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I don't know if I'm in the minority here because I have actually flown... when I was 18 I flew (with a friend) for the first time from London Gatwick to Schipol (Amsterdam, sorry can't remember how to spell it lol). I can't remember much about the flight there or back but I know I was scared. That was in April 2001. Well you can guess what happened, after I saw 9/11 I was like no way I am never ever ever flying again.
But this year I flew to Dublin from Gatwick. I was terrified. Again I was with a friend. But I was so so scared; every bump every noise every time the plane went up then down and oh god I thought I was going to die. Going out to Dublin the pilot suddenly comes over the tannoy and says "we're now 30,000 feet above Cardiff" I nearly screamed. Thanks Mr Pilot, like I wasn't frightened enough.
As for the return, we were coming in to land at Gatwick when suddenly we surged back up into the air, with zero explanation from the pilot... it was only upon actually landing that he apologised and said someone took our landing spot.
My fears are the fact I can't get my head around a plane being able to "fly" against gravity, the turbulance, the noise, the up and down (where it feels like your stomach is doing somersaults), the actual take off where your head and body are pulled back into the seat and the bumps and noises all that entails, the whole terrorist threat and probably least known about is my fear of solar flare effects. I'm a radio ham/shortwave listener and know how they muck up communications and electronics, if there's ever a strong flare (which is possible at sunspot max in 2012/2013) then all electronics will just cease... hence my fear of the plane dropping out the sky.
I have friends in the USA and want to visit but am terrified, it's not exactly a short flight - I don't know the shortest flight from the UK (any airport) to the nearest US airport (best friend lives in PA). I also don't like boats so going by water is out.
So, tips advice or just help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I only saw your post on the site today so apologies for lateness of reply but I hope something I say here will be helpful. First thing I'd say is to check this site thoroughly. There's many videos and one in particular deals with airplane noises. Its important to understand these if they are a worry for you.
The clunky clunk thing when the plane is taxiing and taking off is the wheels going over the "cats eyes" in the runway. Then, shortly after takeoff theres a whirring noise or noises - these are just the undercarriage being raised and the wing flaps being reshaped to their retracted position after takeoff. The wing flaps and leading edges are extended for takeoff to give the wings more lift at slow speeds. When the aircraft is airborne, just after after takeoff, the speed begins to increase rapidly and the pilots retract the flaps and leading edges to configure the wing to suit the speed of the plane. Most passenger jet aircraft takeoff at a speed of, roughly, 150 mph and as they climb to their cruising altitude they increase speed all the time until reaching cruising speed of, roughly, between 500 and 550 mph.
Also, there's another "sensation" which you may find. This is the adjustment of the engine noise after takeoff. On the takeoff run the engines are revved up a fair bit and shortly after getting airborne the pilots often "reduce" engine revs. The sensation this caused for me in the early days was that the plane was slowing down - in mid air!!!. This is not in fact the case. The way I look at this part of the process is to think of it like your car going up a long slow incline or hill on the road. You put a bit more pressure on the accelerator to get you up the hill and when on level ground again you'll find the car starts speeding up so you need to reduce the pressure on the accelerator and the car settles in to a comfortable speed again with less effort. Thats how I think of it in a plane and the principles involved are essentially the same. But it can be disconcerting if you "feel" the plane is slowing down - it very definitely is not and the sensation is just a case of our senses deceiving us when in reality the plane is gaining speed. Engine noises can change during a flight and ths is just the pilots adjusting the speed and engine work to deal with the conditions - same as you'd do in a car on the motorway. All absolutely normal. When beginning the descent, you'll find the engine noises also change a bit (up and down depending on circumstances) - but its all perfectly normal as the pilots are simly adjusting things to ensure best and smoothest approach and landing in keeping with the conditions. Again, in the landing phase you'll hear the whirring noises of the flaps being extended and the undercarriage coming down. All absolutely normal and to be expected. If you get a seat over the wing or just aft of the wing you can see the flaps action during the takeoff and landing segments of the flight.
I have no knowledge of the radio stuff and wouldn't be competent to comment on your concerns about sunspots and interference etc. Perhaps Capt. Keith may help with those technical questions.
Hope this is of some help. Frank Edwards (Ireland)
I am in Australia ATM this is my third trip, I was a terrified flyer in fact had never flown in my life before I found this site. Please read my accounts of my past 2 trips here I posted warts and all. I know it has helped others and I hope it helps you :)
Hi Phoebe :)
Thanks very much, I've read your posts and they're very inspiring :)