Flying and it’s passage to the danger zone of thinking


Somewhere between New Zealand and England

As we ascended through the clouds bumping up and down in the wake of the plane before us, I started to enter the danger zone of thinking. I knew that if I stopped thinking and sang along to Marvin Gaye on my iPod in my head to replace the danger thoughts then I would probably be able to breathe again and my palms and my ass would stop sweating. Instead, I start to believe that there is something in heaven carrying me through the sky watching us and making sure that we get to our destination safely. As soon as I hit the ground, though, all said thoughts disappear. It’s like some strange 27 hour long airspace hallucination.

The scientist bloggers out there reading this will not be able to comprehend my illogical thought process because surely the sheer power of the four gigantic engines and eagle shaped wings are what counteract the fact that planes defy gravity. For all my illogical brain knows Isaac Newton is probably sitting up there looking down on Heathrow’s flight path scratching his head and questioning his own gravity theories.

I failed to remember the words to Marvin Gaye and so the danger thoughts grew. Is she mental? I hear you mutter…probably, is the answer, but nonetheless I think anyone travelling on their own on a double decker Airbus would have the same danger thoughts that can only be accessed 39000 feet in airspace. Such as, why have I been travelling for 8 hours already at 39000 feet and now the the plane has started to ascend even higher when we’re already 6000 feet off the maximum flying height for a plane? Why is it now at 41000? Now 43000? WHY?! What’s that light in the distance? It’s gliding parallel to us! Why is it so close?! I had at least an hour of this…watching through a partially open window like I was weird while everyone else slept. Then I thought, oh, hold on, it’s the light on the wing.

I read the National Geographic at Auckland airport before I flew in December and there was an interesting article on turbulence. As we flew over mountain ranges I justified the turbulence with the theory that the cold and hot air had collided forcing the airplane into a Charleston style dance. Then I had 3 gins quickly one after the other, with my breakfast, and the turbulence became funny.
Then it became hilarious as I listened to Zombie Nation and Bach’s Toccata simultaneously as I was thrown from side to side and up and down in my chair.

I learnt three very important things about flying on this trip, on my own. I’ve never been afraid of flying, I just question a lot of what should be logical but isn’t when I’m flying which makes me panic, and then I end up drinking. A lot. I never seem to get drunk though… ? Any explanations? Or am I just an alcoholic?

My 3 lessons that I shall pass onto you fellow flyers:

1) When the plane drops a little and you feel like you’re stomach has been left 100ft above you where the plane was a second ago you’re not plummeting it’s just a bump in the sky, like a wave in the ocean.

2) It gets you nowhere if at every given opportunity to think you think about the distance between you and earth. Absolutely nowhere. Literally. Nothing you can do.

3) If you’re a sleeper in the air, which I didn’t realise I was and so I had an aisle seat, then get a window seat. Do this so that no one sees when you do nod off and you lose all control over your face, and you start to dribble into SQs pillow, which you only realise you’re doing because the only handsome air steward on board has woken you up to ask if you would like dinner and you lift your head to see what’s going on and a string of dribble stretches from the pillow to your bottom lip, which the steward politely ignores and pretends he never saw. Yes, this happened. He actually went on to say “sorry to wake you from your beauty sleep”, because, yes, there was so much beauty in what he had just seen he obviously thought shit I should NOT have woken THAT up.

4) …and your face can also get stuck on the side of the chair in a very awkward upward facing fly catching position looking out towards the other passengers for them to laugh at as they go to the toilet. This also happened.

They’re like little magic thoughts aren’t they, the ones you’re only able to access when actually sailing 39000 feet in the sky.


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