The Summer of 32,000ft

Jun 17th, 2013 | By | Category: Columns

 Summer is generally the time where the average person feels the need to spread their wings and fly away from the dull and drab adventure that is their life. They leave behind all their responsibilities and burdens (i.e. children) and plan a nice little vacation to somewhere that’s a little warmer, a lot more exciting, or a place that has very lax extradition laws. They open their preferred web browser that doesn’t begin with “Internet” or end in “Explorer,” visit one of the many travel websites to find their preferred packaged deal for flight, hotel and/or yak rentals, book their trip, and impatiently await for their departure time. Now for normal people, once the trip is booked, it ends there until a week out when they finally need to pack; for those with the misfortune of having a slight, mild, or extreme case of aerophobia (I’m assuming this is an actual word or Google is yanking my chain), the dread sets in the second the website thanks you for your purchase.

Being one of those unfortunate souls who wishes for the world to end prior to their board time, I completely understand why travel isn’t exactly a sought after pastime. Trying to look at it from an completely unbiased perspective (which is hard because biasism-ist-a-ma-jig is something I’m great at), it’s easy to see why those with this fear would opt to drive anywhere and everywhere so long as they don’t have to step onto what is essentially a bus with wings.  You’re placing your complete faith in some dude you’ve never met, and hope that, when under extreme pressure, doesn’t go Humpty Dumpty on you as he yells over the intercom to start making amends with whatever Gods you pray to. You’re holding on to the hope that everyone else on the plane with you is a sane individual and won’t attempt to:

  • Light themselves on fire
  • Hijack the plane
  • Try and talk to you

I’m certain some form of social interaction is a great way to pass the time. However, I’m so focused on trying to breath and blink, I don’t have the energy to be polite and pretend I give two shits about your travel plans. I don’t care where you’re from, I don’t care where you’re going, and if you don’t stop, I’m going to choke you using the shoelaces I had to remove while going through security.  Airplanes and prisons are the two places where it’s absolutely impossible to escape from an unwanted situation; I mean, sure, I could exit the plane, but I’d be bringing everyone with me. (Not to mention evolution hasn’t granted me my very own pair of wings yet.)

Those who are friends with these sad sacks try to bring them out of their shells, to convince them that flying isn’t anything to be afraid of. These friends become walking encyclopedias of everything aviation. They’re able to rattle off all the specifications of aircraft the “victim” is scheduled to fly on. There is, of course, the old standbys that they resort to in an effort to calm the fearful person’s nerves.

“It’s safer than driving.” – This is the “polite” way of saying it, some choose to throw tact out the window and simply inform you that you’re more likely to die a fiery death after your car collided with a 164 year old oak tree. So now, instead of simply being afraid of flying, you’re now afraid of the road, and therefore will refuse to leave your house. When I’m told this little tidbit, I kindly request that individual to “Shut the fuck up.”

“Just take some sleeping pills/drink some liquor.” – In a perfect world, either of those solutions would work quite well for “normal” folks; however, anxiety based on fear is a whole different beast. A dosage of Unisom isn’t going to be enough to get your brain to quit going through every possible scenario in which your flight ends with your splattered and charred remains strewn about some farmland in Iowa. As for alcohol? Well, everyone isn’t a “happy drunk,” some people get down-right dickish after they’ve had a few belts.  So, in the event they get a little too “impassioned” during the flight, they run the risk of being tackled to the ground as a knee then crushes their larynx.

“The take-offs and landings are the only dangerous parts.” – First of all, I hope you’re stricken with nose cancer after informing me that I’m more likely to die as I leave or return to the ground; ‘preciate that. Second, a logical person would hear that and think “You know what? That makes complete sense. It’s really when the airplane is the most vulnerable to external forces that deal with physics equations that my mind (filled with useless trivia on the mating habits of sitcom characters) can’t comprehend.” To the loon, they fail to see that logic, and will absolutely start losing their shit the second they hit a patch of turbulence. As the plane shakes and jostles back and forth, they think that this is the moment the engines and wings fall off, the fuselage splits in two and those lucky enough to not be sucked out during the breech will get to smash into the ground still strapped to their chairs.

All of us are afraid of something: heights, clowns, belly lint, whatever it is that makes your knees shake and your stomach churn, you know how to psych yourself up for it. Most types of fears are based in some form of irrationality, and those affected by it are more than likely to know that their fear is unfounded in truth. They’ve allowed external forces (e.g. media) to dictate their emotions in regards to it, allowing reports that reaffirm their fear to take hold, all the while not noticing all the stories where what the fear WASN’T the cause of something horrible.  Knowing this, they seek to find ways to lessen that fear; psychiatry, medication, comas, there are quite a number of ways to help one overcome their own fear. In fact, it’s possible that I wrote this article as a way to help me come to terms with my fear, to help me better understand it and not let it conquer me as it limits my ability to live life to the fullest. Or  maybe  I wrote this article as a way to kill the two hours I’m sitting here in airport terminal, waiting for my flight to board.





Chris hates anyone or anything which goes against how he feels a sentient being with more than three brain cells should act. He hopes to use his “Encyclopedia Douchebag…ica” as a springboard into becoming a full-fledged, tax exempt religion complete with holidays and greeting cards, mainly so he can steal from its coffers. His hopes are…not that high, knowing that those who needs his guidance most, are unable to read his words… what with the extra flesh from their sloped, ape-like foreheads blinding their eyes from the truth.

When not acting like a complete bastard (which is not very often), Chris writes about all things video game related on his blog iNOOBriated, and his Twitter. Yep, he’s a neeeeeerd.

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