Facing your fears head on

First Posted: 12/9/2009

This Sunday I got to do one of the coolest things of my life, fly over Mount Airy in a small plane.
My dad used to take me to the airport on the weekends back when they offered flights for only $5 per person. That was in the 1970s back when I was a kid and fearless.
As I became a teenager, a few friends I knew got their pilots licenses. One dark and stormy night, I went flying with two pilots. They showboated more than a little bit and with lightening crashing all around, I very quickly took on a fear of flying. Plus, I think as we get older, we get a greater understanding of how delicate life is and how quickly it can end in tragedy. Certain local plane crashes come to mind.
Back in September, I was selected to go on the Triad Flight of Honor. Well, with my history of being afraid to fly, I sought help of chiropractor and acupuncture specialist Dr. Steven Button. He had treated me to help ease anxiety that I was experiencing before surgery earlier this year, so I figured why not let him have a crack at easing my fears over flying?
As we talked, I learned that he too, was once afraid of flying. So in order to overcome that fear, he proceeded to get his pilots license. If thats not facing your fears head on, I dont know what is.
So I guess in an effort to help ease my anxiety once and for all, Dr. Button offered to take me flying this past Sunday. People he knew told me not to be worried because he is a careful pilot and they had never felt safer flying than when they flew with him. I already trust him with my health and well being, now I would really be putting my life in his hands.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I felt knots start to twist and turn in my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick on my stomach and/or pass out. I guess old habits die hard. As I stirred around and got ready, I took a bunch of deep breaths and tried to calm down. I came really close to backing out. But the reality is that, when opportunities like this are offered up, if you let it pass you by, you might not get a second chance.
So I made up my mind that I was going to have to suck it up and do this. I met Dr. Button at the Mount Airy airport at 11 a.m. He was already out there working on the plane, preparing for the flight. It was a crisp, clear, chilly morning. He said thats the kind of air thats perfect for flying. You learn something new every day.
As we taxied out to the end of the runway, I was scared, but I knew I was in good hands and there was no going back now. As the plane accelerated and glided up into the air, I didnt feel anything. It wasnt at all like the big jet airliners that accelerate so fast you feel yourself being sucked back into your seat as you feel a slight G-force on your body. This was easy, effortless and painless.
Before you know it, we were up in the air and headed over to Ararat. I told him the only place I wanted to fly over for sure was my church. I had promised my pastor that I would get an aerial shot of the church while everyone was there. Sure enough there it was, Fellowship Baptist. I didnt realize the church had a green roof. Again, you learn something new every day.
Shortly after we flew over the church, we headed up toward the mountains where snow had fallen the night before. I had almost forgotten what snow looked like, since its been so long since all of the white stuff has fallen around here. It was so beautiful. I wondered out loud if this is how the earth looks to God.
Thats when another thought dawned on me. My pastor, Wes Boyles, has been talking about how people like to put God in a box. In my opinion, there are many ways to worship. And this morning especially, I felt close to God, because I could see all the wonders of the earth He created. We live in such a beautiful place and it was awesome to see it from such a different perspective.
After about a 40-minute flight, as he prepared to land, I felt a little sad. I really do like flying after all. Looking back at the whole thing Im so glad that I chose to face my fear and got out of my own little box. Theres a whole world of possibilities out there and each time you step out of that box, you grow as a person.
Im so grateful to Dr. Button for helping me face my fear, for being such a great pilot and for getting me safely back to the ground. Its an experience that I will never forget!
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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