The Psyche: Flying Scared

"It's not that I'm afraid of heights," says Violinist Nathan Milstein. "Not even that I am terrified of accidents. It's harder to define. I've flown three times in my life, and I was absolutely miserable every minute. I can't breathe, feel time is suspended, and there I am—alone with my anguish."

Soviet Pianists Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels know just how Milstein feels. They too refuse to fly, unless it is absolutely necessary. Even then, says Gilels, "my extreme nervous sensibility is affected; I sense any sound or nuance during the flight." As for Richter, he requires at least five...