New to all this and Eager to be fine with Flying!!!

Hi everyone,

My name is Beck and I am 21 years old and live NSW Australia.  I am really happy to have found this website and have already found lots of helpful info and stories/experiences of other people.  It is easy to forget that you probably aren't the only one on the plane who is worried.


I have only flown 2 return trips in my life.  Once from Sydney to Brisbane (about an hour and a half) and I was only very young then, I barely remember a thing. 

The second time was in October last year for a friend's 21st from Newcastle to Brisbane (about an hour's flight) which I did with 2 of my girl friends who have both flown once or twice before.  Upon arrival to the airport I hadn't really considered the fact that I could be scared of flying, I guess I thought I would know about it if I was :-)  So I got on the plane and definitely was not comfortable at all, I had the window seat too which I didn't know whether it was a good thing or not - The confined space was just so small and it seemed like everyone was just packing in and not worried and mean while I am sitting in my little seat thinking "Oh My God I don't think I am ok with all of this happening maybe I should just get off before they close all the doors and then it will be really embarrassing".  But I just kept my cool and started looking for distractions - I started reading the magazines that were in the back of the seat in front of me, then the safety procedures, then looking at things in my handbag and thinking that if I act like everything is ok then it will be.  This was all before we had even started moving!!!


So anyway I told my friends I was a bit uneasy and told them I need to have something to distract me - so they talked to me and were really good about it, then we started taking off and I swear I nearly screamed and vomitted.  I was so so SO scared.  It was the worst feeling of not knowing what was happening or what to expect so I was hyperventilating and white knuckled.  A nice lady across the aisle was worried about me so she randomly gave me an apple to chew on, which suprisingly helped.  From then on I was very very nervous but sort of ok.  As soon as the stewardesses starting coming around I ordered a Vodka and something to eat (which is unlike me - I am not a big drinker or eater) and scoffed those by this time it was nearly landing and everything out the window started becoming increasingly closer at a rapid pace and I thought "Wow this is it, I'm actually gunna die".  So we landed and I wasn't dead which was a big relief and I was THAT excited to have my feet on the ground!


Then came the returning flight from Brisbane to Newcastle.  WELL... wasn't that interesting.  It was rainy and windy and night and freezing cold and we were all hung over and feeling shakey as it was.  I was worried about the flight but knew I didn't have an alternative and that I had to get on, so reluctantly I did.  Pretty much from as soon as I got on the plane I was head down in my pillow squeezing my friend's hands till I nearly broke their fingers.  I heard weird noises as we were taking off and it was pitch black outside.  Hands Down worst anxiety feeling ever!  The rest of the flight consisted of my hyperventilating, requesting as many drinks as they would permit me to have and also crying nearly hysterically.  I promised myself in that moment I would NEVER fly again.  And I am a person who keeps their promises :-). 


Sooooo the problem is that in August my partner and another couple are flying to New Zealand (Queenstown) which is a 4hr flight there and 4.5 hrs back.  I am literally in massive panic attack mode already!  I am currently seeing a psychologist about it, but am just so worried that I'll get to the airport and bail on everyone and they'll be stuck standing there saying "Where the Heck is Beck???" and I'll be cowering in the toilet not coming out!


Writing this has been more about me processing what happened when this fear developed, so I'm sorry if it makes little sense to anyone else and is nearly novel sized but I think knowing what went wrong will help me fix it maybe.


Beck :-)

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Comment by Captain Keith on May 23, 2011 at 5:49pm

Thanks Phoebe

Hope you're enjoying your hols. 3 times eh? Doesn't seem true does it?



Comment by Phoebe Jane Wilson on May 23, 2011 at 1:44pm
Comment by Phoebe Jane Wilson on May 23, 2011 at 1:42pm

Hi Beck


I too have flown from Newcastle to Brisbane.....but Newcastle in the UK lol....believe me my first post should have been a novel I have added the link in case you want to read it :)


I am currently on the Gols Coast of your beautiful country as I speak, this is now my 3rd journey here to see my family this time with the added bonus of a new grandson and I could never have done it without Keith, this site and the friends here who have supported me.


As others have said read and learn everything you can about noises etc I cant tell you how much they helped me when I forst experienced the dreaded 'turbulance'.


You WILL make that trip and with the knowledge you will find here I am sure a lot more comfortably than your last encounter. Put the last one behind you and start from here, stay POSITIVE and you CAN do it. If I can believe me so can you :)


Phoebe x

Comment by Captain Keith on May 23, 2011 at 11:23am

Have you seen Dr Smiths book......she's in Sydney....brilliant for you


It's our Volume 3 Flying without Fear Find it here

Comment by Captain Keith on May 23, 2011 at 11:19am



I was chatting with the people on the course this week end and I said that some questions to me are like asking a gardening expert 'Why is grass green?'...well it just is...I know there's sunlight acting on chlorofyil and all that stuff, but in the main you don't need to know why grass is green to cut the grass. Not that it's a wrong question to ask but  to those involved it's so ordinarily part of things and so much a part of everyday work that we see it from different ends of the spectrum. In fact your questions help me to understand how fearful flyers perceive things. SO KEEP THEM COMING  PLEASE!


Now then connecting that to flying...somethings are  just that way...sometimes the pilot has time to chat to you sometimes he/she is busy checking the navigation or the fuel or just not thinking that the passengers would be interested or even worried.


Flying is so routine that what seems to you, complex or needing of absolute attention all the time  is everyday stuff to the crew. Grass is green and pilots do things. You mustn't think that there's a conspiracy to deny you information......although I completely understand why you think like that...I'm not meaning to be rude just trying to normalise things in your mind.

If there were something horribly wrong as you put it ...the crew would tell you and brief you as to what to do and prepare for .


Nothing sounds crazy to me or anyone else here.  By the way the evidence is that people don't panic if they're given information...panic is caused by ignorance...


hope this helps you


Captain Keith

Comment by Rebecca Currell on May 23, 2011 at 10:53am
Thanks so much for the run down of the noises. It really helps to know what to expect from the flight. It stops my imagination from wandering off!!! :-)
My only other issue and something that fueled a lot of my anxiety was that the pilot did not talk very much at all throughout the flight. I was worries that even if something was horribly wrong that they wouldn't say anything because they wouldn't want to panic people. Sounds crazy I know, but some of the noises definitely didn't sound normal and sometimes the seat belt lights would come on and I guess they don't explain everytime what that means but I definitely thought at times that the plane must be crashing or that something very wrong was happening. Having two feet on the ground now and knowing more about the mechanics of flight I can see these things aren't a big deal , but when u are a what seems to be 10000000000000 metres above the earth rational thinking certainly gets pushed aside. :-) thanks so much for your help in all this.
Comment by Captain Keith on May 23, 2011 at 8:45am

Good stuff Frank



Comment by Francis Patrick Edwards on May 23, 2011 at 7:06am

Hello Beck,

Great to read your story and no, it wasn't too long by any means. You described exactly my own "first- time" flight experience many years ago (more years than I care to remember!!) - so I can empathise 100% with everything you say.

First thing I'd say is have a look at all the areas of this site and particularly the videos section and there's one about airplane noises. There's also lots of info on relaxation techniques and related issues about fears etc. etc. so check out as much of that as you can.

I think its important to understand whats happening on the technical side, particularly when a plane is taking off and landing. As regards the noises, here's a quick run through the main events:

(a) when boarding is completed and doors are shut, the plane is backed away from the stand by a special tow-truck, there's a pause for a while and the tow-truck is disconnected from the plane. You may hear a bit of clunk/click at this point - thats just the tow-truck disconnecting - and its all absolutely normal;

(b) the plane is then standing out on the tarmac and engines are usually started at this point. This begins with a high pitched kind of whining noise and gradually become a bit louder and deeper;

(c) You may well hear another type of whining or whirring type of noise at this stage - if you are sitting near a window you'll see this is the wing flaps and slats (at the back and front of the wings) being extended - the pilots are just configuring the wings for greatest lift effect at the take-off;

(d) when the plane rolls out towards the runway under its own power, you might hear a clunky-clunk type of noise - thats the wheels going over the "cats-eyes" lighting fixtures which are set into the tamac and runway;

(e) engines are revved up quite a bit at the start of takeoff and the plane starts to move very fast - you'll feel the sensation of being pushed back in your seat as it accelerates down the runway;

 (f) a short while after takeoff you'll hear a couple of different whirring type noises - these are the undercarriage being retracted. A  little bit later there's another  "whirring" noise and this is just the flaps and slats being retracted as the pilots re-configure the wings for smoother faster flight. The noises at this stage (i.e undercarriage and flaps/slats) usually occur within the first minute or so of takeoff.

(g) the only other thing I can think of is there may and probably will be the sound of the engines increasing or decreasing their sound as the pilots again adjust things for smooth flight. Engine sounds can increase/decrease during flight as well - all perefectly normal - as the piots adjust speeds and heights etc.

(h) In essence, when going into the landing phase, the sequence is more or less the reverse of the above - engine noisees will change, the whirring of the flaps/slats as they are extended for landing and then a bit of a clunk as the undercarriage is lowered. And, hey presto, touchdown.

I hope this is of some help in understanding the noises. Do check out the site though for lots of information. Best wishes on your trip to Wellington - its a very nice city and you'll have a great time. Frank Edwards.

Comment by Captain Keith on May 20, 2011 at 11:52am

Great stuff  his is exactly why we're you can tell your story.

Captain Keith


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