Fear of Flying
While pilots confront the physical effects of flying, passengers are often more concerned with the emotional ones. A phobia of flying can immobilize passengers and even keep them from traveling by air.
There are no simple solutions to treating a fear of flying. Many of the most frightening aspects of flying stem from not knowing how the airplane is controlled, combined with nervousness about being high up in the air.
Some of the sensations of flight cause discomfort. The sensation of being pressed back into your seat during takeoff, the steep tilting of the nose upward for the climb, the unfamiliar sounds of the landing gear and wing flaps being retracted or extended, the rolling of turbulence, the “elevator” sensations of growing lighter or heavier as the airplane climbs or descends during flight—any or all may cause uncomfortable sensations that lead to fear.
In “nervous flyers,” even the slightest noise, vibration, or strange sensation can become magnified to a
frightening degree. Cures, or at least treatments, for the fear of flying usually start with a greater understanding of how airplanes fly and how pilots operate them.
Though simple assurances will probably not calm the fears of every jittery flyer, problems in the air, whether caused by passengers, pilots, or with the airplane itself are, in fact, very rare. In the next chapter, we’ll look at what to do when an emergency in the air does occur.