I got really nervous when flying solo back to Korea and there was no hand to hold. Drinking is also a good option, I agree. Thanks for sharing this, Matt. It helped me look at my own fears while living through yours. Ironically, what helped me out, was my little brother taking me up in a small propeller plane. He explained every check that he did, I got to listen to him talk to the tower, he explained what things meant in the air.
And I would get full on panic attacks the night before long flights. We will see what happens for my next long flight…. Thanks for this! A strange thing happens on many Canadian flights to tropical destinations… The minute the wheels hit the ground, the passengers start to applaud. Although… there was that recent incident… Damn! Just when I was about convinced…. For the first time. It took me just 30 seconds to realise that he had a fear of flying and from then on, I took him in hand.
I showed him a map of the British Isles and how near we were, I asked about his friends and family, his mother was a professor and his mates were in England waiting for him , I gave him some sweets he ate them all , I shared my biscuits and snacks, he ate them too and I even told him some travel stories of my time in Asia…! This young stranger grabbed my hand on the whole flight.
And I let him! I tried to focus on reading or watching movie but I end up not understanding anything. I decided to visit my doctor a week before I travel to get a prescription. I am glad that I am not alone. Oh my gosh!! This has been so interesting reading all the comments. I am just like Matt and many of you and I find it really helpful when I see statistics such as 45 million!!! But it does not stop me from travelling.. I totally relate to your turbulence thoughts! This is a great article! I love to travel but flying really is anxious-laden for me. I share your fear of lack of control and unease with heights.
One trick that I use in addition to your three is I try to break the flight up into segments minutes for a domestic flight, minutes for international. The goal is try to stay distracted just for the segment — I watch a movie, read, chat with my traveling companion or stranger or flight attendant or do anything that actively engages my mind.
If I can get through the segment, I do a couple minutes of reciting safety facts in my head and breathing exercises to calm myself. Then I start over! Thanks again for posting — very reassuring and a reminder that fear of flying is not a reason to not travel! Props to you for overcoming your fear so often! One of the best aids to dispensing with thefear of flying is to get yourself off to the health food shop or a pharmacy that deals in complementary therapies.
If you can get the Rescue Remedy in spray form, even better. Up to a month before your planned flight, start to take the Mimulus. During this period, whenever you feel anxious about the idea of the flight, three drops or a spray or two of Rescue Remedy as soon as you feel it. About three days before the flight, take the Rescue Remedy just as you are doing the Mimulus. On the day of the flight, use the Rescue Remedy any time you feel anxious or nervous.
Give this a shot. I have revisited this article from last week and discovered from all the responses that there is a lot of anxiety about flying. I knew there were some, but had no idea to the extent. It is an eye opener. It is still safer to fly that to drive in a car, yet we drive all the time with no fear. There are several metropolitan cities in the US where there are fearful flying classes to help you break the habit and learn new techniques.
It combines education about flying, planes, how they work and the aviation industry with a Psychologist who is also a pilot that teaches coping mechanisms and retraining your brain. You get to visit an airplane maintenance hangar, air traffic control, and there is a group graduation flight at the end. I suddenly became fearful of flying in and this class has helped me tremendously. A new session is starting in September! I have experienced anxiety over flying, too.
The world's scariest (real) in-flight announcements
I prefer riding in vehicles where I can see the road instead of flying in a plane where all I can see outside my window are the clouds. I was needless to say extremely nervous. Ever since then I have real issues with turbulence. I also make sure the air is pointed right at me — I feel like that helps me stay calm.
Thanks for all of the suggestions! Well, at least I am not the only one. I fly a lot for work, thankfully, only domestic travel is necessary. The twist to my fear of flying is that, wait for it, my little brother is a pilot for Southwest. Good news is that over the years my fear has lessened considerably. So, having my brother to talk to about my crazy fear has been very helpful.
Even though he rolls his eyes at people like me, he always patiently walks me through why this or that bump happened. I also always try to fly Southwest because I imagine my brother flying the plane, which cuts out that whole stranger in the cockpit thing. I also know how much training he has had more than you can imagine , how often he has to do check rides a lot!
Bottom line, he along with all of the pilots on U. They are tested and re-tested more than any other job I know. My brother has taken me up in smaller planes, showed me how everything works, and he has let me talk with mechanics who work on the planes they are serviced almost every other week. If you can make friends with a pilot, your fears might lessen a bit. And Matt, your confession makes your way of living even greater.
Good gracious Matt…. I frigging hate it! Cheers to you. It used to not be the case… I started flying at 6 months old and have flown so much in my 29 years. Maybe because turbulence almost seems the norm rather than the occasional occurrence? At least it feels like that to me! My trick is to watch the flight attendants. This post really resonated with me! And in many places really made me laugh — as I have gone though exactly the same thought process!! I was absolutely fine with flying until a bad experience on an hour flight from Glasgow to London.
It freaked me out. After that, I developed an awful fear of flying — the problem was, I loved travelling. When we landed, I relax for a day or two, before panicking about the flight home. At this time, my husband was an aeronautical engineer — he knew how planes worked and was confident that if I understood more, it would help.
And things started to get better….. Now, I actually enjoy flying. I literally just posted a blog myself about my fear of flying.
Subsequently, any sort of turbulence makes me feel nervous. Fear when flight takes off, fear when flight lands, fear when in clouds and the sounds that flight produces. Why to be afraid? Life is inpredictable, live it to the fullest. No one knows about the next moment. Omg…I hear you! On a recent flight from Chengdu to Lhasa, it was SO turbulent the entire flight, I just started howling! Balling my eyes out with my head in my hands. I was the only non-Chinese person on the plane and no one spoke a word of English to comfort me. We were flying over the Himalayas the whole flight and all I could see out the window was jagged razor sharp peaks, I knew if we went down there would be no where to make an emergency landing!
To make matters worse, when you land in Lhasa the oxygen is so thin you need to preserve your breath and keep your heart rate low, but I was having a full scale panic attack, had to buy a can of oxygen at the airport and I felt weird for about 2 days. Needless to say I was very happy I was getting the train back. One tip I have that seems to calm me is to imagine a speed boat bouncing on the water as it speeds along. When it gets bumpy I think of that and it makes me feel better. I did a flying with confidence course and I discovered that I find planes and flight theory very interesting.
I found my fear is of other people on the plane. I question security — it particuarly worries me in other countries where you can jump security queues for a fee etc. I worry about planes being hit by missiles or having bombs planted. Ridiculous I know.
Man who stole plane before fatal crash: I've 'got a few screws loose'
Its a lottery. But why did they not declare the airspace as being unsafe? They reckon that people could have been alive for up to 10 seconds before passing out. Its this sort of stuff that bothers me. I was never afraid to fly until I had my daughter. Since then getting on a plane and travel in general has been petrifying to me. Seriously though, really enjoyed this post, you made me giggle and I did like the hard statistics. I know I came here a bit late, but one thing that helps me is imagining the plain as a big metal buggy I love buggies.
This blog was very helpful, because I am going to be flying around the world in 5 days and I have awful flying anxiety. The tips about Fake it until you make it sounds very helpful, but definitely the most helpful tip I think for me is the Say the Facts because it will let my brain work through the science and math that I most likely will be just fine. Hopefully these tips works! Thanks for the information, I was doing a google search and your site came up for fear of flying. Knowing others feel the same way. Makes me feel less bad of me.
More normal. I also keep saying :no plane has fallen from turbulence. Last flight I was flying from Miami in business class and I had a panicked attack. I though we were going to crash. All this to a combination of turbulence and the last estate star wars movie. All those flashes made my mind go hay wire. I finaly had help. They gave me a Ativan and it went away and it calmed me down. As I continued my flight to my airport. I felt bad. But still made it. The worst is I kept telling myself. U know u will land safe. U see hundreds of u get sleeve and return every week. Its there the phobia.
Heights and fear of crash. My favorites part ironically are take off and landing. I mostly panick at cruise speed with turbulence! Ativans on my wallet for next trip for sure. One had a calm smile and the other looked worriedly serious and tense. Naturally my negative thoughts immediately kicked in. What if the pilot told her we are being held hostage?! Or she overheard the pilots talking about some troubles with the plane. I told myself maybe she had a long or off day, because the plane landed safety Celebration inside my head.
Side note: I get tense as when taking off and feel super numb especially when that climb feels jolty. Omg this is exactly how i feel.
It just keeps making more afraid. I think I will follow your tips and get some wine. I have a terrible fear of flying! I would just plan on going to sleep, but I have sleep apnea and snore sooo horribly that my co-passengers would be ready to kill me : ….. Liz I am 5 days away from travelling overseas.. I am terrified! I count, yes just count until the terror passes.. I am too busy watching everything including cabin crew. I listed to every little sound, every changing sound….
I follow the plane path on the screen for 13 hours. Yes I take pills to take the edge off and drink heaps! I am a fit health conscious person, I hate taking pills but when flying I make an exception. Hi Matt… good post. My fear of flying is completely mental! I am wondering if I am the only one? It gives me massive heebeejeebees! I take Xanax and wine! Anybody else mainly scared of the middle bit and the height?
That is exactly the part that I hate!
1. "I undid my seatbelt for no apparent reason, and it saved my life"
I can deal with the take offs and landings, but the hours and hours and hours in the air, hitting bumps and what not just freaks me out. I am taking my first international flight in September Seattle to Tokyo. I used to be thrilled when flying. Absolutely loved it. Totally fascinated. Cotton wool clouds… sunsets, sunrises — just incredible. The turbulence might only have been little bubbles or bumps but I truly thought I was going to die. Not again. Some places I want to see though…. Im scared of going to concerts, being in elevators, alot of things where I am not in control.
Im only fourteen and this is my first time flying, does anyone have any advice for me? Im prone to panic attacks and constant worry, Im scared I will get onto the plane but have panic attacks and cry till I am landing. Im very worried that I will try to back out of it but I wont be able to and Ill spend my entire vacation worrying about the flight home! I did learn something recently that might be useful though — the plane only needs one engine to land — so if one engine goes in the very unlikely event that this happens , the plane can divert to the nearest airport safely.
This helps my fear — which is that somehow the engines will stop working, and the plane will fall out of the sky. This article and the comments has helped me so much. I recently became an anxious flyer due to a bumpy flight to Cancun. I hate the turbulence!! If today my number should be up, well sod it, at least I was brave enough to face my fear on my last day.
Bravo to all of you who are undertaking to fly whilst being so afraid, that my dears is the meaning of TRUE courage and we merit a lot praise. Further to my post above, should anyone be interested; I did it. So worst case senario fully obtained. So here we are, a balmy 19c on Christmas night. It was totally worth it. Fear is just that. Not reality.
Live you life NOW. Enjoy your Christmas where ever you are. I used to be an international student so I always flew back and forth from Edmonton — Canada to Guayaquil — Ecuador home. I never really had a problem until when I experienced rough turbulence. Ever since I have a phobia of flying and I hate planes. My fear has only gotten worse; it seems like everytime I fly now theres turbulence. The worst experience I had was going from Ecuador to Panama.
The plane literally plummeted a couple thousand feet and that completely put me through the edge and I had a horrible panic attack! That gets me through a hour flight, I usually wake up during decent slam a water bottle when I land and feel pretty decent just a little groggy.
I have flown all my life. As a child I thought it was fun because the adults made sure we had toys and candy and I was high up- like in a roller coaster. That is until this new trip I am taking next month. Maybe its being over the ocean for so long? Oh My goodness! You have such sense of humour. Honestly, I laughed so hard because, when I am traveling, I am often having the same thoughts, so now I know I am not alone out there.
Of course, I know many people are afraid of flying, but have never heard or read someone to talk about it in such a clever way. Thank you so much for this post! Excellent indeed. Another weird thing considering my fear is that I feel more comfortable in a window seat.
Of course, that leaves my poor husband in the middle most of the time. Thanks for a great post! This is me and my mental state of mind before and when I fly. Btw i just came back from a trip to Europe, changed 3 planes from huge to tiny…the flight from London to Zagreb was bumpy, my first experience and I was so scared?? Thank you for this!!! Will be reading this in the airport again! This article totally resonated with me. Except for turbulence. How do I do it? I like the late night flights.
If I can be asleep before takeoff, that is my ideal plan. It gets me through the worst part for me. Eat dinner a few hours before. Take a sleeping pill or an antihistamine about an hour before boarding. I turn the AC up right in my face. I drink cold water. I breathe deep and mediate. Totally identify with that fear of falling. I learned about my fear of falling climbing Ayers Rock in Australia. I was hyperventilating and not even realizing that I had a white knuckle death grip on the chain going up and down the chain was installed to prevent falls. Once I got to the flat portions, normal breathing returned and I looked out high above the land without a care or fear.
It was then that I realized the fear of falling — and ultimately the landing — was an undiscovered phobia. On the way down, I white knuckled the chain and kept low to the ground, just in case…. I also have a fear of large bodies of water. Specifically, being in them. The F. But Mr. Michaelis pushed Boeing to consider calling for an additional one to update the software. Such a procedure would have required Boeing and airlines in the United States to take immediate action to ensure the safety of the Max, and would have likely taken the jet out of service temporarily.
Michaelis said. He added that he felt confident that pilots had adequate training to deal with a problem, especially now that pilots — who were not initially informed about the new system — were aware of it. Sinnett said in the meeting. The pilots expressed frustration that Boeing did not inform them about the new software on the plane until after the Lion Air crash.
Another American pilot, Todd Wissing, expressed frustration that no mention of the system had been included in the training manual for the Max. Wissing said. The Boeing executives, Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Yes, let's call them in the back, to let them know Yes, Marilyn, it's Pierre up front Listen, in 2 minutes, we're going to be getting into an area where things are going to be moving around a little bit more than now. You'll want to take care. Well, I think that's not a bad idea. Give your friends a heads-up. Merci beaucoup. Yeah, okay, I'll tell the others in the back.
Thanks a lot. I'll call you back as soon as we're out of it. The two copilots discuss the unusually elevated external temperature, which has prevented them from climbing to their desired altitude, and express happiness that they are flying an Airbus , which has better performance at altitude than an Airbus Let's go for the anti-icing system.
It's better than nothing. Because they are flying through clouds, the pilots turn on the anti-icing system to try to keep ice off the flight surfaces; ice reduces the plane's aerodynamic efficiency, weighs it down, and in extreme cases, can cause it to crash. We seem to be at the end of the cloud layer, it might be okay. In the meantime Robert has been examining the radar system and has found that it has not been set up in the correct mode. Changing the settings, he scrutinizes the radar map and realizes that they are headed directly toward an area of intense activity.
You can possibly pull it a little to the left. On est d'accord qu'on est en manuel, hein? We're agreed that we're in manual, yeah? Bonin wordlessly banks the plane to the left. Suddenly, a strange aroma, like an electrical transformer, floods the cockpit, and the temperature suddenly increases. At first, the younger pilot thinks that something is wrong with the air-conditioning system, but Robert assures him that the effect is from the severe weather in the vicinity.
Bonin seems ill at ease. Then the sound of slipstream suddenly becomes louder. This, presumably, is due to the accumulation of ice crystals on the exterior of the fuselage. Bonin announces that he is going to reduce the speed of the aircraft, and asks Robert if he should turn on a feature that will prevent the jet engines from flaming out in the event of severe icing. Just then an alarm sounds for 2. The cause is the fact that the plane's pitot tubes, externally mounted sensors that determine air speed, have iced over, so the human pilots will now have to fly the plane by hand.
Note, however, that the plane has suffered no mechanical malfunction. Aside from the loss of airspeed indication, everything is working fine. Otelli reports that many airline pilots and, indeed, he himself subsequently flew a simulation of the flight from this point and were able to do so without any trouble. But neither Bonin nor Roberts has ever received training in how to deal with an unreliable airspeed indicator at cruise altitude, or in flying the airplane by hand under such conditions.
Perhaps spooked by everything that has unfolded over the past few minutes—the turbulence, the strange electrical phenomena, his colleague's failure to route around the potentially dangerous storm—Bonin reacts irrationally. He pulls back on the side stick to put the airplane into a steep climb, despite having recently discussed the fact that the plane could not safely ascend due to the unusually high external temperature. Bonin's behavior is difficult for professional aviators to understand. In such a situation, "we go through an iterative assessment and evaluation process," Nutter explains, before engaging in any manipulation of the controls.
Almost as soon as Bonin pulls up into a climb, the plane's computer reacts. A warning chime alerts the cockpit to the fact that they are leaving their programmed altitude. Then the stall warning sounds. This is a synthesized human voice that repeatedly calls out, "Stall! At a critical speed, a wing suddenly becomes much less effective at generating lift, and a plane can plunge precipitously. All pilots are trained to push the controls forward when they're at risk of a stall so the plane will dive and gain speed. The Airbus's stall alarm is designed to be impossible to ignore.
Yet for the duration of the flight, none of the pilots will mention it, or acknowledge the possibility that the plane has indeed stalled—even though the word "Stall! Throughout, Bonin will keep pulling back on the stick, the exact opposite of what he must do to recover from the stall. There's no good The plane is soon climbing at a blistering rate of feet per minute. While it is gaining altitude, it is losing speed, until it is crawling along at only 93 knots, a speed more typical of a small Cessna than an airliner.
Robert notices Bonin's error and tries to correct him. Pay attention to your speed. He is probably referring to the plane's vertical speed. They are still climbing. On est en train de monter selon lui… Selon lui, tu montes, donc tu redescends. It says we're going up It says we're going up, so descend. Thanks to the effects of the anti-icing system, one of the pitot tubes begins to work again.
The cockpit displays once again show valid speed information. Bonin eases the back pressure on the stick, and the plane gains speed as its climb becomes more shallow. It accelerates to knots. The stall warning falls silent. For a moment, the co-pilots are in control of the airplane. Yet, still, Bonin does not lower the nose. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Robert pushes a button to summon the captain. The plane has climbed to feet above its initial altitude , and though it is still ascending at a dangerously high rate, it is flying within its acceptable envelope.
But for reasons unknown, Bonin once again increases his back pressure on the stick, raising the nose of the plane and bleeding off speed. Again, the stall alarm begins to sound. Still, the pilots continue to ignore it, and the reason may be that they believe it is impossible for them to stall the airplane. It's not an entirely unreasonable idea: The Airbus is a fly-by-wire plane; the control inputs are not fed directly to the control surfaces, but to a computer, which then in turn commands actuators that move the ailerons, rudder, elevator, and flaps.
The vast majority of the time, the computer operates within what's known as normal law, which means that the computer will not enact any control movements that would cause the plane to leave its flight envelope. The flight control computer under normal law will not allow an aircraft to stall, aviation experts say. But once the computer lost its airspeed data, it disconnected the autopilot and switched from normal law to "alternate law," a regime with far fewer restrictions on what a pilot can do.
In alternate law, pilots can stall an airplane. It's quite possible that Bonin had never flown an airplane in alternate law, or understood its lack of restrictions. Therefore, Bonin may have assumed that the stall warning was spurious because he didn't realize that the plane could remove its own restrictions against stalling and, indeed, had done so. Another of the pitot tubes begins to function once more.