I belong to a small and wonderful horde of authors called “The Twelve.” We came together to promote our books and one another. Our first joint effort was called Flight 12.
Each of us contributed a novella featuring one of our main characters from a previous book. All of our characters were linked by this one thing: the flight they shared.
Coordinating a bunch of independent-thinking authors is like herding cats, so we kept it loose. We all started with the premise that each of us would put one of our characters on the same plane, the ominous-sounding Flight 12. From there, we each went our own way. We could write whatever we wanted—as long as there was some suspense and the story involved Flight 12 and one of our characters. I chose a man named Steve Lawson for my flight. Steve Lawson was a bad guy, on the run, and my character DPS Detective Laura Cardinal was investigating him regarding a homicide.
We all started with the premise of the same flight: Flight 12. The flight could be doomed, the flight could make it to its destination—this was where we all wrote our own story.
Which brings me to my fear of flying. I think a lot of people have an atavistic fear of flying. I flew quite a bit, but there were always butterflies in my stomach. As the flight went on and nothing untoward happened, I’d relax, and after a while I would end up being bored. I couldn’t sustain the fear. Honestly, I don’t know what contributes to a fear of flying. For me, it’s a bug, not a feature, but the butterflies always remain until we reached cruising altitude. (I know that taking off and landing are the two most dangerous times on a plane. So when we’re up, it’s easy to turn my fear off, or at least put it on a back-burner.)
Over the years, after so many flights that didn’t end up in the drink, I’ve become more confident. The longer I’m on the plane, the less worried I am. Maybe it’s the “frog in water” kind of deal.
I know that sensationalized air crash stories contribute to my fear. But I also know I can count on getting back to my normal self and, after ten to twenty minutes in the air, my mind drifts off, the fear disappears, and then I’m good. There’s a whole raft of fears about flying, and everyone has to deal with it as they can. For me, I will always feel butterflies in my stomach until we’re up to Cruising Altitude. “Cruising Altitude,” to me, means “safety.” I know (of COURSE I do!) that the most dangerous times are taking off and landing. So the middle part—just TRY to knock a passenger jet out of the sky!!! (Unless there’s a bomb.) Once I’m up, I’m okay. And coming in seems much more controlled. It’s kind of fun gliding down onto the airstrip. I’m anticipating at that point that I will have survived.
So a lot of it for me is mind games. The more I fly, the less fearful I am…
Until there’s a crash on the news. Logically, I know that air disasters are a very tiny percentage. But atavistically, I have to admit, it GETS to me.
Right now, though, I’m fascinated by the photograph I’ve seen in the last couple of days: the idea that Amelia Earhart might have survived after all, and was captured by the Japanese. I squint at the photograph and it seems right to me.
See? Another person who just may have survived a plane ride.
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