How my first airplane ride gave me new perspective

·3 min read

Good morning, y'all!

It is I, LeBron Hill, back from my trip to the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Las Vegas.

And let me just say, we need to catch up.

Everyone has fears — spiders, guns, taxes — but for me, it was getting in an airplane and flying 50,000 feet in the air.

In my 28 years of life, I was able to dodge the metal tube with wings until early May, when I was offered the chance to be a recruiter for USA TODAY at the NABJ conference.

Enter the overthinking.

Months before the flight, I went through thousands of scenarios of the plane ride. I imagined the top of the roof flying off or looking out the window and seeing the wing engine on fire.

It was safe to say I needed some positive reinforcement.

I asked everyone I knew who flew in a plane their experience and how they got through it. I heard a lot of different answers, but one simple advice really gave me perspective: "You just gotta' do it."

I always pride myself in the moxie I have, the determination to put one leg in front of the other and just move forward into any challenge I face.

The day before the flight, I was walking my dog Pepper around my neighborhood in North Nashville. I looked up in the sky and saw a plane fly by. I thought to myself, "I've been homeless, which is the lowest you can get in this country, and tomorrow I'll be the highest I can get."

So, the day arrives.

I got my two carry-on bags, my I.D. and a nervous smile to boot.

I get past TSA with no problem, and I now head to American Airlines gate C11. Boarding the plane was the most anxious I've ever been. My heart is going really fast, and the only thing I remembered to do was to breathe. I sat down in the extremely small and uncomfortable seat.


I didn't think I could do it. I thought about getting off.

But I saw an old college friend, Glen Hill, who was on his way to New Mexico. I told him it was my first flight, and he told me everything was going to be okay.

Soon after we talked, the plane takes off, and ya boy was going through it. My hands gripped the arm rests tightly. At a high altitude, I looked outside and saw nothing but clouds.

Seeing out in the sky was one of the most peaceful things I've ever experienced.

All of the fear that I had going into the flight went away as I saw how beautiful the sky is and how puffy the clouds look.

And also, I realized I'm getting to go to freaking Las Vegas! I was broadening my horizons.

So, all in all, I tell this story to remind you, first, fear will place itself in your head, but only actions will defeat them. And second, you are never alone, even when your gut tells you.

Here's what's in store for this week's Black Tennessee Voices newsletter:

That's all from me this week.

There's been a lot going on in the journalism world, so I want to remind everyone to please support local journalism. It's always needed.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

LeBron Hill is an opinion columnist and editor for USA TODAY Network Tennessee and the curator of The Tennessean's Black Tennessee Voices newsletter and Facebook group. Email him at or tweet to him to @hill_bron or find him on Instagram at @antoniohill12.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: NABJ Convention: My first airplane ride gave me new perspective