124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Don't Read This!!! (Pilots Tell All)

November 11, 2010

"There's no such thing as a water landing. It's called crashing into the ocean." ____-Pilot, South Carolina

I used to hate to fly. Or, I should say, I used to assume every flight I took would be my last. While en route to the airport I'd call every member of my immediate family, clear up any outstanding disagreements, and I would end the conversations with a heart-felt, "I love you." (As most of you know by now, I'm a sensitive and sappy cancer.)

It didn't end with multiple goodbyes. As I boarded the plane, I was always a skin-sack full of bones and anxious energy. While everyone else ignored the request to review the safety guide, I made sure I had a removable seat as a floatation device and that the seat pocket in front of me contained a barf bag. Throughout any flight to what always seemed like Mars and back, I'd grab the armrest of my seat at the slightest brush of turbulence. My stomach was between my ears and the arm of my stranger of a neighbor was pinned down and at the mercy of my pale fingernails.

Now, after hundreds of trips, an assortment of drugs, countless stiff drinks and productive conversations with myself, I've managed to become numb to the concept of crashing. Sounds oddly dramatic, but it's true. Once the airplane door closes, I now understand that I'm simply along for the ride. To worry is to waste time and energy; that my fate is in the hands of the pilots and relinquishing control and any concerns is a critical component to living beyond my fifties. (Which isn't too far from the way I view relationships with the females in my life.)

My brother, who hates to fly, sent me this link yesterday. It's the "35 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You," compiled by Reader's Digest.

The secrets -- unfortunately -- are out:

"I'm constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I'm comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you're running out of gas and you have to go to an alternate airport." -Captain at a major airline

I figured as much on the next one:

"We tell passengers what they need to know. We don't tell them things that are going to scare the pants off them. So you'll never hear me say, Ladies and gentlemen, we just had an engine failure,' even if that's true." -Jim Tilmon, retired American Airlines pilot, Phoenix

For everyone who loves to travel via planes, trains and automobiles, click here for a link to the rest of the story.

I'm back to being a sack of scaredy cat.

--Matty G.*