Sample Essay #6
Another excellent free college application essay designed to help inspire college-bound students working on college and university application essays.
Passengers dozed peacefully in the cramped, cold, and dark cabin, eye masks on. A sudden jolt, riveting the plane, spurred only a few grumbling snorts from the unconscious travelers. The engines droned while chatty flight attendants gossiped behind a curtain.
Everyone seemed at ease, if not bored. Passengers stared blankly at the monitors in front of them and stewardesses sighed when summoned by blinking lights bearing their caricatured silhouettes. I imagined pilots, surrounded by panels of crude switches, nodding off in the wake of the vast and empty frontier ahead of them. I, however, found the flight neither boring nor exciting; as a twelve-year-old, everything about air travel terrified me. My white-knuckled fists, glistening with cold perspiration, clamped onto the nearest armrest at the mere hint of turbulence. My breath came in shallow gasps as I kept my ears perked for any sign of disruption in the engine’s consistent rumble. I bawled during takeoff, clenched my eyes shut while landing, and remained fidgety and sour in the intervening hours.
This phobia began affecting me long before my actual departure, days or sometimes even weeks in advance. At first I would lie awake into the wee hours of the night, actively calling forth violent fantasies of what could very well happen during the coming flight. My first vision would be of a quick death: the plane explodes, instantly consuming all its passengers in the conflagration. I considered this possibility most preferable, as I would not have to endure the torturous moments of panicky contemplation that would accompany falling to my death. What if the plane did not simply explode, though? What if a wing dropped off at 30,000 feet? My fantasies would delve into every conceivable disaster, each less plausible yet more terrifying than the previous. Just how carefully did they inspect the engines?
In fact, my mind would be so consumed by thoughts of my impending demise on the flight that the prospect of survival would was begin to seem improbable, despite my continued existence flight after flight. On this particular trip, though, my fears were nearly realized. After settling into my seat as much as I was capable after takeoff, my gaze flickered out the window, coming to rest on the billowy plains below. My father joined me and began naming the illuminated grid patterns and landmasses gliding by beneath us when he noticed something I had not: a stream steadily flowing out the edge of the wing.
We called for an attendant, who in turn brought the captain.
I tried not to look or listen as the pilot arrived at my seat to observe the phenomenon. He craned his neck in what seemed a scrupulous observation and, after a few moments of squinting, delivered his analysis.
“We should call this one in.”
My father and I leaned forward, expecting more explanation or at least some tangible emotion. “And…?”
The pilot, however, returned to the cockpit without answer, apparently realizing that we would not be able to comprehend, much less do anything about the information he had just gathered.
Eventually technicians determined that the fluid streaming out of the plane was, in fact, jet fuel, and though our supply was sufficient to reach our destination despite the leak, a lightning strike or spark of any kind would ignite the plane’s left engine, sending us ablaze into a spiraling freefall terminating in the dark Pacific. No doubt this would delay our arrival. At this announcement, two passengers had seizures and a jittery man seated behind me had to be handcuffed. Most, however, remained quietly anxious in their seats and either resumed napping or continued to stare cross-eyed into the tiny monitors ensconced in the headrests of the persons in front of them.
Remarkably in this tense situation, I suddenly stopped obsessing about crashing. Now that I was actually facing real aviation danger, I refused to let fear overwhelm me during what could have been the last moments of my life. Though the chances of our plane being struck by lightning still hovered at roughly half of one percent, those tiny odds were still far greater than the chance of encountering an accident on any other normal flight, which had previously been enough to scare me into near total incapacitation. The increased threat of death did not send me into panic, instead focusing my thoughts on my goals and future. In that situation, I clung tightly to the two very important people sitting next me as I reminisced about those I would leave at home and imagined the new friends and acquaintances I might never meet.
I realized then that fear was really just noise, a mere distraction drawing me away from the issues of real importance in my life. It was tunnel vision, corrupting my mentality, consuming me totally in its overwhelmingly irrational, one-dimensional state. It was an addiction and a vice, and I had lived with it for far too long. Because of it, I had grown used to enduring flights like I did the nightmares I contrived; they seemed to never end.
Thanks to my newfound clarity, the remaining hours of that tense flight slipped away without dread, and I never again obsessed over our odds even as we touched down. Instead, more important things replaced those figures and fantasies, such as the duties and goals I aspired to accomplish during my life. Rather than focusing on fear, I resolved to direct my energies and thoughts at all that I have left to accomplish. While I have no control over possibly perishing in a freak airplane accident, I do have the ability to improve my chance of attaining my dreams; thus, I intend to spend my life constantly looking forward, rather than worrying about how high I rise or how far I may fall.
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