I never used to be scared of flying. When we were kids we never went on a plane and so my first flight was when I was 16 (I'm now 31). I remember being really excited and exhilirated by the whole thing.
There was then some show on TV that I didn't see but remember talking about in the pub with friends. It was all about airline disasters etc and how basically you're dead if anything goes wrong. It didn't bother me at the time but I guess I must've internalised a lot of that conversation because
a few years later I went on a trip to India with my dad. We flew Turkmenistan air and I remember as we took off, my dad looked at me and said, 'That doesn't sound too healthy'. I was then gripped with fear, a fear that wasn't helped after I was talking to the pilot as we flew over Kasakhstan. He was telling me all about learning to fly and then said to me, 'now I go and land the plane'. As he went into the cockpit he poured a large measure of Turkmen wine (about 30% volume) and then went back to the flight deck. I was absolutely terrified and I'd say that that fear has never really gone away.
I started therapy two years ago because I am sick of this fear blighting my holidays/travel. I love to travel and will fly because I have to in order to do this thing that I love. I had gotten a lot better and in 1997 I had several sucessful flights. I went to Prague on a conference and really enjoyed my return flight - the way there was spoiled by stag party revellers. Then in the summer of that year I went to a conference in Sweden. On the return flight I managed to sleep for the first time ever on a plane. I felt great. Then as we were coming in to land we were flying through a storm - remember the year of the floods? There was really heavy turbulence, so bad that my friend who is usually calm was concerned. Then there was this really strange noise in the plane - I since asked a pilot accquaintence of mine and he thought in could have been hail passing through the engines. Anyway, we were seated in the middle and aisle seat of the over-wing emergency exit and suddenly there was a flash at the window. People were screaming - it was horrible. The guy next to us saw that I was completely flipping out and he said that we had been struck by lightning but that we were safe and would land. We did and when I looked at the plane there was a black mark where the lightning hit. I have since learned that this is okay and quite a common occurence. It really shook me though and pretty much undid all of the progress I had made.
I will still fly though and in fact am leaving tomorrow to visit my sister in Prague. I have really been spinning out about the flight though and have been going through a range of destructive thought processes from thinking that I'm going to die to just worrying about being up there panicking. I'm feeling a little better having written this and listened to the flying without fear cd's.
In April I'm going to Australia for thee months and really want to be better about flying by then. The pilot accquaintence I spoke about earlier suggested that I take a flying lesson with him. I'd like to - and I have been in a small aircraft before and loved it. I'd like to be in a place where I felt my fear was managable and not controlling of me.
So I flew to Prague and back - it was okay. In fact on the way there I had to comfort 2 girls who were way more scared than me!
I listened to the cd's before I left and found breaking the flight up into chunks really useful. I hate take off but was able to shut off from it once I was in the air and actually, dare I say it, enjoyed parts of my journey.
However I logged on to Yahoo today - they have news items that flash up - one of them was about a cargo plane that crashed at Norita airport in Tokyo. O don't know why but I clicked on it and it said that the plane crashed because of 'low-level turbulence or wind shear, sudden gusts that can lift or smash an aircraft into the ground during landing'. This is the second incident of this at Norita in 2 months.
So I'm flying to Norita in 2 weeks and am now really anxious about it - I thought that turbulence was harmless?
Any information you could give would be great. I also started therapy again and it's helping. I wanted to come to the course later in the month but just don't have time.
Sudden gusts won't smash the plane into the ground. Avoid reading press reports. You know planes have accidents like cars do that's a fact. Concentrate on the likliehood of it happening not the conseequences.