Virginia Barton

18 May 2018: The Duffer


18 May 2018


It would appear that some TWENTY-ONE MILLION people in the UK are more scared of flying than ten years ago. And it’s engine drop-off that frightens them most.

Please do not mention engine drop-off. Or birds, metal fatigue or pilot error. Mention instead Chesley Sullenberger of New York. In fact, let the film “Sully” be played inflight, on a loop, for all duffers like yours truly. What a hero! What a cool headed superman!

May all pilots be Chesley clones — especially the ones flying me to and from Lithuania.



I never minded flying until I had children. Then in a trice I was smitten with aviophobia. What a boring name that is for the condition. Compared with koumpounophobia or katsaridaphobia (fear of buttons or cockroaches respectively), aviophobia sounds deadly dull.

One could hardly blame BH for refusing to sit next to me on the Sud Aviation Super Caravelle flight from Paris to London many years ago. The blubbering jellied wreck of a woman was no fit travelling companion. Weird; when you think that in 1958, that same woman flew out to Hong Kong (with baby in basket) in the de Havilland Comet 4 with never a backward glance. Pictures of the earlier Comet crashes didn’t affect me.


Come now you fellow aviophobes, no shirking, we know there are millions of you out there. What measures do you take to prevent the blubbing and the shakes? Share your coping strategies. I am now considering a small white pill and a Rosary.

Interestingly, that baby in the basket, now approaching 60, is similarly afflicted. He is also coming to Lithuania, but has opted to drive – or rather his wife is driving him.

Perhaps I should have asked for a lift.






  • Perry says on: May 18, 2018 at 12:48 am


    I sympathize, Virginia, and certainly recommend the Rosary. The free booze is lovely, but also extends the jet lag recovery time. A pill that would enable a deep sleep from takeoff to landing would be a godsend.

    The only sure cure for fear of flying is, regrettably, to have experienced a REALLY BAD flight. Enduring severe turbulence in pitch darkness over the Atlantic (when everyone else is fast asleep) and seeing the wings flap wildly like an albatross leads to an unexpected revelation: these metal contraptions can take a real beating. Turbulence doesn’t concern me much anymore.

    Be sure and secure a window seat. The view is always inspiring and makes the time fly by (no pun intended).

    • Ginny says on: May 18, 2018 at 10:56 am


      The comparison to an albatross is soothing and I shall remember their lumbering flight as we wing it over the Baltic, Perry!

      Also, having re-read the mention of koumpounophobia, I am filled with compassion for these poor people. Imagine having a terror of buttons; the word itself is homely, comfortable.

      We played a game using buttons in Macau years ago, Fan-tan I think it was called. A big pile of buttons, tipped onto the table was delicately divided into fours using a chop stick. You bet on whether you thought there would be one, two, three, or four at the end. Simple folk like me, who couldn’t take the pressure of possibly losing more than a dollar the entire evening, spent several hours at the fan-tan table. I never won a cent.

      Come round to my place, koumpounophobics,and we’ll have a round or too. Very soothing. Ginny

  • Mary says on: May 18, 2018 at 5:04 am


    I was once given a “happy pill” by my mother for a flight to Tokyo. My brother and I both downed a couple of shots in the airport bar and I’m alarmed to report that checking in, approaching the gate and for the entire flight I felt like I was wading through soup. My brother and I found the whole thing hilarious. But I don’t recommend it.

    White knuckle ride! That’s the way to do it.

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: May 18, 2018 at 6:01 am


    I am a fellow aviophobe, Ginny. I have no coping strategy other than pills and booze. My daughter, an aviophile, has one, however: “Dad, I’ll fly with you, of course, so long as you don’t sit within three rows of me.”

    • Ginny says on: May 18, 2018 at 1:57 pm


      Oh Mary! Oh Wellies! You are both hopeless — not what I was looking for at all.

      Pills and alc? A deadly combo at any time I’d say.

      Fan-tan made me think of games to pass the time. Canasta would fall on the floor at the slightest lurch (gulp); but travel Scrabble might do the trick. Ginny

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