Stories by David Parker Brown

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

https://www.airlinereporter.com
I want to fly, but I just wouldn't do it right now.

There are many people right now questioning if it is safe to fly. It is a valid question, but I do not have the answer. For me personally, I have decided not to fly and I probably won’t be in the air for quite some time. Let me share some of my thoughts about the current situation, explain why I am not ready, and provide some advice for those who end up flying.

I love the airline business and it has pained me to watch the industry suffer. Hearing about the financial losses and seeing aircraft lined up in the desert is one thing, but employees losing their jobs is devastating.

For the most part, I think airlines and their employees have done an amazing job tackling this unprecedented situation. They have kept passengers informed on new safety procedures and have promoted the quality of the cabin air. No question this builds trust.

I am less worried about the airlines, but more concerned about the uptick in COVID, the other aspects of traveling, and most importantly: other passengers.

Here is something that I wasn”t expecting: staying up from 1:30 am to 5:30 am on a Saturday morning to take an online class, from British Airways, that helps people overcome their fear of flying. However, when I learned about their Flying With Confidence program, I couldn”t help but be curious.

I have never really feared flying much. Sure, there might be some hairy moments, but I typically enjoy when the flight gets a little turbulent. However, I know this is not the case for many people.

A fear of flying has always been rational to me. Not only are you in a tube flying 35,000 feet in the air, but when an airliner crashes, it becomes an international story. Sure, one can share data about the safety of flying and use the classic line ”you are more likely to die driving to the airport,” but those sorts of things rarely have a major impact.

Some passengers with flying phobias are able to painfully push through it, but others write off flying altogether. For those looking to overcome their fears, there are some legitimate ways to get help.

I was excited to see what the British Airways Flying with Confidence program had to offer, and I was interested to get more insight. I actually learned a few things that would not only help me with with future rough flights, but also some other phobias that I might or might not have (*cough* gnarly spiders *cough*).

British Airways has been offering the Flying with Confidence course for about 35 years, and they have helped over 50,000 people. They claim to have a 98% success rate, and I can believe it. They offer a staff of over 40 people who assist from a number of different angles; from pilots to flight attendants, to air traffic controllers — all able to answer questions about the flying process.

Historically, they have only offered in-person courses at London Heathrow & Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Dubai, and Johannesburg. However, due to COVID, they started providing an online option. I felt lucky enough to participate in the first online class.

There was still an in-person session that took place in London, which had about 40 attendees safely spread out among two rooms — they typically have over 100 participants. The course was completed over two days. The first day was a presentation that went over the different aspects of flight and the psychology of flying phobias. On the second day, people boarded a British Airways Airbus A319 and took a flight to nowhere. How cool is that?

The Northwest Boeing 747-200 taken at Kansai International Airport - Photo: Ken Fielding

I have a soft place in my heart for Northwest Boeing 747-200s. My first time flying in a 747, my first time flying as an unaccompanied minor, and my first time being able to ride in the nose section was all on one of those birds. Even though that was at the age of five, it was very exciting and has stayed with me.

Anytime I see a photo of one of these aircraft, I wonder if it is the one that I flew on. I have no way of knowing, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to get to know more about the life of every Northwest 747-200 that I come across.

Not long ago, I documented the life of a Lockheed L1011 (which I named Martin). I have fun tracking down the lives (and often the deaths) of classic airliners and I enjoyed sharing Martin’s journey with you all (and many of you seemed to get a kick out of it as well). When I came across N642NW, a Northwest 747-200, I thought her history was pretty interesting and worth sharing.

I have decided to name this classic beauty Madison for two main reasons. During my trip (explained above), I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis to visit my uncles and we spent some time in Madison, WI. I might have also had a boyhood crush at the time on Madison from the movie Splash (played by Daryl Hannah). Either way, we can say that I like the name and I like the plane, so it works!

Now, let’s take a look at Madison’s birth, how she lived, and if she is still around today.