let me try to give you a pilot's perspective on flying! While knowing that it will probably not make you overcome your fear like magic, I hope you will realize that there really is nothing to worry about!
I have been flying sinceI was a kid, and been a pilot since I was 18 years old. Currently I am a pilot for Delta Air Lines.
I am sure you know about the statistics so I will not even dwell on that! The numbers speak for themselves.
Rest assured that the guys in the cocpit have families and loved ones, and have no desire to do anything that would present any danger to their lives. We love our job because it is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, and we undergo continuous training to ensure that we are capable of performing to the highest standards. At the same time, our airplanes undergo exceptional maintenance inspections, and are built so well, with double, triple and many times quadruple redunancy!
It is a logical assumption that in a machine so complex as an modern jet, some things will occasionaly malfunction. Those procedures are called abnormals, and every single possibility is outlined in special manuals, and take my word for it, we train on how to deal with those scenarios constantly,believe me, they are more of a nuisance than anything else. Each system has so many backups, that when something isn't performing as intended, it is so easily replaced with it's backup with no loss whatsoever of any of our capabilities! Plus, we will never push back from the gate, where maintenance is available, before they repair or replace the culprit, remember we are not only responsible for your safety as well as ours, but also we do not like the extra workload and/or inconvenience that an inoperative item may cause.
Even a big item like an engine failure, which would require a little more attention than a regular abnormal, is so frequently practised in the simulator,that is nothing more than an inconvenience to the passengers, us and the company!
In flight, we take personal pride into offering our passengers the most comfortable ride humanly possible. That starts with gentle manipulation of the autopilot available modes so as avery transition and turn is as smooth as possible, and extends further into using our onboerd radar, other pilot reports and constant nagging to the Air Traffic Controller for altitudes and routes that will offer the least amount of turbulence, which by the way, is nothing more than bumpy air that has no way of posing any threat to the safety of the flight! Sometimes though, flight through an area of turbulence is unavoidable, and then it is purely an inconvenience to you as well as us that have to be careful while sipping our coffee so we don't spill any on our white shirts!
I make it a point, every time I walk the terminal to board the plane, to spend an extra milute at the gate and just look around at all "MY" passengers for the next few hours, knowing full well that they will be my responsibility for the flight, and there is great pride into trying to make it not only a safe and comfortable flight but an enjoyable one!
And remember, when we are up there we are not alone! In our fingertips we have available so many expert people, from maintenance experts, weather advisors, even doctors, that are a radio call away, to share their expertise with us to help us resolve any situation.
I hope I did.t bore you with it, but I love flying, and it makes me happy when I can make another person share that love with me, and hear him as I am standing at the door when they are deplaning say " Great flight"
Enjoy your holiday!