Growing up, we used only two common methods of transportation: road and rail.
Some Batswana have a negative perception about air travel. In my experience, the perception is triggered by fear. I know because flying is always my last resort.
When boarding a plane, I do not return the pretty air hostesses’s fake smiles nor do I like to chat to the person sitting next to me.
It is not because I am rude, no. It’s because I am shaking in my boots. My case is what the smart people would refer to as plane phobia but my preference is to call it the fear of crashing on a plane without any hopes of survival.
Wikipedia refers to it as aerophobia and defines it as a fear of being on an aeroplane or other flying vehicles.
It continues to reveal that the fear of flying may be a distinct phobia itself, or it may be an indirect combination of one or more other phobias related to flying, such as claustrophobia, which is a fear of enclosed spaces or acrophobia, a fear of heights.
It is a symptom rather than a disease, and different causes may bring it about in different individuals.
Having done my fair share of air travel, I am yet to discover that it doesn’t get any better with time. In my experience, aerophobia means countless hours of putting up calm appearances for the world when all you want to do is scream at the pilot and the hostesses for being so damn cheerful when they know that we were all going to die. It means that you are comfortable when the plane is still on the runway but when it takes off things change.
You are hyperventilating inside but you also don’t want the people next to you to give you strange looks.
One such experience I had was the other day when I travelled to Lusaka for the first time by Air Botswana.
I was privileged enough to be on that first flight, despite the fact that two days before that a story came out about a plane that had crashed near Afghanistan and there were no survivors.
I was happy with our airline but I kept thinking of the headlines that would lead the papers the next day after our crash.
”Maiden flight claims lives of all passengers”, “Journalists perish in plane crush”, “historical flight turns into national horror”…,
Although the Captain did a marvellous job and people were toasting the first flight on the plane, all I wanted was to touch the ground so I could kiss it.
Being on a plane also meant having to go to the loo. It scares me to smithereens because the plane tilts or shakes under my feet.
It also meant not enjoying the meal because you keep thinking it might be your last.
It get’s so bad that watching airplanes take off for me means I have to watch them until they disappear otherwise there is a possibility that they crashed and I missed the opportunity to convince myself never to fly again.
That could probably be where the problem is, the realisation that we need airplanes to travel impossible distances while at the same time saving time. The realisation that there are many more flights I will have to board if I want to get anywhere in life.
The funny thing is the statistics show that in Botswana one is most likely to be involved in a car accident than a plane crash.