Fear of Flying

If you have fear of flying, you are not alone. Twenty per cent of the population is afflicted with this fear. It has the number two spot on the list of fears, second to fear of public speaking.

Fear of flying makes life miserable and constricting for those afflicted. It affects your job if you have to travel and also limits your ability to visit family and friends.

This fear often overlaps with other phobias such as claustrophobia or fear of being in confined spaces and fear of heights. People who have a fear of flying may be anxious about air turbulence, high jacking, crashes and so forth.

Stats for air crashes are less than one in ten million. But fears, however irrational are very real to the sufferer.

For help with understanding the difference between fear and anxiety, have a look at the first few paragraphs of List of Fears.

For more information on fear, go to What Causes Fear and Overcoming Fear for help and support.

For information on anxiety, jump to Anxiety Disorder For the signs to observe in anxiety disorder, check out Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder and for support with anxiety cures see Help for Anxiety

After you have taken the action steps to find a cure of flying, Click Here for the story of how I pushed though my fear of flying.

Cure Fear of Flying

Actions to cure fear of flying—

These actions cure the problem in small stages. Easy does it and baby steps are the rules of the day.
  1. Find out how planes fly. Know that a plane can glide for a long distance.
  2. If feeling confined or heights is a problem, choose an aisle seat.
  3. Give yourself lots of time to catch the flight. Avoid rushing.
  4. Have a friend fly with you for distraction.
  5. Fly short distances at first if possible.
  6. Take reading material and other things to occupy your thoughts. Watch a movie.
  7. Use medication is absolutely necessary. Avoid caffeine.
Use this fear of heights help as a guide to develop your own cure for fear of flying.

Fear of heights often combines with fear of flying, elevators and bridges. Here are the steps for overcoming this fear —
  1. Go to the second story of a building and look out the window for seconds. Have someone with you.
  2. Look out of the second story of a building for two to five minutes. Look straight out and then down.
  3. Repeat steps one and two with phone access, then alone.
  4. Go to the third story of a building and look out the window for thirty seconds with someone with you.
  5. Look out the third story for two to five minutes. Look straight out and then down.
  6. Repeat steps one and two with phone access, then alone.
  7. Continue this process going progressively to higher and higher floors. Take an elevator after floor four.
  8. Continue advancing to higher floors in small increments until to reach the highest floor in a building available to you.
  9. Go out onto a balcony with a support person at a low floor. Go out onto higher floor balconies.
  10. Go out onto balconies for longer durations moving progressively closer to the guardrail.

Summary of Q and A About Fear of Flying

From an original paper by Nancee S. Blum, MSW, LISW, MAC, DAPA, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

1. What is the first step in overcoming fear of flying? Find information on how to cure fear of flying. Ask for support from an understanding friend.

2. I hate to fly — I know my fears are way exaggerated but how do I get over it? You might never get over your fear entirely. I still have some. But you can learn to face it by getting information about fear.

Another approach is to get accurate information on the actual dangers of flying. The stats are that flying is 20 times safer than driving a car. We might know this in our rational, logical mind. But fear is a product of our emotional reactions.

So to conquer fear of flying, you have to take action to fight your fear of flying. If you change your behavior, eventually your thoughts and feelings will also change.

3. Where does the fear of flying come from? Does a past experience cause it? Sometimes a past experience can cause it. Many fears are the result from lack of information about how an airplane flies.

4. Every time I even think of flying I have nightmares about it. How can I stop this? You may not be able to stop it completely, but you begin to change the way you think about flying during the daytime. Your nightmares should decrease. myfearofflyingstory

My Fear of Flying Story

When I was a kid and younger adult, I had a fear of bridges, big hills, outside elevators, chair lifts, gondolas and definitely flying.

Long after our kids had left home my husband, bless his soul, bought a small airplane and assumed, as I discovered later, that I’d fly with him. When he asked me to fly from Brampton, Ontario to British Columbia with him through the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, I said, “No way.”

But, things don’t always work out as we'd like them to. Within two months I ended up, my hands sweaty and body shaking in the copilot seat of our four-seater Cessna 172. Somewhere over the Prairies, when there was lots of time to think, I looked down the 5 000 feet to the ground and freaked out.

Being up there was bad enough. But I knew that if something happened to Bob, we’d both go down. I had no idea how to land the plane, let alone understand the cockpit instruments. So, despite my terror, I vowed that if Bob every asked me to fly with him again like this I would learn to land the plane.

That summer in the middle 2010s, we flew to Vancouver, flying through mountain passes several times. Looking back, I think that moment over the Prairies when I pushed through my fear began my healing process. I was able to get the fear enough out of my mind enough to get to our next landing. Little did I know, though, that there was a lot worse to come.

Two years after that flight west, Bob asked me again to fly this time to Dawson City in the Yukon. He said, “Just think, Lynda, we’ll cross through the Rockies six times during this flight.” As if I would jump for joy.

I knew he would never ask anyone else to fly with him and I also understood his passion for flying. As they say, I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place, a deer caught in headlights. I knew I would have to learn to land the plane. So the next day, I signed up for flight instruction.

About 60 hours into my pilot training, my instructor said, “You’re ready for your first solo flight now.” Again I freaked out. I returned home and for the next two weeks had the most terrible nightmares you could imagine.

I ran out of fuel mid air, crashed into fields, flew into mountains, and taxied into hangers too narrow for the aircraft. I didn’t have to watch horror movies, they were in my head.

After two weeks of these bad dreams my husband, my instructor and I met at the Brampton Flying Club. My instructor said, “Lynda, I’m no Freud. But you are taking lessons so you can fly a plane. Flying a plane means flying it on your own. I can’t give you more lessons until you fly solo. You are good pilot. You are very capable of flying your plane. Now go home and think about this. Are you going to fly or not?”

Never in my life had I faced such insurmountable fear. I had already passed the ground theory part of flight test. I had my Radio Operators’ License and Student Pilot Permit which authorized me to fly solo. Bob had spent a ton of money on my lessons.

I’d invested a few hundred hours of my time to that point. For another week I battled with my inner demons. I tried to convince myself to give up the time and money and walk away. But I couldn’t. I just could not let myself off the hook. I felt so embarrassed by my weakness.

So I got into the car, drove to the airplane and soloed. And up there, was I afraid? Well, actually I had so much to deal with, I didn’t have time. I was so focused on managing the aircraft and making radio calls.

(I also ran into some unexpected events up there. Have a look at my husband’s account of my first solo below.)

So that’s it in a nutshell. Distracting yourself with bigger concerns than your fear is a huge solution to overcoming fear.

Lynda’s First Solo by Bob

“It was reminiscent of a World War 1 dogfight in the skies over Caledon! Lynda took off on runway 26 ready for battle. Upon entering the downwind she found the Red baron off her right wing. Without hesitation she climbed to 2200 feet and turned north out of the circuit.

After turning west to parallel runway 26 another bogie came in from the north. Lynda immediately climbed to 2400 feet outwitting that one. Due to this maneuver she could not cross over the field in order to enter the mid downwind so she flew into the cross leg for runway 26 at 2400 feet (circuit height is 1700 feet).

A third aircraft took off from runway 26 to intercept her; she was too fast for him and entered the downwind for the second time. Alas, a fourth aircraft entered the downwind at the same time.

Lynda was still descending from 2400 feet to 1700 feet. The enemy realized his vulnerable position and immediately sped up to elude her. Having vanquished 4 aircraft in her first solo Lynda landed C FUXY safely to the astonishment of her husband, her two flight instructors and several other bystanders who had collected to watch the ensuing drama.”

I know from experience that you can conquer your fear of flying. All fear has the same symptoms and all fears can be conquered. I know this from experience. I also know that with practice you can overcome your fear of flying too. In the process you will build your self esteem.

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