White-Knuckler


From the moment I make an airline travel reservation (as I did yesterday), I start to imagine what terrible tragedy will take place while I’m on that flight.

Will we crash?

Have terrible turbulence?

An explosion?

Plunge to our deaths?

I am not even kidding, I have all of these thoughts.

I hate flying.  Hate it.  However, it has never stopped me from going somewhere, but I white-knuckle it the whole way.

I hate that.

Take-off for me is the worst.  I won’t even look out the window.  The thought of a giant hunk of metal hurling through the air is more than I like to think about.

When I hear a strange noise, I look at the flight attendants to see if they appear alarmed. 

I really want to enjoy my flight and not think of my impending, fiery death.  It sucks.

What do you do to relax on a flight, maybe it will help me.

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88 Comments

  1. Betty 1

    I say a prayer: Heavenly Father protect all who are aboard this flight,let it a safe and uneventful flight. Amen. Then I sit back & read a gentle story, the Bible,or something I’ve been wanting to read for a while.

    Reply
  2. I always make lists for my Hubby when I fly somewhere without him. I also tell him who to give precious things to when I crash, and when I embark on a flight I prepare for death .That means I spend a bit of my time on the plane in prayer, since I will probably crash and die. When I am not ALSO checking the flight attendants for their reactions I now also bring a portable CD player and listen to music and books on tape. I’m nuts, I know, but hey…like you, I still fly. So I guess you’re nuts too.

    But really, think about it. A HUGE chunk of metal soaring through the air? Maybe we’re all a little nuts. Happy flying !

    Reply
  3. HoneyB 3

    I am scheduled to fly out right after Christmas. I am one that has never been afraid of getting on a plane. It could be I am basically fearless? I’m not sure. But I am the exact opposite and I love the take off the best! I wish I could help!

    Reply
  4. Ruth 4

    I am also not scared… i never flew until i was 14 so i imagined it to be terribly exciting!I now spend as much of a flight looking out the window as i can, and I love take off!
    I’ve heard that ‘rescue remedy’ is great for calming nerves in situations lie this, and if yur religious maybe a St. Christophers charm would be reassuring (patron saint of travellers).

    Reply
  5. I don’t pray, so that doesn’t offer me any solace.

    I’m a fan of the chemical kind of solace – wine and Xanax.

    Reply
  6. Harry 6

    The first time I flew to the USA from England in 1969, I had terrible nightmares beforehand about being seated in the front of economy class and something going wrong with the plane, being diverted to Reykjavik instead of New York.

    Of course, I knew this was just silly. When I boarded the plane and was put in the seat I had dreamed of………………..!

    Fortunately, New York did turn out to be the next stop.

    Reply
  7. Alan 7

    I feel like that every time I fly. Unfortunately, I’m the pilot!

    Just kidding!

    Reply
  8. Becky 8

    I’ve only flown once and I loved it.
    Other than Xanax, I don’t think there is a way to relax on flight.

    Reply
  9. Laura 9

    I take pictures… OUT the window and totally enjoy the facinating views, to see things from a birds eye view is amazing and while doing that I dont have time to worry… Have a wonderful flight! take pictures :)

    Reply
  10. melissa 10

    I get really nervous when I fly. My husband is even worse. He gets nervous for me and if I have the kids we are all basket cases. The last time I flew I said it won’t happen (being a basket case) and I didn’t let it. I became the fixer. I made a list of stuff to do and kept very busy and even on the plan I organized and reorganized things to keep busy. We flew Jet Blue and they have TVs and my kids watched John and Kate + 8 at least 8 times. Bring headphones. Do not drink anything other than water. Hope you have a nice flight.
    Now for the nosy part. Where are you going? Who are you going with? And why?

    Reply
  11. Laura 11

    You are my sister.
    She feels this way too which is weird since she is my relative and we were raised in the same house etc.
    I love flying.
    I love that I am going somewhere.
    I love that I “can” fly.
    I don’t think about the other stuff.
    Read.
    Have wine.
    Play cards.
    All the generic stuff works.

    Reply
  12. Wait, I missed something, are you coming here?!
    I just had an anxiety attack yesterday when I thought about how I will be flying back to the states…in two years. The trip is inevitable, I can’t very well swim home. I never had anxieties about flying before, don’t know where this came from.
    I’m impressed that you push forward even through things that cause you to fear!
    So, you are coming here, right?

    Reply
  13. Good Wednesday morning to you, Cathy.

    I do not look out the window, I take a 10 mg. valium 10 minutes before I get on baotd the plane – and sleep through it all, too relaxed to worry like I otherwise would.

    (I always think the plane is going to crash too…)

    Reply
  14. y 14

    Two words. Sleeping tablets!

    Reply
  15. Philly 15

    Ok, here’s a sick thought. When alone or with hub, of course I worry. Worry about my kids, what will they do, how will they go on. However when flying with the whole family I am more relaxed. I figure if the plane goes down , we all go. No need to worry.
    Told you,,,,sick.

    Reply
  16. I usually drink loads of cocktails when flying.

    Reply
  17. Cassie 17

    Xanax and a couple of gin and tonics. It’s all you need baby!

    Reply
  18. Holli 18

    Xanax!It is the only way I can fly and not be carted away by homeland security as a suspected crazy person. Sad, but true.

    Reply
  19. I’m not a nervous flyer, so I don’t have any ideas for you…but I do know a woman who doesn’t like to fly and depends on medication of some kind to get through the flights. In fact, she once told me a story of how she had to fly from MA to CA and that she took whatever meds her doctor gave her before the flight. It was delayed but she didn’t care. She fell asleep in the terminal waiting! Once boarding began she woke up, got on the plane, had a drink then fell back to sleep. She said when she woke up she was in California. She said it was the best flight she’d ever taken. 😉

    Reply
  20. Fran 20

    I pray. I pray before take off, during take off and again before landing.

    Fran

    Reply
  21. I hate flying. It’s a major pain in the butt. I would rather drive 20+ hours than fly. It took us 9 hours to get to California in August in spite of flying. That’s not counting our drive to the airport and first wait. I would much rather have just added a few more hours on in driving. Plus, my ears are extremely sensitive and sometimes the air pressure leaves me in intense pain for the ascent and descent.

    Let’s not even talk about my overactive imagination. I secretly wish dh and I could be on separate flights just to, you know, split the odds. I really try to rein in that imagination and negative thinking and trust God though. I know we could just as easily (or maybe more easily) have a car accident, but I feel safer being more in control. Yeah, I have *serious* control issues. I pray like mad most of the flight. And I avoid flying whenever possible.

    Reply
  22. Barbie with a T 22

    I have not flown all that much, maybe once a year or so for many years, but I never gave it a second thought, until now. I do not like flying either, but not for the same reasons that you hate to fly. I just think it is such a big hassle to park your car, all the walking you have to do in the airports, the long lines, breathing the same air as all the other passengers, etc. I think it is more of a health hazard than anything else. But as I get older, I have cut back on flying for many other reasons and I can tell you that the best way to handle the flight for you is to drink! Alcohol and plenty of it! Your flight will be much easier.

    Reply
  23. The last time we flew to Florida, I downloaded the entire score to Les Miserables onto my ipod and took it from start to finish. And needless to say, I always have a book or three:)

    Reply
  24. I actually was a flight attendant right out of college. I love flying; it doesn’t scare me. Now I-95 during rush hour? That scares the crap out of me.

    Reply
  25. I’m not a nervous flyer–I guess I have a “whatever will be, will be ” attitude about it.

    Just distract yourself as much as you can–reading, movie-watching…blog writing!!

    Reply
  26. Nancy 26

    I thought I was the only one who looks over at the flight attendants when I hear a strange noise!

    I drink wine. I do the breathing I learned in Lamaze classes. I think about the thousands of business people who fly all the time without issue. I pray.

    Hope that helps!

    Reply
  27. bethieofva 27

    I understand completely. I always think the worse. I guess just try to breathe and take something to occupy yourself, a good book or magazine perhaps. Enjoy yourself, like I do when I visit your blog.

    Reply
  28. Flash Stitcher 28

    I plug in with my Nano and listen to music. Then when the lovely attendants ask what I want for to drink, if it is morning, a bloody mary does fine and in the evening, vodka on the rocks is better!!

    Just look for the exits and hook up. You will be fine and have a great flight.

    Reply
  29. Marlene 29

    In my experience, I find a healthy amount of both wine and Xanax take away any amount of fear I may have about flying or anything else for that matter.

    This is coming from someone who not only hates to fly but has anxiety attacks while driving.

    I am sure you will be fine, but a little nummy and a couple of glasses of nice vino will make it even better!!!!

    Marlene

    Reply
  30. People magazine.

    Or something equally as engrossing and fluffy.

    Reply
  31. Louise 31

    Depending on the mood, you can take either of these routes …
    Be reasonable. Replay all of those science lessons on lift, air pressure, and the like. Understand that flying in this plane is perfectly reasonable thing to do.

    Divert your attention. Personally, I like playing game where you pick a few people sitting near each other and make up crazy back stories about how they met.

    Reply
  32. When I was growing up, the travel rule was, “If you have to fly to get there, you can’t afford to go.” When I was 14, I went to Italy and flew for the first time. I didn’t fly again until I was almost 28. I fly a lot more now because my husband and I have done some travel for pleasure and he has family in other parts of the country, plus I do semi-frequent business trips. But still flying feels like a novelty to me. Not having traveled to too many places in my lifetime means every place I go is someplace fresh and new and a new and different experience. I still get excited when I fly.

    Do you know what really bothers me abotu flying? I never worry about crashing. I just hate sitting in one place for hours on end. Some people find it relaxing, but I’m restless. I need more stimulation. Since I can’t ever afford to fly first class, I don’t even have the luxury of sleeping or relaxing due to uncomfortable airline seats (at least I’m short, so legroom is no issue). Sitting for hours in cramped quarters is torture for me.

    But I always find the destination worth the journey. That’s the best way to think about it.

    Reply
  33. marcy 33

    READ!!! Books can take you ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE other than that particular plane!
    /hugs to you on your trip:)

    Reply
  34. Trisha 34

    I love to fly so I don’t have any helpful hints – sorry! I do think that reading during the whole experience might help take your mind off of things. Also, remember that statistically, flying is safer than driving a car.

    Does that help any?

    Reply
  35. They say it is safer to fly than to drive a car…

    and personally I like to, um…medicate myself when flying. Ambien seems to do the trick…

    Reply
  36. ELRA 36

    Cathy,
    I hate flying too, but I am not as bad as you are. Can you imagine, if you have to fly for more then 24 hours non stop? That’s us, since most of our family are overseas (Bali- Israel -Holland- south Africa) Flying to these country is long and tiring, though not so much if you go to Holland).

    Reply
  37. Teri 37

    Go to the doctor and get a zanax or valium for sure. Really. Lots of people do, not unheard of don’t cha know!

    When moving to San Francisco 4 months ago, I couldn’t even cross the Golden Gate Bridge without my husband wanting to medicate me!!! I just finally drove it for the first time this last Monday myself (okay, it was on a field trip with a bunch of jr. high kids! yeah, we didn’t tell them!) but I did it and no I didn’t medicate… didn’t think that would be such a great idea!

    Medicate or drink.

    Reply
  38. Sandie 38

    What do I do on a flight to relax, or at least make the thought of plunging 30,000 feet to my death more palatable?

    I order a drink—a nice, plastic glass full of wine, or a Bloody Mary, if they have vodka and tomato juice on board.

    Reply
  39. Howdy 39

    I love to fly… and the statistics are in my favor.
    So my only advice to help make it easier for you is this:

    Help the pilot out during take off… lift your feet up off the floor… it helps to reduce the drag!

    Reply
  40. Prayer is calming for me and I like to read. I try to focus on all the fun things to do when I get to where I am going! But flying with three kids is not fun so that keeps my mind off bad things. It would be nice if the oxygen thingies fell down so my kids would stop fighting and shut up!

    Reply
  41. vanessa 41

    I’ve developed similar fears over time…

    A good book and some tasty treats help distract me. Sometimes I watch the TV or sleep if possible.

    I also see the flight attendants and think about how they do this several times a day. And how many planes fly safely… day in and day out.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to trying medication or wine.

    Reply
  42. I’m not freaked out to fly, but I do get a little nervous at take off and landing. I do a little self meditation. I close my eyes and imagine myself VERY small going through my body to manually relax every muscle and slow my heart beat down. It works great for me, but it did take a few times to allow myself to relax when I first started.

    Reply
  43. Oh my Lord I think we’re related. I go through those scenarios every time I fly. I nearly have a stroke when the plane hits turbulence.

    Drink. It’s the only solution.

    Reply
  44. Alisa 44

    I’m sorry, I’m really no help. I’m not scared of the actual flying, I just go into direct worry mode.
    I think it’s all part and parcel of being a mom.
    I’ve heard a few stiff drinks help some. I know it would help me, I’d just pass out and not wake until the next morning.
    Here’s to your safe travels.

    Reply
  45. I am SCARED TO DEATH OF FLYING. Therefore, I believe in heavily medicating myself with Xanax. Oh, sister, does it ever take the edge off. Then I’m able to read or enjoy whatever movie is playing. Years ago, when Gameboys were all the rage, my husband bought me one to keep me occupied while we flew from Memphis to Hawaii. Totally worked. Of course, it took two days for my hand to uncramp, but…..

    Good luck.

    Reply
  46. I don’t have a problem with flying but my dad does. His solution: drink copious amounts of liquor :)

    Reply
  47. Cary 47

    Lots and lots of tequila!!! If it’s a morning flight, tequila sunrises are nice, otherwise, shots with a beer, but not too much beer, or you’ll find yourself using the bathroom during takeoff… no bueno! I also take earplugs for the takeoff so that I don’t have to hear the loud noises, then put my Ipod on as soon as they allow. Sit in front for two reasons: 1. You don’t have to watch the wing bounce around and 2. You can watch to see if all is calm up front (no panicked pilots or flight attendants). Good luck!

    Reply
  48. Kyddryn 48

    I don’t know if I’d be much help – I’ve always enjoyed flying and never much worried about plunging to my doom. I guess it’s because I believe that when it’s my time, it’s my time, and if it isn’t my turn to die the plane will do just fine.

    Mostly, I read, listen to music, or sleep on a flight. My grandmother had a terror of flying, and only did so because it was the fastest way to get to France (her home country). he always medicated herself heavily with valium and scotch.

    I do hope you find a way to enjoy flying…at least, as much as one can since the TSA and Homeland Security made flying such a boor.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

    Reply
  49. Hilarious. Flying is rather strange and unbeliveable if you think about it. I mean, how does something SO heavy stay in the air? Good luck!!

    Reply
  50. Biz 50

    Ha! That could have been written by me! My husband used to travel for business, so he’s an old pro. My once a year flight still makes me nervous – and I look to the flight attendance for reassurance that all is well!

    No handy suggests, just I empathize with you!

    Reply
  51. Pam 51

    I am exactly the same. I am terrified to fly. Take offs and landings are the worst for me. Don’t get me started about turbulence.

    Reply
  52. Mike 52

    I’m not quite that way. I get stressed about having to deal with all the nonsense in the airport and the inevitable discomfort, lack of room for my carry ons, delays, and other such things once on the plane. Boo travel!

    Reply
  53. Here’s what I do: 2 day before: create soothing playlists for my iPod. 1 day before: buy a selection of gossip/chick magazines. During: pray during take-off. Close my eyes and imagine I’m in large truck on a pot-hole filled freeway during turbulence. Hard to do for 5 hours, but it works during hte really bad times. After: Say, that wasn’t so bad. : – )

    Reply
  54. Katrina 54

    You sound just like my mom! She hates flying, too. But she will do it to get places. I am a little bit that way. I act like flying doesn’t bother me, but it’s really not my favorite thing to do and I am always conscience of what “could” happen. I just read magazines. The only time I ever buy magazines like People and Us, etc. are when I’m flying. Mindless reading. I love looking at magazines with yummy recipes, too. In fact, heading to NYC tomorrow. Can’t wait.

    Reply
  55. Amber 55

    1/2 a Xanax, an ipod full of Enya, and a prayer. Actually the first 2 were for my sister, but it is not a bad idea for anyone. Just don’t fly Areo Mexico okay.

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  56. Kirstin 56

    Xanax and dramamine (not the non-drowsy stuff either).

    Reply
  57. DRINK WINE…. Does the trick everytime

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  58. Aubrey 58

    Sorry! I can’t help you with this one as I am one to hang on to my husband’s arm until the circulation is cut off. Usually, my eyes are closed the whole way too. LOL

    Reply
  59. pam 59

    I can’t help you either. Flying is the worst thing ever!

    Reply
  60. Bunny 60

    I don’t fly period! I’m sorry I’m no help at all!

    Reply
  61. Lo 61

    Wish I could be more helpful… I actually look forward to the take-off when I fly. There is something exhilerating there.

    That said, I get a heachache whenever I fly, so ultimately I feel like crap by the time I reach my destination. Fair trade??

    Reply
  62. tipper 62

    Sounds like you need to take a pill-a strong one!

    Reply
  63. I whine, then wuffle, then poke at the lights above me. Repeat until someone drugs you or hands you some pie.

    Where are you going?

    Reply
  64. I wish I could help you, but I LOVE flying. I love landing, and take-offs. I don’t particularly like turbulence, but I don’t get too nervous about it.

    Good luck!!

    Reply
  65. Kate 65

    One word.

    XANAX

    Reply
  66. CJ :) 66

    I generally take benzos – not because I’m afraid of crashing but because I’m horribly claustrophobic.

    Reply
  67. dawn 67

    I don’t think others will like my answer but take a valium. It will chill your nerves, make you sooooooo relaxed.

    Reply
  68. When I used to fly to a meeting every other month I always took a book and read.

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  69. Ruthanne (in Seattle) 69

    wow – I understand this – I used to fly no problem, just fun and anticipation. Now I just acknowledge my nervousness, have a glass of wine, and try to do anything that helps me not to think about things, talking to a companion (not a stranger), reading, knitting, sleeping, anything. My goal is to just get there and to be able to keep flying in the future. All the Best Cathy.

    Reply
  70. jordan 70

    this may seem silly, but it is very VERY rare that anyone survives a plane crash. so i find that when i fly, like with most things in life, it is totally out of my control. no sense in worrying about something i have absolutely no control over. and yes, i am sure alcohol would help, but it gives me a headache with the elevation change. also, yoga breathing, focus on your breath, and put a big black X over whatever you are concerned about, and imagine getting there safely. help at all? love your blog!

    Reply
  71. Katie 71

    I’m sorry. I always have those thoughts too. I usually just spend the trip making peace that either a) my whole family will die with me so it’s ok, or b) my parents will take good care of my kids. So I am really no help to you at all.

    Reply
  72. medstudentwife 72

    *lol* Howdy – I do the opposite.. I do the Flinstone “break” when we land.

    Cathy – I have no advice. Guess we all have to work with what we are comfortable with.

    Keep busy with reading, the movie or sleep.

    Me – I waffle with my fears & non-fears each time I fly and I fly minimally 3 times a year.

    But one piece of advice is good ( helps me) – don’t look out the windows during take-off and landing. If you have a wing seat – close your blinds too.

    Reply
  73. I too have developed quite an aversion to flying. I can’t calm my terrible thoughts either. =(

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  74. sharon 74

    I plug in my Ipod and enjoy some blissful music / reading time. Find some songs that remind you of happy times, places, trips, etc.

    Reply
  75. Liz C. 75

    I’m completely with you on this one. I am the same way on airlines that I am on an amusement park ride like, say The Hammer….. Please God, Don’t Let Me Die Now, lol. Apparently, it’s working because I’m not dead yet.

    Reply
  76. sassy 76

    I HATE flying, therefore i have`nt for several years.

    What works for me is 3 bloody marys at the bar before take off and dramamine, but after reading comments, IF i ever fly again, i am going the bloody mary and zanex way.

    I`m worrying for you now.

    Reply
  77. Familia 77

    Have a drink, dear! And turn on your IPod to your favorite playlist. And say the Rosary.

    Reply
  78. Suzette 78

    I’m really not a white-knuckler, but I figure a little insurance doesn’t hurt. I always say a prayer as we begin to taxi to the runway. And I ALWAYS include special requests to protect the children. I don’t know why. Just the mom in me, I guess. I’m not deeply religious, but at this point, I always revert to my faith. And, then I build my “nest” so I can go to sleep as soon as I can recline a little.

    My daughter, on the other hand, insists on staying awake and fully alert so that she can help “fly” the plane. Her father’s that way, too. LOL

    Reply
  79. I drink. I bring a great book I’ve been dying to read. I also turn my ipod on, even during take off. Good luck.

    Reply
  80. Cecil 80

    I love flying. Actually one of my goals is one day to learn how to fly a small plane. I know..I know. One can hope.

    However, my husband..HATES HATES flying! He is much better now but it was pretty bad before.

    Usually he’d listen to his ipod on podcast of things he likes – to distract himself. Or, he’d just chit chat with me or random people. Hee..Seriously, not only he does not like flying, he can’t sleep too. So, in 22 hours flight to Indonesia, he did not even sleep for a bit.

    I, I read..a whole lot. And I do say a quick prayer.

    Reply
  81. Lori 81

    I’m usually happy on airplanes because that means I’m going off on vacation (we don’t have much choice in Hawaii but to fly). I try to get on the red eye and sleep most of the time to make the time go by faster.

    Reply
  82. Mrs. L 82

    I’m the same way, HATE flying. When I had to fly to Japan many years ago I read up on the subject (12 hours on a plane? Am I insane?). They said to get in a “pattern” so you are around comfortable things. I take the same online bag with me on every flight. Doesn’t matter if it’s a half hour flight or ten hour flight I always have the same things in the bag. A few books, a bunch of magazines, a bottle of water, several bags of chips, a bag of gum etc. Having water and something to munch on gives me something to do, reach for etc, if I’m nervous (which is all the time). I start to read immediately when I get on the plane (doing crossword puzzles helps too). They say to keep your brain active on something else (same concept with eating…changes your focus). Wear comfortable (i.e. not confining) clothes, shoes that are easy to slip on and off (not for security, but if you have a panic attack or something similar).
    Impress upon those flying with you that you do not care about statistics and to not talk to you about them. Do NOT tell me that there are more car accidents than plane crashes. Do NOT tell me that there are only so many planes that crash every year. I’m afraid of flying….all I hear is “Blah Blah Blah, Crash, Blah Blah Blah, Crash”. So just keep your mouth shut and put extra padding on your thigh because at the first sign of turbulence, my nails will be digging into it!

    Reply
  83. MsMVNJ 83

    Got behind on my blogs! Ativan, works every time…..

    I wish I could help, I travel so much for work that it’s a non issue for me. I’m actually happy for the time that I’m disconnected.

    Reply
  84. Alanna 84

    I’ve never really been afraid, simply because I have been flying since I was a little kid. However, after watching the first season of Lost, I have to admit I was awfully anxious about it for a while. I just tried to breathe deep, and not think about it. And not look out the window until we are all the way up!

    Reply
  85. Tallie 85

    I was a white knuckle flier until my first airplane trip with my then boyfriend now husband Aaron. We had Bloody Mary’s before and Screwdrivers during the flight. As we were playing travel Scrabble we hit some really bad turbulence that knocked our game to the floor. I was amazingly unperturbed. I looked at Aaron and said “we’re experiencing some pretty heavy turbulence, why am I not concerned?” his reply “it’s because you’re drunk babe” oh… =)

    Reply
  86. KatieBug 86

    Get some herbal sleeping tablets and try to spend the flight asleep, that’s what I always do! (Or I have a few drinks… Same effect really.)

    Reply
  87. Philly 87

    I do not fly much but do you want to know what my sick mind thought of last time I flew? I was relieved because my whole family was with me and I didn’t have to worry about what would happened to them if the plane went down. We would all go down together, face it our worst fear is leaving our childen.
    sick, i know.

    Reply
  88. I’m not afraid of flying. I just hate being cooped up in a small seat for hours. I get restless and bored.

    To alleviate that I do two things:

    1. I read something mindless. Some good piece of chick lit keeps my mind occupied and distracted enough for my body to relax. If the book is complex and requires too much brain power, or is dull, then I actually have more trouble relaxing.

    2. I focus on the destination. Flying is a necessary evil. I remember why I’m on the plane.

    Reply

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