RICK JACKSON: After all those years, I was finally sat on an aeroplane
I think it was the fear of something going wrong and not being able to get off an aeroplane that had stopped me from flying.
Not any more though. Last weekend I flew! Even if it was only for an hour and we only looped over the Isle of Wight, I flew and it was a proper aeroplane as well!
Last year, my craziness took on a whole new level when my wife and two very small children flew to Alicante from Southampton, whilst I took two days to drive down to meet them.
As they went through check-in for their return flight to Southampton, I wondered what on earth I was doing.
Why would I let the people most precious to me go on that aircraft whilst I sat back and watched in my car? You mad fool, Jackson.
This was the final straw.
No longer was this going to control not only me, but my family.
So I took the Fearless Flying course with EasyJet at Gatwick Airport.
It was time to put this to bed once and for all.
Saturday was the ground course.
More than 200 of us sat in a conference room in a hotel at the airport.
We learned how our brains fill in the gaps, how a plane works (from a vastly experienced captain) and then how to change our perceptions.
Sunday was the flight. My wife came with me.
I thought I would have to overcome my extreme anxiety and that it would be a very stressful day.
But it wasn’t.
I calmly drove to the airport and into departures. At check-in, a problem with my wife’s ticket meant we were held up by security for 30 minutes.
But I was totally chilled, even if we had to run to our gate and were last on the packed plane.
It was an Airbus A320. Every single passenger had their eyes closed and Lawrence the course director took everyone through some relaxation techniques.
We were found seats at the front. We clicked on our seatbelts and then, all of a sudden after all those years of not flying, I was sat on an aeroplane.
The door had just been shut. There was no going back.
I’VE LEARNED THE MORE YOU DO IT, THE MORE YOU GET USED TO IT
I can’t say I enjoyed all of the flight.
The power of take-off was awesome, but as we climbed, I admit the movements and sensations unnerved me.
But I was told what was happening and, seeing how little the water on my tray was moving, it showed how the brain fills in those gaps.
I’ve learned the more you do it, the more you get used to it.
What I did love was walking the entire length of the plane, totally relaxed and chatting to the captain, then taking photos of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight from 20,000 feet.
What an experience and I cannot wait until June to do it again, this time on a trip to Alicante with the family.
Finally, I won’t be driving while the rest of them fly.
THE POWER WAS INCREDIBLE AND I HAD MASSIVE GRIN ON MY FACE
The captain with us on the Saturday course didn’t fly our plane, but gave us the most fantastic commentary, from every noise and sensation we’d feel to all the procedures the crew go through.
As we taxied to the runway, he explained the bumps were worse down on the ground than up there!
As everything was explained away, along with techniques you learn to deal with the negative thoughts your mind tries to tell you, I was ready for take-off.
Nervous, but ready.
Captain Chris told us we’d hear the engine noise increase to 50 per cent, then to 85 per cent for take-off.
The power was incredible. I was pushed back into my seat.
I admit I had a massive grin on my face!