I had a student once who had to face a mortal fear of flying in order to get his Private Pilot License. In his own words, he described that experience in an earlier post (Click Here to read it). Now, his story is inspiring others to do the same thing:
Here is a comment left by one such person, Lucas, who is currently undergoing the same process. Lucas says,
I cannot get over how this story is the life I am currently living down to a tee always expecting the statistical near impossible. Currently on my 5th our of flying lessons hopefully I can get through it with some courage.
Although, most pilots do not look at flying as “dangerous”, we are all aware that things could go wrong. By gaining confidence (through training and practice) that we can handle most emergencies, we can feel more free to enjoy flying without “FEAR”. But for some people, this is obviously easier said than done. I really admire and commend those who conquer their fears by facing them head on.
Bill has graciously taken the time to answer Lucas and expand on his experience. Bill says,
I notice you mention COURAGE… So, let me offer this follow-up to my original story above:
Let’s call it like it is shall we; all this flying stuff comes down to facing DEATH (in big capital letters). A death that we (you and I) would have no control over. A flying death would “not” be of natural causes and as you aptly put it, it has a “statistical probability”. Problem is, FEAR tends to skew the statistics, doesn’t it? Crashing suddenly becomes a 1 in 10 probability even though much closer to one in a million.
During my training, I wondered why it seemed to come down to relying on machinery that other people service and maintain (yikes), and why I worried so deeply about their unknown, unobserved efforts. I even wondered about metallurgy (metal molecules) construction; you know, all the tiny nuts and bolts, wires and cords. Surely one would snap while I was up in the air, well maybe my 1 in 10 wouldn’t happen this particular day (I hoped). Flying seems like an inescapable flip of the coin of fate, a roll of the dice. That’s the inescapable paradigm of flying, and it cannot be changed, only just accepted with some invisible aplomb. Odd nutty people like my CFI, Ruth Morlas would casually repeat: ” If your time is up, it’s up” … Hmmm, well, sorry but I can’t dangle over a pool of alligators by a thread with the thread on fire and wonder if my time is up in that way, nope… not me…
But, alas… You will come to realize when considering quitting that you really have no choice, not really. Because if you haven’t already, you will soon realize that you must persevere and conquer this fear since the alternative is somehow even worse than this flying fear. Yes, it will all come down to a FEAR of FAILURE vs. the FEAR of FLYING, at least it did for me. The former must and will eventually trump the latter. My fear of failure: fueled, shoved, pushed and tugged me headlong into the oncoming traffic of fate, where I would either end up dead or end up as a pilot. In the final analysis, there are only these two forks in the road, fail or fly.
Let me briefly define what the potential FAILURE meant to me, and therefore why this FEAR superseded even the mortal fear of flying: If I were to fail again to conquer my flying fear, I would never fly commercial, hence never see the world, and hardly ever see my far away family. Those fears simply became larger than even the fear of potential death in an airplane.
I was shocked to find that in this internal BATTLE with both FAILURE and with FLYING, the lesser of two giant evils was the FLYING one. FAILURE was suddenly no longer an option when it always was up until now. Somehow, I came to this fork in the road and the choice was clear, I simply cannot allow myself to FAIL at this any longer, period. Luckily this odd NEW ingredient within my cowardice grew, it was my COURAGE (that you mentioned, Lucas). I didn’t even know I had COURAGE until it was tested and revealed on this odd field of battle just as you are realizing. My courage made me proud of myself and I liked feeling proud of me (are you like me.!!). Yes, this internal war will teach you all about you. In essence, you are grabbing the yoke of you.
How could I quit and just stay home, a failure again, no way, time’s up on that stuff. ”Fear of Failure” is somehow greater somewhere along everybody’s road even than the “fear of flying”. I think instinctively, you realize you are at this same crossroads. I won this battle and so shall you. It will yield a sense of great accomplishment and it develops first in steps, then in stages. Yes, I still do have some fear when off the ground floating with only the hand of fate holding me up. But somehow it is manageable. I am a warrior on a battlefield of FEAR and I am a conqueror; who would have ever known. I defeated both Fear of FAILURE and Fear of FLYING in one kamikaze swoop as they are inextricably intertwined. You are my twin brother in arms, Lucas who will also conquer. I hope you smile at these words.
Thanks to Bill and Lucas for sharing their stories!