Fly Away

I never really had a fear of flying – at least not in the sense it stopped me doing anything. I just get nervous at take-off and then, generally, I am fine. I like a decent sized jet with seats that have sufficient padding on the arms so that, when I grip them, my knuckles can go white without serious injury to my hands

Why do I put myself through this on a regular basis? Occasionally I have to travel for work. Travel, they say, broadens the mind and I am sure that it does. But sometimes I wonder why I have to put myself through the ordeal.
I am not the greatest person to get on an aeroplane but for the best part of four years my working life has meant dealing with (and visiting) customers across Europe. I really enjoy these trips and it’s great to meet people face-to-face that you would only normally deal with on the telephone or via email. And, although I shouldn’t moan, the downside is that I never get to see any of the fantastic places that I go to. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have been to Milan and never seen anything other than airports, offices and taxis. It’s such a shame.
I never really had a fear of flying – at least not in the sense it stopped me doing anything. I just get nervous at take-off and then, generally, I am fine.  I like a decent sized jet with seats that have sufficient padding on the arms so that, when I grip them, my knuckles can go white without serious injury to my hands. Once in the air, I am OK. Nothing to bother me until the return journey. So it’s not really too bad travelling to most of Europe for business. I appreciate the fact that I can travel and count myself lucky that it’s only a few minutes of unease.
So, here I am today in Dundee.  I have customers to see here who are very pleasant people to work with. I’ve been planning this trip for a couple of weeks and I had planned to take the train until I realised that, at best, it was going to be a six hour journey.  I had to take a flight to give me any chance of doing some other work today.
Now these flights are the worst. I can’t stand the small 30-seater planes (that seem to be a cross between propeller and jet driven) that bring you here. My nerves are shot and my palms sweaty. At take-off it’s easy to mistake the arm of the person in the next seat with that of the plane. Again, I am fine once high enough not to be shaken around by a passing air current that, I suspect, has desires to knock us 500 miles off course. That moment, however, as we’re picking up speed and racing down a runway, sends a panic through me that I hate.  Unlike those other journeys, these small planes seem to make me sweat and grip for longer than normal. The planes don’t go as high and so I can see the land – which I don’t think is good for me.
The fear is, of course, irrational – at least these flights are no different from the others. The more nervous I get about taking this short flight the worse I feel. I know that it is silly and I become annoyed by my own fear – I’ve taken so many flights it should be like taking a bus (which I think I do less than flying). I can’t stop the sick feeling. Every lurch of the plane, every shake and noise is analysed in a way I do not do with larger aircraft. Every expression on the stewardesses face analysed for a sign – should that clunk have happened? Should that beep be sounding? Should this window rattle so much?
And the very worst bit of it all? I know I have to do it backwards tomorrow evening.
Next time, I’ll take the train (maybe).

Why do I put myself through this on a regular basis? Occasionally I have to travel for work. Travel, they say, broadens the mind and I am sure that it does. But sometimes I wonder why I have to put myself through the ordeal.

I am not the greatest person to get on an aeroplane but for the best part of four years my working life has meant dealing with (and visiting) customers across Europe. I really enjoy these trips and it’s great to meet people face-to-face that you would only normally deal with on the telephone or via email. And, although I shouldn’t moan, the downside is that I never get to see any of the fantastic places that I go to. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have been to Milan and never seen anything other than airports, offices and taxis. It’s such a shame.

I never really had a fear of flying – at least not in the sense it stopped me doing anything. I just get nervous at take-off and then, generally, I am fine.  I like a decent sized jet with seats that have sufficient padding on the arms so that, when I grip them, my knuckles can go white without serious injury to my hands. Once in the air, I am OK. Nothing to bother me until the return journey. So it’s not really too bad travelling to most of Europe for business. I appreciate the fact that I can travel and count myself lucky that it’s only a few minutes of unease.

So, here I am today in Dundee.  I have customers to see here who are very pleasant people to work with. I’ve been planning this trip for a couple of weeks and I had planned to take the train until I realised that, at best, it was going to be a six hour journey.  I had to take a flight to give me any chance of doing some other work today.

Now these flights are the worst. I can’t stand the small 30-seater planes (that seem to be a cross between propeller and jet driven) that bring you here. My nerves are shot and my palms sweaty. At take-off it’s easy to mistake the arm of the person in the next seat with that of the plane. Again, I am fine once high enough not to be shaken around by a passing air current that, I suspect, has desires to knock us 500 miles off course. That moment, however, as we’re picking up speed and racing down a runway, sends a panic through me that I hate.  Unlike those other journeys, these small planes seem to make me sweat and grip for longer than normal. The planes don’t go as high and so I can see the land – which I don’t think is good for me.

The fear is, of course, irrational – at least these flights are no different from the others. The more nervous I get about taking this short flight the worse I feel. I know that it is silly and I become annoyed by my own fear – I’ve taken so many flights it should be like taking a bus (which I think I do less than flying). I can’t stop the sick feeling. Every lurch of the plane, every shake and noise is analysed in a way I do not do with larger aircraft. Every expression on the stewardesses face analysed for a sign – should that clunk have happened? Should that beep be sounding? Should this window rattle so much?

And the very worst bit of it all? I know I have to do it backwards tomorrow evening.

Next time, I’ll take the train (maybe).

Author: jon

Jon Curnow writes on curnow.org about things that interest him. The site has been around for many years in various forms and he always wants to write much more here than he does.

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