Any other Aviatophobes here?

So, I’m a white knuckler. And a cryer, panicker… yeah. It sucks. I’m 6’1’ male in very good shape who isn’t afraid to run into burning buildings or do other things that people think is insane, but… get me on an airplane and I’m a two-year old. My wife tries to help (she’s perfectly fine on an airplane, and I don’t get that of course), but we’ve both decided since the last incident (where I demanded that we not do the last leg of a trip and instead rent a car and drive the final 450 miles… I know, insane…)

…that I need help. Have any of you who have the level of fear response that I have sought help, received it, and became well again? Been able to fly without so much as a second thought? Because I’d love to be able to do so.

Any suggestions welcome.

PS - I KNOW that flying is way safer than driving, eating, sitting, etc etc… knowing the facts is not helping with the physical symptoms.

Yes, I am as well. I hate, HATE any kind of turbulence. I’ve researched flying to reassure myself that it’s safe. I know the best seats on the plane to sit in case of an emergency. I know not to inflate the life vest if you hit the water until you are out of the plane. I read the emergency cards on every plane I go on. I try to take sedatives to calm my nerves.

Nothing helps. I just make myself do it. I’ve tried to view it as ‘if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen’, and that reassures me somewhat (if you could call it that). Sedatives don’t work, they just make me extra tired and still unable to sleep through it.

However, I will NOT allow this stupid fear prevent me from flying. I still do it. I fly at least four or five times a year round trip, and half of those are 6+ hour trips to other continents.

I don’t really have much advice other then I’m progressively feeling more comfortable the more I do it.

Oh, and btw, even though I’m scared of flying, I decided to take a tour of the Nazca Lines in Peru by air last year. In a little five-seater Cessna. On the way back, the pilot did rollers. ROLLERS! Christ, I thought I was going to crap myself.

But, I survived, and it’s a good story. I only get just a little bit sweaty thinking about it now.

That’s good to hear. I also take roughly five-ten trips per year, mostly in the US. I’m thinking of moving into consulting, but dangit… I’d be on a plane every other week… that’s where my ‘little fear’ becomes a phobia, because it makes me think of actively restricting things that I want to do. Hell, we drove from Atlanta to DC last trip - I was a MESS, and I’d taken Dramamine and drank alcohol and had my little ‘Fear of Flying’ help-book clenched in my sweaty hands… and then they delayed the flight due to massive storms RIGHT WHERE WE WERE GOING… and I said NOPE and we just up and got off the plane and left. Never done that before, and I’m honestly worried about setting up a precedent… crap crap crap!

Well done! Next step: Flying lessons!

No, seriously. Being in control might help you get over it.

Dude, I know. My whole thing is control - I feel nervous when other people DRIVE me places. If I was flying the dang thing, I’d be fine - I’d know what was what and when to worry and when not to. It’s being trapped like a cow in the back of the plane with no options that is horrifying to me.

See, and you’ve made it back every time!

Relax and enjoy the view.

It’s a control thing with me too. Oddly, I feel much more comfortable on small corporate jets where I can see into the cockpit then on any other plane.

Really though, the pilots of commercial planes have so much experience they can handle pretty much any situation. I always tell myself that.

Do you feel more comfortable on smaller or bigger planes, or is it all the same to you?

Actually, bigger planes, usually. I think they just feel a little less of the turbulence due to their size, or something. I took a puddle-jumper once across the Great Lakes, and that was not cool.

Also, I find it a little strange that when I was a kid I wasn’t worried about flying at all. I flew all over… but suddenly I turned 19 and flying was NOT COOL.

I have nightmares the week before going on a trip. That’s how serious this is. That’s why I’m hoping someone with that same level of fear, but who’s overcome it some way (truly OVERCOME it, like it doesn’t happen anymore) shows up in this thread (I love your stories, too, though!) :slight_smile:

I recently got back on a plane again for the first time in nearly six years!! Huge deal for me, as our travel has been extremely limited by my fear of flying, and now I feel like a whole new world has opened up to us! For me what has worked has been living & working near a pretty busy airport. All day long I see planes taking off and landing, for the last five years I’ve been watching them, and not a single one has ever crashed or wobbled or caught on fire or anything else.

Still not my favourite thing to do, but now that I finally did it I know I can do it again. I’m ridiculously proud of myself about it, in case you couldn’t tell. :slight_smile:

Edited to add that until my recent flight, I was also having nightmares about flying. Not even anything happening on the flight, just being on the plane. No more!

I guess I shouldn’t pass along that one of the guests at a party I went to over Labor Day was a pilot who said, “I’ve got to fly tomorrow, but I’ve flown with a skull crushing hangover before - hand me another tequilla shot.”

That is great. I also live 1 mile from a major airport (Reagan Washington National) and often watch the planes take off and land as a form of self-therapy. It’s not, um… working that great for me yet. I love to watch them go by, but I also keep thinking in the back of my head glad I ain’t on there!


Correct, that was the wrong thing to say. Funny, though.

Not only is that attitude stupid, flying after drinking is illegal.

So are you scared of actually crashing, or scared of turbulence? I actually enjoy taking off and landing (probably because I’m so close to the ground), but it’s the part in between that I hate so much.

I’ve also talked to a few pilots and flight attendents that I know and had them explain how things work to me. Helped a bit.

I wouldn’t be scared of turbulence if I didn’t have the (mistaken, I know) gut feeling that it was the first tip over into a looooooong dive… where I’d get to think all about my new corporeal reality as a thin layer of protein spread over an acre.

To answer your question a bit more, I love landing, and I am okay with the middle part… but I HATE takeoff. That’s when I’m a shivering, crying mess. Disgusting.

Ha, yes, that’s how I am about turbulence as well. I mean really, it’s about the same as driving on a gravel road. It’s just that now I know I am so far up from said gravel road and it could be a long way down.

A couple of years ago I was on a national jet coming into Calgary. We did the normal fly in, circle, land thing. Well, the turn was over top of the city core (and low, which freaks me out as well). As we are (I swear it felt like it) totally perpendicular to the ground, we hit an air pocket. WHOMP! I thought the wings would shear off for sure! It was a drop where you’re glad you have your seat belt on, and people kind of cry out. I’m sure it was only a few feet, but to me it felt like 200. However, the plane continued on and landed safely. I SURVIVED!

See, planes can survive plenty of rough stuff. My sisters plane last year was even hit by lightening and everything was fine.

I might add that at least you’re trying to take steps to overcome your fear. Some people live their life with the fear and never attempt to do anything about it, which really restricts them. One of our consultants refused to fly, and had to make weekly trips to a site 1100 km’s away. He’d drive home Friday night, and back Sunday. He did this for 6 months!

It seems like you’ve done the grown-up thing and gotten over the symptoms of your fear, if not totally the fear itself.

But that’s the thing - I don’t want the fear. I ain’t afraid of dangit-all else, and it bugs the CRAP out of me to be this out of my mind on a plane.

I often watch my wife (and squeeze her hand, until it turns blue) and she’s just SITTING THERE, or even SLEEPING, and it seems totally alien to me at the time…