Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Don't Like to Fly ...


     So I went to see Sully last night.

     The last time I was on a plane was in 2012, on a round trip flight from New York to Phoenix. The trip wasn't too bad, but I must admit, I had a little help from Xanax. The time before that was a trip to San Francisco in 2006 to see my daughter graduate from college.

     Back when I was younger, I used to fly three or four times a year. To Florida and back. To the West Coast. To Europe. But now that I'm retired, and have more time, I drive whenever I can. I drive to Florida every year; and I even once drove to the West Coast, and then took the train back. I don't necessarily recommend that. It's a long trip! (I was delivering my daughter's car to her; then she drove it back to New York a few years later when she returned to the East Coast -- although she'll hop on a plane in a minute, she actually likes to fly.).

     Yes, I know that statistically, it's safer to fly than to drive, especially on a long trip. But I just don't like the idea of barreling along high in the sky, cooped up with hundreds of other people in a cylinder barely bigger than an elevator, with only a thin skin of aluminum between me and 35,000 feet of . . . nothing. I feel every bump; I hear every noise. Air turbulence makes me sick to my stomach. And the most disturbing thing is, I know if something goes wrong, I can't get out and fly.

     I think it's largely a matter of control. I like to think that I am in control of my life (yes, I know that's largely an illusion, but that's the way I am). I don't particularly like to drive with other people, either, I don't trust them -- although I feel safe with B, who's even more of a nervous nelly than I am.

     But I've had some bad experiences. Haven't you? A bumpy flight through the clouds to Washington, DC. A death-defying puddle jumper to Montauk on Long Island. An aborted takeoff on a flight to Orlando. A hard landing in Miami when all the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling.

     I remember reading The Right Stuff while on a flight out of New York, sometime in the 1980s. We were held up on the runway at JFK for over an hour, due to thunderstorms, and I was reading about jets stalling at 50,000 feet and pilots punching out as their planes fell to earth.

     Sully stars Tom Hanks, who does a good job. I also saw Hanks in Cast Away, which features a pretty realistic plane crash at the beginning of the movie. Anyway, Sully is not as scary as I thought it would be. The story is told as a flashback, as Capt. Sully faces a post-crash inquiry from the NTSB.

     It's a good movie. Hanks is convincing in his role, as he always is, and so is everyone else. I have two minor quibbles. One of my favorite actresses, Laura Linney, plays a pretty lame part as Sully's wife. She's a great actress. What's she doing in this pallid role?

     And the other thing is, I go to these movies mostly to confirm my prejudice, my bias that flying is a dangerous, foolhardy thing to do. But Sully didn't thrill me and scare me nearly as much as I thought it would. So once again, I have to admit that I am not the prudent, reasonable man I think I am, but the emotional and psychological basket case that I really am.

22 comments:

beth grossman said...

agree totally; i feel the same.
haven't been on a plane since 1989

DJan said...

I am not afraid of flying, but it sure is tedious these days! I don't do it much any more, but I've flown pretty much all over the world. I got over my fear of flying when I starting skydiving. :-)

Tom Sightings said...

Well, DJan, I know you're a braver person than I am. But I always wondered if I'd feel safer on an airplane if I wore a parachute!

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Looking at sully as well as bridget Jones Baby. I flew several times a decade in the 1970s, several times a week through the 1980s, and about once a month in the 1990s. After that I flew several times a year again, until I retired. I fly less frequently now that I am retired.

My motto is what will be will be. Just make sure you have all your affairs in order and live each day as if it was your last.

Carole said...

I just saw Sully today! Loved it. It really tugged at my heart strings. I'm not a huge fan of flying. The best way I have found to manage any of my discomfort in flying is simply to mentally put those fears on a shelf and leave them there while I am up in the air. I know it sounds silly, but it works for me. Fortunately I don't fly that often.

I do wonder if the portrayal of the NTSB in the movie was accurate. They all seemed pretty hard-nosed and mean spirited (up until the end).

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Tom - I'm looking forward to seeing 'Sully'. I'll keep your quibbles in mind!
Thanks for sharing this.
Donna
www.retirementreflections.com

still the lucky few said...

I saw Sully last week and loved it! Tom Hanks was great, and you are right, Laura Linney played a wimpy role. Thanks for this.

Linda Myers said...

This afternoon I flew in a 12-passenger Cessna from Rockland, Maine to Boston. Then in a Boeing 737 from Boston to Seattle.

A lot of sitting, but better than a five-day drive.

I notice the turbulence too.

Madeline Kasian said...

The part of flying I don't like is the waiting in the airport and the bag-schlepping. Other than that I actually like the actual being up in the air.. that said, we're doing a lot more driving too now that we're retired.Santa Fe might be next, not too far from Phoenix..

Meryl Baer said...

I am not at all fond of flying but love to travel, so tolerate the flights. A friend of mine takes a sleeping pill to get throughout the trip. At first I did not like the idea, but the more I fly the more the idea sounds promising.

Stephen Hayes said...

"Sully" was a robust recreation of the landing on the Hudson but I thought it a bit pedantic and could have been a bit more inspiring and uplifting. Still, any movie with Tom Hanks is worth watching.

gigihawaii said...

David saw "Sully" and enjoyed it. I think I would prefer "Bridget Jones' Baby." We plan to see it next Tuesday.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I'm not so much afraid of flying per se but increasingly afraid of various in-flight experiences -- being squeezed ever more tightly into seats, problematic passengers, delays, etc. I used to fly constantly when I was doing book tours (not done much anymore unless you're a celebrity), speaking engagements and the like and some wretched in-flight moments linger: like the mother with the baby sitting beside me who burped her baby in my direction and the child upchucked a whole bottle of milk all over my suit -- my outfit for speaking two hours later in Philadelphia; a guy who sat beside me with bare feet hanging over the armrest; the morbidly obese guy who took all of his seat and half of mine and kept elbowing me angrily for more room. I may be in major denial, but I'm more in fear of sitting next to a screaming infant than I am of a crash. I really do want to see "Sully." I admire his expertise and also his modesty. And Tom Hanks is the perfect person to play him!

Tom Sightings said...

B wants to see "Bridget Jones Baby". In the meantime, while I watched "Sully", she went with her girlfriend to see "Bad Moms." There's no accountin' for taste!

christina neumann said...

I dislike flying and am faced with this dilemma right now as my husband has won an expense paid trip to Naples Florida. It's such a long flight from Ca and I worry as an ongoing cancer patient about germs. Still, I guess I'm going and hopefully all will be right.

Janette said...

There was that time from Hong Kong to Vietnam when the guy in front of me in line was carrying a parachute....

And then there was the other time when we hit a flock of birds flying from Hawaii to the mainland and limped back to Hawaii...

Or that time when the Chinese pilot took off and then throttled back enough to have the plane almost vertical be the time he got it going again.....

Yes, I hate to fly- but still fly pretty often. I always check out the crew as I board. Sully is the kind of pilot I am looking for. Looking forward to the movie!

joared said...

I love to fly, but not on today's commercial airlines. Since I don't have my own jet I don't do much of it as I might have done otherwise, except when I visit my children and grandchildren. They live across the country from me in cold climes where I don't care to return to living in. I thoroughly enjoy auto driving trips my husband and I used to take. I'd make more such trips but he's no longer living, friends don't seem to be up for them, and at my age now I think it's the better part of wisdom for me to not do so alone. My children concur. Besides traveling is generally much more fun with a companion.

I haven't seen the Sully movie though I expect it's quite good. I really am not attracted to the numerous movies being made in recent years about people and events that have occurred only a few years earlier. I already know how the story ends and if I want more intimate specifics a nonfiction book would be much more revealing.

Sally Wessely said...

Well, at least you admitted that you just plain hate to fly. I'm not a wonderful fan of it either, but I try to work on my "finding inner peace" skills when I fly. Once a flight I was on was so turbulent that I really did think we would never come out of it alive. A woman next to me showed me how she did some sort of tapping exercise to keep her composure. I did that for a while; then, I took a chill pill. We survived, so I shouldn't have gotten so stressed. I can say that now.

One time I was in a private plane with just another passenger and myself. We encountered a terrible thunderstorm between Colorado and Kansas. We ended up flying much longer and more distance trying to fly out of the storm. Lightening was everywhere. I know the pilot did an outstanding job, but I never want to go through such a ride again.

Barbara Torris said...

I really am one of those people that can see what will happen next...airplane travel can be very scary I suppose. But, for some reason, I am not afraid. I am not in control most days in my life so I have to "offer it up" on most days.

gideon sockpuppet said...

I love flying. I'm the person in the window seat with my nose pressed against the window admiring the view. I especially like flying in small airplanes, and helicopters are awesome. I suppose I should have taken flying lessons...

Jude

Douglas said...

I took my last flight around 2009, I prefer to drive, even across the country to Las Vegas and San Diego. Like you, I think it's mostly a "control" thing: I am not the pilot and I am the driver of my car.
Now, because of my condition, I no longer like to drive. And I hate that.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I am one those who retired from something, not to something. I was a high level state government administrator and my work was my identity and passion. I retired almost three years ago. Not being a hobby or volunteer guy, I ended up taking a new job after one year. I am now a minion and work 40 hours per week hating my job. But if I quit, I know what the year without working was like. I am lost, unhappy, and looking for suggestions. I just don’t want the cookie cutter ideas of get a hooby, learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, volunteer. My finances are good, my health, except for my frame of mind, is good, but I regret the day I retired and there is no do over and I hate my current job–not challenging, engaging, etc. Is there a retirement to enjoy just relaxing? Suggestions please!!!