Next time you fly, thank the person next to you. Their ritual may be what's keeping the plane in the air. Just ask the many readers who told me about their flying superstitions.

Charlie Maguire of Minneapolis raps on the aircraft's exterior as he boards. "'Bring me home like you've always done, baby' is what those two quick knocks always say," he wrote in an e-mail.

Patty Wertis of Apple Valley carries a pack of Lifesavers, a reminder of the life rings her husband used to save lives when he served with the Coast Guard. Kim McReavy of Chanhassen opts for a Bible charm, imprinted with the Lord's Prayer, attached to a rabbit's foot. Before takeoffs, she reads the prayer and rubs the foot. "That way I feel like I have all the bases covered," she said.

Molly O'Brien Hasek of Maple Plain carries a piece of garden hose whenever she boards a plane. Seems odd, until she explains why. As a child, she often saw her father tug to free his ensnared garden hose while he did yard work. He claimed that if he ever got on an airplane, he'd bring along that hose. "When I asked him why, he replied, 'because if the plane were to go down, my hose would be sure to catch on something,'" Hasek wrote in an e-mail.

Sharon Casey of St. Paul employs another tactic: At takeoff she pulls up firmly on her seat's armrests. "Helps to lift the plane, don't you know," she said.

The ritual of Stephanie Wolkin of White Bear Lake began when she was aboard a plane over the Atlantic that lost an engine. The plane listed before making an emergency landing in Ireland. Now whenever she enters an airplane, she repeats the mantra she told herself on that damaged plane: God does not want me to die with these people. "Hey, it works," she said.