Somehow, somewhere, I developed a chronic fear of flying. I was fine when I was single and childless. Being married and having children seemed to set it all off.
It all started with our trip to see Nana in New Zealand. Ash was 9 months old. We got cheap round the world tickets with Alitalia. When we booked our tickets, a friend told us what he thought was a funny joke.
Q: Why does the Pope kiss the ground when he gets off the plane?
A: He always flies with Alitalia.”
There were many take offs and landings; some were amazing, some were just plain awful. One was both.
It was an incredibly smooth take-off and everyone was smiling. We were all commenting about how amazing it was. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the pilot slammed on brakes and decided to drop 1000’s of feet. Everyone screamed and turned grey-green. Tony said I was greeny-white. It didn’t enter my mind to ask the lady next to me about where she was going to spend eternity. I just didn’t want to die.
The plane evened out and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. We were still in the air. We were shaking but alive. I sat there waiting for the captain to say something. I felt he owed us all an explanation and a massive apology. Maybe even tell us that drinks were on him. We could at least have knocked ourselves out for the landing.
On another flight, we were just about to take off, when a little red light started flashing near the exit door where we were sitting. The plane screeched to a halt and one of the stewards came to check. The door wasn’t closed properly. I sat there wondering if all the other doors were closed. What if that little red light hadn’t worked? I was in a hot sweat that whole flight.
Sometime during that trip, I became the captain, the co-pilot and part of in-flight services. I didn’t trust any of them. I doubted the technicians and the planes. I even started doubting God’s ability to protect my family and me. When I boarded a plane I would look around for anything that looked unsafe. I scrutinized the hostesses’ faces for any sign of anxiety. I panicked when smoke came out of the air-con vents. When we went through turbulence I would watch the wings to make sure they weren’t breaking and kept sniffing for signs of burning. I got irritated when Tony talked to me during take offs and landings. I wanted to be left alone to process everything that was happening and of course I was making plans to escape. I couldn’t talk to him and fly the plane at the same time, so I chose to fly the plane.
People told me it was safer to fly than to be on the road. I didn’t believe them. They threw statistics at me that didn’t make sense. The minute I stepped into a Delhi taxi, I breathed a sigh of relief. There was no way being in the air was safer than THAT.