The controllers are trying to pack 25 pounds of planes into a 10 pound sack of space around airports. Sit at a major airport at night, look in the direction the planes are coming from. You'll see them lined up like the exit ramp on the freeway. Another reason you're getting descents like this is noise abatement. If they come in quicker, and steeper than they used to, they're making noise for a shorter amount of time. Yet ANOTHER reason is fuel costs. The less time they're spending in the air, the less fuel they're burning, and fuel costs are one of the primary reasons airlines have been bleeding money the last couple of years.

I love flying. Of any type. Doesn't matter. It could be the bounciest ride in the world, and I'll still enjoy it. Even went and got my own pilot's license some years ago, although due to financial constraints (Kids.) I'm not current.

One of the things I remember when I was taking my lessons is something my flight instructor drilled into my head. "Dave, remember, you're the pilot in command. FLY THE PLANE! When you want to go somewhere, point the nose in that direction!" When I was practicing some of my first landings, I tended to pull the nose up, and let the plane float down. That didn't last long. My instructor was having none it. "Point the nose of the plane where you want to go!" He would have me line up on final, and aim for an imaginary "X" on the runway, usually in the middle of the numbers, and then would have me point the plane at that "X". The idea is to maintain dynamic control of the aircraft at all times, never letting the plane "fly along by itself."

I noticed several here mentioned that they used to enjoy flying, but no more. You all admit that statistically, it's still safer than walking across the street. So safety isn't really the issue, is it? Perhaps mightn't it be that loss of control over one's own fate you dislike? I've noticed as I grow older that seems to become an issue for us old farts. When we were young an adventurous, perhaps we were willing to put up with more crap than we are now that we're all old, cranky, and unreasonable. I will admit that the security at the airport is particularly onerous. ONE MAN gets into an aircraft with explosive shoes over six years ago, and millions of people have been paying for it ever since. I've a feeling Richard Reid is laughing his ass off at us from his jail cell.

I have one suggestion for you folks. Get a pilot's license and fly yourself. You'll only have to take your shoes off if you want to, and you can carry as many liquids of as many varieties as your little heart desires. Heck, you can even use you cell phone if you want! How good is that?? I mean, is this a great country or what???

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