A fear of flying seems to be one of the more common phobias amongst the general populace – most people know at least one person who would rather not get on an airplane if they had the option. Every flight you take, you’re almost guaranteed to see an individual white-knuckling the armrests, eyes screwed shut, as they shake throughout take-off and landing.
Celebrities are frequently associated with the jet-set lifestyle. First of all, most celebrities bring home pretty big paychecks, and they can afford to jet off to the Bahamas or Paris at a whim. They have the luxury of travelling for leisure whenever they can make time in their schedules – money isn’t really an issue.
However, one of the biggest reasons celebrities rack up the frequent flyer points is because of their jobs. Whether they’re flying back and forth between their home base and wherever the movie they’re working on is filming, or if they’re jetting around the world to do promotional work and international premieres for their latest project, celebrities spend a lot of time in the air.
Given the amount of time they spend hopping from one destination to another via airplane, flying must be a mundane, everyday activity for celebrities, right? Wrong. There are actually quite a few celebrities who have spoken out about a fear of flying. Whether they’re just plain scared for a reason they can’t name, or if they got shaken due to a bad flying experience, these 10 celebrities are definitely nervous flyers.
10. Liz McClarnon
You’ll know Liz McClarnon best for being one third of the British girl group Atomic Kitten. She’s since branched out a bit, appearing on television and reality shows, but audiences outside North America may no longer view her as a household name. She earns a spot on this list for the sheer determination she had to overcome her fear of flying. Her fear developed when Atomic Kitten was at the height of its fame, in the early 2000s. She revealed in an interview with British tabloid The Mirror that she tried everything from hypnotherapy to medication to ‘fear of flying’ courses – four of them! When she spoke with the tabloid, her overwhelming fear meant she hadn’t been on a plane for four years. Even if she manages to kick the debilitating fear, McClarnon will likely always be a nervous flyer.
9. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck revealed his fear of flying when he was a guest on The Tonight Show. His fear stems from a traumatic childhood flight, as he told Jay Leno. When Affleck was nine years old, he was aboard a flight to Washington without his family. The young Affleck was fine flying solo, but partway through the flight, the plane he was on was struck by lightning, which caused the engine to light on fire. The plane had to come in for an emergency landing due to the damage, something that no flyer wants to experience. Affleck regularly flies around the world for movie roles and premieres, but he’s probably not the best companion due to his fear.
8. Travis Barker
Travis Barker didn’t always have a fear of flying – the drummer, best known for his time with pop-punk bank blink-182, was scarred due to a plane crash. In 2008, Barker was on a Learjet 60 taking off from Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina, heading to California. It was a small flight, with only six people on the plane, including two pilots. As it was taking off, the plane hit runway lights and crashed through a fence, ending up on an embankment beside a highway. Barker survived the crash, but he had severe burns and four others aboard the flight tragically died. Barker’s fear remained so strong that he even dropped out of a tour that blink-182 had planned for Australia in 2013 because he didn’t want to fly there.
7. Colin Farrell
Everyone’s favorite Irish bad boy Colin Farrell is known for being a tough guy and a ladies’ man. One thing many don’t know about him is that he’s not the biggest fan of flying. Colin Farrell told contactmusic.com in an interview that flying “just seems highly unnatural to me.” Anyone who may have had the pleasure of being on a flight with a nervous Farrell may have gotten quite the show, as he commented that “I’ve had a few messy affairs on planes. I’ve been lucky they haven’t leaked a few of when I went bonkers. They nearly had the handcuffs out at one stage on British Airways.”
6. Aretha Franklin
Soul superstar Aretha Franklin has some of the biggest pipes in the business, and has travelled the world for decades as a successful singer. While many celebrities who have a fear of flying can link it to a specific incident, either in their childhood or when they were already famous stars, Franklin’s is a bit more unusual. In February of 1984, when she had presumably already been flying for years for her successful singing career, she found herself suddenly able to board a plane – she was just too frightened. She ended up cancelling two shows and rescheduling the entire tour she was on. As she told Glamour magazine, her fear even prevented her from playing a big gig – singing for the Queen of England. Even royalty wasn’t enough to make the Queen of Soul board a flight.
5. Sandra Bullock
While Hollywood sweetheart Sandra Bullock may not have loved flying, her true fear set in after a traumatic plane experience she had about a decade ago. In 2002, Bullock was aboard a corporate jet ready for take-off in Wyoming. As it gathered speed, the jet skidded off the runway, and both the wings and nose of the plane were damaged. Her fear persisted for nearly a decade, until an exciting movie role forced her to either face her fear or give up on a part she was in love with. What role? Gravity. She wanted to work with director Alfonso Cuaron and was excited about the character, so she decided to knuckle down and confront her phobia. As she told Vogue magazine, “I’m petrified of flying. Plummeting out of the sky was not my idea of how I wanted to work with Alfonso Cuaron. But at one point I sat down and said, ‘What is it about this movie that is telling me to get off my ass and get over something that has paralyzed me?’” She faced her fear, starred in the movie, and gained the respect of many.
4. Sean Bean
While British actor Sean Bean may not be a household name to everyone, you’ll likely know him if you have any interest in fantasy films or television shows. His two most prominent roles were playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the beloved Ned Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Bean blames his parents, telling contactmusic.com that they were afraid of flying and he believes “it rubbed off on me.” While he was acting in Europe, it wasn’t really an issue – he would just drive to his filming locations. However, when he got the role of Boromir, things changed – in order to get to New Zealand, he had to fly. He managed his fear enough to make arriving for filming possible, but he refused to get in a helicopter with the rest of the cast when they were moving around to locations within New Zealand. “They had to wait for me to walk up the mountain and join them before they could start filming,” Bean said.
3. Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst, best known for her role in Spiderman, is a nervous flyer, and has found a unique way of dealing with her phobia – headphones. No, not the headphones that flight attendants hand out when you’re in the air so that you can listen to the movies or television shows available on those tiny headset screens. Dunst requires Bose headphones to deal with her fear. How do they help her? Apparently, they dull the noise of the plane, which is one of the biggest triggers for nervous flyers who are unsure what certain clangs and clanks might mean. Dunst always has her pair of Bose headphones at the airport, and makes sure she’s wearing them when the plane is taking off and landing.
2. Megan Fox
If you thought Kirsten Dunst’s way of coping with her fear of flying was strange, wait until you hear what bombshell Megan Fox does. According to Fox, she developed a fear of flying later in life, when she was about 20 years old. She came up with an innovative solution. As she told gossip blogger Perez Hilton, “I know for a fact it’s not in my destiny to die listening to a Britney Spears album, so I always put that on in my headphones when I’m flying because I know it won’t crash if I’ve got Britney on. It just goes to show you what a legend the pop superstar is – her hits can even cure phobias!
1. Jennifer Aniston
Actress Jennifer Aniston has slowly been working on her fear of flying, and has admitted that it has been getting easier over time to deal with getting on planes. Her fear stems from one particular incident. As she told China Daily, she was aboard a plane that got caught in an electrical storm. Many people get a bit jittery during turbulence, but an experience like getting caught in a storm will likely spook even the most veteran of flyers. Aniston has admitted that most of her fear is centered around the very beginning, when the plane takes off, because she doesn’t fully comprehend exactly how it gets up in the air.
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