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Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007, 09:41 am
Defender cured my airplane phobia.

tags:airplanes, anxiety, phobia, video games

Defender cured my airplane phobia.


I still get frightened and anxious when I fly in airplanes. Surrounded by loud, unruly people, trusting my life to a stranger who may or may not be drunk, all of which trigger my childhood traumas of riding the school bus.

Driving a car has a lot more risk than flying in a plane, but driving a car has the crucial difference of providing the illusion of control. So when I sit in my airplane seat, I try to maintain that illusion of control that I get when I'm driving a car. I pretend to fly the plane.

I don't know how to fly a plane, but when it comes to pretending to fly a plane, I am Chuck Yeager. I had the Fisher-Price Little People Discovery Airport, and I talked down hundreds of imaginary airplanes from certain disaster.

in the early 1980s I logged hundreds of hours on the video game Defender, rescuing countless hostages from alien invasion. I know the feeling of control, and in times of emergency, I reenact it. When we hit turbulence, I look on the tray table, the armrest, the ceiling, choosing the spot I will assign for the imaginary hyperspace button.

A good pilot knows to use hyperspace only in emergencies. I don't want to teleport a 747 loaded with passengers and rematerialize into a mountain. When you take on the responsibility of a pilot, you need the skill to make the tough choices.


Basil White