Fly Away from Fear

Picture this: you are granted with the opportunity to explore the destination of your dreams and the experience of a lifetime is within your grasp. Oh but wait…first you need a 16-hour flight. Sixteen hours!? While nearly everyone looks forward to vacation, it seems that almost no one looks forward to the process of getting there. Airplanes make it possible to be anywhere in the world within 24 hours; yet it is not uncommon for people to feel anxious, worried, or at least uneasy when it comes to flying. As a matter of fact, it is very common. According to flyfright.com, nearly 1 in 3 American adults feel either anxious about flying or are just straight up afraid of it.

This is absolutely understandable.

Flying makes no sense from a nonscientific perspective. The fact that a long torpedo-looking object can take off into the air at a high speed could leave any normal person wondering “how on earth?” Since humans aren’t born with the ability to fly on our own like birds, being lodged into the air on a plane is inherently unnatural for us. Yet it somehow works? It makes total sense why anyone could feel uneasy about it. However, some simple knowledge can be one of the most effective remedies to flight-related concerns. If you are one of those people who is at least somewhat uneasy about flying, here is some information and advice that can hopefully help ease your concerns!

First of all, most people are not actually afraid of flying itself, but what might happen during the flight. Most notably, crashing. Well you will be happy to hear that flights almost never crash. You are more likely to win the lottery jackpot, to become President of the United States and to marry Channing Tatum than you are to be in a plane crash. Dr. Arnold Barnett of MIT says that “a person would have to fly on average once a day every day for 22,000 years before they would die in a U.S. commercial airplane accident according to recent accident rates”. Flying is the safest form of transportation- even safer than automobiles, trains and literally everything else. Think about it this way: hundreds of thousands of flights take off and land safely every day in the world. How often do we hear about commercial plane crashes? Maybe once or twice a year. The reason why we even hear about them in the news is because they are so rare!

Even then, with continuously increasing advancements in aerospace technology flying is becoming even safer and more enjoyable! Pilots and everyone else in the field of aviation are rigorously trained and safety is always their number one priority. Airplanes are routinely checked for maintenance and if there was even a slight safety risk, you would not even be allowed to board until it was completely fixed. In the very unlikely chance that something does go wrong, installed emergency systems are designed within the plane to effectively handle any unexpected situation. So if I’m being honest, worrying about crashing really is not worth your time or energy.

Another thing that airline passengers tend to worry about is turbulence, or in other words rough air. However, turbulence is at most a cause of discomfort. Airplanes are designed to withstand even the greatest degree of turbulence. Pilots are also used to dealing with rough air, so it is no threat to them. Out of the already extremely unlikely chance that a plane will crash, it is even more unlikely that turbulence would be the cause of it. Regardless, turbulence can still be uncomfortable for people, but there are techniques that can help ease the discomfort. My father, who works for Boeing, says to think of flying as safely floating down a river. When you are going down a river, you are going to experience both calm and rapid waters- both of which are entirely normal. Turbulence is kind of like rapid waters in the fact that it is completely expected. Another psychological technique you can use to help distract you from the rough air is the grounding technique. For example, find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste, or a combination of any of these, and turn your focus to that instead of the air. Of course these are just two of many techniques and certain ones work better than others; it’s all about finding what works best for you!

                                                                The view of a beautiful mountain range 

Once you are able to put your fears aside, flying is actually really cool! As I said before, airplanes make it possible to go anywhere in the world! They connect country to country, and bring people to places they otherwise would have not been able to experience. Flying can even be fun- there is nothing else quite like it! If you are lucky enough to be seated in the window seat, you can see some pretty cool views! I’ve been able to recognize the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, beautiful mountain ranges and lots of other breathtaking sites while inside a plane. I hope that you too will be able to enjoy flying and not let the fear of it stop you from going to cool places!

All photos in this article are taken by the author.