6 Days to flight
I can’t believe its Monday already and the flight is literally this coming Sunday. Today has been a bit weird in the way that I have been thinking about the forthcoming trip, but not the flight so much. I have had a bit of an upset tummy too, which could be something I ate over the weekend. Its safe to say the nerves are starting, but distraction techniques seem to be working. I will be trying some yoga and meditation tonight, so will let you know how it goes tomorrow.
The Night Before
Night in the hotel with the wind gusting, and complete fear knowing the weather was so bad. A pretty restless night was had, to say the least, but did manage an hour or so. I think it was shear exhaustion at this point. That feeling of being in a strange place, strange bed, and on your own. At the same time, I love having the Air Con on full blast to cool me down, and being able to have whatever I want on TV. The Diazepam played a key part in my nights rest, even if it was as much as I had hoped for.
The First Flight to Phoenix
My First flight to Phoenix, Arizona was back on February 7th 2016, in the middle of storm Imogen. The flight was scheduled with British Airways, and it was to be my second time on a Boeing 747, albeit downstairs.
The following video titled “Terrifying landing during storm Imogen for Flight AZ222 Milan to London City Airport” I believe is anything buy terrifying. You may ask why I am putting this video in a fear of flying blog? This is simple to answer though. Every plane in the air is checked to withstand the most excessive of weather before it is allowed to fly. In addition to that, they have a maximum permitted take off and landing wind speed, so if the airport is suffering winds in addition, the plane will simply divert, or circle until safer. The crosswinds are the main issue, rather than head or tail winds. A maximum cross wind of 30-35 knots, approx 31 mph is enough to stop the airport accepting flights.
Take a look at the video anyway.
What do you see?
So it is clearly very windy, but the airport would not have authorised the landing if it was unsafe. You will see the plane wobbling a little as it comes in and then attempt a failed landing. At this point the pilot will have throttled up the engines, and usually state TOGA to the co-pilot and air traffic control once it is safe to do so. All this simply means is Take Off Go Around (TOGA). What this says to me as a fearful flyer is that the pilot is well in control of the plane. Look at the way the plane responds when the pilot decides to TOGA. This very act, even though in stormy weather, shows the professional way in which the pilot controls the plane the entire time, and recovers the landing, ready for a second attempt.
Just Before The Flight?
The morning of the flight I was an absolute wreck. It was like the first time all over again, largely because of the weather. I had been very lucky up to this point, in getting out of the UK by plane in good weather. I knew today would be different. This particular morning, aside of the normal toilet trips, I was physically sick again. Yes the hotel room did not escape my evening meal of Pizza, which was shared with the bathroom toilet via my mouth.
I have a funny ritual before any flight, and that is to take off the previous flights tag from my luggage. Its a kind of salute to myself that I am getting on the plane regardless of feelings. Just before I leave the hotel room, I tear it off and fly with it in my suitcase. This way I have to replace the baggage tag, so the flight has to happen. I also do this on the way back, but only once on the way to the airport, as sometimes its from the office or some other location.
Anyway the tag was off, and I had taken my medication for the morning period, off to the airport it was.
The Flight, Almost
As we approached the airport, I could see planes taking off and wobbling as they lifted up into the cloud. I knew it was going to be bumpy, but thought it cant be as bad as my Chicago flight, can it?
As the time got closer, my normal stomach churning feeling came, and as I looked out of the windows of Heathrow, I could just see Storm Imogen laughing at me. Even though I was on Diazepam, and had also been prescribed some Beta-Blockers, the fear would just not go.
It was time. I walked slower then ever to the gate, and every toilet I passed had a visit from me. The gate wasn’t that fair from the lounge though, so we were there in no time. As soon as we stepped on the plane, you could feel it rocking in the wind. It was like a train or bus, with that gentle sway. I had a window seat at he back of the plane, and could see the wings bobbing up and down. I was S**T scared. It was time for another tablet, as I always time it to take one as I board. Then this song came on, which gave a slight relaxation feeling to me. Great tune.
I mentioned to the male flight attendant that I was a nervous flyer, and he asked if I would like to move seats closer to the wings as it maybe a bumpy take off. You don’t feel as many bumps the closer to the wings you are. I simply replied with “I’m your problem now”. We taxied out and the plane just rocked the whole way. It must have been windy for Storm Imogen to be moving a 747.
We got to the runway, and lined up. The engines throttled up and we started hurtling down. You could feel the bumps and sway of the plane. I have to be honest, I was hating every second of this, but it was no worse than a bumpy road in the car. LIFT OFF, we were in the air, and just as the flight attendant had said, it was a bumpy take off. BUT, before we knew it, we were above the weather. The flight was probably bumpy for a good 5-10 minutes, and then nothing but smooth air until we landed in Phoenix.
I’m not saying every flight will not be bumpy, but for all the bumps I have experienced, what I thought would be the worse, were bad, but only for a very short purpose. You see pilots are trained to avoid the weather where ever possible. Not because of safety fears, but so its more comfortable for both them, and us passengers,