Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is that smoke in the aircraft cabin? Or freshly brewed coffee?

I'll just say it. I'm going through a phase of "mild fear of flying" right now. I'm not sure what brought it on (I've been through this before) - but it's back.

To set the stage, I've flown over 500,000 miles in just the past 10 years alone. I've traveled on 7 seat tourist planes, planes that never go high enough to pressurize (the windows even open), turbo props, regional jets, private planes, and "heavies," including 747s. I've flown in countries that have histories of poor aviation safety like China and Panama. I've even flown on helicopters a few times.

To calm myself over the years I've familiarized myself with the numerous sounds of various planes (flaps moving, landing gear deploying, water bottles thumping on the floor). I've listened to the pilots on United's "Channel 9" so I know why planes are turning, going higher or lower, or throttling their engines, and I've even read a book called "Ask the Pilot" that talks about the various activities on planes.

Overall I've been relatively nonchalant while flying.....a champion sleeper. Until this past trip to the US. On the flight from Amsterdam to Dulles I gripped the arms of the seat when we encountered the slightest bit of turbulence. On the flight from Puerto Rico to Orlando I was convinced there was something wrong with the plane. I could smell it. Smoke! The inside of my nose was burning and it was getting worse. I looked around to see if anyone else was alarmed, and upon seeing peaceful fellow passengers I asked Brett if he smelled anything. He said no, and I relaxed a bit. The smell became stronger again. I looked up to investigate and was coffee. Just freshly brewed coffee being served by the flight attendants.

Needless to say I felt like an idiot after that one. I was a little bit better on my flights to DC and Amsterdam, and after doing some more reading about how safe flying is, I feel better. It's a good thing, because I learned Friday afternoon that I have to fly to London on Monday for work.

I've kicked this fear before. I guess it's time to boot it to the curb again :-)

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