Visualization for Nervous Flyers

Pegasus Illustration from Wikipedia Commons

Pegasus Illustration from Wikipedia Commons

For every time I’m riding in a plane that’s taking off, I have a little ritual.

Sharing it once comforted a friend.

If you’re a nervous flyer, maybe it’ll comfort you, too.

Back when I was a newspaper reporter, my editor was looking forward to her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland.

She had planned and talked about the trip for months. I almost felt as if I were taking the trip with her.

I didn’t mind hearing so much about it. We’d been co-workers before she’d been promoted to be my boss. I hadn’t wanted the hours that her job demanded.

And she was a “horse person,” too. A photo of a paint graced her bulletin board.

About a week or so before her departure on her dream trip, she sat down at the chair next to my desk. She had a confession to make.

This was her first airplane flight ever, and she was afraid.

I had spent years traveling with my husband before settling down to cover the “cops & courts” beat at that newspaper. Then, as now, he works for ESPN. But back then, he traveled around the country to work on the broadcasts of sporting events. Whenever I could, I went with him. When his schedule became too unpredictable for me to get bargain fares, I went to work for the paper.

I told her about a way that I coped with the excitement/stress of take-off.

I told her that, when I’m uncomfortable, I look out the window but imagine that I’m aboard Pegasus.

Maybe this will work for you, too.

Who’s Pegasus?

Pegasus was the mythical winged horse. Even as a little girl, I never was much one for unicorns. They just looked pretty and didn’t promise action and excitement. Now, a flying horse? There’s some action.

The Pegasus is the icon of the annual Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. Unless something changed since my last trip through there, airline travelers arriving in Louisville are greeted by a suspended Pegasus sculpture above them on the way to baggage claim.

But, while you’re still on that plane — long before you get to claim that baggage upon arrival — you have other “baggage” to deal with. Nerves on takeoff. This is what I told my friend.

Taxi to runway

After the flight attendants complete their safety demo and sit down, you look out the window. You rush past trees and other scenery so that it looks as though you’re simply driving around on the airport.

As your plane taxis to the runway, you keep your gaze on what’s outside the window, but you imagine that you’re on the back of Pegasus.

Waiting for take-off

Good thing because Pegasus is restless with excitement for the flight. Your ears hear the engine whine building. You imagine Pegasus prancing, restless, snorting, ready to go.

Then, the plane pushes forward down the runway. You imagine Pegasus gathering up to a canter.

Your speed builds. You imagine pushing into Pegasus’s neck, like a jockey coming out of the last turn before the stretch.

You see and feel yourself rise off the ground. You imagine the wings unfurling past your legs.They beat as you leave the ground.

Soon, you’re studying in the ground below. If it’s a night flight, you’re looking down at lights strung like jeweled patterns.

And pretty soon, you’re wondering when beverage service begins.

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