I am afraid of flying but I haven't always felt that way. Back in my twenties, when I didn't believe anything could kill me, I flew from Omaha to Chicago and Charlotte as often as I could. It also never occurred to me that the plane could go up in a ball of fire or blow out a big hole from an oxygen tank (I didn't even know they carried oxygen tanks) and drop from the sky like an anvil.
Back in those days, flying was also very special. You dressed up in your Sunday clothes and attempted to act like you used the manners your mother taught you. Of course, the experience of flying was different in those days. The seats were wide and comfortable. You got hot meals followed by snacks. The flight attendants spoke to you. Now it's hip to hip and elbow to elbow with maybe an inch of squiggle room. One false move and you can put your neighbor's kidney out with an elbow. You got hot meals followed by snacks. As for food now, well, be grateful if you get a tiny bag of pretzels and a soda.
There were no movies back in the 60's to take your mind off the monotony or terror depending on which way your mind tended to go. Of course there were no personal computers, CDs, DVDs, video recorders, cell phones or digital cameras either. Reading the safety rules passed for on board entertainment in the dark ages of my youth. I understand that airlines are considering to ending on board movies now. Take one step backward in the game of flying in the twenty-first century.
No one stood in security lines emptying their purses and pockets, explaining why the shampoo in in your carry-on or having the evil eye of security look at you accusatory if you had a nail file. God forbid.
These days I've become fearful of getting into the humongous chunks of metal that lift into the thin air. What keeps them up there any way?
Now that I am older, I treasure every moment I get to be alive. In spite of my fears, I fly any way white knuckling my precarious ride to my destination. I guess it beats walking the two thousand miles to Los Vegas. If I want to experience excitement and adventure, visit old friends and loved ones, I have to endure the security checks and death-defying ride in those metal birds. It's good they still serve alcohol on board. Or, at least they were still doing it yesterday. You never know. Things can change fast in the world we live in.
Sarah McNeal Author of The Violin, The Dark Isle and Lake of Sorrows.