Tips from a Pilot against Fear of Flying
I quite frequently receive emails by people that ask me for tips against fear of flying. That doesn’t surprise me because many people are affected by this issue. So if you’re one of them you’re not alone 🙂
In flight school we learned that over 50% of all passengers have some sort of fear of flying. Even some big travel bloggers feel uneasy when they have to enter an airplane. Hence, the topic “fear of flying” is an important issue and I hope to help some of you through my blog post 🙂
First of all a few facts that should calm you:
1) Pilots and technicians know what they’re doing
All pilots and airplane technicians have passed a hard apprenticeship, that only the best have passed. Most Airlines require their pilots to have a proficiency check twice a year where they are especially tested in handling difficult situations such as an engine failure. Especially such “Abnormals” are always being retrained. Even I had a case where a big bird hit our airplane and damaged one wing. A larger passanger airplane would have probably not even been affected by one bird. But even in such situations you keep calm and handle the situation with a clear mind. Hence, nothing bad happened and we landed the airplane safely 🙂
2) The airplane is still by far the safest transportation means in the world
Almost every day you hear and read about deadly car-, bus- or train accidents. Only looking at the statistics you recognize that you hardly ever hear about an airplane crash. The possibility that a pilot dies on his way to the airport (either by car accident or even by getting hit by a car) is much higher that dying through an airplane crash. Hence, you should trust the statistics 😀
3) An airplane doesn’t fall from the sky
Even having a complete engine failure (which hardly ever happens, because most passenger airplanes have at least two engines) the airplane can fly without engines. How would glider airplanes be able to fly otherwise since they don’t even have an engine? 😉 The best example is the Hudson River case where the pilot safely landed the airplane through gliding. During flight training almost every checkride contained an engine failure where we had to show that we can fly the airplane safely even without an engine. Hence, pilots are able to fly an airplane even completely without engines.
4) Turbulences aren’t bad
Some people get especially scared when the airplane starts to shake. Turbulences aren’t bad though! The shaking is often simply caused by small storms or air holes in the atmosphere. A large passenger airplane is hardly affected by that. All airplanes have been built so strongly that they could withstand much worse things 😀
Besides these facts I also have some tips for you guys, how to better handle fear of flying:
1) Never enter the airplane with an empty stomach
Many people feel unwell entering an airplane. This feeling is mostly in your tummy. If in addition you have a feeling of being hungry and dizziness through not eating enough food, this will only make this unwell feeling worse. So definitely try to eat something before entering the airplane.
2) Drink enough water before and during the flight
For a good blood circulation it’s extremely important to drink enough water. Best ist to buy yourself a bottle of water after the security check so that you’ll always have some water on hand during the flight.
3) Don’t soothe your fear through alhohol
Trying to soothe their fear of flying some people grab alcohol during the flight. This is not the right solution. I’ve had it myself that I was sitting in an airplane as a passenger with some rest alcohol 😀 Even though it was a very short flight from Vienna to Frankfurt this flight will always be remembered my worst flight ever 😛 Hence, don’t do it!
4) Disctract yourself
It might help some people to distract yourself during the flight. Take a good book, some relaxing music etc. with you in the airplane.
5) Select a good seat
Most Airlines offer even prior to checkin the possibility to select a seat. Most people with fear of flying find it better having an isle seat so they won’t have such a strong feeling of being narrowed. Hence, already select a good seat prior to getting to the airport.
6) Talk in detail with a pilot
Even better having a pilot showing you the cockpit. I believe that most people only have fear of flying because they don’t know which noises are normal and which aren’t. For instance during flap extension some people believe it’s a technical failure although this belongs to the normal landing procedure. So if you have the chance visit a flight deck, book a flight in a simulator or fly next to a pilot who can explain everything to you in more detail. Because knowledge and clarity helps prevent fear of the unknown 🙂
7) Think about visiting a seminar against fear of flying
At very severe cases I can recommend visiting a fear of flying seminar. You will not only meet like-minded people there you may also have a look at the cockpit or talk about the various phases of flight. Of course this won’t be necessary for everyone but for some it might be a great idea 🙂
Do you have other questions?
Many happy landings 🙂
On my YouTube channel you can find a video of mine about Aviation: