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It’s hard to imagine Dolly Parton being afraid of anything. But that’s part of the charm of the Queen of Country—she’s always been honest about her fears. Along with her lifelong fear of the dark, Parton is also quite the nervous flyer.

Dolly Parton’s trip to Chicago

One of the first big developments in Parton’s career was signing with Fred Foster at Monument Records

“Fred invested a lot of time and effort and money in me,” Parton wrote in her 1994 memoir, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “He bought clothes for me so that I would ‘look the part’ and made a great effort to get me known.”

Foster was always looking for different ways to promote Parton. One day, he booked her on “American Bandstand” and at a jukebox convention in Chicago.  

Dolly’s first flight and where her fear of flying was born

Traveling to Chicago meant Parton was going to board her first ever plane and go on her first ever flight. 

“What a first flight it was,” she wrote. “It was stormy and the winds were gusty, and my plane was bumped and battered around the whole way to Chicago. I was miserable.”

Once the “Don’t Make Me Have to Come Down There” singer was on the ground again, all she could do was worry about the next plane she had to get on to go back to Nashville.   

“I did my best at the convention, but I couldn’t really enjoy any of the trip because I knew I had to get back on a plane to go home,” she wrote. 

A lifelong fear

It’s a fear that’s stuck with Parton for a long time. 

“To this day I am a white-knuckled flyer,” she wrote. “I make a joke about it in one of my songs: ‘She’s a sparrow when she’s broken, but she’s a chicken when she flies.’” 


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The “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” singer once spoke about her fear of flying on the Bobby Bones Show. 

“I’ll tell everyone, I don’t care,” she said in the interview, as reported by Taste of Country. “I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t like to fly. I’m like my daddy. I don’t want to go no higher up than pulling corn and no lower down than pickin’ taters.”

She said that in addition to her fear of heights, flying also gives her motion sickness, making turbulence particularly uncomfortable. 

“I don’t know if I’m just a scaredy cat or just the motion,” she said. “It’s probably a little bit both. I don’t like that helpless feeling that I can’t get out if I want to. I want to be on the ground. If I want to stop, I want to get out. You can’t very well go up to the pilot and say, ‘I wanna get out now.'”

Of course, Parton being who she is, she can’t avoid flying. 

“When I do fly, I fly private jet because it’s hard doing commercial anymore, because it’s such a zoo anyway,” she said. “I just take my bus anytime I can.”