Seeing Michele at "a fire inside" write about being frightened of living under a flight path really brings it all home. Our new home is under not one -- but three -- Tampa International, Tampa Executive, and MacDill AFB (home of Central Command). As if that wasn't enough, you can throw in the private airstrip at the ritzy neighborhood across the street, where the residents park their Cessna's in the yard.
I've always had a love-fear relationship with airplanes -- both flying in them and having them fly above me. As a child, I loved to fly. I lived for the shopping trips to Dallas with my Gma. Then one day I was home sick with strep in 1983. My mom came in with a chocolate malt from Braums, and she says she's never seen me look so pale. (Which for someone like me with translucent skin is quite a statement.) My mouth was open, I was shaking like a leaf, and I couldn't even speak. Why? Right outside the window I had just watched a T-38 from Vance AFB crash into my neighborhood. There was a huge fireball that seemed to stretch into the heavens. Not good for a Cold War era child in the year of "The Day After". So what does my mother do to comfort me? She screamed, "OH MY GOD!" and took off out the door at lightning-speed. I was too sick to follow. I thought I'd been left there to die alone. She actually grabbed a couple of her friends and took off to the back of the neighborhood where the crash had occurred, but I can't even type out the thoughts that went through my mind right then. To this day, I still have plane crash nightmares. (For those wondering, the pilot ejected from that plane and landed safely in a field behind Kmart with just a broken leg, but it killed two on the ground.)
Fast-forward to right after Todd and I got engaged... I was on an American Eagle prop-jet into DFW (on my way back up to Philly). We hit the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. They didn't serve drinks, and the flight attendants were ordered to strap themselves in. I was on the first row, facing one of them. She started crying, and telling me about her little girl and how hard it had been to leave her that morning. It sounded like the plane was splitting into pieces. I haven't flown in anything with propellers since -- and never will again. Every plane ride from that flight on has resulted in white knuckles and non-stop prayers from start to finish.
My best friend is a pilot -- just promoted to Cap'n Robbie the week after 9-11. He's always tried to talk me through my fear of flying -- and fear of things flying above me. He took me up in a Cessna my senior year at OU because I was terrified of small planes, and I ended up singing "Amazing Grace" all the way to Enid and back to Norman. Experiment failed. I've heard all the stats over and over. But whether today was just a horribly-timed accident, or something else beyond comprehension -- how do I ever look up (much less think of getting in a plane myself, or letting my husband do so) the same way again? I love to travel, but I don't have to fly to do so.
Think of those poor people in a quiet Queens suburb that had just buried over 100 of their family and friends in the worst series of air disasters in U.S. history. It's all just too much. Maybe some birds just weren't meant to fly...
Those damn prop planes! While I'd always been afraid to fly, my worst experience was in a prop plane during a terrible storm... it was like being on a roller coaster; shard dives, sharp climbs... There was a pilot on board (as a passenger, I assume he was going home or something) - HE was getting sick too (as was the rest of the passengers). I can't see myself getting on a plane again anytime soon, especially now...
¤ ¤ posted by Jennifer on November 12, 2001 at 03:05 PM ¤ ¤
I just wanted to comment about how intense this post was when I read it yesterday. I hope you don't mind, but I had forwarded the link to a couple of family members so they too could also read about your experiences.
¤ ¤ posted by Catherine on November 13, 2001 at 09:19 AM ¤ ¤
Robyn, sorry I left you. But, at the time all I could think of was the two neighbors whose house it looked as if the plane landed in, and I knew she was home. Yvonne was ok.
¤ ¤ posted by Mama on November 13, 2001 at 02:53 PM ¤ ¤
I don't mind at all Catherine -- thank you! In fact, I edited my mom's comments a bit today because she remembered it differently and we had to talk it out via e-mail. She had the number of pilots, the location of the crash, and the fact there were actually deaths wrong in her response. I remember everything vividly because a friend's aunt died, and we had donation drives at school for her family. We had grief and stress counselors at school. I reminded my mom that she was involved in the donation drive, and I guess it finally came flooding back. It's amazing what can obviously be such a life-changing event for one can be an after-thought to another (that's in their own home even). I'll never forget that day though. I've only had the same sense of fear, terror, and heart-stopping panic hit me two other times in my life -- the day of the OKC bombing when I arrived at my gym and looked at the television, and the day I turned on the TV on 9-11.
¤ ¤ posted by robyn on November 13, 2001 at 09:33 PM ¤ ¤
*your IP is matched when you comment -- and I reserve the right to edit/delete any comments I do not feel are "appropriate" for my blog and/or would not want said in the presence of guests in my own home