January 21, 2009

Miracle Landings.

The other day I took a little quiz which listed fearless as "my word". Well, I am definitely NOT fearless when it comes to one specific subject; PLANES.

I have suffered from fear of flying pretty much after my first flight ever, which I took with my family, when I was sixteen. As a young woman I did fly, even though I was terrified. Each plane trip meant terrible feelings of anxiety and anticipation of certain death during the weeks ahead of the flight. I will not bore you with the possible reasons behind my aerophobia. Let say it is a combination of claustrophobia, fear of a loss of control and problems I at one point experienced in my personal life.
In any case, over the years, this fear progressed and it was not made any easier by the media. Every time an accident occurred, the news channels were full of dramatic pictures and lengthy, hour long broadcasting and reports depicting and dissecting the tragedy.
Therefore at one point I stopped flying all together.

In recent years though, I have started to entertain the thought of boarding a plane again. I guess mostly due to the fact that I still like to travel. I like to see and experience countries, which I can only visit if I fly.
And it helps a great deal, when miracle "accident" landings do indeed happen, like the one involving a US Airways flight last Thursday, when it ditched successfully into the Hudson river, with zero fatalities. And miracle is the correct term, may I add.

In Danish press, this incident has brought focus back on one similar occurrence, which happened on December 27th in 1991, involving an SAS plane. The Danish captain Stefan G. Rasmussen experienced problems with the planes engines immediately after take off from Stockholm Airport, Arlanda. Within minutes both engines stopped and he managed miraculously to land the plane, by gliding it over treetops and putting it down in a snowy landscape. Although the plane broke up, all the passengers survived. This incident is known as the Gottröra crash, and sometimes it is also called "The Gottröra Miracle".

Mr. Rasmussen later wrote a book about this experience.
He never flew again.


Betsy Brock said...

I have a touch of claustrophobia, too! I can still fly just fine, but need an aisle seat. That US Airways landing in the Hudson River was unreal! It may be a while before those people feel brave enough to fly again! I hope you do get to fly to some wonderful place soon! Maybe you need to take a course like Blog Princess did with the spider fear! ha!

Noelle Chantal said...

i never thought you are afraid of flying ha! your passion for traveling, to see the beauty of other countries will help you a lot to overcome your fears. i must say it's all in the mind.

and yes, it was a miracle indeed. the pilot is a hero. :)

Diane said...

I quite like to fly but there is ALWAYS, just for a moment, that thought that crosses my mind... what if? I think we'd all be NUTS not to be a little bit afraid... after all, there is NO WAY something that big, filled with that many people, should be able to get up in the air, let alone cross oceans. It just makes sense to be wary. And a little fear never hurt anyone... as long as they can suck it up and do what they need to do to move past it. You will. You're fearless, after all ;)

PS... my word was 'loving'.

Capt Tom Bunn LCSW said...

Think of it like this. We develop whatever ability we have to emotionally deal with uncertainty very early in life.

For many challenges, we may not have enough automatic calming built in.

So we, like Linus, use "security blankets". Instead of a real blanket, we use control (to take uncertainty out), or reassurance (being told it will be OK), or a way out in case things go wrong.

That may work on the ground for day-to-day uncertainties. You drive a car, you feel you are in control, or can turn the wheel to escape an accident.

But when flying, we give up control. What reassurance is there unless seated by a pilot.

And there is no way to leave if things go wrong.

This throws us back to the basic ability we got when we were very young - which may not be enough.

The key is to increase the ability to deal with uncertainty. Take a look at the video at www.fearofflying.com

Hilary said...

I haven't flown in many years. But I do love it despite that annoying inner voice that Diane seems to hear too. Might be something in those peanuts.

Melanie Gillispie said...

Flying doesn't bother me much, but then I'd be just happy as a clam if the airplance just kept flying higher and higher until it reached the moon or something. I was glued to CNN.com last week when the plane crashed in the Hudson. It was on the way to Charlotte, so there is still tons of local news about it because a lot of the people on the plane were coming home.

Holly said...

I have to agree that the landing was amazing,...and that it was a miracle. I haven't flown all that many times in my life, but when I have I will tell you that the take off, the landing, and turbulence ALWAYS scare me!!! My stomach just churns until that plane is safely back on the ground.

AJEYA RAO said...

I love to fly and find planes very interesting....But i watched a lot of "Air crash Investigation" in Nat geo and scared myself...:-) Even though the result of any crash is a learning and improvment for our safety, the show scared me out and in my recent flight all the episodes reappeared in my mind. :-)

Zuzana said...

Betsy, my mother is afraid of heights but she loves to fly, so she always chooses aisle seat as well. My father is a nervous flier, but he flies nevertheless. My sister loves to be on a plane and falls asleep the minute she is seated.
Yes, perhaps I should take such a course, I have been thinking about than myself;)

Noelle, yes, I am afraid of flying!;)) Imagine that, me who has traveled back and forth between the US and Europe numerous times in my youth. But I hope I will get over it, as the world is a wonderful place with many things to see.;)

Diane, I so agree. I think most people find it unnatural to be in the air. I know many people who do not mind flying, but feel exactly the way you do. I think except for the Irishman and my sister, I have never met anyone who did not feel a bit apprehensive about a flight.
I am flattered you find me fearless after all.;)
“Loving” is a PERFECT word for you, why am I so NOT surprised; you should post it on your blog. It is perfect.

Capt Tom; great comment and just what I needed to hear. You are right about everything. My biggest problem is the loss of control. I hate that. I want to control everything in my life and I also do; that is the way when I function best. Being on a plane is to trust a complete stranger and I cannot handle that. Oddly enough, I have always thought I would like to fly if I had my own plane and either flew it myself or knew the pilot very well.;)
I will check out the site, thanks for stopping by.;)

Hilary, I have not flown for years either. The trip I took in 2004 was after a 5-year break. Stupidly enough, instead of ease into it, I flew half way across the world; 16h flight Frankfurt-Rio. The trip back was filed with 7h of turbulence and after that I stop flying again. I bet the peanuts are to blame.;)))

Mel, I am so not surprised; you wanted to be an astronaut, so how could you be scared of planes!;))) I did think about you and Diane too, wondering whether you knew anyone on the US Air plane by a chance. I think the people that survived the crash will have to go through a lot of therapy. Their lives will never be the same. It is like getting a second chance; I bet the majority of them will change the way their view of what really matters in life forever.

Holly, I hate turbulence too; it feels a bit uneasy that a plane that is in the air keeps shaking, at time violently. If the flight is smooth, I can relax. I hate take offs the most, as it feels unreal that the plane will lift. And I hate when they start turning the plane immediately while it is still lifting. Sometimes I feel like screaming all the way up.;)))

Ajeya, the program on NG is exactly what made my fear o flying progressively worse. I do not blame you that all of that comes back to you when seated on a plane.
But, as I have been told numerous times; one is far more safe on the plane that on the trip to the airport.;)
Thanks for stopping by.;))

Gal Friday said...

I am a VERY nervous flier(also deathly afraid of heights--even watching someone leaning against a window in a high rise on the small or large screen makes me shake). In fact, what you wrote could have been written by me.
And you hit it right on the head--I have long realised it is a "control" issue. On short, domestic flights I am a wreck and will ask a doctor to prescribe me some drug to take the next time I travel by plane. On a longer flight(trans-Atlantic--it has been a long time since I have done that), I relax after the first few hours, finally getting the feeling that, "okay, maybe this pilot and his crew know what they are doing".(still, I grip the seat's armrests upon landing)
Of course, there is the whole terrorism thing, and now this new possibility of birds messing up the plane's engines(That landing on the Hudson River and the Gottrora landing ARE miracles!)to worry me. And yet, I want to travel so would never consider NOT flyng if the opportunity came that I had to to travel that way to get to my destination.(I have a friend who is even more frightened of flying, so will only take trains or travel by car--which in reality, have more accidents and deaths every year than planes)
Well..THAT was long--sorry! It was interesting learning this about you--I would have figured you to be a fearless flier, since it seems you have lived in so many places.

Zuzana said...

Tina, thank you for that wonderful comment!
Yes, imagine that I am scared of flying; that posed quiet a lot of problems for me when I lived in the states.;) Interesting that you can relate to the "control" issue, as that is by far my problem. As I said before, if I was flying the plane, I could fly just fine.
I am now a bit like your friend, I take trains and cars anywhere I go. It is not really a problem, as the train system in Europe is highly developed and with the high speed trains it is at times easier than flying.;))

j. said...

Every single time I hear about the Hudson River Miracle I get chills down my spine. Sometimes a bit teary eyed too cause just like you flying has always been one of my fears-- and I cant imagine just how terrified those people must have been.

I shall check out the "Miracle Crash" you mentioned-- gliding over treetops-- amazing. But the pilot never flew again? sighs.