"I took a tranquilizer," said Chapman, who had been visiting her daughter in Oceana.
Bill and Adeline Fast were traveling home to Houston after a two-week stay in Charleston visiting family. Bill booked the flights and said he wouldn't have cared if they had flown today. Adeline didn't feel that way.
"I didn't ask him not to book the 11th, but I thought by now he would understand me enough to know," she said of her husband of 33 years. "We're all thinking about what happened last year, and we'll be happy to be home on the 11th."
It is this personal element that lies at the root of the downturn in air travel, said Dr. Thomas Ellis, professor of psychology at Marshall University.
"The possibility that we might become the victim of an air disaster was something, for the most part, that folks didn't really think about that much," Ellis said. "It was something that happened to somebody else far away, and we could sort of brush it off. [Sept. 11] was impossible to brush off. It was right there on the TV for hours and hours.
"There's a phenomenon that occurs that causes us to overestimate the probability that something might happen to us. For example, if my neighbor's house burns down, then I'm going to revise my estimate of the probability that it's going to happen to me, even though the probability hasn't changed."
At West Virginia University, Dr. Joseph Scotti, professor of clinical psychology, echoed the sentiments of his counterpart. He called it the "what if" factor, as in: "What if someone got through security?"
Scotti knows how people feel. He, too, has a fear of flying.
"I never liked it, but have always managed to do it," he said. "I'm incredibly reluctant now, but it hasn't stopped me. Those with a full-blown phobia are just not going to go."
Avoidance maintains fearful beliefs, Ellis said. Conquering any fear is a slow process that can't be reasoned away with statistics.
"A lot of people have found other ways to get around [the country]," he said. "This depiction of an airplane had never crossed our minds — an airplane as a weapon."
To contact staff writer Robert J. Byers, use e-mail or call 348-1236.