Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Is fear of flying contagious?

I’ve flown many times. In fact, at one point I was flying about 50% of the time for work. Week in the office, week on the road. I’ve never thought that much about flying, it’s just something that you need to do. No big deal.

When Tammy told me that she didn’t like to fly I didn’t really think that much about it. That is, until we flew together the first time. As she stomped her feet and told me to stop the plane from shaking in the turbulence I realized that she wasn’t joking, she really is scared of flying. After hearing her go on about going down in burning flames and how nobody survives I find myself sitting on the plane watching the wing and wondering, is it really supposed to bend that much?

Flights I’ve been on since being exposed to her phobia have me on pins and needles. I watch the wing. I watch the cabin. Have you ever noticed how the cabin and fuselage of the plane move independently? On a recent international flight there was a good three inches of movement between the two structures. How much can it move? As I descended on a recent flight into Chicago through the clouds I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other planes out there. Is it really safe to be going 250 mph when you can’t see anything?

Cleary I need to regain my innocence and ignorance about flying and stop listening to her.


  1. I know what you mean. I hate to admit this, but I am more apprehensive about getting on a plane than I am about driving to work. Of the two, driving to work is far more dangerous. Contrast flying with driving If you are driving, you really should be afraid… people drinking and driving, talking on cell phones, road rage, etc…

  2. Sometimes ingnorance is bliss.

  3. I hear ya.
    Flying can freak you out at times yet you have to believe it’s all in your head.
    Never watch the shows about breaking down an airline disaster. Watched one on a guy who survived a hijacking crash when the plane ran out of fuel. Set me up for a few flights of paranoia. Not Good.
    One of the best shows you can watch is a discovery channel episode about airliner testing. They bend the wings until they snap off, chuck frozen things into engines, and flood them with massive amounts of rain. They use limits that are 3-4 times the forces for what they think nature can generate. It gives you a better feeling that the wings or engines won’t fall off.
    All that said my latest airline habit comes after I read about planes dropping 1000 feet (most often between Asia and Australia, perfect as that’s the route I fly) and people getting hurt being slammed against the roof. It’s probably happened 5 times ever with 3 people being injured with more than scrapes and bruises but I wear my seatbelt religiously now.
    Best thing I find is.
    1. Watch a good movie
    2. Read a good book
    3. Listen to that Ipod
    Get sucked into that and not into your head.

    Happy flying!!

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