Flying! John Madden, Yogi Berra and me?

I understand John Madden won’t fly. Yogi Berra was extremely fearful of flying. It would seem that both had to fly given their professions. I heard that Yogi was once asked about his fear of flying by a reporter who said “when your time is up, it’s up,” and Yogi responded “yea, but what if is the pilot’s time?”

I took the “Fear of Flying” course, chickened out on the graduation flight.

Flying statistics were presented in “passenger miles” versus automobiles. I keep thinking “trips” flying vs automobiles. I hate driving in a car for 20 hours, thinking I could fly in 2 hours.

I know it would be almost impossible for me to get on a plane, but something might be said that will trigger some courage. Is flying really safe?

I have about 800 hours in a 41-year-old C-130 that, incidentally, is the heaviest gross weight C-130 in the entire Air Force inventory. I’m not worried.

Madden flew while he was still in coaching, and hated it. When he became a sportscaster, he had enough leverage to insist on a few things in his contract, one of which was that he be able to travel by bus.

Isaac Asimov wouldn’t fly either, oddly enough (he actually did so twice in his life, mostly flatly refusing to accept any speaking engagement which required that he travel by air). Of course, Asimov also had a terrific fear of heights, too, according to his biographers.

There was some Hollywood producer who hated flying and traveled with a nurse who sedated him for the length of the flight so he wouldn’t have to experience it. This probably isn’t a practical solution, but maybe tranquilizing yourself to the eyeballs in some way is, though I hesitate to actually suggest it. The easiest non-prescription “tranquilizer” to obtain is alcohol, and there’s enough drunks on planes already (and, yes, I’m aware that alcohol isn’t technically a tranquilizer).

And there’s a difference between “fear” and simply disliking the process. I would actually rather drive any distance within a few hundred miles, which is not from a fear of flying, but annoyance at the hassles of commercial air travel - any flight, no matter how short, screws up the better part of day dealing with transport to the airport or airport parking, check in, sitting on your tail in the terminal, sitting in an airborne sardine can for X hours, rental cars, etc … if it’s short enough, being able to control the logistics of the trip by driving is MUCH nicer. I wouldn’t want to take the train or bus if it was in driving distance either, come to that.

Yogi Berra did not quit baseball because of a fear of flying. He just retired because he was getting along in years. I believe his last baseball job in uniform was as a coach for the Houston Astros. Most of his jobs in baseball he left because he got fired.

Confirmed by the bio on his website

The only baseball player I can think of who blamed a fear of flying for causing him to quit was Jackie Jensen, who played for the Yankees and Red Sox. But Jensen also wanted to spend more time at home with his family as he supposedly had a very unhappy childhood.

Wayne Gretzky had an extreme fear of flying, but took some lessons in order to alleviate his fear.

Madden said that his fear of flying stems from claustrophobia, but perhaps that’s the case with most people with that fear.

I remember Lewis Grizzard disliked flying. I think he said that if it’s so safe why does the sign say terminal.

I’m a flight instructor, so of course I’m going to give you a fairly optimisitic view. Well, maybe…

If we’re talking about commercial aviation, you’re quite safe, even in absolute terms. Any pilot who is in the cockpit of an airline jet has thousands of hours in aircraft, and has been trained extensively. There are two of them in the cockpit, they are flying very well equipped aircraft, and are in constant contact with controllers. I have no worries whatsoever when I board a commercial flight.

General aviation is another story. Is it safe? No. But neither is it particularly dangerous, and I strongly believe one’s chances are improved greatly by being cautious. I myself have very few worries when I fly because I’m well trained, fly often, and have a fairly wide experience.

One of my students decided to take lessons because he was deathly afraid of flying. I give this guy a lot of credit, because he really faced a big fear. He really didn’t enjoy anything about the experience for the first 8 hours or so, and then he started to have a little fun. Then it became more fun. He will make his first solo flight soon.

Mach Tuck has a good point that never really occurred to me until that Kennedy kid crashed his plane off of Marsha’s Vineyard…which is that it is very important to distinguish between commercial aviation and general aviation. And, that may be part of the confusion because if you look at private planes and consider Kennedy, and Wellstone, and Jim Croce, and any number of other celebrities or politicians who have died in crashes, you might think, “Boy, it is pretty dangerous!”

But, if you look at commercial aviation, it is way-safer. In fact, while 40,000+ people are killed each year on the highways in the U.S., the average killed each year on commercial airlines is probably on the order of 100 or so (with lots more variation from year to year…there have been years where that number has been 0). Admittedly, more passenger miles are racked up in the U.S. in cars than in planes but even doing it per passenger mile still has planes coming out way ahead in terms of safety. Plus, an important thing to remember is comparing deaths rather than serious injuries is the most unfavorable way to do it for planes, because for every person killed in a car crash, there are several who are seriously injured whereas that is not true for planes. So, if you compared rates for serious injury or death, planes would come out even further ahead of cars in terms of safety.

I think whether you are more scared in cars or planes also has to do with the issue of control. Some people seem to have more fear when they are not in control. Personally, as I noted on a previous thread on a different subject, I have the most anxiety at an intermediate level of control. I.e., I am not really afraid on a plane because it is so far out of my control that I am able to “let go”. In the other extreme, I am also usually pretty okay when I am driving (unless road conditions are so awful that I feel really out of control). But, I am one hell of an anxious passenger…And, I think the reason is that I don’t have much control but it is not so out of my control that I can completely let go either. I.e., I can still yell, “Watch out!” or potentially suggest to the drive that they should slow down or give greater following distance or, if we are driving at night, try to be vigilant in seeing that the driver doesn’t doze off. And, this situation where I can conceivably do something but am not really in control can drive me batty!

Doesn’t he skip the Pro Bowl because of this, since it’s a tall order to take a bus to Hawaii?

Pilots and cabin crew fly for a living. As in 5 days a week, on commuter services.

Their life insurance policies are lower than for people in many other professions. Why? Because statistics used by insurance companies show that their chances of dying while young are lower, and their life expectancies are higher than the average of the population. This is partly because they are subject to more frequent health checks than people in most other occupations. But it’s also because their job - sitting in a plane flying every day - is much safer than many other jobs.

If they do it every working day, you can do it once or twice a year. Your fear is irrational. (That said, being in a really small aircraft - a 4-seater, say - creeps me out a bit.)

You are much more likely to die in the cab ride to the airport than on the plane. Does that help? :slight_smile:

Is that actually true?

The point about Commercial Aviation versus General Aviation is a good one. There are some long running airlines around that have never had a serious accident. QANTAS is one. There are others that have had very very few. These companies have aircraft flying all day every day, year after year, decade after decade, and they don’t crash.

Flying carries a small risk, as does every activity you do in life.

Are there any things in particular that scare you about flying?