5 Celebs Who Suffer from Aviophobia (and 1 who used to)

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

I used to love flying when I was a kid and even told people I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up. But something happened during college that seriously damaged my love of the skies: a friend's father took me up in his single-engine four-seat Cessna and within minutes my entire corporeal being turned an unpleasant, oh-please-oh-please-oh-please-turn-this-thing-around shade of green.

Ever since, I've had a disturbingly acute case of aviophobia (aka: aviatophobia or aerophobia, depending on which of my shrinks you consult). Under no circumstance will I set a weak, trembling knee on those tin shuttles you see jumping from Boston to NYC. Transatlantic-size jumbo-jets only for this flyer, and even in those I have to sit on the aisle and request that the flight attendant knock me out with a large mallet before takeoff.

But it seems I'm in pretty good company, judging from the following list. (These are all quotes from articles I unearthed doing some Turnip-style "celebrity fear of flying" poking around.)

1. Jennifer Aniston: Aniston revealed that she had been afraid of flying ever since going through a particularly harrowing experience of being caught in an electric storm while on her way from Toronto to New York, and though she has managed to conquer part of her fear, she admits that she still gets nervous every time she has to board a plane." [source]

2. Sam Shepard — Although he played a famous pilot in The Right Stuff and went through an airliner crash in the film Voyager (1992), Shepard is known for his aversion to flying. According to one account, he vowed never to fly again after a very rocky trip on an airliner coming back from Mexico in the '60's. However, he allowed the real Chuck Yeager to take him up in a jet plane in 1984, when he was preparing for his role as Yeager in The Right Stuff. [source]

3. Wes Anderson - That we happen to be traveling by train to discuss a movie that takes place on a train was not part of the original plan, though I'm starting to think of it as yet another example of Anderson's knack for retouching reality with an idiosyncratic gloss. (It may be connected to his fear of flying as well; until recently, Anderson traveled to Europe by boat, and he far prefers trains and automobiles to anything airborne.) [source]

4. Whoopi Goldberg: On NBC's Whoopi, one of the things Whoopi Goldberg shares with her sitcom character is her aviophobia, or fear of flying. [source]

5. Aretha Franklin: It's no secret that the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has a serious fear of flying. So much so that she recently declined an invitation from Prince Albert of Monaco to perform at the annual Red Cross Ball, according to Newsday Advertisement. In Liz Smith's column, she reported that the multiGrammy-winning Franklin promised Prince Albert she would work on her phobia. [source]

6. Billy Bob Thornton - Although the rest of us may be feeling a bit jittery, Billy Bob Thornton's enjoying a new sense of calm in the days since the Sept. 11 attacks. One of his famous phobias -- his fear of flying -- has miraculously disappeared. "As usual, I'm backwards," Thornton tells Mr. Showbiz in a recent interview. "As everybody else has gotten worried, I'm not afraid of flying now ... Now I feel a little safer because people feel weird about it." [source]