Thomas Wictor

My worst nightmare come true

My worst nightmare come true

For most of my life I had nightmares of being in an airliner crash. These dreams stopped about ten years ago, even though I’m still terrified of flying. Paris Match has published a description of a cellphone video taken by a passenger on Germanwings Flight 9525, which the copilot deliberately crashed in the mountains near near Digne-les-Bains, France, on March 24, 2015.


The copilot had said to his former girlfriend that he wanted to commit some kind of atrocity so that he would be remembered. Therefore I won’t mention his name. Instead, I’ll call him “the mass murderer.”

This incident resonates with me because not only am I terrified of airliner crashes, I suffer from depression—just as the mass murderer did. The main psychiatric conditions associated with violence are anxiety disorders, dysthymia [chronic depression], major depression, bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol and have any of those disorders are more likely to be violent than those who have only the mental conditions.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who commit violent acts due to their mental state. Some argue that society “stigmatizes” the mentally ill. Well, the mass murderer told Germanwings about his depression, and they gave him a job flying an airliner anyway. How did not stigmatizing him work out for the 149 people he murdered?

Where’s the morality and societal good in making the dangerously ill responsible for the lives of others?

Speaking as someone who has depression, post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features (PTSD-SP), and anxiety, I say that when it comes to certain fields, the mentally ill should be “stigmatized” by being excluded. Are you going to hire a blind man as an airliner pilot? What if he always wanted to fly? Isn’t barring him from flying your airliner a form of discrimination?

Yes, it is. What you say to the blind man is, “I’m sorry, but we’re under no obligation to risk others’ lives just to make you feel good about yourself. You’re not qualified to fly the airliner. Goodbye.”

I absolutely hate having depression, PTSD-SP, and anxiety, but guess what? It’s nobody’s problem but mine. What I do is take medication and avoid certain situations. I manage my illnesses because I don’t glory in them, I don’t feel sorry for myself, and it’s my civic duty to not inflict my disabilities on others.

Paris Match says that the passengers and crew of Flight 9525 experienced about eight solid minutes of unspeakable terror.

The scene was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them. One can hear cries of “My God” in several languages. Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing.

The pilot tried to break down the door with an oxygen tank or fire extinguisher and then a crowbar. Passengers helped him. People ran up and down the aisle, screaming.

Tell me which is worse, stigmatizing the mentally ill or letting them make 149 people suffer in agony before they get ripped to shreds? When an aircraft plows into the ground, you die of blunt-force trauma and dismemberment.

My book Hallucinabulia: The Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian has a chapter devoted in part to my airplane-crash nightmares.

Tim and I once flew over the North Pole in a TWA Boeing 747. The turbulence was the worst we’d ever experienced. We could see through the windows that the port engine pods and wingtip all bounced and flapped at different rates, as if the aircraft were made of rubber. The cabin shook violently, dropped, pitched, and buffeted for hours. I’ve never been in an airliner that was knocked sideways hard enough to wrench my lower back. Six miles below was a desolate expanse bestrewn with crumpled-looking mountains, everything dazzlingly, antiseptically white. In the airport gift shop, Tim had picked up a copy of Crisis in the Skies, by Joseph Laurence Marx, a book about…airliner crashes. Yes, they sold a book about airliner crashes in the airport gift shop. Big deal. What matters is that airline passengers bought it.

Chugging double Screwdrivers and Bloody Marys, Tim described the book’s best crashes to me as the ship bucked and jolted.

“Oh my God, listen to this! The plane went straight into the ground, and all the passengers ended up crammed into the nose, so it was just this tube full of cooked meat! They couldn’t even separate the bodies, so they just buried the whole thing!

Since I was still too young to drink, I’m astounded that I survived that flight. While my brother laughed and whooped, I consoled myself with the fact that when the jet disintegrated in midair, I’d immediately lose consciousness from lack of oxygen. If the worst happened and the wing or tail tore off, we’d be wide-awake as we rode the bastard down to the ice, screaming all the way. Everyone except for Tim, that is. He’d keep on reading, drinking, and laughing until his molecules were dispersed across the glaciers. I know that for a fact.

July 18, 2023

The jumbo jet careened all over the sky. It banked so violently that people who didn’t have their seatbelts on fell across the width of the fuselage and piled up against the windows on the opposite side of the aircraft. Then, when the jet banked violently in the opposite direction, these people fell back to the other side of the fuselage. They screamed in rising and falling waves, like roller coaster riders.

Since I knew we were all going to die anyway, I decided I might as well try and get to the cockpit and land the airliner myself. I unbuckled my seatbelt and staggered up one of the two aisles, dodging flying bodies and luggage falling out of the overhead bins.

The jet began porpoising, climbing and diving, the engines roaring deafeningly. When it dove, I leaped forward and traveled twenty feet at a time, as though I were on the moon. During the climbs, my weight tripled, and I groaned under my own crushing mass.

I finally made it to the cockpit and opened the door. The pilot was a teenager wearing a tank top and cutoffs. He steered the jet with his bare feet.

What the f*ck are you doing?” I roared at him.

He tilted back his head and looked at me over his right shoulder. His blond beard and mustache were like wisps of cotton.

“Settle down, man,” he said. “We’re cool. Just…chillin’ here.”

The cockpit was full of pot smoke. When I lunged for the yoke, the pilot pushed it forward as hard as he could, laughing at me. I smashed into the ceiling and stuck there, flattened out and spreadeagled, completely helpless as we headed for the earth. The airspeed indicator read 980 miles per hour. I heard the wings come off with a thunderous, rending, metallic waboom, and then there was silence, since all the engines had gone with them. Through the windshield, I saw the ground spinning like a giant roulette wheel.

“Uh-oh,” the pilot said. “I think I f*cked up.” He giggled nervously and gave me an embarrassed little wince, like, “Oopsie!”

In 1996 I dated a woman who was bipolar. She didn’t tell me she was bipolar until we were involved. She’s the cruelest, most destructive person I’ve ever known. While doing everything in her power to inflict pain, she whined incessantly about how society stigmatizes the mentally ill.

Well, nobody ever stigmatized her in her life. She got carried around on silk cushions by idiotic West Side Californians who kissed her butt for being a sanctified victim. I, on the other hand, have been thoroughly stigmatized. The online magazine BagNews and the journalist Ali Gharib presented me as a lunatic in order to discredit my debunking of Pallywood lies. And the BagNews writer—Michael Shaw—is a clinical psychologist. He’s no layman, so he knows that I’m not insane. It’s just that his politics make him amoral.

I wasn’t hurt by Michal Shaw and Ali Gharib. Do you think I want anything to do with people like that? Once a week I get a message from someone reminding me that I’m crazy, as proven by Michael Shaw and Ali Gharib.

Yes, yes, yes. Just explain to me how the steel container on the breakwater stopped burning in less than a second.



Not burning.


The mentally ill must accept that certain doors are forever closed to them. So what? Would you rather be an American with depression or a Syrian trying to survive Bashar al-Assad, the al-Nursra Front, and the Islamic State?

Compared to many people on earth, I have no problems.