15 years ago I was a girl hoping to attend an aviation school and receive a pilot’s license. I was dreaming about being a part of a famous airline and being one of the few female pilots.
I remember on my second flight ever. Boeing 737 leaving London and heading to Vilnius. I was sitting next to some old Englishman who was sweating and drinking wine, glass after glass. This flight was pure torture for him. Oh, it was so funny for me, poor guy!
I had no idea that many people do not feel comfortable flying in airplanes. It was a time when flying was better than a birthday for me — excitement, fascinating but serious procedures in airports, big and beautiful aircraft. I was absolutely certain that it was the safest way to travel.
Today I am one of those suffering from the fear of flying. I am the one who drinks wine, whiskey, or whatever they have on board!
When has this stupid fear entered my life? Oh, it’s easy to answer this question!
I have watched eight seasons of “Air Crash Investigation”. That’s it. That is all you need to start hating airplanes.
One day I realized that this fear was stopping me from having nice weekends in the most beautiful places in Europe — I couldn’t allow myself to fly to Paris for a couple of days. I saw my friends buying cheap tickets to Rome for 30 Euros, but I couldn’t do the same, because I knew that 2 flights in 3 days is way too much for my likening! Of course, I had flights on vacation sometimes, but the fear of flying was like a pain in my ass.
Once, I was flying from Bangkok, and the stewardess brought me a glass of wine. Alcohol kicked in hard! Surprise! I stopped shaking and started enjoying the flight! Terrible turbulence wasn’t terrible anymore, I was giggling during “roller coasters”. That was the minute when I told myself — I need to get rid of that fear of flying. And I am happy to announce that I am going in the right direction!
There’s still a long way to go, though!
What has helped me stop panicking?
- Yes — alcohol… You are free to skip this step if alcohol is against your beliefs or you have some other problems with that. However, just one glass can help you to reduce your stress levels a bit. Unfortunately, that may not be enough…
- Thinking about the thousands of planes that safely take off and land every day. And only some of them crash. A few per year… I always remember my friends and colleagues who have WEEKLY business trips. And guess what — they are alive and happy. I do think about it A LOT when I am on a plane — it’s like my meditation, it helps!
If you do not have relatives who fly often, think about the statistics. There are ~45 million flights per year!!! Billions of passengers every year. (And oh, I have no idea how Covid-19 will affect statistics in 2020). How many of them died in an airplane crash? Statista.com reports about 287 deaths in the airplane crashes in 2019.
So, when you see yourself shaking in a heavy turbulence think about those numbers. It can help to calm you down.
- Turbulence is much more normal than you think.
Turbulence is one of the main reasons why so many people are having a hard time in airplanes. Even though a turbulence hits you unprepared, in most of the cases pilots know about upcoming turbulence. It means if your airplane is in a turbulence, pilots calmly “took a risk” to fly through it. For you it means that pilots know it is not dangerous.
If turbulence hits hard, pilots will do everything they can to find another route or height, slow down, and most likely you will be safe very soon.
- I remember myself squeezing my boyfriend’s hand so hard and repeating “talk to me talk to me talk to me talk to me” on one of our flights a few years ago. Even though I could not control myself, I do remember those moments as a stupid thing — how come I let myself lose control? I don’t want it to happen again, so I’m trying to do my best to calm myself down. How? Step No 2 above.
- Check out this quick and informative video about the Boeing tests. Every airplane goes through serious testing before it can go into production.: