As our Airbus A320 backtracked on runway 35 to prepare for a northerly take off from Corfu Town, I reflected on the time I used to be what is known as a ‘nervous flyer’. It wasn’t that long ago, either, when as soon as the plane stormed down the runway, I’d be gripping my partner’s hand while my heart felt it would leap out of my chest. “If God had meant us to fly, he’d have given us wings!” I would toot to anyone who would listen, even though I never believed in God in the first place. And the fact – those damn facts – that flying is by far the safest mode of transport meant nothing to me. Then, one day, I don’t know, the fears went away and I learned to love flying.

Taking off on Monday, I checked my pulse which hovered at around 103. That must have been an adrenaline rush because at no time was I remotely concerned about my safety. Even when the engine pitch changed after take off, I wasn’t fazed and neither should I have. The occasional turbulence en route was actually fun and when we bashed on the runway back at Bristol, I didn’t join in with the gasp of some other passengers. We’d landed, that’s all.

I wonder if earlier experiences affected my sensibility. Look at this little list;

  • 1975, my first flight ever, to Canada from London Heathrow on an elderly Air Canada DC8. As we took off, it sounded as if every single nut and bolt on the plane was about to fall off.
  • 1985, we flew to Corfu from Gatwick a few days after the Manchester air disaster (a plane headed to Corfu).
  • 1988, some liquid poured from an overhead locker during the flight. “Aviation fuel,” I gulped. No, Wine from a broken bottle.
  • 1984. The door to the flight deck flew open as the plane took off. I was expecting to see the captain wrestling with the controls but instead I could see him smoking a fag.
  • 1988, we flew home from Corfu to Bristol on an ancient Boeing 707 and my seat collapsed as we took off.

Brainlessly, I had concluded these events would inevitably lead to a future disaster in which I would be a helpless victim but having put the non incidents into context it was nothing. The problem was not aviation: it was me.

Now, I can’t wait to get on board the plane. I absolutely love the sound of the engines spooling up, I love the sudden acceleration, I love the steep climb after take off, I love looking down on the rest of the world from my little window.

I used to say that it wasn’t flying I was worried about: it was crashing, but in truth that was just a piss poor joke. It was a miserable means to an end. Now it’s a joyous part of the holiday, something to look forward to. And flying has now taken over from rail travel in my top of the travel pops charts.

It’s utterly irrational to be a nervous flyer but then utterly irrational defines my very being. Once I’d got my head round the theory of ‘lift’, what all the onboard noises meant, why the engine pitches changed, everything made sense. And even the safety explanation before take off interests me now when once it would have been desperately checking my life jacket. Flying is not something that has to be done, it’s a great part of the holiday. In the words off the brain dead on Facebook, ENJOY!