NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife Amy, and their daughter Isla were aboard their private jet when it crash landed in Tennessee in August 2019. During the months since, Dale has been working hard to overcome his fear of flying.
The crash occurred when the right main landing gear collapsed, causing the plane to keep moving past the runway, onto an area of open grass, through a chain-link fence and up an embankment. The plane finally came to a rest on the edge of Tennessee Highway 91 and erupted in flames.
Earnhardt, his family, dogs and pilots escaped without physical injury, but the NASCAR legend has fought through fear of flying since the accident. Earnhardt has spoken little of the crash, but in an interview prior to the Daytona 500, he opened up about how the crash affected him and what he’s doing to overcome it.
“It’s something you will never be able to forget,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s really tough on me getting back in the plane, and it will never be the same now that you know the real realities and dangers. It will never, ever be the same again.
“Something you will never be able to forget and never block out no matter how many flights you take…For me to be able to get back in there and go and do and travel like I want, the only way I can do it is really was to get into the details. I’m not flying the plane. I’m not a pilot. But, I have as much control as I possibly can in what I’m doing and the decisions that we’re making…”
So, Earnhardt decided to learn everything he can about jets including “the optimized lengths of runways for takeoffs and landings” as even gets detailed weather reports before he boards a plane.
“I’m diving into the deep end trying to learn everything I can about the plane’s ability and the decisions they make and why they make them,” he said. “It’s been extremely educational, as you could imagine.
“I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. It’s kind of empowered me and given me more confidence in what we’re doing and that we are safe and that I am going to be safe as opposed to…I don’t want to just quit flying. I don’t want to just quit getting into an airplane. I need to get over that fear and work hard to get through it.”
Hear Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s full response regarding how he’s overcoming his fear of flying in the video below.