A Small Plane?! Aren’t you scared?!
Do you ever get scared? This is a common question people ask me when they hear that we “fly in a little plane.” I have one friend that is so scared of flying (even commercially) that he refers to our plane as a flying coffin (insert major eye roll here). Anyone in General Aviation knows the facts and knows that overall it is extremely safe. Beyond that, I know that Zach is an experienced and very capable pilot. But, do you ever get scared Wendy? I’m human and of course I get scared sometimes!
I’ve been flying with Zach for six years. Most of the time I do very well but occasionally we will fly through a few bumpy clouds that have me gripping the seat. I’ve repeatedly asked for an “oh s&%@” bar to be installed, but so far my requests have been denied! The only time I’ve truly been terrified was on a summertime trip to Indiana. This was before we had upgraded avionics and had to rely on ATC and common sense. The weather was fine and perfectly clear between Tennessee and Indiana when we took off but about halfway into the trip it started building on top of us. We went through one extremely turbulent cloud and it shook me up pretty bad. That was just the beginning. We would come out of one cloud and see another one right in front of us, they were all rough. I'm not talking a little jostle, we were knocking around so hard that my head was hitting the top of the plane and I thought I may get sick. As I mentioned, this was before we had upgraded avionics in the aircraft, and at this point I didn’t have headset hookups in the back so all Zach could do was to turn around and make eye contact and I could read his lips asking me if I was ok. I wasn't and I knew I wasn’t helping him by panicking so I did my best to nod that yes I was ok, but it wasn't very convincing and he knew better. I was crying. I was praying. I joke about it now but I’m serious when I say I was praying for our protection and forgiveness for the words coming out of my mouth all at once. We climbed and climbed and couldn’t get out of it. I found out later that Zach knew that people at every altitude were getting into it and he decided the best thing to do was keep going. It was just one of those summertime storm systems that was unexpected and built up quickly.
I have never been so thankful to get on the ground as I was that day. Overall it probably lasted maybe 30 minutes. Flying in to land was rough that day as well. We got to where we were going and I had a couple of glasses of wine and came down from my panic mode. That night I asked Zach if he was scared. He told me that he knew the plane could handle what we were taking but his fear was that we were going to get into one of the clouds and it would be hailing. Luckily, that didn’t happen. I haven’t been that scared before or since and honestly I hope we never experience anything that dramatic again. It took me some time to get over it. I would be white knuckled on the seat going through the lightest cloud layer for months after that trip. But flying is part of our life and I had to push through the anxiety. I took some time and patience with myself and some on Zach’s part as well but I did get past my fear. So “do you ever get scared?” The answer is yes, but 99% of the time it’s a wonderful experience!