Many people with Fear of Flying are disturbed by turbulence far more than they would be by similar bumps felt when driving their car, or travelling by bus. This is all about familiarity and faith in the machine you are driving.
Here’s a little thought experiment:
Imagine yourself just having bought a ridiculously expensive car with your life savings, plus money from a mortgage on your kids and your dog. Much that is important to you is wrapped up in this investment.
This particular car is very special… it is made of crystal and it is VERY fragile. The slightest bump could smash it to smithereens, resulting in the loss of everything you own.
Sounds stupid, right? But the reason you bought it was that you heard that such cars are highly prized in the backcountry and there is an upcoming “Crystal Car Swap Meet” in the woods not too many miles from where you live. You are convinced you can sell the car for twice what you paid for it, if only you can get it there in one piece.
But the only way to get there is over a bumpy dirt road, with lots of corrugations and potholes.
So you load up the car with your family, and the dog, and gingerly pull out of your driveway.
At first there’s no problem. Nice smooth sealed roads. Just a few bumps here and there that you negotiate skilfully, because you’ve driven these roads before and know where the bumps lie. No problem at all.
Then you turn onto the dirt road into the hills. You drive VERY slowly, but it is impossible to avoid all the bumps. Every time you hit one the crystal chandelier hanging from the rear view mirror clatters and clinks. The car groans.
Of course, you notice EVERY bump in the road. Every pebble and every ditch, every lump and every bump.
It is very stressful driving this car, but you get there. With patience, care and a lot of sweat you arrive in the backwoods village 8 hours later. You are a bundle of nerves.
Shoulders slumped, you realise you are too late for the Crystal Car Swap Meet. You’re now faced with having to drive all the way back home in your fragile vehicle.
Then a guy with a banjo and bad teeth wanders up and starts admiring your car. “I’ve always wanted me wunna these. But I ain’t got much munny. How ’bout a swap?”
You simply cannot fathom driving that road in your crystal car again, so you jump at the chance. “Sure, what are we talking about?”
Banjo Bill walks you toward his dilapidated shed. “I’ll give you my car, and a Fender Stratocaster guitar. It’s really valuable… Willie Nelson once sat on it!” He throws open the shed doors and you peer into the gloom.
You don’t care much for guitars but, as soon as you see the vehicle he wants to swap, you agree instantly. You shake his clammy hand, swap keys and paperwork, and load up the family in your new car. You give the guitar to the kids to play with.
You arrive home in 20 minutes, not having noticed a single bump on the way home, other than the big ones that you deliberately aimed at to give the kids a thrill.
(Your airplane, of course, is not a Crystal Car 😉
Tags: fear of flying, fear of turbulence, turbulence, turbulence bumpy road