I have always been scared off flying. Mainly take off but I have recently had a bad dream involing a flight I am taking in a couple of weeks. I was desperate not 2 get on the plane but had no choise, I was on the return from trip - ldn to belfast and suddenly found myself on the plane. It was almost skimming the water. Next thing I was in a car and chatting away as I had made it home and was so so happy. I am now really worried this will come true but the plane will crash. Has anyone else had this and if so what did they do. I feel so scared and want to change my flight home but I think my boyfriend will thing I'm mad.
Any help or advice would be really welcome x
I've had loads of horrible flying dreams. Most of them involve emergency landings on roads, the sea, anywhere really! Of course they never come true.
This is what helps me... I enjoy being in plays - at least I did before my boys came along. Without fail, just before the first performance I would have the most awful nightmares about forgetting my lines or not realising I was even going to be in a play until I was on the stage -I'd wake in a blind panic, just as I do about flying! I am also a Drama teacher. This is so common that when I told students just before their performance week to watch out for pre show nightmares, they thought I had some sort of psychic power when they all had them! It must just be a response to stress, they are totally meaningless. Again, it's like those horrible pre exam dreams when you open the paper and you have to answer questions on a text you've never heard of! How many nightmares have you had that have come true? There is no reason what so ever that just because you're frightened of flying and so are having nightmares, that your plane will crash. Planes don't crash because we're frightened of them!
I've had very similar experiences to yourself! I plucked up the courage to book a holiday abroad for the first time since I was 18. Last year my father became ill abroad and I had no choice but to fly to see him as an operation was imminent. I had nightmares in the days before my flight, with all the worst case scenarios. I didn't make things easy for myself by watching things like 'Air Crash Investigation' on my TV before I went. The night before my flight my dog got run over and we had the police around at 2 am, and I left the house at 5am for the long trip to Heathrow. I took all of these difficulties as a reason that I should not go on this flight, that I would somehow be "doomed" if I took it! My nightmares played out these worst case scenarios. On the way to the airport, I tried instead to focus on my end goal - on the need to see my father. The flight itself was good - I told the flight attendants I was scared of flying and everytime they passed me they checked I was OK and gave me reassurances. I actually really enjoyed the flight on the way back ( I love landings, not so hot on the take offs!).
I thought my days of nightmares were gone. I had booked to go to Belgium (driving of course!) but instead I decided, no, I am going on a beach holiday this year!! The flight wasn't a consideration, I just concentrated on how awesome it was going to be on the beach!
The day after I booked my holiday, Air France flight crashed. At the airport, there were announcements for 'Air France' Airbus planes and I took this as a sign that I shouldn't go. But then I looked around at all of the planes around me. I stood outside for a while to watch some of planes take off and land. I looked too at the people waiting at the check in desk to take there flights - and the crew introducing themselves when boarding the plane. And plucked up the strength to say "if they don't think anything is going to happen, the statistics say something is highly unlikely to happen and this is the aircrews daily job, why the hell am I worrying?!". On the way onto the aircraft, I did feel a sense of panic creep in - but I remembered the breathing exercises and tried my best to distract myself! I was lucky on the flight to be seated on row 10 where one of the air crew was sitting. He talked me through take off, the engine noises, why I was feeling the sensations I was feeling - how he felt about flying every day etc. Before I knew it we were at altitude. This flight was the longest I've been on and was the first I've ever fallen asleep on or got up to use the toilets onboard.
Before my return trip home, the Yemen airbus crash happened and again I became terrified of the flight home. I was planning on not sleeping to tire myself out and maybe medicate myself to sleep on the flight. But then I went to sleep had some bad nightmares, but then woke up and refocused on why I wanted to take the flight and that nothing was going to happen. I went back to sleep and bad thoughts went through my head. But everytime a bad thought went through this time, I replaced with a positive thought and argued with myself that I will not allow myself to think this way".
On the day of the flight, a TV report was discussing "where best to sit in the event of an air crash!!". I felt a sense of doom, THIS IS IT! I must be doomed! But again I spent 10 minutes at the airport watching the planes take off. On the plane I sat next to a woman who was petrified of flying. She was drinking (not a good idea for a flight!) to try and fight the nerves. I spent much of the flight explaining to her what the noises were and why these were normal and nothing to worry about. Before I knew it we were coming in for landing.
I had such a fabulous time on holiday and I would hate to think someone would give up something they were really looking forward to only to drive / boat / train it for hours / days to reach a destination because of a fear. Think positive, work towards the little battles and you never know you might just enjoy your flight. One small thing that helped me on the flight on the way home, is I shut the window shutter so I couldnt see out on take off and plugged my ears!! I know its not the best strategy, but if all else fails I just concentrated on my breathing and concentrated on the positives - i.e. i get to go home and see my family / go on holiday / whatever your goal is.
That's a great account that I know will help a lot of people because that's exactly how they feel. And credit to you for going ahead with your flights despite those feelings of doom. That takes courage. Well done.
Except that this isn't true. I do not want to upset anyone, but one of the reasons why my fear is so persistent and so deep seated is because I feel cheated on, manipulated and lied to by all of those airline "safety statistics" flying around, no pun intended. Statistics are central to my work - so I think I understand them fairly well. Not a statistician... but almost. And I looked at what's out there, how they are calculated, the language used for promotion, the context etc - and Iwas very disappointed and yes, scared. I am not at all convinced that flying is a safe undertaking. I could elaborate on it and defend my argument with the most rational tools in existence (pure MATH!) if I did not face a 2 leg, long flight in two weeks.
I just wish that misinformation and the exaggerated "safety" parables were less used to convince people that flying is safe. I'd prefer to see more effort put into making flying truly safe - as in not flying in bad weather regardless of delays, not sparing anything when it comes to updating or replacing various parts of aircraft. Etc.
Sometimes, visceral questions invade my brain and they feel more rational than reason itself: if flying is so safe, how come it causes so much misery and so much anxiety in so many people's minds? Aren't our brains and our guts trying to tell us something? When was the last time I heard someone getting sick to their stomach at the thought of getting on a car? Train. Boat. Etc.
Why is it that TWO horrible crashes happened EXACTLY during the summer I visited home, when I am facing a long flight back to the US with two small children accompanying me? I feel like the Universe is screaming at me to do something and I also feel like I am losing my mind.
Hi Christina...safety has a price. It has a price financially and socially.
Safety is the balance of threat versus defence and the difference is the risk.
Leave your car unlocked and there's a threat of the contents being stolen.
Lock the car and there's a chance that the car could be forcibly entered and the contents stolen.
Put it in a garage and it's out of view but an opportunist thief could try the garage door and if it weren't locked would have access to forcibly breaking into the car and stealing the contents.
Lock the garage door and you might tempt a thief into smashing it down forcibly enerering your car and stealing the contents.
Post apoliceman outside the garage but a gang of thieves could overpower him.
Build an impregnable wall around the garage and the thieves could get in by helicopter. OK let's have a surface to air missile...no, no, no hang on a minute we're spending thousands of pounds to protect something we needn't leave in the car anyway.
And the same applies to aviation and any form of travel...what price a ticket for complete safety? How much would a train ticket cost to have paramedics on board to treat injured people in case the train crashed?
How much to have a doctor and operating theater installed in your home in case you had a heart attack.
Everything has a price ...what we get in aviation is very very high safety standards very low levels of external threat, and very low risk as a result.
Safe compared to what? Riding a motor cycle crossing a road? Eating unhealthily?
One final point ...imagine you've had a car for ages...say a year old...would you make it safer by removing the brakes and replacing them? What about a new windscreen every six months ...make that 3 months in the winter.
I labour the point not to win the argument...that's not the point...but for you to counter it and then for me to counter that until we both understand each other's exact positions and definitions of safety.
The medical, railway, and atomic energy industries all follow the standards that aviation sets in safety cultures.
I have two jobs as a consultant trainer. One is in Human factors and safety cultures. It's a subject I believe in passionately and I spend a lot of effort training pilots to behave in a way that enhances safety not reducing it. That's just me, hundreds of other training pilots are doing the same.
One accident in ten million flights means no accidents in nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine flights.
Finally as an engineer friend of mine said when I asked him if that new building in Dubai could fall down. No it's designed to have a failure life of four hundred years. Mind you it could fall down tomorrow... but it probably won't. Remember the difference between possibility and probability.
ps Don't worry about upsetting people or challenging issues. I'm all for open debate.
I just wanted to reply to Christines posts because although I to am terrified of take off and very worried about my flights in a couple of weeks I have to disagree with some of what you are saying.
I think Keith’s analogy re items being stolen out of a car is completely on the ball. If it was up to me I would only get on a plane with a parachute tied to my back, airbag in front and behind me and possibly a rubber dingy thrown in somewhere! Is this practical – no, would it stop anything awful happening to me, possibly but possibly not. Would it be cost effective – of course not!
I know many many people who are petrified of boats, my sister, and my partner being two of them. I also know of many people afraid to go on trains and even more who hate the underground and others who won’t travel as a passenger in a car and others who won’t drive on motorways! But because flying is what we are scared of this is what resonates in our heads. It is about being completely out of control and worrying about becoming hysterical and having panic attacks. It is NOT rational, but of course there is a risk and that’s why most of us will probably never feel relaxed and happy about it. Unfortunately we can not control everything no matter how much we would like to.
I hope that you get through your flights ok and that what i'm saying makes a bit on sense!
I want to assure you that this is not an argument I am trying to win as I definitely do not want to win it. I am just begging for some honest answers to some questions that have been torturing me and that I feel nobody has ever responded straightforwardly, but rather in an avoiding manner, redirecting my attention to the fact that "well, everything in life is risky after all".
I do understand that there is risk in virtually EVERYTHING we do in life. Even in "just sitting there". Heart can stop, done.
But the reality is that these risks differ in size. Also the actual things that people face with that risk differ in gravity too. Spending your last minutes aware, going insane with terror, thinking of what you are about to leave behind? Can't even begin to comment on it. Dying of a heart attack in your sleep? Priceless. For everything else there's MasterCard.
Then there are mathematical ways to calculate every risk we are exposed to. Some are astronomically small, others are "humanly probable" and others are very high. I am simply not at peace with the statistics sold to the public to reinforce the safety of flying compared to the safety of other means of transportation. As a result, I feel like some forces up there have a vested interest in me not understanding clearly what the real risk is. I am yet to be convinced, with sound mathematics, that when I step foot in a car I have a higher chance of not coming out alive than when I step foot in a plane.
I have seen way too many articles citing the ABSOLUTE NUMBER of individuals killed in air accidents in a year compared to the ABSOLUTE NUMBER of individuals killed in car crashes. If people believe this is a legitimate way to defend flying safety, than we are either living in a world of easy to manipulate morons or there's just too much mathematical illiteracy out there. Or both and many others.
I also feel like I am lied to when I am told that I have a higher chance of winning the lottery, being struck by lightening or falling in my bathtub and dying, than being in a plane crash. Or that I would have to fly for 20,000 years every day before I am highly likely to be in a plane crash. The people in the 447 and in the Yemenia flight sure didn't have to go to all that trouble!
20,000 years of daily flying!! I do not know who calculates such ghost-statistics and with what ulterior motive - but I intuitively know they are NOT true. If I had the raw data I could calculate them myself, but I do not.
As for the economic cost of safety...I think it is slightly unfair to compare safety of a car with safety of human lives. I DO understand the example was used for the sake of convenience and for illustrative purposes only, but if we were to stick with human life, it might be easier to question the rationale.
Is it worth using X technology as long as only A FEW human beings will die - and that rarely? We know four sure they will, but we can deal with it.
WE can, the loved ones of those who will go like that - not so much.
How about trying to make X technology spotless? Will it be economically convenient? No. If not, then let's give it up altogether. I honestly think that the fatality goal should be zero. Not 1 in a buzillion but zero, regardless of the cost.
Maybe I am one of those spoilt, modern nuts who overestimate how important the life of a human (ANY human) actually is to his/her loved ones, but it tears me apart to know that we consciously allow for the terrifying death of people, children, babies - just so that we can go on with our reasonably priced technology.
I would prefer to live in a world slow as a snail than allow for such rationale to go on. But then again, everyone around me doesn't prefer that, which makes what I would prefer IRRELEVANT.
In a nuthell, if Keith can confirm that the risk of NOT coming out alive from the car (per trip!! - make it to the airport, to stick with a classic) is higher than the risk of NOT coming out alive from the plane (per trip, not passenger mile), than I might be able to calm down a little.
Today, I traveled by a small commuter bus, on Romanian roads, where the driving is generally beyond hellish. The driver literally acted as if he had a death wish - speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, the works. I couldn't care less. I just kept watching the sky for the sight of a plane that just continues gracefully on its perfectly straight line. Oh, how I love planes from the ground!...
So I can't stop wondering: is my intuition THAT messed up or it knows what it knows...
Flying is safe by all measurable standards. That's beyond dispute...for my part I flew for 28 years as an airline Captain and nothing remotely untoward ever happened to me. That's my stat.
A famous president ...was it Abe was shot at the theatre...does that mean that it MUST happen again because it's happened once?
I agree with the point that statistics are useless worthless and don't mean much when the chances are that Elvis could be alive whether it one in a million or one in a zillion...the fact is he's either dead or he isn't...he's not a millionth dead. Stats don't prove that things will or won't happen they predict the likliehood of an event.
If there's a 50 50 chance of rain do you take an umbrella or not?
Another point what validity or evidence is there that it's a terrifying death? People in the twin towers showed remarkable calm when phoning their loved ones. Cockpit voice recorders do not support your view...at least for the pilots or is it easier for them because they know what's going on?
Your pursuit of a world where flying is 100% safe will never be realised even if every resource in the world were poured into it.
The fact is that the size of risk varies as you say but fewer people have died in planes ever than die on the roads in a year. More people die in hospital of an infection they caught while in there than in aviation. These are simple numbers simple facts....probability I leave to you.
With regard to dealing with your fear of flying...which is why we're in this debate ...the first step is that you either accept the risk or you don't. After that we need to deal with anxiety and so on...
One last point what is your evidence for this statement...which I think adds to your fear
"Spending your last minutes aware, going insane with terror, thinking of what you are about to leave behind? Can't even begin to comment on it."
We won't agree on the stats...where do we go next?
one thing i do on takeoff to help lessen those funny sensations is bring my legs up and cross them. For some reason when i have them on the floor i feel the sensations alot more. someone also wrote in this forum that even though its not allowed, if you film the takeoff out the window it will distract you a bit more and can help..