I don't know when it started, but it had to have been when I was a child. My guess is around the Lockerbie, Scotland tragedy.
I had been on plenty of flights before then and I experienced no troubles whatsoever. After that tragedy, it all changed in my mind. I became terrified that I would die in a plane crash. A big Boeing or a small Cessna or one of the sizes in between. They are all the same in my mind.
99% of the time, I'm ok when preparing for a flight. I try not to think about it, I utter my usual litany of prayers that I can recite like a robot and by the grace of God things turn out fine. I sit during the security briefing trying to memorize the safety booklet, I remember where the exits are and try to come up with a plan to drag Mike and myself out of the plane if needed. I force myself to remember to stay calm and think, if anything happens, instead of giving in to panic and freezing. I wear comfy shoes, I wear clothes made of natural fibers like cotton.
Any noises made or turbulence sends my heart spinning until I feel the aircraft stabilize again. I look at my watch a million times as if it will make the hands move faster. If I'm exhausted I cannot sleep because what if something happens and I'm not coherent enough to make a life saving decision? I can't get comfy in the seats, who can really?, but I can't relax. I prefer to read horror novels by Stephen King and HP Lovecraft et al because those are stories, they can't get me.
Do understand, I'm not scared of the act of flying, but the act of crashing and burning or vaporizing in the ocean. This is why I cannot watch shows like Mayday on The Discovery Channel. As a rule, if any movies or TV shows are set on a plane, I don't watch. Except maybe Snakes on a Plane or AirForce One cuz Samuel L. Jackson and Harrison Ford are badass enough that I'd breathe easier if they were on a plane with me.
We are going on a plane very soon and to say I'm slowly losing my mind is an understatement.
It seems once I turned 30 I crossed some sort of barrier in my mind and now I'm paranoid of everything that brings me closer to death. I'm scared of losing people and pets close to me, most of all myself.
Over the past few days we've heard of the troubles with SouthWest Airlines and I'm glad there were no injuries and that the airline is taking steps to correct the problems. This does nothing to help alleviate my fears.
Sometimes I sit and say to myself that airline travel is one of the safest methods available. There are so many flights each day around the world and days go by with no issues. And I slowly calm down. Then something jars me back to the fear, I won't cite examples lest they run through my mind, and I'm back to square 1 again.
I'm going to think positively and we'll get through it, some way, some how.