In 15 years of covering adventure travel for Travel + Leisure, I’ve found myself in some some fairly hair-raising situations, from bungee jumping off a platform in New Zealand to scuba diving in a cave filled with sharks off the coast of Burma. And while I've always loved the thrill of new experiences, I could never get over the horrible, gut-wrenching sensation that I would feel as my fear escalated toward panic.
What was this strange force that seemed to take over my mind? What was happening, I wondered, when I felt the grip of terror? As I began to research the questions, I learned that fear can manifest in many ways, but they all rely on the same underlying neurological system. Eventually, my exploration resulted in my new book, out this month: Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.
Filled with real-life stories of people who have faced mortal danger and survived, Extreme Fear lays bare the neurobiological processes that underlie the sensation of intense fear and offers advice on how we can all better handle fear in our daily lives. And it makes a great holiday gift!
Flights in several major hubs across the nation were heavily delayed
early this morning by a glitch in an Federal Aviation Administration computer system that helps
manage air traffic. The snafu resulted in no accidents, but it raises an obvious question: could future such problems put passengers in danger?
The short answer, according to FAA spokesman Hank Price, is no.
“Radar coverage and communication with aircraft were never affected,”
he told me. “So it’s not a safety problem at all.”
What happened was that the system that automatically generates
flight plans crashed, forcing FAA personnel to input the data manually,
and thereby slowing down the whole system. Flight plans are electronic
documents that tell air traffic controllers where each aircraft is
going, when, and by what route, and are required for all commercial
flights. If an airliner’s crew can’t be issued a flight plan, it simply
has to sit on the ground.