I'm 22 and have an irrational fear of flying. I say irrational because i flew to Spain (and back!) when I was about 15 with school and had no problems. I wasn't in the least scared of the flight and had great journeys each way. But for some reason, I have developed a serious fear.

It's not the flying so much that scares me, but the thought of crashing. I know planes crash incredibly rarely, but it's the thought of it CAN happen so what if it actually does? I have no problem on any other mode of transport and am aware that they can and do crash more than planes do, but i guess it's the fact of being on the ground that isn't so scary.

Does anyone have any advice about crashing? Like actual rates they happen, what causes them etc. I'll be flying to Canada in July with either Air Canada or Globespan. Air Canada haven't had a fatal crash since 1998, Globespan i don't know anything about other than being in the news a bit for endangering lives with unsafe planes or something. I guess i'm curious to what actually can make a plane go down, besides the Ryan Air experience of birds flying into the engines

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Hi Richard

Well done for writing to us and saying how you feel. Here's what I think, and I've been involved in aviation for 49 years.

What evidence is there that planes crash so often that you should develop such a fear? Don't be curious about what makes a plane go down because you'll never get the answer. Or at least you'll never be satisfied with any answers you get. Why don't you worry about having a heart attack instead? That's far more likely.

I'm glad that you are so honest about your feelings because you know your starting point. Well done.

Now the next thing to do is to stop saying things like this:

Globespan I don't know anything about other than being in the news a bit for endangering lives with unsafe planes or something.

Notice the or something at the end. What does that do to your confidence? What does it mean? By your own admission in the news a bit. How much is a bit?

I fully understand wehat you say and why you say it...you're like many anxious flyers, frightened by the fear and unaware of the facts.

What should you do? First accept that your line of reasoming is quite misplaced, then discover the facts, then get used to the facts, find some thought stippong techniques and STOP gathering nonsense from the media.

I know that I must sound very unsympathetic, but I'm not or I wouldn't spend everyday of my life trying to help people with this fear and pay to do it!

But you must help yourself, there are no miracle cures or courses, there's lots of help we can give you but you must be ready to face your fear...it's your fear and only you can fix it. Everyone here will help and support you though for as long as you need us to.

Have a look around our old forum and see how many people felt just like you do right now but who went on to overcome their fears. Be confident that you can do it because I am.

Keith
Hi Richard,

I am exactly like you, I have an irrational fear of flying, and paradoxically take comfort in reading quite a lot about plane crashes as it helps remind me 1/ how rare they are, 2/ that very, very few of them are due to technical failure these days as all safety issues are attended to, and so today's crashes are very often down to human error, which is inevitable, and 3/ crashes mostly happen on non-commercial aircrafts or in parts of the world where safety requirements are not as strict as in the Western world.

The following website has a database of crashes which occurred in the past 80 years or so, you will see that at the start, a lot of the crashes happened because of technical failure, and it hardly ever is the case nowadays:
http://www.planecrashinfo.com/database.htm

Also note the very low proportion of commercial aircraft crashes as compared to military / private aircraft.

It's not to say that crashes no longer happen, but just remember that you would have to be EXTREMELY unlucky if this happened to the aircraft you were on!

Good luck with it and remember taht if the fear happened all of the sudden, it might also go away on its own one day!

claire
Hi

If this works for you fine, but once you know that planes are safe what's the point in dragging up stuff?

You'll perpetuate the fears...in my opinion. Why not try living without these satistics now? I know it'll be hard but using this mechanism to 'hide behind' is an avoidance strategy which you'll never be free of. Would you recommend that an ex-alcoholic popped into a bar or pub to check on how he/she is doing?

Horrible fact is that you have to face the fear head on....then you'll be free.

I know I don't and cannot understand how all embracing this fear is, so how can I really know what works and what doesn't work, but the statistics say that what you're doing, in the long run doesn't help you.

But, but, but, I'm not you. But I am on your side in helping you strange though it may appear. Truth trumps everything.

Best wishes

Keith
Hi Keith,

I've said this before and I still mean it, you are doing an amazing job with this website and this helps a lot of people.

But different people have different fears, and different ways of coping with their fear. An avoidance strategy would be to avoid reading about crashes, and treat them as though they were not worth talking about.

The truth is that they DO happen, albeit very rarely, and it IS, for some people, relevant to read why. I'm going to give an example. Someone whose fear of flying is caused by the fear of technical failure, might be greatly reassured to read that very few crashes are caused by this nowadays. This is fact isn't it? Someone who is not scared of dying in a fire, but who is scared of falling down, might be reassured to read that accidents happen mostly at take off and landing rather than in the air.

You said somewhere that the key was to give people facts and tell them the truth, but it is important to remember that different facts reassure different people. I don't see why wanting to know some facts should be considered as avoidance strategies and others as ways of helping one's self.

In either case, it is true that fear should be faced head on... but that's what everyone is doing, ultimately, anyway: Richard will be on a plane to Canada in July and I will be on planes to Greece in April, to Italy in May, and to Australia this Summer (I have a new job!). So flying will not be avoided. The hardest thing to avoid, however, is the fear itself, and that's what everyone here is trying to do, using many different strategies.

I agree that truth trumps everything, and I do know that you are on our side, and am very grateful for it.

All the best
claire
Claire, i agree 100%. My fear was/is the thought of crashing, i've always said 'no i'm not scared of flying, it's the crashing that scares me!'. Seeing figures that, for instance, there were only 29 crashes last year and of those i tihnk only 1 was a major airline is greatly reassuring to me. Knowing that there is unlikely for any technical failures is what reassures me most - i think the main fear is that the plane is so high up, and knowing that it just won't fall down is the bit that settles my fear
Well said folks and you know that I'm here to state my bit and listen and learn....that way we succeed in dealing with this particular fear. I agree that you are facing your fear by taking the flights...and that's commendable. Sorry if I sound dogmatic...that's not the intention ever.
Keith

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