Monster on My Wing

Mommy Pie’s leaving for Hawaii tomorrow and wrote a post about how she’s nervous to travel, being that she’ll be away from her daughter for five days. And what a coincidence that was, since I planned to also write a post about an upcoming trip and why I’m afraid to travel (hint: has nothing to do with my daughters).


I’m afraid to fly, see. Absolutely, certifiably terrified to get on a plane. And I’ve got a trip to plan. But I’ve been putting it off. For too long now, I’ve delayed making the plane reservations for New York City in the fall, where I’m going to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ve dreamed of this trip for over a year and really really want to go, but I’ve got this plane thing and now it’s D-Day (really need to pick another label) and I’m dragging my heels.


The other thing? I’m going alone and without someone to inject me with horse tranquilizers or quell my rising screams, I’m extra nervous. Oh, I’ve flown before. Hundreds of times, many by myself. But my panic grows every year and it’s not pretty. I grab people next to me, I force myself on the pilot to smell his breath, I intermittently yell “We’re all gonna die!” and best of all: the second we take off, I unlatch my seat belt and start walking up the aisle, swaying as I fight the gravitational pull of the plane’s g forces, while ignoring the flight attendant’s attempts to restrain me. Somehow, I feel like I can still get off the plane even though it’s in motion. It’s a trick I play on myself so I don’t explode (need a new adjective) from terror and unregulated Xanax over-consumption.


After years and years of panicking every time I fly, my sister finally clued me in to why I may be so scared. Apparently, in high school I took a trip to San Francisco with my family. We flew out of O’Hare Airport and I guess over the Rockies, we encountered major turbulence. Seems it was so bad we had to make an emergency landing in a severe thunderstorm. And best of all? I don’t remember a thing about it. Post-traumatic stress syndrome at its best.


In the years hence, I flew again. And I never knew why I had a niggling fear bubble in my gut for each take-off. I went to school in Milwaukee while my family lived in San Diego, so I flew home often, but each time was drama. Parents coaxing me onto the plane, fervent praying, bargaining with God. Once, my dad even flew to Chicago with me and DROVE me to Milwaukee. Another time, I took a bus from San Francisco to Milwaukee. Which almost cured me. But then I did it again: taking a bus to Dallas. Nothing like being trapped on a Greyhound for three days with Jeffrey Dahmer look-alikes, many transporting ferrets.


And just so you know: I’ve done it all to beat this phobia. Hypnotherapy. Fear of flying classes. Support groups. Medication and cocktails. Resignation. The Rock says it’s a one-in-a-million that my plane will crash. But I say: why wouldn’t I be the one? He counters with, what makes you think you’re so special? And I say, exactly. I’m expendable.


So I’m going to make the reservations. Mainly because I fear the wrath of my brother, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, a smidge more than I fear fiery death. But if you live in San Diego, and want to escort a drunk, unmanageable, over-medicated nutcase on a transcontinental flight to NYC, email me! Also, if you live near New York and want to have a drink, or 15, please let me know. God willing, I’ll be there in October.


UPDATE: I did it and lived!


34 Responses to “Monster on My Wing”

  1. Ron Davison says:

    I fly a lot (out of San Diego). I wonder if one reason that I don’t really fear flying is because I dread the little things – the cramped leg room (I’ve an excess of femur for coach), the boorish seat mates, a bad book, the tedium of 5 to 6 hours to get to the east … Maybe you need to dread more and fear less. And maybe you’ve never before received such bad advice. Hmm. I’ll email you if I should head to NY in the fall.

  2. Jess says:

    I love planes! I just hate the landing thing. Freaks me out every single time. and i have never had a traumatic event on a plane… silly. You pay for the ticket, and I’ll fly to san diego and fly with you to new york! i love new york! even if you might be a bald man that lives in his mother’s basement… hmmm

  3. bekkah says:

    You MUST make that reservation! If necessary, consume as much alcohol and mood altering drugs as humanly possible…you won’t stress about a thing!

    I’m a big softie for NYC…LOVE it there! You should check out Bar 89 on Mercer, if for nothing other than getting to see their bathroom doors o_O

    Also, Hummus Place, may not be the most creatively named establishment, but their lunch menu is delicious!

  4. pajama momma says:

    Oh I so wish I could go with you. So I canwatch you and the sky marshalls become good friends take care of you and make sure you arrive safely.

  5. Kizz says:

    I’m here on the other hand waiting for you. I’m in Brooklyn even, not so very far from the Heights. How do you feel about deviled eggs? There’s a great bar near my house that does a deviled egg of the day and makes delicious cocktails.

    My fear of flying (not triggered by a traumatic flight) has also grown year by year. Why does it grow even though we keep flying? Why can’t we train ourselves to breathe through it over time? GAH!

  6. Steph says:

    Alright. Here’s the deal. I’ll fly out to SD to fly with you to NYC. I’m a big girl; you’re not so big. You’ll stay on the plane, I promise. And if we DO crash, I’m not only super-cushiony, but I’d provide plenty of food if it should, yanno, come to that.

  7. kate says:

    i’m in. i love flying.

    what? you don’t want someone with my luck sitting next to you on the plane?


  8. bejewell says:

    Whenever I feel the fear start to take over, I remind myself that my life is not NEARLY exciting enough for me to die in a fiery crash. No, some boring old person disease is probably gonna get me. I’m just not that interesting.

  9. Mekhis Mom says:

    I wish I was still in New York I would have a drink with you. But I guess that would be after the fact. Unfortunately I can’t give you any advice other than STAY HIGHLY MEDICATED!

  10. i wish i had some advice for you, but i also am afraid of flying.

    i do it.

    but unwillingly.

  11. I would totally volunteer to drug and accompany you if I didn’t have midterms.

    BTW, Social Butterfly said today, “Tell your bitch friends that we (she and friend) definitely approve the CD.”

  12. I really like flying, too, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because of all that reading time (I am not expected/allowed to do anything else).

    Start saving cash for the in-flight drinks…And I’ll pray hard for ya.

  13. Myra says:

    what i wouldn’t give to celebrate my 40th in NYC with you! i wish i could fly to SD and escort you back. hmmmm. think the fear is worse when you have kids? i do think about michael and i flying together now, and i never did before. anyway, maybe you could IM your way through the skies. all your bloggy friends will talk you through it!

  14. I’ve not been in a plane in nearly 8 years, and that was that was one of only a handful of times in my adult life when I’ve been on a plane. I feel encased in them, which I suppose is good, but really, it’s just too much for me. I give you huge kudos for tackling the New York trip alone! I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing in the airport alone, let alone the city. That makes me sound clueless overall, but seriously, sometimes I just need someone to be the line leader!

  15. Chely says:

    I live in Riverside and I’m not above driving to SD for a dose of some drunk SD Momma. Holla!

  16. I love to fly and I’ve never been to New York. Have wanted to go since I saw Serendipity.

  17. tinsenpup says:

    I would, but I’m imagining this scenario:
    Me (closing a power point presentation): …so I think you can see now that there is no danger…
    You: But what if we fly into a flock of birds and one goes into the engine?
    Me: OMG! I never thought of that! WE HAVE TO GET OFF THIS PLANE!! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!
    You: Xanax?
    That and the fact that I’d have to fly for 20 sumpin’ hours to get to you in the first place, of course.

  18. mommypie says:

    Okay, you ARE my twin.

    I’ve freaked myself out about flying I’ve stayed up ALL night so I’ll be so exhausted when my plane takes off in 2 1/2 hours I’ll SLEEP.

    How crazy is that? My fear of flying gets worse every year too.

    That reminds me — have to find my cross necklace …

    Ugh. I’m exhausted.

  19. Green Girl says:

    Ugh. I despise flying too, yet I hunker down and shut my eyes and pray the whole time during take off. It’s simply easier to fly certain places, unfortunately.

  20. Chris says:

    I’ll be in NYC the first weekend in October – flying non-stop from SLC though. Wish I could help. I’m not afraid, but I’ve been known to use the little white bag. People HATE to be my seat mate. Just breathe (into the little white bag) – you’ll have a fabulous 40th!

  21. You are my HERO! I will email you. With my cell number. I would like to DISCUSS things with you.

  22. P.S. I saw that Twilight Zone episode. The one with the monster on the wing. Excellent reference.

  23. Jamie says:

    That Twilight Zone (I know, that was the point.)

    Here’s my secret. I ALWAYS touch the threshold of the plane upon entry wrapping my fingers on the outside of the door, and my thumb on the inside. It ensures safe travels every time. Promise. Once, I even got to my seat and had forgotten. I excused myself through the upstream of oncoming people, knowing they’d thank me later for saving their lives. “Excuse me. Pardon me. I must go touch the plane. Sorry. I forgot. It makes the plane invincible. you’ll thank me later. Pardon me.”

    And I’m still here to talk about it.

  24. When you say you tried everything and nothing worked, I fully understand. But the problem is NOT YOU. The problem is that most of the help available for fear of flying works only for mild cases.

    I established SOAR years ago for the purpose of finding some way to help people no one else could help. It took a while. Finally, after going to grad school and spending years at various institutes, I “broke the code”.

    Now, ANYONE can be treated for this. You will understand after you see the video at

  25. so you’re telling me you’re going to go all John Lithgow on your passengers and flight crew? (sorry, i laugh when i don’t know what to say!)
    uumm, i will tell you this – in my feeble attempt to relate in some way – now that i have kids, i do stress a bit anymore. AND, i don’t like sitting so close to stinky people. because i don’t like people to begin with, and well, ‘dems some close quarters!
    (btw, i will be in SoCal at the end of October, so no trips to NYC for me!)

  26. Lisa Milton says:

    I used to love to fly until I had a cluster headache while descending years ago and looked like a nut job, clinging to my chair, crying.

    Fun times.

    We will be boarding a plane again soon, and I am doing my best to hold it together.

    I’ll be sending you all the good vibes I can muster.

  27. Jill says:

    I’m a white knuckle flyer myself, despite the extremely long flights we endure twice a year.

    Have fun on your trip to NYC. It’s my favorite place – I hope to live there again someday!

  28. Da Goddess says:

    Girl, I’d so go with you! Depending on what my surgery schedule is like, I could. I would. I will.

  29. […] fabulous. You offer advice, bolster my confidence, provide support, say you’ll fly with me to New York to stall my inevitable nervous breakdown, AND play with me every Tuesday. I think you’re great. Also, those pants/skirt/Underoos/chaps […]

  30. ilinap says:

    Funny you write this. I too detest flying. I quiver at every noise and think the pilot is about to announce we’re going down every time that damn intercom jingles. I grew up flying since I was an infant and only had trouble since adulthood. I’m flying to LA in two weeks and have to try my best to have a game face for my boys. I’d sit next to you and let you scratch the bejesus out of my arms if I could. Just think of the fabulous shopping and eating ahead of you!

    And hey, I’m turning 40 next month. Bring it on!

  31. […] things are dire. For some reason (flying anxiety! flying anxiety! flying anxiety!), about three months ago, I stopped managing my dietary health. It was if one piece of my health pie […]

  32. […] scared to fly. Best of all and super exciting is that I get to do it next month for my brother’s wedding. In […]

  33. […] the wayside last October, when before a flight to NYC, I ate everything in sight because I thought I was going to die. After my trip, I just never fully returned to my healthy eating regimen (have you had the pizza in […]

  34. […] that time again! The weeks leading up to a flight I am taking. On an airplane. An airplane that leaves the […]

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