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?
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.
Air Force One has been an iconic aircraft since before I was born (not caring who was onboard, of course). Yes, I know that any aircraft carrying the U.S. President is called Air Force One, but I am talking about the two VC-25As – built off the Boeing 747-200 – that typically fly the president around the world. Those two planes (registration SAM 28000 and SAM 29000) not only represent the office of the president, but also our entire nation. In some ways, it says who we are as a people and how we want other nations to see us. Our country is also in the process of upgrading Air Force One to a pair of Boeing 747-8 Intercontinentals, called the VC-25B. You can probably look up dates when they might be finished, but I am willing to bet that the aircraft will be delayed.
I have also always been interested in the types of aircraft that other world leaders use for official duties around the world. Does it say something about their people? Their economies? Embargoes? Or what they might find cool and interesting? In this story I wanted to share in photos some of those aircraft. I am for sure not going to hit everyone, just those that I find the most interesting. Some leaders have an entire fleet of aircraft, while others might lease commercial aircraft from other countries to act as their state planes. The lines can often get blurred, but there are some interesting ones out there! I am not trying to make any political statements on why one state might run a fleet of wide-bodies, while another has a Cessna 152.
As you are looking through them… think about which aircraft you would want if you were a world leader. Sure, the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 might seem like an easy choice for those who want to show off a bit, but not all airports can handle those big gals… hence why the U.S. has quite the fleet, including Boeing 757s (aka C-32), 737s (aka C-40), and many other aircraft at their disposal. Here we go!
I probably spend too much time looking at photos of classic airliners online. I am guessing that I am not alone. One of my favorites is finding an aircraft / airline combination that just doesn’t match or is an odd ball. Then down the AvGeek rabbit hole I go to learn as much as I can about the history of the airplane. When was it born? Which airlines flew it? How many times did it change hands? Was it involved in any accidents? Is it still flying today, stored in a desert somewhere, or has it been scrapped?
When I first saw the photo above, with the obvious old TWA livery with temporary titles, that looked like an airplane out of a bad movie, I became instantly hooked (or maybe “obsessed”). I wanted to get to know this plane.
I quickly found out that this Lockheed L-1011 was serial line number 1221, which I have to admit would be a pretty boring name. As I started learning more about him, I named him Martin (for obvious reasons). He was first delivered to TWA in December 1981 and had quite the adventurous life.
Follow me down the rabbit hole to learn more about Martin’s history and where he is today…
Many non-profit organizations have had challenges from COVID-19, and our local Seattle friends at the Museum of Flight have been one of them. However, they have put their creative thinking caps on and are offering up some pretty cool premium experiences, while still keeping visitors safe. From their website:
”The Museum now offers new private, curated tours for groups of up to four combining exclusive access to aircraft cockpits and cabins, viewing of rare artifacts not on public display, entertaining and expert stewardship, plus some upcoming experiences will include catered food and drink. These Premium Experiences are customized for the interests of the group, from the most casual fan to the ultimate aviation geek. All of them will adhere to the best COVID safeguards. And during Phase II and Phase III (Editor’s Note: these are specific criteria for Washington State) general attendance restrictions, the Museum”s spacious galleries will seem luxuriously intimate.”
There are some great options, but my favorite has to be Cocktails with the Queen. You get VIP access to the first Boeing 747, including the upper deck lounge and flight deck. It is not a short in-and-out sort of experience, but one that will last you 2-3 hours and will build some life-long memories. But if that is not to your liking, there are other options…