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Over the years, I've heard many stories about middle-aged pilots (45-65 years) who gave up flying due to a sudden onset of anxiety. Apparently this wasn't induced by any specific aviation trauma nor inspired by the relatively small and perfectly normal decline of reflexes and mental agility experienced by most middle aged pilots. What in the world might spook a 50-ish pilot into abandoning something he obviously once loved to do?
First, let me make it clear that there are probably as many answers to this question as there are belly button rings at a Madonna concert. I'd suggest that the most likely cause has something to do with the emotional baggage a pilot accumulates with age. I'm speaking of baggage caused by the unhealthy focus on a pilot's own mortality, which may result from obsessing over aviation accident data (no doubt there are many other causes, as well). Fortunately, he's not forced to pay an additional $25 per emotional bag checked during his travels toward middle age, or he'd go broke. The price he actually pays involves worrying about the many possible ways an airplane could smite him.