There are many things we don’t do in life because we’re afraid. Some of them are trivial, and others are more significant, but all of them are directed by a sense of dread, panic or uncertainty that we recognize as fear.
For me, learning to fly was about conquering a fear. And even after earning my certificate, I had a lot of fear about flying. In fact, many flights I scrubbed were over fear more than they were about weather, preparedness, or anything else.
But the funny thing about fear is that the more you conquer it, the less of a hold it has on you.
Sure, at 70 hours or 120 hours, I had a fear of flying solo. I was the pilot in command and I recognized the significant responsibility that presented. And while the recognition of that responsibility has not waned, the feeling of uncertainty and doubt has. I know that when I take off today, I will be able to return to earth safely. I’m prepared for emergencies. And I am well trained by great instructors who spent a lot of time sharing their knowledge and experience with me.
That doesn’t mean I disregard the risks of flight or consider myself invincible or otherwise impervious to an incident or accident. Down that path lies complacency, and dead ends at disaster. Yet understanding the risks and managing the risks is not the same thing as being afraid of the risks.
Fear no longer rules my world when it comes to flight. Now I relish the feeling of the wheels leaving the pavement, of the wind rushing past the canopy, and the sound of the engine as it revs up to full throttle. Those things are the stuff of magic, and of them I am no longer afraid.