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Fear of Flying

New Page - 12 August 2003

Updated -- 11 November 2006

Fear of Flying is simultaneously a sexual subject matter, an emotion which suggests a genuine preference for life and which thus tends to preclude leaving the earth in winged vehicles, and more recently, a concern about the new and innovative means by which entrepreneurs are opening up the friendly or hostile skies with the advent of highly specialized airline companies -- the latter which is seemingly the most frightening.

Disappointingly, the sex part is best addressed by Hilda Hutcherson's book, What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex [1].  Accordingly, this aspect of the Fear of Flying will not be elaborated upon at this, a more family-oriented (Ha!) website. 

Oh, get over it!  Besides, if you're really struggling right now, then try Sacred Orgasm.

On the brighter side is the fact that commercial air travel in the world at large is becoming so horrific, that this subject will also be neglected.  The fact that 90% of the problem of commercial air travel is due to the greed, incompetence, and dereliction of the major airlines will also, for the moment, go unmentioned.  In any case, the avoidance of this topic should be sufficient to offset the lack of talking about sex.

The good news is that the modern day, very recent version of the Fear of Flying sensation can now be attributed directly to the wonders of entrepreneurial imagination.  The eagerness to make a buck -- any way, any how -- has now resulted in the following revised version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

As Time Magazine has reported [2], major airlines are cutting back on flights and service -- way back on service! -- and in the midst of all this cutting (including remarks), a "flock" (pardon Time's pun) of "niche carriers -- with wildly varying routes and styles -- is filling the skies."  Just how friendly, you might ask?

There is -- I kid you not -- Hooters Air, flying in and out of Myrtle Beach, complete with two Hooters Girls on every flight!  There may be no chicken wings served, but you can get silly quizzes, participate in T-shirt giveaways, and relax in roomy 35-inch seats.  It's "the next-best thing to owning a jet." [2]  We won't even mention that it's a real hoot!

Then there's Indigo, an upper-crust company that doesn't even call itself an airline.  What it does is provide luxuriously appointed business jets to ferry the elite to and from private, personal VIP terminals in New York City's Teterboro Airport and Chicago's Midway.  The trip includes pre-boarding beverages, speedy security, spacious leather seats (but no middle seats), and round trip fares comparable to last-minute fares on such stalwarts as American Airlines and United Airlines.

Better known Southwest Airlines has already set the tone for a bevy of low-fare carriers "obsessed with keeping costs down and treating customers well.  This radical, highly innovative concept is now being emulated by at least five other airlines; AirTran, ATA, Frontier, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines.  In stark contrast to major airlines which blessed their CEOs with outrageous compensation packages while the airlines were losing billions of dollars, the executives at the low-fare airlines are helping load bags when necessary.  Better yet, "the small airlines have also done away with or reduced the traditional charges for changing tickets or checking extra baggage -- all part of the pitch that they're grateful to have your business." [2]  What a concept!

"The niche airline's low-hassle style of flying has also set them apart." [2]  One might have thought that low-hassle flying would have always been a prime consideration, but apparently not.  The niche airlines have also benefited by the advent of the Inter Net, where the murky and really yucky world of ticket pricing has become apparent to those actually paying the price of a ticket.

But the real glory of the entrepreneurial spirit is Naked-Air, a charter carrier out of Houston, Texas.  No kidding; passengers really are allowed to disrobe once the Fasten Seatbelt sign goes off.  What else transpires at 35,000 feet is anybody's guess.  It gives a whole new meaning to the "Five Mile High Club".

When it comes to a Fear of Flying, Naked-Air has got to be the prime choice.  Why can't we have more of airlines like these?

Meanwhile, for those still worried about their safety upon leaving the ground, we might note that Quantas Airlines -- the only major airline which supposedly has never, ever had an accident worthy of mention on the 6:00 o'clock news -- is also known for its safety procedure of having the pilots fill out a "gripe sheet" after every flight. This gripe sheet tells Quantas' mechanics about any problems with the aircraft, which can then be corrected, and the pilots allowed to review the mechanic's reply. For example:

Pilot's "gripe": Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
Solution: Almost replaced left inside main tire.


P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF
always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.


P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.

 

I'll bet you feel a lot better now! Even if Quantas tends to fly to Australia, and thus might not be a critical component of your next flight.

__________________________

References:

[1]  Hilda Hutcherson, What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 2002.

[2] Sally B. Donnelly, "Fly Luxe. Fly Cheap.  Fly Naked!", Time Magazine, Inside Business, July 2003.

 

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