Over the years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has experienced many life-changing moments on and off the NASCAR track. Earnhardt Jr. has navigated through these challenging situations that have left a lasting impact. One of those instances created a life-long hurdle that he continues to struggle to move past.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family survive scary plane accident
Throughout his life, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has experienced several traumatic situations.
One of those instances came in August 2019, involving a frightening plane accident. Earnhardt Jr., along with his wife and first daughter, were on board their small plane when it caught fire during a landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
The aircraft skid across the runway through a chain-link fence after the landing gear collapsed, leading the plane’s right wing to scrape across the ground. Despite the plane’s significant damage, Earnhardt Jr. and his family, and the two pilots managed to escape the situation.
Reports from the incident detailed that the plane’s approach to the runway may have been a little too fast due to the aircraft being able to slow down quickly. One of the pilots voiced that he may have put the thrust reversers too fast, leading to the plane skidding on the runway.
With all that in mind, the entire incident has made it quite difficult for Earnhardt Jr. to overcome a lingering fear.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggling to overcome personal battle with a terrifying fear
Since the terrifying plane accident, it has remained a tough personal battle for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The 46-year-old has struggled to overcome the fear of flying after the traumatic experience he and his family went through. In February 2020, Earnhardt Jr. admitted to the LA Times that it’s been tremendously difficult to ride a plane.
“It’s really tough for me to get back in a plane,” said Earnhardt. “Now that you know the realities and danger, it will never be the same. It’s something you’ll never be able to forget, ever block out, no matter how many flights you take.”
Keep in mind; these comments came less than a month after Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with seven others, lost their lives in a fatal helicopter crash. However, Earnhardt’s difficulty moving mentally past these issues has only pushed him harder to overcome the fear.
The NASCAR Hall of Famer voiced the situation has led him to do additional research before every flight. It has also involved him learning about the plane he’s flying in while getting all the exact flight route details.
“I’m diving into the deep end, trying to learn everything I can — the plane’s ability and the decisions they make and why they make them,” Earnhardt said. “It’s been extremely educational … and it’s kind of empowered me and given me more confidence in what we’re doing and that we are safe and I am going to be safe.”
It’s an ongoing process that will take time for Earnhardt Jr. to get into a comfortable headspace about taking flights.
A life-long hurdle that will remain
As Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted, the fear of flying is something that will always linger in his mind.
He went through a traumatic experience that could have resulted in a much worse outcome than a significantly damaged plane. However, Earnhardt Jr.’s work toward overcoming the fear will help him regain some essence of comfort with flying again.
It’s an ongoing mental battle that he’s taking head-on to push him forward to live his life with the normalcy he had before the accident.