Are you afraid of flying? There is hope! In 1967 as an 11 year old I was anxious about my first flight. Dad had flown and loved to fly gliders, I on the other hand was more like mom, nervous, anxious and a talkative bundle! On the way to the airport I asked, “What is it like to fly, dad?” He said it was like this- He accelerated the car, reached a 100/hour and looked over his shoulder to see my reaction. Needless to say, he lost control, a tire grabbed the median, the gravel flew and we ended up driving through tall grass in the median of HWY 401 to Toronto. When we hit the culvert, the car went airborne. I was flying! It was my Pearl Harbor childhood moment. Dad managed to steer back onto the highway, thankfully, to safety. A ominous taste of things to come!
We flew an old DC Douglas 6 or 8 propellor turboprop similar to the ones depicted below to Frankfurt, Germany without incident and returned the same way.
As I reflect, my mom, the anxious type must have passed along her emotions to me. So I kept talking about the planes going down, gonna crash and the like. Needless to say, everyone was getting upset…. I was asked to sit by the window, three rows back from the front of the aircraft from what I remember. “Not another word, say nothing or you’ll get a lickin’- the belt”.
So I sat quietly, looking out the window, on the early journey towards home.
I said, “Dad, can I ask one more thing about the plane?” “Sure son,” the reply. “Why does it look like like the propellers aren’t moving?” “Son, its the centrifugal force, it makes them look like they are standing still.” Nice answer, in my innocence I replied, “Neat dad, they are made in Massessutchets serial number “6883…”
There was a shriek, the plane was trown into histeria, the engines are on fire!!!” Within moments, the captain addressed our peril and said he was attempting a high dive into Hethrow airport, to retard or extinguish the flames. I remember the emergency proceedures with exacting clarity, the nuns being asked to remove their crucifixes, heads by our knees, panic had taken over my plane.
The landing with emergency vehicles clutter my mind, the relief beyond a child’s experience upon landing. Dad did not remember the foam landing. Had I imagined it all? We disembarked. After hours of waiting, we were finally cleared for take off with two of the four engines working. It would never happen that way today. We flew close to the ocean floor, I recall watching the waves with stops in Greenland, Halifax and then Toronto. I had been shaped for life by the experience, it had been my Titanic.
Getting Over The Fears