F = Flying

When I was a young child, I would watch the white contrails of the planes in the sky fantasizing about being a traveller one day and exploring this world near and far.  Airplane travel represented the ultimate grand adventure to someone who had never been more than a 100 miles from home.


Google Image

When I graduated from university, I found my hero in a fictional book character.  One of my favourite books became Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The book’s appeal was in the female lead character Dagny Taggart.  Strong, independent, with her moral integrity intact – I wanted to be just like her. Dagny could fly an airplane – even the earth did not limit her – and so I wanted fly as well.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been able to realize most of my dreams and so much more.  I have travelled extensively and long embraced a lifestyle of trying new things. Although I never did learn to fly a plane, I’ve explored many airborne activities like skydiving, parasailing and hang gliding.  All were awesome experiences – in the truest sense of the word – that made my heart race from the excitement and left me with a sense of breathlessness.

The irony in all of this is that I discovered I’m not particularly fond of flying.  Regardless of the many times I’ve flown, it continues to be a white knuckle experience that leaves me with a blistering headache and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I’ve been prone to anxiety attacks and on one occasion – when I was seven months pregnant with son #2 – was removed from an airplane while we sat on the runway readying for take-off.  One of the attendants became overly concerned by my distress, fearing I was going into premature labour.  It was really just me trying to resist the urge to either throw-up or faint – normal for most take-offs and landings.  The experience was quite mortifying. Picture a blimp of a woman being removed from the plane while all the businessmen were looking at their watches knowing that the delay would make them late for their meetings.

As I get older, my appreciation for terra firma grows, so there was an alarm bell that went off in my head when son #1 began to show an interest in flying.  Like his mother before him, I believed the urge would pass … but it didn’t.  I had only reluctantly resolved myself to the fact he drove a car and now my stomach would knot at the mere thought of him behind the controls of a plane.  The stories he would tell during the learning process did not calm my nerves.

As a show of support for his new hobby, we did fly with him one cold autumn day after he had finally got his license.  I recognize his passion for flying and his competence as a pilot, but it was not a comfortable experience.  This was my baby about to fly a plane that didn’t look much bigger than a tin can … and surely the motor on my kitchen blender was more powerful than the engine of this little puddle jumper.  The grassy ‘tarmac’ and primitive runway did not help.  I was shivering uncontrollably from more than the cold.


#1 with his dad prior to take-off

I’ve resigned myself to this love-hate relationship with flying – it is a necessary evil that enables me to continue to explore the world – but now when I look at the contrails in the sky, I’m grateful for my feet firmly planted on the ground.



About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge - 2014, Family, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to F = Flying

  1. mickscogs says:

    This story did not go where I expected it to. I’m with you on flying. And anxiety is the pits. I have a son too; While I’m very glad he’s not inclined that way, we worry about other things instead. I flew in a Cessna, many years ago,with a pilot who was building up his hours. Could not do that today.


    • joannesisco says:

      I have to admit that I’m rather happy he’s grounded now because flying is such an expensive hobby and he’s decided his money is better spent on other things – like his mortgage 😉
      It doesn’t make him happy, but I am!!


  2. Victoria says:

    Another travel lover, yay! I travel a lot and to this day, I still suffer anxiety because of it. It surely doesn’t stop me as I’m an adventurer and not about to miss out in life. Learning to fly? Nope, not gonna happen for this Girl…lol


  3. Nice post. I’m at a point in my life when I can finally see myself doing some of the things you have mentioned, including taking flying lessions. It’s always been a dream to get my pilot’s licence, but I acknowledge it would be hard if my son wanted to do the same.


    • joannesisco says:

      It’s funny you should say that because I came to the same conclusion. I’ve discovered I may like to take risks but I definitely don’t like it when my boys do the same. Unfortunately, it appears it is learned behaviour 🙂


  4. Lynn says:

    I must admit, I have never experienced the nervousness & anxiety that many suffer from when they fly. I love to fly, regardless of whether it is a commercial airline or a small plane. I used to go out with a fellow years ago that flew floatplanes; landing on water is an interesting experience. I admire your courage to continue to overcome that fear & not it allow you to refrain from destinations you seek. I shall call you FRIGHTFULLY FEARLESS in honour of you “F” post!!!


    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks – I like that! …. or as my hiking partner always says, Face the Fear and Do It Anyway. 🙂
      I’ve been on a float plane. It definitely was a very interesting experience. I was convinced we weren’t going to clear the trees on takeoff!!


  5. I am exactly the same!! I hate flying, particularly take off and landing xx


  6. nancytex2013 says:

    I have no problem flying on commercial planes, but I can never see myself willingly boarding a plane (or any size) flown by a pilot who does it as a hobby versus as their day job. A close friend has had his pilot’s license for over 20 years, but I would never get in a plane with him. 🙂


  7. sueslaght says:

    Joanne that has to be difficult. Your description of your feelings of anxiety really captured me. I am like a noodle on a plane, usually asleep before take off. Lucky me.Lovely photo of your boys.


  8. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    I am a bit like you. I love planes and flying but still can’t get rid of the fear of crashing completely. I guess it’s one of those things that you can never get rid of completely.
    I’m doing the A to Z Challenge as well http://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com


  9. I am a bit of a nervous flier too. The smaller the plane, the worse it is. I admire that you have been able to do skydiving, hang gliding and parasailing! I’m not so great with heights.


  10. That’s my motto, too. Both feet firmly planted on the ground, please and thanks. I haven’t flown much, commercially. I’m pretty sure that I won’t find a need in the future, either. But I have to tell you, that I preferred flying in a Cessna to the larger craft. I dated a fellow who would pick me up at the local airport and we’d fly north to his cottage. Small grass strip, complete with power-line hazard. That was fun, actually.


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