How Kourtney K helped Travis Barker overcome plane crash fears

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Travis Barker is flying high in love — and in the skies, apparently thanks to his relationship with Kourtney Kardashian.

The longtime friends, who only began dating early this year, got engaged this past weekend in Montecito, Calif. — after Barker, 45, got down on one knee in the middle of a display of red roses and white candles and asked Kardashian, 42, to marry him. 

Despite their whirlwind romance, they’ve together overcome a seemingly impossible task: tackling the Blink-182 drummer’s lifelong fear of flying that erupted into abstinence from air travel after he survived a horrifying plane crash that killed four people over a decade ago.

“With you anything is possible,” Barker captioned an Instagram post in August, showing him holding up Kardashian in an embrace in front of the pink-striped plane that took them to Mexico — which marked his first flight in 13 years.

Since that summer trip, the couple have jetted to destinations including Italy for the Venice Film Festival and France.

These trips are no small feat given what Barker lived through.

On Sept. 19, 2008, after a performance, Barker boarded a private plane in Columbia, South Carolina. With him were his assistant Chris Baker, 29, his security guard Charles “Che” Still, 25, and Barker’s onetime collaborator DJ AM, born Adam Goldstein, 35 at the time. During takeoff, one of the plane’s tires blew, causing the aircraft to careen off the runway, smash into an embankment and burst into flames. The two pilots, Sarah Lemmon and James Bland, were killed — as were Baker and Still.

Barker, according to a May profile in Men’s Health, was covered in jet fuel and engulfed in flames — which Goldstein put out with his own shirt. 

Barker had third-degree burns across 65 percent of his body; he spent three months in the hospital undergoing no fewer than 26 surgeries. Nearly a year following the crash, Goldstein died of a drug overdose — making Barker the sole survivor of the tragedy.

Barker has since struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and the guilt of surviving.

“I couldn’t walk down the street,” Barker told the mag. “If I saw a plane [in the sky], I was determined it was going to crash, and I just didn’t want to see it.”

In that same interview, Barker vowed to fly again.

“I have to,” he told the publication. “I want to make the choice to try and overcome it.”

The couple’s jet-setting is all thanks to a deal Barker struck with Kardashian.

“I didn’t even know I was going,” he told Nylon about the Mexico trip.

“I made a deal with her … She had just said to me, ‘I would love to do so much traveling with you,’” he added. “‘I want to go to Italy with you. I want to go to Cabo with you. I want to go to Paris with you. I want to go to Bora Bora with you.’”

He added, “And I said, ‘Well, when the day comes you want to fly, I’m telling you, I’ll do it with you. I would do anything with you. And just give me 24 hours’ notice.’ And that’s what she did.”

Travis Barker has reached new heights in his relationship with Kourtney Kardashian after proposing to her last weekend in California.
Travis Barker has reached new heights in his relationship with Kourtney Kardashian after proposing to her last weekend in California.
Zuffa LLC

Beyond practicing “breathwork” exercises to “go deeper” into his subconscious before flying, he also had Kardashian’s support — something that Jessica Stern, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, finds essential.

“Starting a conversation with them about their needs is already the first way to be really collaborative with them in their process of recovering from a traumatic event,” she said of helping a loved one in recovery, adding that the partner who initiates the exchange should ask what the other needs to move forward with the understanding they might not know.

Also, said Stern, the partner should make room for the other to talk about the issue when they feel ready.

“Recognizing there might be times in which they can’t speak about something and giving them the space that they might need in order to process whatever they need internally [is importnat],” she said.

“Definitely be patient,” added Stern of the process.

Being patient and supportive in conversation can help someone going through a traumatic experience begin to move past it.
Being patient and supportive in conversation can help someone going through a traumatic experience begin to move past it.
Newspress / BACKGRID

And for the couple, it all became possible with something as seemingly cute as a deal —something that Stern also finds effective.

“You can find ways that are endearing or heartwarming, or maybe even flirtatious if it’s a romantic relationship, to have difficult conversations if it allows you to have those conversations,” she said. 

For Barker and Kardashian, the rewards of that deal have been great.

“It’s still something very new to me, but having something that gives me the strength and hope to be able to overcome things that were so traumatic in my life, it just says a ton,” Barker told Nylon.

“She’s definitely that for me. I’m invincible when I’m with her.”

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