Conquering My Phobia For Flying

It all began 8 years ago, I was taking a much needed winter break and flying 10 hours non-stop to London. It wasn’t my first time flying this route, but this time something kept nagging at me.  My flight was leaving in a few hours and I had last minute preparations to make and a checklist to go through. It was Christmas Eve and I couldn’t wait to get this show on the road!

While hurriedly saying my goodbyes that ominous feeling assaulted me again. I tried to push it away but it stayed with me this time, through removing my belt and shoes at security check, through people-watching in the departure lounge, through a 30 minute delay, right through me boarding the plane. In fact, the feeling did not subside until I was seated in #23B.

Shortly after takeoff,  the lady next to me started scrambling for a seat to “spread out” but the flight attendant told her she couldn’t move yet and to “please be seated Mam”. In my effort to appear uninterested in the drama unfolding beside me, I looked out of the window. It was then I noticed we were flying into a brewing storm. Seeing flashes of lightening made me wonder if we were in any danger of being struck.

Suddenly and without warning, as if in answer to my query, I was jolted out of my reverie when the plane dipped about 10 feet(now this is the same death grip roller coasters have on me and I hate them for that. They drop and at the very moment you’re free-falling to earth, your brain is confused, panicked even, wondering what the heck happened to the rest of your body. And just before that moment when alarm sets in and your eyes bulge out of your head and you open your mouth to scream but no sound comes out, just before that moment, you attain a state of blissful ignorance you don’t even realize you’re falling).

As I tried to regain my composure and stick my eyes back into their sockets, the plane dipped again. This time around I screamed and grabbed onto my armrests for dear life. Five minutes later, I still had a white knuckle death grip on the arm rests. They had become my life support and there was no way I was letting go. Two minutes later I convinced myself that maybe it was ok to let go. Slowly and gently I pried my hands off, one finger at a time. It wasn’t until then I realized I had pushed away the hand of the lady seated next to me as she was now huddled in the corner, clutching onto her right armrest with both of her hands and looking at me like a wounded lion cub. Needless to say, there was no more talk of her ‘spreading out’.

That’s it! I was done with this trip and I wanted to go home NOW! Unfortunately, it was a non-stop flight and we were only in the first half hour of the trip. Despair hit me like a ton of bricks, what to do now?

The temperature in the cabin increased (or maybe it was just my temperature) but I was sweating profusely and I felt like I was burning. I wondered if perhaps we had lost our way and flew a little too close to hell. I reached an unsteady hand in front of me to grab my bottle of water but the shakiness of my hand surprised me much more than the shakiness of the plane.

A raw fear enveloped me and seared through my soul, I was in agony and the other passengers acted as though this was all normal, a regular day at the park. I wanted to yell at them to get a grip, come out of their stupor and realize this might be the end but when I opened my mouth, there was no sound. By this time the plane was shaking and rattling as if it was being put through a paint mixer. Two babies were crying so loudly I could only look on in envy. If only wailing  was a guaranty the plane would be put down immediately I would belt my soprano lungs out. But alas, Captain Cowboy had a different idea as he maintained radio silence and so we flew on, crying babies and all.

Three hours later and the plane still rattled as we bounded along the stormy sky. Intermittently, we would get a reprieve of softer shaking followed by a series of heavy duty rattling that I can only compare to a magnitude 5.2 earthquake. I didn’t want to die so I introspectively checked on any outstanding sins on my records, said a series of heartfelt prayers and tried to calm myself through some breathing relaxation exercises. I don’t think the exercises worked. The plane was still shaking as it had been for the last five hours and I was wound up as tight as a coil and expecting another plunging free-fall in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, -1, -2 -20, -40…..minutes.

The anticipation of free-fall was worse than the actual free-fall. And so, painfully, I waited for it knowing that if I concentrated enough and kept from making sudden movements, I could somehow remotely guide the hand of the pilot as he navigated the bumpy, stormy skies. It was my responsibility now since the other passengers felt unperturbed by our cavorting plane ride. Some even had the guts to go on reading their novels or newspapers while others just watched the in-flight movie on their very shaky screens. One woman was even so comfortable to knock back glass after glass of red wine. The audacity!  It was obvious it came down to me and me alone to telepathically aid the Captain in flying this rig to safety and I wasn’t about to fail now.

In a little while the food carts bounced up the aisles (-400, -401, -402 …….wait for it….) “How can people eat at a time like this?” I wondered incredulously. The rattling and shaking still hadn’t let up, in fact, it had become a normal part of the ride at this point, even lulling one of the crying babies to sleep. The attendants served trays laid out with prepackaged airline food; a roll, crackers, cheese spread, water, rice curry and chocolate. They couldn’t take the chance of spilling hot coffee/tea on passengers so we all had to do without (well whoop-dee-do!).

Halfway through the meal service the captain who had been quiet up to this point yelled into the intercom “Cabin crew take your seats!” thus suspending food service. He said it with such urgency that he ended up causing more excitement than comfort to the passengers. Suddenly the plane shook even more vigorously than before and I could feel it being blown sideways (no, it was not my imagination) like a leaf blowing in the wind. I gathered enough courage to unclasp my right hand from the arm rest as I reached for my cup of water in a bid to quench my dry parched throat but I only ended up spilling the water all over myself. Until now, every feeling of fear I had experienced was either emotional or psychological but nothing physical like this. I didn’t like it one bit.

Seven hours after take off (-60000,-60001… I think I double counted somewhere but my mind needed something stable to anchor itself to as I was really coming unglued) we were well over Canada and flying no, bouncing over the Atlantic ocean. It was going to be a long night and my body was tired. I started to believe there were potholes in the sky and we kept falling into each one of them (the mind is a powerful machine, what can I say).

I must have fallen asleep somehow because when I came to, a good 10 minutes was unaccounted for (at least I hope I was asleep).

I used to love clouds but after this, I am never even looking at a cloud again, ever! Now I was getting quite upset with the pilot, why wouldn’t he talk to us? For God’s sake lie to us if you have to but the silence was not working!

At about 40 minutes before our descent into Heathrow airport, the captain informed us that “The crew will not be serving afternoon tea today because there was too much turbulence” well duh! Where had he been for the past 8+ hours? I was rather sad I wouldn’t be getting my afternoon cuppa but I figured it wasn’t worth risking life or limb.

The good news was that this ride form hell was finally almost over and we were very near our final destination (-90,000……I think it’s safe to stop counting now). We then began our descent which turned out to be the smoothest part of the trip. I felt so elated to be on solid ground again that I could have kissed the ground but instead I flashed the most dazzlingly smile I could muster, thankful for making it in one piece and I quickly exited the cabin.

The nightmare was finally over and I was back to looking forward to my vacation again. In 6 days I get to do it all over again, oh joy!

Do you have a fear of flying? How do you deal with it? Can you share some of your scariest rollercoaster/flying experiences?

Photo credit: guzer.com

42 Comments on Conquering My Phobia For Flying
  • pynk December 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    no fear of flying, just the irritation of being stuck in the same space for so long. I take my tylenol pm right b4 i board if the flight is longer that 3hrs. that way before the bloody thing even taxi’s i am passed out. lol

  • mama December 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    i was travelling in ’07 with my fam for a vacation in canada. chai i was sick the whole time. when we were about to land it took quite a while cos d plane was big old and noisy lol. i finally threw up on my self when it finally landed.

  • brittany December 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    funny and dramatic write up
    ” I introspectively checked on any outstanding sins on my records” it amazes me that when people have close calls to death or what they consider to be so, they suddenly check their records for sins….SMH

  • Mssexy December 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    i could relate to ur roller coaster saga and v promised myself i’ll never be on that damn thing again OMG ts like a sentence u cant reverse!

  • ifey December 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I’m absolutely terrified of flying! If only it were made possible that there would be a bridge connecting the third mailand bridge to the tower bridge in London, all my prayers would be answered.
    thanks to British airways (who i constantly blame regardless), i developed a horrendous phobia for flying. it all started when i was flying back to lagos from london for the summer holidays at age 11 (flash back like nollywood films). about 30 minutes into this evening flight, we were hit by the worst turbulence i’d ever experienced. everyone was freaking out majourly and trust nigerians, within minutes people were blurting out intense prayers and songs such as gba gbogbo ogo jesu mi o ti re ni. as the over head luggages fell out of the cabins slowly, my mum held the hands of my sister and i she led us into prayers just like everyone else was in. my little sister who was about 5 then was sleeping while my older sister kept trying to calm me down that all the shopping we did in london will not go to vain (not very helpful). so while we’re praying, i open my eyelid and look behind me to see the air hostesses mindlessly chatting away and im thinking awon oyimbo yi o ti e jasi o. meanwhile the pilot was quiet! i mean how in the hell would you be quiet in a time like this? offer some freaking hope! you will die, you will get through this! anything! youre dealing with nigerians here! once we panic there’s no going back!. anyway Glory be to God after about 20 minutes of this horror, the flight was so smooth you’d have never suspected anything happened. the guy behind me who had assumed the brace position was now (inconviniently for me) pushing his seat back like he owned the plane. fortunately for him, i was so vulnerable all my thoughts were about Jesus.
    next sunday, my mother made sure i testified on the behalf of the entire family…and the deeper life audience responded quite well with heeey Jesus thank you o lol.
    even till today at 16, i’m absolutely terrified of flying and people ask ‘but you fly everytime! how can you still be scared’. i have noooo freaking idea! i fly back to lagos next week and i’m already dreading this.
    so ejo pray for me guys!
    anyone else who’s terrified of flying; as the great actors in high school musical sang ‘we’re all in this together’ :) I also found read that sitting in the middle of the plane i.e where the wings are, creates the least impact of tubulence! i tried it and it seems to have worked so far i guess. so maybe you should try it out. you can always request it at the check in desk. you can also tell the cabin crew people, they give you special treatment haha igbaduuuun, well not so much if you’re scared.
    xxxxx

    • yummymummy December 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Actually just got back from Nigeria,and like you said if it were possible not to fly i’d prefer that…from London to Lagos,we had serious turbulence too,it was BA,even the oyinbos were screaming,at this time i was sleeping and the nigerian man behind me was like wake up! fasten your belt! and the baby,i was terrified and had to shout on the oyinbo to stop screaming as I just woke up and didnt know what was going on,my husband wanted a nice chatty flying period but i was terrified all through as this will be my 1st flight to nigeria after a long time.

      What I have discovered is,i discovered that when i was returning to london;between London and madrid…the flight is peaceful but cross europe to africa( nigeria),their is always a shaky shaky period depending on the wind.

      it didnt help matter as we were looking at our flight wings shaking a lot.

    • Yane K December 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Oh my goodness, your story had me in stitches! I can totally feel your pain. Well they say the best way to get over something is to face it constantly so i believe you’re doing the right thing by flying as much as you can. I have also been told that the best place to sit is by the wings as well, so i’m trying that out. If all else fails, i just imagine that angels are surrounding the plane and guiding is safely through the sky. You’ll be ok on your flight, have a safe trip back to Lagos :)

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Ok, to share my experiences, I have to type my comments in bits.
    OMG, this soooooooo me. I love travelling, like nothing else. All my free time, i’m off somewhere. For someone who absolutely hates flying my friends cant believe how I do it. My anticipation starts days before. I enjoy watching Air crash Investigation on Nat Geo, in fact I pre record it. But days or even weeks before I travel, I intentionally stop watching. Like i dont want to jinx my flight. The apprehension builds up and builds up days before, by the day of travelling, i’m a mess. I am irritable, and twitchy and jumpy right through getting to the airport, going through security. I am actually glad when i hear my flight has been delayed. I’m one of those travelers that will jump with glee if i hear this flight has been delayed. As I am walking to the plane i’m counting numbers like an OCD sufferer. With flights where you walk on the ground to the plane, my Air Crash Investigation eye is scanning the plane fervently looking for anything amiss (like I know what to look for. Lol). I try to pick seats close to the wing, because you expereince less turbulence there (research also). The minute I sit down, I’m peering out of the window looking at the wing for faults, looking at the engine.

  • Missp December 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I can so relate to everything in this article…lol I think I can trace my phobia of flying to Sept 11.. See I was in NYC that year…. Smh.. Anyway what helps me is prayer and trying to stay calm…

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    When we take off, I’m already hyperventillating. The second we are off into the air, my tummy starts to hurt. Any turns of the plane or sounds from the engine or wing, and i’m alert, looking around like a crazy person in the jungle. Once we are at cruising altitude, i relax a bit, until the turbulence starts. I keep checking my watch every minute, calculating in my mind how long to go. Once, I forgot my watch, and I swear the passenger next to me, wanted to strangle me. I kept asking for the time every 5mins. What made it worse was, I was flying into another time zone, and each time i had to calculate the time difference or number of hours remaining. Most times in my frazzled state, I would get it wrong, and ask her for the time again, or the flight attendant how long we had left. You dont want to sit beside me on a flight. Boyfriend tried it once, and said, never again.
    I cant believe someone else reacts the same way i do during turbulence. I sit still too, hoping that by not moving the plane will stop shaking. It doesnt make sense I know, but that is how my brain deals with turbulence. I keep begging the plane and any god of the sky to please now, stop shaking. I am not joking, if you could hear my thoughts, I’m really really begging. I am immovable, I dont even turn my head. I dont eat, I cant sleep, I make sure i use the bathroom before taking off, so i dont have any accidents. People say read a book, listen to music. My body is frozen, how will i turn the pages, or flick through songs. The music blaring through my fellow passengers earphones actually unnerves me. Like you (this is so weird) I also actually feel that by being immovable and concentrating on the flight, somehow I am using my willpower to guide the plane.

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Once on a flight, I saw the co-pilot come out and chat with the flight attendants, i swear, i wanted to kill him. In my head I was screaming at him, go back inside the cockpit, are you crazy, how dare you be standing and laughing, while I’m a nervous wreck. I’m sure if he looked my way, he must have wondered why this woman was giving him the evil eye. lol. In my mind I just kept thinking, what if something suddenly goes wrong, and the pilot cant handle it alone (I’ve watched an Air crash Investigation episode where this actually happened. Something went wrong so fast, before the co-pilot could get back into the cockpit, it was too late).
    I have tried the mind visual people have said online – imagine you are in a bus travelling on a very bad road and it is bumpy. I try to recall images of travelling on Ibadan express road, and through the roads to my grandma’s house in Agege. Nope, doesnt work. At the beginning it works, until my brain somehow sneaks in and says to me, you know Lucy, you are not in a car, you cant vex and come down, and walk the rest of the way or turn back home. I think part of the fear of flying is the lack of control. You cant do anything about it. One tip i read after my last trip where i basically cried the whole trip, because it was a really bad flight was – The pilot too does not want to die, so he will do everything in his power to make sure the plane lands safely. I laughed so much after reading this, and I hope it works on my next trip. Which I highly doubt though.

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I have read on support group blogs where people have said hearing the pilot say something helps to keep their minds at rest. Its the ones that dont talk, that scare you to death. I wish Pilots will do this at least, for people like us. I also read that if you see the cabin crew walking around, things are okay. It is when you dont see them loitering around the aisle, that you should really worry. If they are still around, things are fine. For where, that doesnt help me at all. I dont even mind clouds, at all, funny enough. With clouds, I know there will be turbulence. I’m fine with that, i expect it. Its a cause and effect feeling. That one I understand. Its when there are clear skies, thats when i panic, because i wonder, what must be going on, there is no reason for it. We were fine until now, what has happened. is the plane faulty. I have read about it, that its clear skies that are the most dangerous, because they are unexpected, bla bla bla. I’ve also read that planes are built to withstand anything, and turbulence even severe, is not enough to damage a plane. Except in rare cirsumtances. Everytime I feel turbulence, I keep asking myself, what if this is one of those rare events. They also say you are safer in a plane, bla bla bla, statistics. you are likely to die from getting to the airport in a car that flying. Na so, tell that to those who have died in plane crashes. Statistics didnt favour them that time, and I keep thining, what if, statistics fails me too today.

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    On one flight, my fellow paasenger must have thought I was crazy, because I was counting, and I kept forgetting what count I was last at, so I was frowning, and muttering, and shaking my head, and tapping my forehead, and counting my fingers, all in a bid to get back to the last number and resume counting. I think the max i’ve gotten to with numbers is 1million, and this was on a 6hour flight. I also fear mid air collisions. Anytime i can see any other plane in the sky, I keep willing it to stay far away. I have read and watched documentaries about TCAS ( a software that prevents collisions), but despite TCAS, a DHL plane collided with a plane carrying Russian kids to a holiday a few years ago. Yes it was the pilots fault, and not TCAS, but some crashes have been due to human error not technical or mechanical, so I dont like seeing planes in the horizon, when I’m flying.

  • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    When I hear we have now begun our final descent, oh, boy, thats when i stop counting. I expect the clouds, I expect the bumpiness, i take it in stride, then i can actually eat,or even sleep. The minute we touch down, whoopie, I’m back to normal. My dad said maybe I died in a plane crash in a previous life (if you believe such things), because this my fear is irrational, and defies belief.
    OMG, I fel like we need to sit down, hug each other and share our experiecnes. I’m a nervous flyer, and dont know how to overcome it. I read that going on roller coasters help. I’ve gone on many from Thrope Park to Alton Towers, to one crazy one in Vienna and a few in Germany, to Disneyland, to name it. Nope, nothing has worked. I’m going to try Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Without Fear programme for people like us. Its a litte pricey (£250), and at the end, they actually take you flying, so you understand what the sounds mean, and to also experience turbulence and they explain what it means and how it affects a plane, bla bla, bla, but they dont go above 8,000 feet. How that will help, I dont know. The reveiws have been very good, and celebs who have gone on the course gave glowing comments about it. If the seminar doesnt work, i guess i’ll medicate myself before flying. My only fear is, heaven forbid you need to evacuate in an accident, if you are drowsy from valium, your sense of judgement will be impaired, and in such cases, you are at more risk. If it’s a mild emergency, flight attendants may help, but if you have to escape a burning plane, who will remember the sleepy person still stuck on their seat. Also, a lot of my holidays are short trips, if I take a valium, i wont even be able to walk to the terminal
    Sorry this is long winded, but I’ve been wanting to talk about this for so long, gosh it feels like therapy for me. BN, you guys rock for putting this up

    • Yane K December 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Dear God Lucy, i feel every bit of what you have just described! Wow, flying must be really exhausting for you. First of all, i don’t watch any air crash investigations or any movies/documentaries that have air crashes in them. I already have a vivid imagination and everything i imagine has a way of returning to me in living color right before a long flight (i cried when i watched the news story of the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson). I have heard of Virgin’s program but haven’t tried it so please do let us know how it went for you. You are so right! It is the loss of control that makes it worse. I have decided that i will learn how to fly a plane/helicopter/any craft that levitates off the ground to better understand the mechanics of why gravity does not pull a behemoth of a plane down to the ground. I have also heard that planes are safer when cruising in the air than at take-off or landing. Above all else, i try to relax during a flight by engaging my mind somehow :- looking out the window and telling myself the clouds are the ground and we’re not that far up, watching movies at a loud volume to take my focus away from reality, meditating, praying or sleeping whichever comes first. Generally, just trying to stay calm. Wish i could tell you ‘i’m fixed’ yet but i’m doing much better. I no longer have nightmares before i fly and i have even been getting up and walking to the bathroom several times lately. So it’s certainly getting better, hang in there. Hugs xx

      • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

        Aaaaaaw, thanks dear. hugs to you too. Yes, flights are always exhausting. I usually fly very early in the morning, so i can sleep off the stress for the whole day in the hotel, or i fly at night on short trips, so i can have a good nights sleep at the hotel. That changed when I watched an episode of Air Crash Investigation about pilot fatigue and not getting enough sleep before an early morning flight, and flying through out the day, and knackered on a night flight, and I changed my itinerary. I really should stop watching that show. Its doing more harm than good. Glad to hear you are conquering your fear, you should be proud. I gave a shout of hallelujah, when my company cancelled traveling as part of my job description to save costs. My colleagues thought I was crazy. I should have been sad. Sad ke, they just made my day, and I didn’t have to resign. Learn how to fly a plane, you are so brave. I’ll try the Virgin Programme next year hopefully. I pray it helps, or Richard Branson himself will hear from me. Lol

    • Person December 7, 2012 at 2:18 am

      Hugs to you Lucy! My God. You just described me to a tee. I am a morbid fan of Air Accident Investigations. I watch it without fail and I do the same thing on all my flights: calculating airspeed, time to destination, altitude, checking out wings, the rudder, praying the pitot tubes do not freeze over in some freak storm (like that Ar France flight). I almost broke my wrist once on a trip back to DC from Durban because I slept off. I had assumed the plane was crashing when it was actually landing and I automatically put myself in the brace position. Even though I was sleeping :O The woman seated next to me looked at me like I was crazy, but I know what the research says on crash landing. I am terrified of flying over any type of ocean, again because I know the statistics of crash landing in water (unfortunately, my job requires extensive travelling :O ) Since I know for sure crashes are caused by only 2 things: Pilot Error and Mechanical Failure, I always pray that God will take control of the pilot and the plane. And without fail, I confess my sins and do my “Father, into thy Hands I commit my spirit :D

  • pade December 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I TAKE SLEEPING PILLS TO AVOID PANIC ATTACK OOOOO. FLYING CAN BE REALLY SCARY AND FRUSTRATING WITH THE PILOT’S SILENCE.

  • AA December 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    haahhhaaa…i had the same experience recently flying between New York and London and oh my…my husband said he doesnt think i should be in an aeroplane.
    mind you its not my first or tenth time flying but it still gives me the creeps. Now we are flying to Dubai for this festive holidays and I sure am not looking forward to the trip. I recently made a short journey though between states and decided to have my huge earphones and ipad on hand and to be honest…singing along to Beyonce, Cold play and Adele did help. I do agree that the pilots should communicate and give us some comfort..some hope, but maybe they are too busy trying to paddle their way through it all. All in all, God is the key pilot so put your trust in Him.

  • MsEzed December 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Jeez why in the heck did i read this article? I had no atom of fear of flying up until now. I’ve started imagining all sorta things. it doesn’t help matters that school is closing nxt week and I have to come home for xmas

  • Nkechi December 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I wish any pilot or flight attendants who read this can comment and give tips on how to be calm during turbulence i am usually nervous before take off and touch down more so take off coz that is when the plane can decide to come tumbling down and burst into flames other than that i am ok flying.

  • sunshine December 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    imagining being on a plane actually gets me quaking in my shoes. i start to hyperventilate when i think about it. because of the kinda job i do, i have to travel a lot. so far i’ve been quite lucky, most of my clients are based in the lagos. Unfortunately, management has given an ultimatum, either i get over my fear or i get out. Dont know what to do.

  • Niño December 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I used to have a fear of flying….I still do, I board yet another flight tomorrow….I’ve read extensively on this and it is safer to be in a plane that driving…ESP in Lagos….this has helped me and also if you will die, you will die…fear of flying or not….so I just say my prayers, think positively and get on the damn plane….I do camomile tea which really calms u and helps ease tension and I read….and hope for the best

  • Virgin Nigeria NEVER again December 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Worst flight ever, actually 2, both Virgin Nigeria. 1. Lagos to Abuja, 4 hour delay. 4pm flight turned to 8pm. I had to work the next day, so I couldnt go back to my parents house in anger. Ok now, 8pm we took off, flight was okay for the first 30mins, the last 30mins. Blood of Jesus. There was this sudden violent movement. U know turbulence usually starts small or medium, then progressively worsens (the ones i’ve experienced before that day anyway, and I’m a regular flyer, twice a month abuja to lagos). This one came from nowhere, it was as if a hand in the sky grabbed the plane and shook it. We all screamed, and no joke the lights went out for a second or 2. Trust Nigerians now, screaming and wailing started. praying started. The person next to us asked me what church I went to, I wanted to hit him on the head with my book. gboooooogboogboooogbooogboooo, like molue, Lord, i thought I would die that day. I kept thinking of the Nigerian Aviation System, and i was scared and curisng them, for letting a faulty plane fly. So this is how the bellview, ADC, and Sosoliso people died. The plane was shaking violently, going up and down, left and right, swinging like clothes on a line. Hmmn, my bf that i always thought was strong, I saw fear in his eyes that day. We held on tightly, and i kept thinking, i dont even love this guy, so this is how i will die with him abi. Lord o, why now, is this some sort of punishment for not being honest with this guy about my feelings. The trip to Lagos was so he could introduce me to his mum. Of course the flight attendants were nowhere to be seen, not a peep from the cockpit. This was a night flight, and i could see lightning strikes in the sky. I kept thinking of wrong place wrong time events. I wasnt supposed to be air borne by now o, I was cursing Virgin Nigeria for their delays and incompetence. I should have landed hours ago. I thought of my parents, my siblings, my friends, my colleagues. I imagined all the pictures in the newspaper of crash victims and the stories. I felt so bad, it was as if I wanted to hug each and everyone that I loved. Those were the longest 30mins of my life. I could see it was raining outside, and we were flying through a bad storm. Even while we got closer to the ground, I thought we were about to crash, it was only when I heard cabin crew prepare for landing, that I knew the worst was over. Even the landing nko, we hit the ground HARD. The foolish pilot, only said something after we landed. Sorry about the flight conditions, rain, wind, kini kan. Ode oshi. Lord, i prayed for every crash victim after that flight. What they must have gone through is unspeakable, and I wouldnt wish on anyone. Another thing I did a few weeks after the flight was break up with my bf. I wasnt happy, I didnt love him, and I couldnt continue pretending. Life is too short abeg, and those words took on a new meaning after that flight.

  • Virgin Nigeria NEVER again December 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    2nd flight, Virgin Nigeria. I never learn. We had this big oyinbo customer, and I was assigned to go with him to Lagos for a meeting. Again, Virgin Nigeria delayed our flight by about an hour. It was supposed to be a 7.30pm flight, we didnt board until about 8.30. Funny thing was, i didnt have a flash back or feel any sense of dread that this was happening again. I hadnt flown Virgin Nigeria since that last flight, so I had totally forgotten. This flight was booked by my company. We boarded, and the flight was basically empty. I mean only a handul of people. Okay we took off, and we couldnt have gone more than a few minutes when the violent shaking started. Normally on take off, you expect a few bumps, but this was unusual. What further terrified us was that we thought both engines were on fire. It is a night flight so of course the cabin was dark for take off. Suddenly the cabin was bright orange, and you could see bright orange lights, and grey smoke in the region where the engines were. Omo, my head wanted to explode. I remember teling the oyinbo guy, are the engines on fire, he looked at me and answered in fear, I dont know but i f****ing hope not. This continued for a few minutes, and the plane was turning, and dipping and moving around. Its funny how the brain plays tricks on you. I swear, I swear after a while i started smelling smoke. I kept asking the guy again, can you smell that, can you smell smoke. he said no, he couldnt, meanwhile he was already sweating. Everyone around was screaming, and praying, I could hear muslim chanting all around and some people kabashing. This continued o, and the plane was dancing azonto. It didnt help that the last Virgin flight was now clear in my mind. Half of me was praying, and the other half was saying, I survived the last flight, i will survive this one too. Suddenly it stopped. Just like that, and the rest of the flight was smooth. At least this time when the craziness stopped, the captain spoke up – sorry for the discomfort, we flew into a head wind, abi tail wind, or sth wind. Talo mo. The worst is behind us, smooth trip ahead to Lagos. When we landed, we all flew from our seats like we were on remote control. I couldnt sleep in the hotel that night. I kept tossing and turning and having nightmares. I fugured, we must have flown into a huge grey/storm cloud, so the lights of the plane, shining through the cloud, was what caused the image, that we thought the engines were on fire. The cloud was probably also responsible for the turbulence. Anywa it is easy to analyse when your feet are safely on the ground. Human beings are not designed for flying. Shikena. I returned to Abuja via Aero Contractor. Lol

    • Msunderstood December 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      U r so funny. Great move-breaking up wit d guy cos u don’t love him. Life is indeed very short .

    • Yane K December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Oh my goodness! LOL@ “plane was dancing Azonto” you killed me with your stories! You really are a brave one. Thanks for the encouragement especially the part where “i survived the last flight, i will survive this one too” go girl!

  • Abimbola Dare December 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO!! this babe, ur comments had me in stitches. Gosh. lol

  • Abimbola Dare December 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    my job requires me to fly often. and I fly with my oyinbo colleagues. Each time we encounter “small” turbulence, I grabbed my bible and start chanting Psalm 91. The last time it happened, my colleague raised an eyebrow at me as in (wetin dey do this one?”). and went back to reading his book…Me I chanted my psalm 91 until we landed in Poznan. I dread flying… I wish I could take a train instead. hiss.
    Another time, we encountered small turbulence.. I was flying with mumsy. The woman carried out her big bottle of anointing oil and poured it all over the seat , shouting, ” Holy ghost.. take over, take over!!” lmao. I love mamabimby.

    • Yane K December 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      LOL @ ” Holy ghost.. take over, take over!!”

  • ABCOG December 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Lolololol…. I have laughed so hard this afternoon. The article and the responses… LMHO. I also fly regularly for work, usually twice a month, mostly Europe, some Africa, some US or holidays. It’s so good to know I am not the only one who has these irrational fears. I never used to have any fear until I started flying regularly with work. Add a couple of bad\scary experiences and seriously only God keeps me from running out of my mind when the turbulence begins. I remember three specific incidences. The first was a flight for a meeting in Nice from LHR. The approach to Nice is above water… who had that stupid idea? Omo, when the plane started descending, I was thinking ‘shey this pilot knows what he is doing sha? Abi have they built a runway in the middle of the sea ni?’ That was where the fear started. I specifically hate take off and landing because that is when most accidents occur… and I hate turbulence AND, my mind goes haywire when I see an Asian in turban or any religious parphrenalia – it’s irrational, I know but I cant help it.

    The second one was LHR to Bulgaria, I believe. Phew! Lord Jesus I’ll do your will, anything. That runway for that was bang in the middle of mountains. As if that was not bad enough the plane made to land then suddenly shot up in the air and started circling the mountains. Ah ah. I started telling God that ‘my son’s only two. Please don’t deprive him of me’. The plane attempted to land like four times and would shoot back into the air on nearing the runway heey… Terror was etched on every passenger’s face… did they make an announcement? Noooooo, until finally they managed to land. When I was getting out I went straight to the pilot and asked him what all the shenanigans were about. He said (very calmly I should add) that the plane’s flaps had failed. I went white.

    The third one was recent. October. Arik air Lagos to LHR. About 10 mins after take-off, the plane dropped like the writer described. Passengers were shocked and for a split second, it was an eerie silence before anyone could gather their thoughts, much less talk. You trust Nigerians, they now started chatted about how terrible the drop was and how only God can help us. Somehow I had manged to grab the passenger next to me’s groin. He happened to be an Anglican clergyman… I just jejely apologised.

    Now I just imagine that Jesus is holding the plane in His Hands and start praying at any signs of anything unusual. It doesn’t completely eliminate the fear but it is much better. I usually tell Him that I trust that He’ll give me an inkling if He was going to take me away and actually, I’d rather go in a non-horrific way. Of course fear has an answer like have saved people not died in plane crashes before. So by the time I start giving the reasons why God would protect me and thinking of which scriptures apply, the turbulence is usually over.

    • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      OMG, I know that airport. I’ve flown to Nice twice. Moronic idea, its right by the sea. Awon idiots, don’t they know people like us exist. I just close the shutters sharply. Also fly to Malta and Faro in faaaaact. That Nice is baaaaaad sha, because a mistake in landing or take off, straight into the Mediterranean be that, no question. The final descent of the flight to Verona is over, wait for it, over a stretch of mountains. The Alps i think. Chineke, for like 10mins, you look down and you can see the jagged peaks of mountains. Back to my Air Crash Investigation, there are some winds that come from the sides of mountains, that can not just cause serious turbulence, but can lead to plane crashes. My fellow passengers were busy taking pictures of the mountain range, and Lake Garda, truly it was beautiful seeing it from above, but i was too scared to appreciate it. The woman beside me was chatting to me non stop, she’s Italian, so go figure. I was just answering in mono syllables, and somehow she distracted me a bit from the fact that we were too close for comfort to those mountains. What happened to you in Bulgaria is called a Missed Approach. It occurs when the pilot has judged that the approach cannot lead to a successful landing but he must abort that landing and be air borne again. May I never experience that (even though I know what it means, and what may cause it), because an ambulance would need to come attend to my major hysteria. lol

    • Yane K December 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      OMG, can’t remember when i laughed so hard, i have tears streaming down my face. Thanks for sharing the stories. I’ll remember them on my next flight :)

  • Sassy December 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    As a frequent flier, I have relived your experience over 50 times, my remedy, two mini bottles of vodka 15 mins into flight and I am as relaxed as I can ever be. I usually signal to the hostess before take off and some hand me the drinks before take off or 15mins into the flight. Just like you, I used to enjoy flying; in a year I probably take 30 business trips back to back. But a couple of years ago, with no tramautic experience the psychological fear started and that gradually gave way to physical fear. I am seriously considering seeing a psychologist, with the nature of my job and lifestyle, I can’t afford a blood pressure and heart attack at 28. No can’t do.

    • Lucy December 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Lucky you. My fear started from my first flight aaaaaaaages ago. I used to blame my mum for not taking me travelling as a kid, and her reasons were she hates flying, and she can’t manage herself and children together on a flight. I think those who have been travelling since infancy adjust better to flying. Or maybe the fear of flying is genetic. It may sound silly, but my mother is absolutely terrified of flying. She has never flown any domestic airline, despite me saying road travel in 9ja is not safe, bad roads, armed robbers, ritualises, mumsie will never fly domestic. Even international, she takes her valium when she gets to the airport.
      About your fear, I wrote this because you mentioned your age. I read (numerous research on flying) that as you get older, you are more in touch with your mortality. Which may explain why you have recently developed this fear. Now you are older, they say you have lots of things you want to do an experience, and you probably have already set the ball in motion to achieve those things, or you may have achieved them or have just started to. You may be married, be a parent, be great at your business and or career, or you haven’t reached those goals yet, and you are working towards and hoping to get there. So, you sure as hell don’t want to die yet. Lol

  • immathrowup December 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    i kinda like flying….i have two friends i’ll never sit by whenever it comes to flying. one will grab ur hand and cut off the circulation in it and all the time yelling “JESU! JESU! JESU!!!!” with the slightest turbulence, the other one will also grab ur hand so tight and will be saying and trying to make u believe it ” we’r going to die” “this plane will crash” “i hope my this is not what my dream meant”….although i love flying (takeoff and landing my best part of it), these two broads always find a way to put the fear of flying in me whenever they are like this….so mehn whenever i fly with them, i always make them sit together or pick a seat all the way in the front or in the back away from them, of course they always wanna sit by me. but if not for them, flying is fun (except for the long hrs u have to sit in one place and the only places u can go to is the bathroom)

    • ABCOG December 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      LOL @ your two friends…

  • Jess December 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Absolutely hate flying, love traveling. The irony. I’m pretty sure it was a hellish flight from Ireland to England years ago that caused this. It was pretty much 45 minutes of straight turbulence. Girl.. I find it so ironic that flying is apparently the safest form of traveling because sweet Jesus knows if I could take a train everywhere, I would. I love trains. But yea everytime I’m about to fly, I get reeeeaalll close to Jesus.

  • smallz December 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    oh No i have a trip to make to nigeria from heathrow nw i’m frightened to death! had to change me klm flight after the last experience from nigeria, we were flying so low i saw the ground, i couldn’t eat it took everyone on the plane to calm down! now i have sworn off connecting flights i’m just going through the flights mentioned nw B.a n ARIK looks out of it just been prepping my mind

  • Abana December 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I didn’t have a fear of flying until that Belview plane fell down from the sky. That day it dawned on me that planes could crash. Before then, I loved turbulence. I just loved the bumpy ride. Although now I get scared, I don’t panic. I just sleep! Na to sleep o. I close my eyes and go to lala land and tell myself no plane I am in is permitted to crash. Amen!

  • Busola December 7, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with a serious phobia for flights. I was sixteen when I moved to England. It was my first time travelling by plane, and to make matters worse it was Bellview. My dad didn’t tell us about the airline until the day before. I couldn’t sleep, especially because it was barely few months after its local crash. As I got on the plane, I became sick. I couldn’t eat, and was terribly nauseated. My fears became real when the turbulence started. To say my heart was in my mouth is an understatement. The pilot then said something like emergency landing on water, and I cannot even swim. Infact, I hate water too. Ish got real, everybody started praying. As a sharp babe, I confessed ALL my sins and I felt peace within me. I knew if the worst happened, I will make heaven sha. Glory to God, we made it without the emergency landing. Since I moved to U.k, haven’t had any reason to fly. I would like to visit more places but the fear of plane crash is the beginning of wisdom :( On the real tho, I have considered dosing myself on sleeping pills if I ever need to fly. I know it’s tad dangerous but I cannot think of any other route of escape from my fears.

  • portable-oge December 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    OMG!!! U guys have killed me with laughter o to d extent tears r rolling down my cheeks n my collegues r like”r u going bonkers or smthing?”
    I have a very serious phobia for flying o,1st time i ever flew was wen i had to facilitate a training for my company in Enugu and dey insisted i had to fly cos i was a day behind schedule!I begged,cried for my boss dat i didnt want to fly n he was like either u fly or u resign! Omo,i called momsie n told her to run sharp to church n start praying for me o. Entering,d plane,my rosary,bible,holy-water were all in my hands o!i was practicaly shaking like smone dat had epilepsy.we took off n next thing,turblence greeted ur sis,see prayers frm left,right,evrywhere,enugu state gov was dia!Jesus,immediately d plane landed,i was d first person to fly frm d plane n prostrated flat on d ground saying thank u Jesus over n over again! See laughter bt i no send dem o! Ha,me no flying any domestic route in Naija again o, ABC is dia!

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