“I’m a pilot” – How many times have I said this sentence with joy. Today it has to be said: “I was a pilot, unfortunately, I am ill-treated by flying.”
Although I have not been sitting in a cockpit for five years now, let alone flying in an airplane, I still hurt my heart. Apart from this, I still have strong, health problems.
Flying was my big dream, ever since I can think. As a child, I always dreamed of being able to fly. Actually, I never expected this dream to ever be a reality, but I managed it.
I will never forget the many moments of perfect happiness, high above the clouds, the earth quite small. Even the earth curvature I have been allowed to see.
Eleven years and a week is my first flight now, in a small propeller engine over the Chiemsee in Bavaria, five years and seven months my last, in a business jet to 15 kilometers from Ibiza home.
The Odyssey begins
For three years I flew professionally , until suddenly I was no longer well. In September 2011, I then pulled the emergency brake and stopped – until I’m better.
So I thought then. For nothing in the world, I had voluntarily given up my dream. But it was different.
Headache , weakness in concentration, nausea, insomnia and exhaustion, dyspnoea and pain in the muscles and nerves. It started, so I did not feel fit enough to take responsibility in the cockpit.
“That’s certainly the stress, burnout and so,” was the opinion of some doctors.”Psychosomatic,” according to the judgment of others. But I felt that it was nothing psychic.
That is why these statements have hurt me very much; They ruled me right. But despite the break and rest, my health went downhill. But that did not bother any of the doctors.
How the air in airplanes slowly made me sick
Until two years later I suddenly had all symptoms of acute leukemia, almost overnight. I do not know at all how many specialists I’ve been – no one has found anything.
Until last year, after five years of hell, I got the advice from a former colleague to go to the University Hospital of Göttingen. There, people are examined in a special ambulance, poisoned by the air in airplanes. I belong to it.
Currently, well over 400 people are in treatment. The Wartelists, however, are long, because for reasons of capacity, no new cases can be assumed since January.
Even pilots and flight attendants know nothing about the danger they are exposed to every day. “Aerotoxic syndrome” – this form of the disease is called by poisoning with organophosphates and other substances.
Some of these substances are actually forbidden in enclosed spaces. The aviation industry and the airlines are trying hard to kill this dark side of the aviation industry. It is not uncommon to pay tribute to the person concerned.
And anyone who can not be bought is quickly defamed as a conspiracy theorist. Or one publishes ominous cabin air studies, carried out by a “top specialist”, who does not have a single qualification, however, to determine something like this.
Above the clouds there should be enough air
Few people think about where the air comes from, which they inhale in the airplane. Just above the clouds there should be enough of that. However, it is up there with minus 40 degrees anything but pleasant.
As a quick and easy solution, many aircraft manufacturers (except for the “Dreamliner”, the Boeing 787) are a trick: they tapped the pre-heated air from the engines.
In this air, however, residues of kerosene, de-icing agents, special lubricants, and so on are found, which is not to be found in man’s lungs. Sometimes more of it, sometimes less.
A single flight does not necessarily harm a passenger. But there are also so-called “fume events”, in which a particularly high and also mostly visible or smellable dose is in the air. In fact, a single flight can be sufficient to cause severe and permanent damage.
On one of a total of 1000 flights , such fume events actually take place.
Statistically this would be with the German Airlines once every day. And almost every frequent flyer knows it, this musty, indefinable smell of cheese feet or wet dog.
Or the feeling of sudden discomfort, headache or scratching in the throat after or during a flight. The feeling of fatigue or dizziness. The symptoms are different.
There are over 100 different symptoms
The toxins mainly affect the human nervous system. So it was with me. Since, however, almost everything in our body is controlled by nerves or nerve fibers, one can only guess the extent.
The incision into life, however, is massive. For most of those affected, everyday life is no longer manageable. Eating out is hardly possible, because many artificial additives would immediately knock me out.
A regulated professional life? Unthinkable.
Air travel? If at all, only with a respiratory mask, because any further poisoning could have the most severe consequences.
And honestly? At 31, I feel damned too young for such a serious illness.
For over five years, I suffer from chronic diarrhea, hypersensitivity to almost all chemical substances, severe migraine attacks, pain and numbness in the arms and legs, cardiac arrhythmias, exhaustion, sleep problems, disturbances of vision, disturbances of concentration, dyspepsia, dizziness, nausea, dyspnoea, blood pressure disorders and much more .
Most of it daily, many things express themselves in spurts. There is hardly any prospect of improvement, it gets worse. And I’m still lucky: Others can not even run some more.
The dream remains
And despite everything – I still dream of flying. I still look at the sky and follow the planes. And I still want to sit up there. I have loved my profession, more than anything else.
If you pay so much money to make such an education, you probably have to. To this day I still pay off my education. Every month, although I have not had any income for a long time.
As long as the application for incapacity for work runs, I get nothing. And the runs, and runs, and runs. Because I was not safe, after all I had just started to fly, and hardly deserved anything.
And like me, there are many. Some of them I now know personally. A colleague has even written a book about her fate. Your story is very similar to mine. Without her book, I would probably never have made the connection between my illness and flying.
It could be held so much misery by the concerned ones, if they would previously know of this problem. And even if the system of the cabin air can not be changed from one day to the next, we could at least explain the dangers. Crew and also passengers need to know about it, so you can act before it’s too late.
A demonstration will take place at Frankfurt Airport at the end of April . Organized by affected persons.
For, like me, I also hope that this dirty secret is no longer any one and the aviation industry is forced to act. So that everyone can fly safely and in clean air, maybe even me, if only as a passenger.
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