In response to the question asked of all new subscribers, “What about flying scares you the most?” I received the following:

“Take off, hitting an air pocket, and turbulence scares me. I think it’s not having control of the situation.”

Takeoff is at the top of most fearful flyer’s list of things they most fear. In attempting to resolve issues like these mentioned above, I emphasize how important it is to dig deeper for specifics that trigger the fears. What specifically is it about takeoff that triggers your fear? Fears about flying are nothing more that stories our brains tell us. Often those stories involving flying have no basis in fact but are products of our imagination. You see, when we don’t fully understand something, our brains tend to make up stories.

Some triggers related to takeoff:

  • Feeling trapped
    • Is it due to “passing the point of no return,” (eg., I can no longer get off the plane) or
    • Is it due to claustrophobia (feeling closed in)?
    • Is it the result of feeling out of control from the sheer force of being pushed back into the seat due to the acceleration?
  • Noise
  • Vibration

Air Pocket or Turbulence?

 “Hitting an air pocket and turbulence are one in the same. Air pockets exist in name only. Although the origin of the term will likely never be known for certain, it most likely was coined in relation to updrafts and downdrafts in the atmosphere. Specifically, I would imagine it was after someone had the living daylights scared out of them following a downdraft, which is simply a form of turbulence. It is the sudden change in direction of atmospheric airflow from horizontally to vertically and is caused by convection or mechanical disruption to the prevailing flow of air.

Fears, either these above or others related to flying have nothing to do with airplanes! That’s right. I don’t mean to be flip about it, but fear of flying is about the stories our brains make up. That notwithstanding, fears about flying come with all the attributes of the body’s response to real external threats in our environment. The brain does not distinguish between real or imagined threats.

The Lesson: It doesn’t really matter whether the threat is real or imagined, you have to deal with it regardless. Don’t know where to start? Start here!