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Heroworks's avatar

How to deal with my fear of flying?

Asked by Heroworks (130 points ) June 19th, 2012

There’s more to the reason why I find it so terrifying to fly. It was November of last year when my father crashed his small Cessna plane in the mountains of New Mexico. He was an incredible pilot but he got caught in a storm and lost his bearings (this is at least all we’ve been able to find out about the incident).

After his death I couldn’t even look at planes without feeling both intense fear and grief. I probably wouldn’t have even considered getting on what I consider to be a death trap if I hadn’t met the love of my life. My SO and I are in a long distance relationship between Texas and California and we decided to try and at least see each other every three months (school and work providing). Its my turn now to visit my SO and I have already bought the ticket and have started packing my bag for the trip but I keep pausing…the thought of getting on that plane is feeling me with this deep dread that I can’t seem to shake.

If anyone in the fluther community has ever dealt with a situation like this..please help. I need to do this but I’m petrified.

Thanks guys.

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11 Answers

Judi's avatar

I suggest you sees counselor if you can. Your fear is completely justifiable under the circumstances. You just need a little help processing your grief. You might also need a Xanax or a valluim for the flight.

XOIIO's avatar

Great question cause of the T.A.R.D.I.S. I guess that’s your ideal form of travel since it doesn’t fly.

It’s simple really, realise you aren’t afraid of flying, you aren’t. You are afraid of the plane crashing and exploding or being caught in the wreckage burning aline horribly in the middle of the ocean.

My advice, get a volleyball, call it wilson and bring it on flights.

And statistically flying is the safest form of travel. You should shit your pants at the idea of being in a car on the freeway.

Sunny2's avatar

My aunt and uncle were killed when their plane crashed into a river in New York City after a family reunion in Chicago. I had to fly the same route to get back to my home in Massachusetts. I was terrified but told myself that the chance of it happening again so soon was extremely low. And, as @XOIIO said, it’s the safest way, statistically to go. I just kept saying, “Yes, I can!” and refused to give in to my fear. Take a good book along, preferably not one that involves flying. The first flight after a terrible experience is the worst, One flight at a time, your fear will go away. What your dad experienced is not what you will experience in a large commercial plane.

DeanV's avatar

Learn more about it. Standard passenger fare flights are completely different than your father with his Cessna, having to follow much stricter rules, perform extremely strict safety checkups, and (probably most importantly) fly above mountain height. And perhaps while doing that you’d end up discovering, as @XOIIO stated, that air travel is exponentially safer (statistically) than hopping in a car and driving from California to Texas. Thousands of successful passenger flights happen in just California or Texas alone each day, you only hear about the few and far between incidents that go wrong.

simone54's avatar

Watching the movie Alive! should help you out.

Shippy's avatar

A lot of “airports” offer courses specially for Fear Of Flying. Me being phobic, I was also. The course consisted of a DVD to understand flying, the dynamics of flight, also to see a plane as explained by a plane mechanic as well as to chat with Pilots. After the course I did some 30 hours of flying, as I went to China, Singapor (I had won this trip due to good performance at work). I will never be 100% with flying, but for me to fly an hour or even see an airport sign made me start to panic. Flying is safer than motor cars. I wish you good luck and sorry for your loss.

gorillapaws's avatar

Another thing to keep in mind is that pilots are often under-paid, and usually more than a little disgruntled. They generally will never risk their lives for their airline, so if there’s the slightest defect that they’re uncomfortable with, they’ll delay/cancel the flight until it’s safe to go. The captain always has the final say, and has safety at the forefront of her mind.

I’d be more worried about getting in a wreck on the way to the airport.

mattbrowne's avatar

Enroll in a course that uses a flight simulator. After the course take a pill of valium with you for your first flight without taking it, knowing that you could if need be.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@Heroworks Everyone’s suggestions are great and I thought that you might consider the psychological approach that fear is a learned response that can be changed. It’s known as extinction, while the other approach is known as counter-conditioning. Extinction is usually forgetting about the situation and letting it pass on its own and you may come around to flying without fear because the intensity has subsided; whereas, counter-conditioning is a process of relearning what makes, in this case flying, not fearful. If you haven’t seen a counselor as @Judi recommended, I also suggest you do, but be sure it is someone who specializes in conditioned learning, or perhaps even psychoanalysis. If you help a passion before, you can definitely do so again. I would give you an example of my experience, but it isn’t as important as your well being right now. Best wishes.

sliceswiththings's avatar

On a very short-term level, I thought of a new thing last time I was flying and I got nervous during turbulence and landing: you’re on a big bird! It helped me to think of her as a strong, protective mother bird, and you her little baby bird or a mite or something. She can deal with wind and stuff. She’s a pro, and all she cares about is keeping you safe. Good luck.

rubylovejoy's avatar

Join any short term course for it.

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