A realistic reason for fear of flying

By Serge Kreutz

I avoid flying as good as I can. Yes, I do have personal reasons. I was once on a Philippine Airlines plane that flew into a typhoon, and there was no option for the pilot to change direction as it was night and no alternative airport was suited for night-time landing.

Yes, this was very uncomfortable. The plane was shaking violently, and like most passengers, I didn’t have much confidence in being alive after hitting the ground. Nevertheless, we all survived.

But beyond my own bad flying experience, my dislike for air travel is based on sound reasoning.

Those who have read through other articles of mine are aware that my philosophy focuses on two principle values in life: optimal orgasms and a comfortable death. “Optimal orgasms” obviously is the sexier of the two topics, and more of my articles deal with this issue, not the relevancy of a comfortable death (and the practicalities of it).

But the importance of a comfortable death is not to be underestimated. Of course, the best thing that could happen to me would be a death in my sleep in the coming night.

As life is temporary anyway, there is no genuine value in living longer. Furthermore, as the capacity for human suffering is so much larger than the capacity for human joy, dropping out before we experience substantial suffering is the most reasonable preference one can have.

This does not mean that I would advocate suicide. We are not built to choose suicide. Because for most people (probably including me) trying suicide would cause mental panic (regardless of our philosophical convictions, and outside our control), a suicide is generally not a gentle way to die. Dying in one’s sleep, unexpectedly, is, unrivaled, the best way to go. A productive life, cut short by an untimely death in our sleep, is the ultimate good fate that can befall us. If such a death happens to us, our relatives and friends should not grieve.

Not for the dead person anyway. Family members may feel sorry for themselves because they may have lost their principal breadwinner. Friends may lament that they have lost somebody who was good company.

But the person who has died unexpectedly in his sleep can realistically only be congratulated on his exceptional good luck.

I am not afraid of being dead. Death is a very good state to be in. But to be afraid of dying a lousy, violent death makes perfect sense.

And I know from own experience, supported by a great body of reports from other people, that dying in an air-travel misshape must be one of the worst possible transportation deaths available to us.

Unless the aircraft we are in all of a sudden explodes, or crashes into a mountain, it is likely that we consciously experience great discomfort before our death.

Together with the airplane, we may be tossed at high speed through various altitudes. Or, in an airplane that no longer can be controlled, we may be aware that in a short while, we will crash and die.

In a road or railway accident, we may realize the impending crash only at the instant it happens, or, even more commonly, we realize that it has happened only after we have survived it. But in many air accidents there is ample of time for pre-crash awareness, which, for everybody on the plane, will mean prolonged pre-death panic.

I admit that air travel is very convenient (as long as one has a good flight). It’s the fastest way to bridge a distance from, let’s say, 200 kilometers onwards.

Statistically, on a per-kilometer scale, it’s probably also the safest way to travel. It’s just that if a misshape happens, the discomfort potential is much worse than for other modes of transportation.

I am not afraid of being dead. And I can happily cite a scenario under which I would have no qualms boarding aircrafts as a standard means of getting around.

All it would take were airlines to offer flights under anesthesia. The sedation should be strong enough so that passengers would not wake up, even if a plane were to go on a pre-crash downward spindle covering 10 kilometers.

If airlines were to turn off my consciousness an hour before take-off, and if I were only to awake an hour or two after landing, I wouldn’t mind paying double prices. I even wouldn’t mind an increase in the risk of dying from the sedation, for as long as the sedation-related death were to happen under sedation.

For it isn’t death itself that I want to avoid. I only want to avoid the discomfort associated with some forms of dying.

I am aware that the prospects for airlines to offer flights under anesthesia any time soon are very small indeed. Not in today’s chaotic societies in which typically, masses of fools decide what is important and what is right. Instead, a social climate would be required in which people cannot easily be mislead by preachers of religious nonsense, and in which people are educated in what is a proper scientific understanding of life, and it’s most important parameters, optimal orgasms and a comfortable death.