Plane anxiety is normal


By: Emma Stromberg, Staff Reporter

About 25% of Americans are suffering from some kind of anxiety or nervousness about flying. This fear is medically called aviophobia and it plays a role in approximately 20 million lives around the world. This is the second biggest fear, after public speaking. The root of this fear can vary between people, turbulence, chance of mechanical failures or maybe not being in control. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to help it. 

Flying in the face of fear There is not a whole lot of room, which does not help with anxiety at all. All the passengers are crammed in, practically sitting on each others laps. “Many people assume that a flying phobia is all about the fear of crashing. However, the majority of fearful fliers aren’t concerned about a crash. They’re worried they’ll have a panic attack, experience a bout of claustrophobia on the plane, and lose control of themselves somehow.” Explains David Carbonell, Ph.D. Anxiety Coach. Photo Credit: Emma Stromberg

One thing to help is trusting the industry. Airplanes have been around since 1903 and the people that make them know what they are doing, as do the pilots who have all went through years of school for this exact thing. All pilots become licensed flyers through multiple courses to understand how to operate planes. Even though it is highly uncommon for an actual malfunction to occur, passengers could always request to talk to one of the pilots before the flight for some reassurance.

“I think flying is so scary, it could literally break down at any moment, that’s why I have never been on a plane and do not plan on it anytime soon,” Sierra Bradow shares regarding her opinion on flying.

Always pack something to distract the mind. Bringing an interesting book or magazine along the flight can make all the difference. Reading is something that takes the brain somewhere else and forgets about the other things going on. Listening to music can help too, as can sleeping. For the long plane rides, they have individual TV’s to watch movies and as well as music.

“I saw one of those 9/11 movies and I saw the plane go into the first building and I knew it was game over,” said Katie Jones, a sophomore here at Manatee. “My grandma tried to get me on a plane to Texas, but I couldn’t go, just the thought of flying makes me shake,” Jones added.

Although normal during flying, turbulence can be really unsettling. Checking the forecast can be helpful too. This will allow passengers to see how severe the disturbance may be. If it says there will be a lot of turbulence, then the fearful riders will be prepared for it. The more people that know about a fear and what to do about it, the less it affects them.

“Education helps calm anxiety, too: how a plane flies, facts about turbulence, and the meaning of the various sounds and bumps during a normal flight. Virtual reality programs, during which fearful fliers are exposed to computer simulations of flight triggers, are also helpful. So, too, are flight simulators that are ordinarily used to teach private pilots how to fly small planes,” said Martin N. Seif, PhD, ABPP. His theory goes along with the idea that knowing more is beneficial.

Plane anxiety may seem like an odd thing, but a lot of people live with it. Anxiety over anything is hard to overcome and takes a lot of effort and dedication, but if these tips are taken into consideration, the sky will not seem nearly as frightening.