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Appendix 1

Mum would take me when I was young, to see the aeroplanes,
At Bovingdon aerodrome and Heathrow, I quickly learned their names,
I’d watch them land and take off, they’d fly right overhead,
And at night I’d dream of distant countries as I lay in my bed.

From the ground a 'plane flies smooth, no bumps and thumps from there,
They looked so sleek and glossy as they passed up through the air,
The airport folk were happy, it must be very grand,
To soar up through the blue skies and look down on the land.

I’d imagine that I was flying, alongside ‘Sailor’ Malan,
Or maybe Bader, Johnson, or ‘Catseyes’ Cunningham,
My adventures matched those of Biggles, all around the sky,
When I grew up, I was determined, to get in a 'plane and fly.

Meanwhile, as we were poor, my day-dreams would suffice,
I’d ‘fly’ to the warmest tropics, and lands of snow and ice,
I’d ‘fly’ through storm and tempest, or over seas so blue,
My passengers would marvel at the way I’d get them through.

So smooth would fly my Comet, we’ll reach Africa by and by,
There was no such thing as metal fatigue to snatch them from the sky,
As I’d start up all the engines, my passengers would know,
That they could truly rely on me as around the world we’d go.

Stratocruisers, Constellations, I would fly them all,
Hudsons, Yorks, and Manchesters, I really had a ball,
Britannias and Viscounts would fly along so straight,
That I wouldn’t spill my lemonade or drop my lump of cake.

I’d imagine I’d lost an engine, as I was America bound,
Above the Atlantic Ocean my DC-7 would pound,
I’d go back and calm the passengers, as ‘George’ flew us along,
And I’d not return to the ‘office’ until they'd joined me in a song.

Then I’d wrestle with the control-column, to hold that 'plane in trim,
We’d float across the threshold, as I’d bring the giant in,
We’d touch down like a feather and the crew would raise a cheer,
'Cos ‘twould be the finest landing that they’d seen in many a year.

Yes, I would be the greatest, I wouldn’t be a slob,
B.O.A.C. and Pan. Am. would offer me a job,
B.E.A. and Qantas would say I’d fit their bill,
Lufthansa and Trans World Airways, they’d all beg for my skill.

As my younger years passed by, I learned a little more,
About jet-streams, flaps, cross-winds, and what the fin was for,
I didn’t learn of turbulence, bird-strikes, and the stall,
Or icing, fire, and other things, that could cause a 'plane to fall.

Then finally, the great day came when my dreams were realised,
I climbed into a Comet and flew off into the skies,
I was so excited 'till I took a look outside,
And my glee turned into horror, I’d say I almost died.

What a shock to see the land passing slowly down below,
The 'plane seemed at a stand-still, it’ll fall down there I know,
There’s still the roar of engines and a cloud has just whizzed by,
It was never like this, in my day-dreams, when I raced across the sky.

Sick with fear, I looked around at others on that 'plane,
Why did they sit so calmly? Did any feel the same?
We hit some clear air turbulence, I got an awful fright,
And clutched the arm-rests hard 'till my knuckles were quite white.

My breath, it came in short gasps, my heart did jolt and pound,
I’d never fly again, if I got safely on the ground,
Oh! Why was I so stupid to come and fly up here?
Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a fear.

For most of that first 'plane trip I was like a whimpering fool,
While all around the others looked so calm, collect, and cool,
They didn’t seem to notice that I’d turned green around the gills,
But I promised myself that I’d never again go flying for my thrills.

The Stewardess was smiling as she walked along the aisle,
With a professional look about her, she showed such grace and style,
The Pilot wished us the best of flights, he sounded rather bored,
I wished that I was on a train so that I could pull the cord.

And so, sweat pouring from my brow, I sat frozen to the seat,
London to Frankfurt isn’t far, but it seemed to take a week,
I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t read, my stomach was knotted tight,
Let’s crash and get it over with and end my awful plight.

Well! Now I’d shown my colours, I was selfish to the last,
There were young children on that 'plane, who’d had no life or past,
How could I stoop so low and think only of myself?
I pulled myself together and wished us all the best of health.

Then suddenly the engines died, we were doomed now, that’s for sure,
The land was getting closer, where was that emergency door?
In despair I sat and waited, the door was close at hand,
Then we were told to fasten seat-belts, as we were coming in to land.

The whine of flaps, the thump of wheels, the jets roar once or twice,
I wouldn’t go through that again, not for any price,
A quick glance through the window shows the ground is really near,
Oh! Save me Lord, help me to keep this life that I hold dear.

With head in hands and eyes closed tight, I felt that 'plane descend,
Resigned to what my fate would be, I waited for the end,
One last burst of power, I near’ fainted at the sound,
And then we were rolling smoothly to a stand-still on the ground.

The relief was overwhelming as I stepped down off that 'plane,
My dreams had all been shattered, I’d never be the same,
I’d acted like a coward, why I couldn’t say,
But I knew that I’d have to try and stop that fear one day.

Now, I’ve been in two aborted take-offs and once we hit a duck,
How much longer will it be, before I run right out of luck?
I've been in one crash-landing and done a barrel roll,
And each time I’m amazed when the 'plane gets to my goal.

I’ve flown around the world five times since that first 'plane trip,
But the awful fear has still got me securely in its grip,
I’ve settled down a lot now, and flights are very rare,
But I often think of my younger days when I longed to ride the air.

Dave James. 17th. June 1988.

My terrible fear of flying prompted me to write this poem. I’ve tried to tell it as it was (and still is) but, words are hard to find that describe what I go through each time that I take to the air. Not only do I suffer from the flight but, I also begin feeling sick and ill as soon as I know that I have to make a 'plane journey and it takes me quite a while to get over the trip. I know of nothing that I can compare my terror with. I have the most foreboding feeling of doom each time that I walk towards an aircraft, no matter how short the flight. I love flying and everything to do with the air, it's the most magnificent form of transport, and yet, I absolutely hate it.


PS. Read my stories: Flights of Fear? - Or Flights of Fancy? and The Moel Eilio Experience for more on this subject. Or....

Appendix 2 - Bibliography & Futher Reading.

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