How To Overcome Your Fear of Flying

by | Jul 6, 2016 | Flying | 4 comments

How To Overcome Your Fear of Flying

by | Jul 6, 2016 | Flying | 4 comments

With the recent news about all that happened in the aviation world and with the increased numbers of turbulence events, it’s no surprise that more and more travellers gain a fear of flying. In most cases, this fear is related to the fact that you are not in control.

As a flight attendant, I come across my share of people that are afraid of flying, that allowed me to learn a bit about this subject and how to best help someone that is a bit distressed about stepping into a magical flying tube.

Turbulence
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This is the number one cause of why people get a fear of flying. One day you might be jumping in and out of planes to travel the world and one day you might experience some bad turbulence that makes you stop flying as much or even at all.

There are three types of turbulence, mild, annoying and severe.

  • The mild one is the most usual and it makes the plane move a little bit.
  • The annoying one is when it’s a bit stronger than the mild one, it usually happens when you are trying to eat and the fork goes everywhere but your mouth. With this type of turbulence, the pilots will switch on the sign to fasten the seat belts and the crew will have to check if everyone has the seat belt fasten and then inform the pilots that it has been checked.
  • Severe turbulence may be the scariest kind of turbulence for passengers. The aircraft will shake a lot and you will see the cabin crew sit down on the nearest available seat and fasten the seat belt. Usually, the pilots can see and avoid turbulence through their controls, but unexpected turbulence may occur. If it does happen the aircraft will quickly ascent or descent to avoid that area of turbulence.

An aircraft is an amazing machine, built to withstand insane amounts of punishment before something actually happens to its structure. So know that no matter how bad the turbulence seems, you are still safe.

In most cases, the turbulence that you feel in the cabin seems worse than it really is (usually there is just a slight shift). People at the back of the aircraft feel more the effect of turbulence than those seated at the front. This happens because the fuselage actually bends a little – you might feel your seat move when someone walks up and down on the aisle.

Do you want to know where to sit to feel less the effects of turbulence? Sit close to the wings.

Not Being In Control
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Another reason why passengers are afraid of flying is because they are not in control and can’t see the pilots actually flying the aircraft. Most of the times you don’t even know what is happening behind that door.  You can’t be sure if everything is alright.

It’s extremely hard to get a job as a commercial aviation pilot. Not only you need plenty of fly hours under your belt just to apply. You also need to go through all sorts of training and practice emergencies in the simulator. A captain will have at least 4,000 hours of flying experience.

A pilot flies a lot through the year. They probably had come across plenty of situations and know how to deal with them properly. Most commercial airlines have very experienced pilots; some of them even used to work for the airforce. They need to do frequent training in the simulator in which he has to practice various emergency drills and situations.

Even if you are not in control of the flying, know that you are in very capable hands and both pilots and crew can deal with pretty much anything that happens to the aircraft.

But What If?
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Our minds are very powerful in creating real scenarios in our heads. So even if you know everything about turbulence and trust your pilots you can still be afraid of something that might not even happen.

The most asked question I get is: what if there is a problem with the engines?

It’s normal to think that the engines are what makes the aircraft fly, but in fact, they are most useful on the ground; to move the plane around and to gain thrust power to lift that beast off the ground. Once the aircraft is high up in the air, the most important thing are the wings because they are what keeps the aircraft flying.

The engines simply maintain a constant flow of air to maintain a constant altitude.

An engine failure is a rare event, having both engines failing is almost impossible. You have more chances to win the lottery twice than ever experiencing this. But what happens if both engines do fail?

Nothing much. The aircraft can glide for quite a while and will lose a few meters of altitude per minute. This will be enough to land safely at a nearby airport.

If you are travelling around Europe, know that you are always 30 – 40 minutes from an airport. That means that you can always divert in a case of an emergency – a diversion due to an emergency is very rare.

The pilots need to do a walk around the aircraft whilst on the ground and check the structure of the aircraft.

If there are any problem, an engineer needs to be called. The engineer checks the problem and then signs off that aircraft, so it can fly again. Imagine that every time you hear or feel something different in your car; you would always take it to the garage and do a full check. Your car would probably last until the end of times.

I hope that with this post you will be able to understand better what you might feel and how safe is it to fly and next time you step into an aircraft; you can do it without fear.

How About You?

Do you still have questions about flying?
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