I swore that I would never do this again. After a few frightening plane rides in small planes in my late 20s, I promised myself that I would avoid getting into another one. These planes tend to be bumpy in turbulent air and are really loud. Some have no bathrooms or flight attendants. Many people have a fear of flying in small planes. Nonetheless, I found myself riding in a small plane that seated 20 people on a recent trip from Tampa to Tallahassee and a second trip back. The reason that I found myself riding in this plane was that it was the only way to fly commercially to Tallahassee from Tampa. I chose to fly rather than drive for four hours.
So there I was, walking down the tarmac to drop off my luggage and board this plane. I was feeling rather nervous as I stepped on the first plane. As I took my seat, I noticed that the plane was really old and worn on the inside. Seeing a plane that is aging also makes me nervous, no matter if it a big jet or a small plane.
When I fly in airplanes, I use several stress management techniques. On my recent trip, I realized that it is a bit harder to cope with the stress of flying in a small plane as compared to a large plane. When I fly in larger planes, most of time I use distraction to help me cope with air turbulence. Most of my distraction comes from working on my laptop or doing something on my Ipad, like watching a movie, reading a book, or listening to music. One thing that I learned is that “portable electronic devices,” like my Ipad and computer, cannot be used on small propeller planes. So, I had to improvise by reading articles and the magazine on the plane. The next time that I fly in a small plane, I am going to be sure to bring a book with paper pages.
Since there was less ability to distract myself, I found that I used other types of stress management techniques to relax on the plane. One of the more helpful techniques for me was deep breathing and visualization. While breathing deeply, I pictured myself sitting on the deck of my favorite lake house in the mountains. This happy image is highly soothing to me, and it helped me relax during the loud bouncy flight. Luckily, the planes both landed safely. I found myself relieved to be on the ground, but feeling more confident in being able to handle having to fly on a small plane again.
How do you cope with the stress of having to fly on a small plane?