Having read through many posts I feel almost a cliche in my fear of flying. What at first seemed to me to be a very odd fear to develope, is actually very common.

I am 40 years old and have probably flow at least two return flights every year for the past 20 years. Some years many more due to work. Flying never bothered me, in fact it was almost boring to me. I liked the take-off but just wanted to get to my destination for the rest of the flight. About 15 years ago I was on a flight from Paris to Manchester and there was terrible turbulence with one person shouting 'we're going down!'. Even that didn't bother me, I just could not understand how ayone could be worried about flying.

However, the flight that did change things for me was similar to many stories I see on this site. It was about three years ago on a short-hall flight from Manchester to London City. The plane was half full, it was an 8:00am flight, all the passengers looked like seasoned business travellers. It's only a 45min flight, but about 20 minutes in we hit turbulence. Under normal circumstances the passengers of this type of flight don't even glance up from their copy of the Times. But on this flight everyone was gripping the armrests, newspapers back in the seat backs, and everyone had their seat belts on. The remaining twenty minutes of the flight were terrible, I really thought we were going to crash, it felt as though the pilot had no control over the plane. I think there was a realisation here that if something did happen to a plane I was traveling on the outcome may not be quick. I'd always just accepted flying is the safest form of travel, but if things go wrong it's over very quickly. This made me think a little more about the realisation of what it might be like to be in a crash - something I had never considered before.

I still continued to fly, but only if going by train was not an option - so I stopped taking domestic flights. I would get the 5:30am train rather than the 8:00am flight. The next thing that changed was my son being old enough to go on holidays abroad. Whenever we hit turbulence I question my judgement of bringing my young son onto a plane - surely Centre Parcs would do, why are we taking this risk just to go to Florida?!?

The last flight I took was also very unpleasant. It was a night flight from Florida to Manchester. The take-off was delayed because of a massive thunderstorm that closed the airport. We were sat on the plane for an hour, whilst we waited for the lightening to subside. Finally we took-off, but there was still plenty of lightening around the area, and clearly visible all around us through the aircraft windows when we were in the air. The plane was banking very erratically, presumably to avoid the worst of the storms. What added to my already stretched nerves here, was that the cabin crew had not securely locked the doors to the drinks trays, so as the plane took off several trays of glasses came crashing down smashing everywhere. I found it very difficult to keep in control for almost the whole of the 8 hour flight. My senses have become overly sensitive on flights now, and I spend the all the time we're in the air listening for the slightest creak or clang, feeling even the slightest movement.

My most recent flights have been business flights in Virgin Upper Class so I have been able to easily get up and pace around, and generally stretch and get some 'air' - though I must say being so far forward in a plane (ahead of the pilot and front wheel) is also a little odd.

I have been determined for this fear not to stop me, my wife and six year old son from taking holidays. To this end I have booked us a family holiday to Lapland this December. However I'm beginning to get very worried about it. The plane will be a lot smaller than the planes that I've been on recently so I'm already anticipating a bit of claustrophobia, the thought of landing and taking off in snow and ice is an added worry, and with the recent escalation of my fears over the past 2 years, I'm getting very anxious that this will be the flight that I can't bring myself to get on.

I do feel a fraud having made so many flights in my life, but I feel worse with every fight that I take, and because I'm so worried about my next flight I'm not even looking forward to the holiday.

I'm going to continue looking around the site at other posts and videos, and try to decide the best course of action. There sure seems a lot of helpful advice.

Thanks for reading

Nick

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Comment by Nick on January 30, 2011 at 9:55pm

Hi Jackie,

 

Thanks for your reply. It's always reassuring to hear that you're not alone with your fears. I definitely find it is helping me reading as much as I can, especiall so that I can understand how planes work. There are a couple of small points in particular that stick in my mind.

- One is from the video where Capt Keith suggests turning on a tap/faucet and gently dangling a spoon vertically in the tips of your fingers from the end of the handle. Then moving the back of the spoon towards the flow of water. I was surprised by just how much pull the flow of water had on the back of the spoon. I had always thought the plane balanced on pockets of air, but it seems from this experiment, that the speed of the aircraft though the airs means that it is sucked up. It's a good experiment to try.

- The flight to Finland was very smooth, with very little turbulence. When we had a little I made sure that I had a glass of water half full on the table in front of me. The lack of movement of the water in the glass reminded me that we were not actually moving up or down very far at all during turbulence.

- As I said, the more I read the better I feel about things. Occasional I come across things that I previously hadn't thought about that might worry me a little, but generally more knowledge is better. 

-A final point to remember is that there is more chance of winning the jackpot in the lottery than being involved in a incident. And even if by some amazing back luck that incident does happen, the chance of that incident causing you any harm is still very small. It's hard to get over the fear using statistics, but sometimes it does help to bring me back from getting carried away with the fear.

The flight to Lapland was okay, I was worried a few days before, then about 24hrs before the flight I put it out of my mind but then the night before I got very anxious, and on the way to the airport and at the gate I was getting very concerned that I might not get on. I was travelling with my wife and 6 year old son, and I am determined to keep this fear from my son, and certainly I would never want him to miss out on travelling because of me. So I got on. We were fortunate in that we were right near the front of the plane, so we actually got to have a little chat with the pilot. He was so calm and professional that it did help to relax me. 

The time in Lapland was amazing, so I just have to crack this fear because I love to travel and show my son the world.

 

Have a great time in Florida, we have a vacation home there that we purchased when I had no problems flying. I have to visit again this year, but I'm really dreading the 8 hour flight! 

For your flight this week, just keep remembering all that you've learnt from these forums. The hardest thing to do but the thing that works best I think, is to keep your mind occupied. If you're engrossed in a film or book, the little bumps don't register, but if you're sat there just looking and listening for trouble, the slightest thing can make you tense.

 

Good luck and thanks for posting a comment. Let me know how you get on.

 

Nick

Comment by Jackie on January 25, 2011 at 4:37pm

Hi Nick,

 

I can relate to you...I feel like the fear gets worse and not better with every flight. I know the fear is irrational but yet it exists. I live in New York City so I should seriously be more afraid just to drive around here..heck my husband just got into a little fender-bender yesterday...but yet I still feel scared to get on an airplane where there is MUCH less chance of something happening.

 

I find that exploring this site and discussing my fears with others really helps. I have almost made a goal for myself to be courageous on my next flight (which is next week to Florida) this way I can report back to you all about it...almost like a journalist doing some investigative work.

 

By the way, how did your flight and holiday to Lapland go? Was it worse or better than you expected?

 

Cheers,

Jackie

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