By Petra Perkins.
“You ready to go up?” I examined my reflection in the aviator shades of an Air Force captain who was to take me for a ‘discovery ride’ in a small airplane. He looked official and solid, like Captain America — wings on his epaulets, a clipboard for a shield. I would go up with him.
“So, you ready?” he asked, again.
I shook my head. “Yes.”
I had fear of flying… “Aviophobia,” he said.
An airplane accident had cruelly changed my life. I was a nervous passenger before it happened, but afterwards it was painful for me to fly. Long distance business travel was required in my job. I didn’t tell Captain America that my husband and son had been killed in a plane crash.
Here I was at the very airport where they took off together for the last time. This was the last place on earth I’d ever imagine finding myself. Rod, 17, was almost a high school graduate. Terry, my high-school sweetheart, had been my husband for 20 years. They’d built an aerobatic airplane in our garage over eight years and tested it months before they left on a trip — their tragic, final takeoff. The propeller had sheared off on a landing approach. I’d always wondered if Terry could have somehow recovered, though pilots told me no one could have. The question continued to haunt me.