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The Real Fear of Flying

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I’m fascinated by my husband’s fear of flying. In all other areas of his life he’s calm, laid back and logical. A little socially awkward and shy but very down to earth and grounded.  He’s funny, too, really funny — it’s one the of the reasons I fell in love with him. Not that that has anything to do with flying but when I’m describing him to others, his sense of humor always comes to mind. 

Ask him to take a plane ride and the smart, logical man I married disappears. He turns into a puddle of worry, stress and obsessive thoughts about dying in a plane crash.

I actually enjoy flying. I still look out the window like a child, in awe of our ability to make and operate these giant machines that transport us around the world in the air. I mean it’s freakin’ unbelievable if you think about and I’m grateful to experience it. Right now I’m in Vegas, 2,100 miles from home and it look only 5 and half hours to get here. 

That’s amazing! And I feel so lucky to live during a time when it’s possible to travel across the county in mere hours instead of days or even weeks.

The Husband does, too, but it doesn’t help remove the real fear he experiences about flying.

I convinced him to join me on this trip to Vegas. He loves it here (we drove in 2005 and that is fun, too!) and he knew the only way he’d be able to come back without exhausting his vacation time was to fly. So he hesitantly agreed.

Yesterday was the big day. He nervously mentioned the flight throughout the week. You can tell the fear of flying was already weighing on him.

We had an early departure so waking up at 5 a.m. and rushing didn’t give him much time to ponder on the way to the airport. Then, the line at security took so long we had to rush through the terminal to board.

In hindsight this was probably a good thing. He had no time to sit, ponder and visualize the plan crashing over and over again. We were go-go-go then settled into our seats.


Take-off was fine. He just sat back and tried to relax.


We downloaded a few movies to watch during the flight and they successfully distracted him to the fact he was 30,000 feet up. I mean, I’m sure it popped into his head now and then but it was mostly a smooth ride so he was able to relax.

Then the turbulence hit just before descent.

I tried to distract him with Skymall magazine but it wasn’t working.


(Side note: We found our ugly sweaters for this year’s Christmas party!)

That’s when I asked if he’d rather I talk to him or leave him alone. He closed his eyes and said, “I’m fine” and we held hands until we landed.


When we landed and the plane stopped he said,

“Well, even if we die on the flight home we at least got to enjoy Vegas!”

That, right there, is when I realized how real the fear of flying is for him (and I’m assuming others). The flight home didn’t even occur to me and besides short “oh shit” moments during a flight’s rough turbulence, I really never stew over the idea that I may die on a plane ride. Sure, it’s a possibility but so is getting hit by a semi on the highway.

I don’t understand it but I respect it, and I’m proud of The Husband for stepping out of his comfort zone once again for me.

Do you fear flying? Know someone else who does? Do they fly anyway or does it keep them grounded?

Not afraid? You may also like… My Flying Tips after 6 Flights in 4 Days

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There are 8 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.


    November 16, 2014

    I am also afraid of flying. I know it's safer than driving but I'd still rather drive than fly. I even have a brother who is an airline pilot and he flys constantly. However having said that, I don't let it stop me from teaveling. We are currently planning a trip to Italy in May of next year and I'll be flying to Denver at Christmas. I just make sure I have Zanax with me and then I sleep most of the way. Reply

    Laura Tapia

    November 16, 2014

    I'm pretty afraid of flying but I'll do it, and as long as all is smooth I'll look out the window and enjoy the view. If the flight gets bumpy I get a little freaked out. My mom hasn't flown in over 28 years. She keeps saying she will try a short flight to Vegas, but when it comes down to it she always backs out. To me, being able to get somewhere much more quickly is worth going through the fear because rationally, I know that we're pretty safe in planes. Reply

    A Marathon Eve Update from Vegas

    November 16, 2014

    My book - an Amazon Editors 2014 Favorite - stops flying fear./panic Read http://goo.gl/aTNgpb Reply

    Capt Tom Bunn LCSW

    November 17, 2014

    I would classify myself as an anxious flyer, but I think it's because I don't do it that often. I don't avoid it at all, but I do have to do relaxation techniques on takeoff and landing and during turbulence. I'm glad that he was able to get to Vegas, and I hope for an easy flight for you on the way home. Reply

    Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me

    November 18, 2014

    I'm afraid of flying. When we flew to MN this summer I was nursing the baby and trying desperately not to have a panic attack at the same time. The older one was so excited and chatting with his dad, and I had my face buried in my husband's shoulder holding back the tears (unsuccessfully). Bill's lucky that you are so respectful of his fear. Reply

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

    November 19, 2014

    I was at some point, well I still am somewhat, afraid of flying but I fly multiple times a year. I am originally from Turkey and I moved to the US many years ago for graduate school. My first ever flying experience was my flight from Turkey to the US at the age of 22 and it went by like a piece of cake. I have flown back home once a year after that, still do, flown all over the US for business and for pleasure, flown abroad for vacations and I had never thought anything of it... About 11 years ago during a flight to the UK in the winter I experienced a very bad turbulence and thought I was going to die, which planted a seed of very bad fear of flying in me. After that every flight I took was somehow turbulent and flying felt like hell. I tried avoiding flying for a year as much as possible and tried sleeping pills once, but neither worked. There was no way I was going to give up my yearly travel back home or any other flights I had to take to another part of the world for a new adventure, so I had to get over my fear. It helped me too to have a hand to hold of a person who was sympathetic, although he did not understand it at all. It took convincing myself that it is something I HAVE TO do and it is safe and I need not to think about it in order to get over the fear, and I had to do lots of flying... Right now, after 11 years, I don't think about it at all when planning trips, before the trips or settling into my seat in the plane or even during the flight for the most part. The fear kicks in when there is turbulence, I start thinking about how I am up in the air in a plane that can have a fault at any time and drop and how I would feel while the plane is going down. I play in my head over and over again the plane going down and how I would feel... I suppose I am afraid of being afraid, not a plane crash or death. And every time I work on convincing myself that there is nothing to be scared of and it has been getting better for me. I am not sure if I will every be able get over the fear completely but as long as it does not prevent me from taking trips I can live with it. Since the fear of flying took over me I have still been flying multiple times a year, and I have flown all the way to the other side of the world more than once. All of this to say the best way to get over the fear is to keep doing what is scary over and over again, the more the better, while working on getting over the fear. No one should give up the experiences and adventures of traveling. Reply


    February 18, 2016

    Henry Chan, I second that.The first movie sewhod how to blackmail the Queen into abdicating: By holding her dog hostage. XDAnd then Johnny saves the day by crowning himself King and ordering John Malkovich locked away, and the guards actually obeyed. Man, that was funny like hell.A pity we won't be seeing Natalie Imbruglia for the sequel, but Gillian Anderson would do just as fine. Reply