All of the tips I gave in my article about getting over your fear of flying work really well for fear of heights, minor turbulence, and even getting stuck in the plane bathroom mid-flight. But when a part of the plane breaks off and flaps around? I'd say it's reasonable to start screaming incessantly and holding your reluctant neighbor.
That's why I was surprised to hear how calm the passengers sounded on a United Airlines flight on Sunday, when an engine panel was uplifted and began flapping around, forcing an emergency landing.
That morning, according to NBC, air traffic control got a call from a pilot flying Boeing 737 from Denver to Orlando. In the relaxed tone you might use to say "the weather is 72 degrees and sunny," the pilot says "engine panel has become detached from the airplane."
Almost 200 passengers were on board, and the flapping panel on the left side was visible from inside the aircraft, and so captured on video by whoever wasn't trying to distract themselves from impending doom by watching 27 Dresses or the like.
After the pilot stated the concern, air traffic control asked what exactly the emergency was and, in an even more impossibly relaxed manner, the pilot repeated, "It's an engine panel that's come off the side of the plane."
The plane was then forced to return to Orlando, where travelers disembarked and boarded another plane.
In a statement to NBC, United said the flight "returned to the airport due to a mechanical issue with one of the engines," and that "the flight landed safely and taxied to a gate where customers deplaned normally."
And with that, I tip my hat to the second bravest souls that ever flew. The first being, of course, passengers on the flight that had to land due to an "unbearable stench" in the aircraft.