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Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

Real fear gripped me once, and all my family was with me. I remember the event vividly even though it must have been about 20 years ago. We were flying to Scotland for our annual visit — me, my husband and four children. We left from Dulles Airport taking a prop plane to Newark where we would board our flight to Edinburgh.

The weather was rainy when we boarded the plane, but we took off just fine. As our flight continued, thunderstorms engulfed the aircraft, bouncing it around badly. Worse, it seemed like the lightning was hitting the plane. We were actually holding hands and praying since we were really worried that we weren’t going to survive the flight. My poor kids were so scared, my youngest one crying, and while I had more experience flying, I knew this was pretty rough.

Thankfully we did survive, but it was a group of very thankful passengers who walked on shaking legs off that plane!

I have flown so many times and have had few real scares, but one other time, returning from Florida, we attempted to land when tornadoes were active in our area. We came in bumping around for the landing, when at the last minute the pilot aborted this landing. I have never experienced anything like that in my life. It was also a hand-holding experience, especially when he said he was going to try again. He was successful, but had a very scared group of people on his flight. I did learn that an airplane can do that — and it did give more faith in both an airplane’s and a pilot’s capabilities.

Since I’m on the subject of landings, the first time I visited Washington D.C. when I was a teenager, I had no idea that the runway at Reagan-National Airport begins at the edge of the Potomac River. Airplanes follow the river, then at the last minute touch down on the runway (one of them anyway). So until the wheels hit the tarmac, you feel sure you’re going to end up in the drink. Now, it’s just fun, and one of the best views of the city you can have.