I have been nervous about flying my whole life. The very first time I flew was in a tiny plane called a Boeing 737 back in 1978; I had my three children with me the youngest being six months old. It was a four-hour flight, it was nighttime, and there was an insane amount of turbulence.
How I survived was by imagining I was on a bus on a bumpy gravel road in the countryside.
Since then I have been to Europe about five times and on several other planes inside Europe, and each time I have to pretend that I am not terrified. Each time I imagine my funeral in my head while I am packing.
Even with all that I still march myself up the stairs or along the tarmac or through the tunnel all the time sure that I am entering the instrument of my imminent death. Maybe this is real courage, or maybe I have learned to just wade through the fear.
The first time I flew to Europe was especially challenging because it was to be an 8 hour flight and it was in October of 2001, one month after 9/11. Needless to say, I had visions of terrorists dancing in my head for weeks beforehand. I asked my husband if we were to fly over Afghanistan, his answer was to get out the globe and show me where Afghanistan was in relation to the Netherlands which was our destination. Not even close!
Did I mention that I completely ignored geography in school and thought it was boring?
I had to find a way to get over my fear of taking this flight and the way I did that was to research how many crashes there were on airlines during the last few years before my scheduled trip.
The airline we were using at the time was Air Transat. I discovered that there were very few crashes involving Air Transat and surprisingly most were caused by human error. Not terrorists or mechanical failures or bombs in the sky. I know that is crazy, but amazingly it may me feel more secure about flying.
A plane stays up in the air due to something called Aerodynamics. If you’re anything like me, you think they can explain it to me a hundred times, and you still won’t get it. I guess there is a plausible explanation about why planes fly. If you’re an engineer that is.
Here is a picture from ExplainthatStuff.com depicting how planes get up in the air.
Turbulence on your flight for some can be very scary, but in nearly all instances it is normal and unavoidable. A few different events can cause turbulence such as the wind, rising air, jet streams, and mountains, if you would like to read more on Turbulence, this is an excellent article and explains it in-depth.
So how do I stop from being nervous when flying? I guess the best answer is just not thinking about the possibility of anything going wrong.
Keep your mind occupied, read a book, bring your knitting, watch a movie, drink the cocktails, take a tranquilizer.
I have done all of these things, and they do help.
One other thing I do is watch the flight crew and take notice of how calm they are, and try to remember that the last thing any of them want is to crash the plane.
I hope this has helped some of you who may also have issues with the fear of flying. Leave a comment about your flying experiences and how you may have coped with your fear or if you’re not afraid at all let us know why that is.
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