Why Whoopi Goldberg Is My In-Flight Twin

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In 1979 I planned a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl with a friend of mine from Canada. We purchased airline tickets and booked our beachfront hotel, I chose to go on my first ‘adult’ vacation at the age of 18 instead of attending my High School graduation ceremony. We both were so excited about our trip and at the time of booking I had no fear of flying.

I was attending our County Vocational School when I booked the trip and I will never forget a conversation I had with one friend about my upcoming vacation. I told ‘Chantelle’ that I purchased an airline ticket and would be flying to Florida as soon as I graduated, I was pumped! I felt no fear about flying, just pumped to get to Florida. ‘Chantelle’ was a very quiet girl and I remember her saying, I hope you have fun.

The day after I told ‘Chantelle’ about our trip, she walked into class and said with a very animated voice, “I need to talk to you!” We went off by ourselves and ‘Chantelle’ said, “I went to a fortune teller last night and you CAN’T fly on THAT plane!” She caught me off guard and I just asked, why? ‘Chantelle’ shared with me that the fortune teller told her that someone in her class was going to get killed in a plane crash. I went from pure excitement to feeling total and paralyzing fear after ‘Chantelle’ told me about the psychic’s prediction. After I left class I thought well… after I tell my mom she will reassure me and everything will be cool!

Unfortunately, my mom had her own fears and phobias, which I was unaware of. I told my mom and she said, “you can’t fly, you and ‘Cathy’ are going to have to take a bus to Florida.”

My friend was arriving by bus from Northbay, Canada to Ohio so we could fly out of Cleveland. ‘Cathy’ arrived at my home within a few hours of me telling my mom about ‘Chantelle’s’ message. Mom told Cathy about the so called psychic’s warning and went on to say, “you and Lisa will have to take a bus.” Immediately, ‘Cathy’ spoke up to my mom and said, “Shirley, I just rode on a bus for 24 hours and there is no way in hell I’m going to take a bus to Florida!” I sat there quietly hoping that common sense would rule, since I was so afraid and confused at this point. Mom pulled herself together and said, “Cathy, you’re right, it would be silly to ride a bus… mom’s eyes were on me and she went on to say, you both will be fine, I over-reacted.” Hello fear, it was rooted within me at this point but I didn’t share it!

May 25th, 1979 a DC-10 had crashed on take off over Chicago and I believe that was the first crash I actually paid attention to. I didn’t fear flying until the eerie warning and seeing the fear in my mom’s eyes. I didn’t equate the accident with my fear of flying until we took off on our flight to Florida. I also realized as I matured that this ‘so called’ psychic used this crash to her advantage, preying on a naive, young girl at the time.

Whoopi Goldberg had a similar experience, “She said her fear was instilled nearly 30 years ago when she witnessed a mid-air collision while standing on a balcony in San Diego. This is where I realized after reading of Whoopi’s experience and fear of flying that I feared flying too because I watched the news and footage of the DC-10 crash. My phobia didn’t surface until I got the dreaded ‘warning.’ The mind is great at playing tricks on you if you’re already prone to anxiety and/or phobias. Whoopi took Sir Richard Branson’s course, “Flying without Fear,” and was able to overcome her phobia to a certain degree, she was able to fly overseas! From what I’ve read, she still preferred to “roll” in her bus vs. flying. Whoopi flies when she has to.

I never had the privilege of taking Sir Richard Branson’s course and I have to wonder if it would have helped a bit more but I have flown a few times since my initial flight to Florida. Sadly, my first flight wasn’t a good experience.

Watch this video, it’s pretty cool to see in-flight simulation with instruction in order to over come fears that many people have. The View initiated this for Whoopi to help her get over her fear of flying.

My eardrum blew when we were landing in Ft. Lauderdale but the flight itself, was uneventful. I had dreams of planes crashing in the ocean when I would fall asleep on the beach. I also had recurring thoughts- “Since I didn’t die on the way to Florida, it’s probably going to happen on the way back.” Thanks to the dime store psychic that preyed on my friend.

Our flight back to Ohio was a trip, literally. The pilot announced that we would be hitting heavy turbulence when we were approximately 60 minutes from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. I had no clue what turbulence was but I figured it must be bad since we all had to buckle up, including the flight attendants. Suddenly, the plane began to shake horrendously, it sounded like boulders were hitting the plane in the sky, the lights were were flickering and the plane would drop drastically then pull back up. I couldn’t imagine that we were going to survive the flight. When the plane dropped I thought the engine had problems and we were going to crash. I remember holding onto the armrests on my seat as if I was in a dental chair (yes, another fear of mine) but I was wishing at the time I was at the dentist! I kept asking my girlfriend if we were going to crash and she was getting angry with me. I think but I will never be able to prove that she was anxious too. She told me years later that she would never fly with me again.

Once we landed, I could have kissed the ground. I remember having tears in my eyes once I saw my mom waiting for us to drive us back to her home.

It took me years to get up my nerve to fly again. I flew by myself from Ohio to Phoenix when my mother in law was gravely ill. I did go to a doctor before leaving and shared with him that I had an extreme fear of flying. He gave me what they call a drug cocktail so I could fly without extreme anxiety and panic. Lets just say the medication worked well enough to allow me to board the plane without feeling super anxious. Once we were airborne, we had mild turbulence the entire time so, my stress level was a bit high. My fear became more intense because I was subconsciously anticipating the horrid turbulence I experienced with my first flight, luckily that didn’t happen.

My son and his family live near Denver Colorado and it really sucks that I still have a fear of flying because I don’t get out there as much as I could if the fear was absent. I flew once and my flights there and back were uneventful, yea for me! I thought I over came my fear but the longer you go without flying if your phobia is extreme, it comes back again and it’s like starting all over.

I’m determined to fly more, so I decided I would really like to take a similar course in order to overcome my fears. I think it would help to fly with someone who is empathetic to your fear and may be able to keep you laughing and chatting during the flight. Having a partner to fly with that has an out-going personality, well that could be a good side job for someone. Call 1–800-flyingPartner, right?! Ok, that’s a non-existent number obviously, but a great idea!

To all the “Whoopi’s and her twins in the world, I feel your pain. I am determined to put this phobia to rest so, I will fly again even if it means taking a class to help me get over this fear. If you are reading this and fear flying too, I would suggest flying with a comedic friend or taking a course similar to the video posted below.

I would love to hear from others who’ve experienced a phobia of flying and how you’ve overcome that fear. If you haven’t overcome your phobia, please take the time to watch the video. If you don’t have a fear of flying, please watch the video as well, it will help you to understand how real the fear is. Maybe you can be more aware of a fellow passenger that is ready to jump out of their seat and be of help at some point in time if necessary. Small gestures of compassion mean so much. You may be saving a person from falling apart and help them to relax or even learn to enjoy the flight!