As long as I can remember, I have had dreams about crashing airplanes. Never as a passenger, but always as an observer on the ground. Although the time and place differ, the circumstances are nearly always the same. Something directs my attention at the sky. Sometimes, it is another person, most often it is the sound of a low-flying airplane in a place where such a thing is unusual. I then see the plane in the sky, flying very low. Sometimes it is obvious that there is trouble, but most often the plane simply is flying too low. Then it crashes. What happens after that is more variable, but one thing is consistent. The utter feeling of dread that pervades the entire dream. The feeling generated by the low rumble of background music in a horror film. The feeling that something terrible is about to happen and I have no power to do anything about it. I usually immediately head out to try and help the victims, but the dream always moves on and I never make it there. Instead I begin having other adventures, every so often remembering that I was trying to get to the crash site to help the victims and feeling frustrated at whatever it is that keeps distracting me.
Last night I had one of these dreams. It was unique in that it was very clear and I remembered many details the next morning, but followed the same pattern. I was travelling down a country road in Texas. I don't remember how I knew it was Texas, just that it was near the place I used to live. I don't recognize the road, but that is what my mind was telling me. Someone in the car with me pointed out two helicopters up in the sky which appeared to be chasing each other. One was marked as a TV news chopper, and the other was marked as a Navy chopper. (Oddly enough, their paint jobs were very similar in color and design, but one had the call sign of a TV station on it, and the other said: US Navy.) We watched them for a while, until we saw two Coast Guard choppers approaching as if to assist the Navy chopper in chasing the news chopper. It was then that we noticed that the sky was filled with aircraft of all kinds, all circling around in seemingly random directions. Then we saw one that was clearly in distress. (I think we also heard on the radio or something that an airplane was circling the airport because its landing gear would not go down. It is not clear how I understood this.) The airplane was performing increasingly haphazard maneuvers, flipping upside down and finally diving towards the ground. This time, unlike many of my crash dreams, I saw the impact and the fireball. I stood on the side of the road with a large crowd of people watching in horror, and heard the sound of the debris whistling through the air at us. We all started to run, searching for some cover. I remember trying to get down behind the road bed for shelter, but kept moving on to find better shelter because I did not feel safe. Debris was hitting the ground all around me, but none hit me or any of the others with me. Finally, it seemed to be over and people started picking up the pieces. I was very insistent that nobody touch anything, since the investigators would want to find the pieces exactly where they lay. I even yelled at a few people who were collecting pieces of debris. Then, the investigators came along and were just picking up the debris and throwing it into a wagon. I remember feeling a bit foolish for having made such a big deal about leaving it in place.
From there, the dream wandered off in another direction that was much more incoherent and my memory has already faded. I have always wondered precisely how significant our dreams are, and whether they are related to our everyday lives. Sometimes I am sure that they are just the random firings of brain cells recharging themselves during sleep. Other times it feels as if they must be some kind of message from the subconscious. Maybe a combination of both is closer to the truth.
Regardless, if any of the people who stumble across this have any expert knowledge of dreams wants to express their opinions, that would be great. Or, if you have no expert knowledge, but want to share your completely uninformed opinion, that would be interesting too.
© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved