For Bob: Fear of Flying

>> Sunday, April 5, 2009

// asked: Here is a good one. Just made up my mind, I am going to China for the total solar eclipse in July, HELP ME, I am terrified of flying, suggestions?

Well, Bob, I’m pretty excited you’re going. Seriously. It may take me more than one blog post to address your issue, because it depends on the cause. Is it the confined space? Fear of heights? Fear because you don’t understand the principles of flying? Was it a traumatic past experience?

How we deal with this fear depends on what is causing it. In some cases, therapy, including hypnotherapy, can be helpful as can medicines. In others, if, say, the fear is of the mechanics of flying, education into how flying works is effective in addressing the fear. Research into virtual reality to treat aerophobia has not shown much success.

You are certainly not alone. Fear of flying is quite common. Wikepedia has a list of famous people who share your fear .

There is an excellent rundown of the fear of flying, the causes and some of the steps one can take to address it at this website . In part, it says:

Therefore, if you have a fear of flying, before seeking treatment you might want to ask yourself several questions (along the lines of the vignette presented above):


What exactly were the circumstances of the flight on which the fear of flying symptoms first appeared?

Why were you flying?
What happened just before the flight?
What happened during the flight?
What happened just after the flight?

(Try to recall the facts, as well as the exact words of anything that was said.)


What was happening in your life before the fear of flying symptoms developed?

Did you experience any major life changes before the fear of flying symptoms developed?

Did anything happen that left you feeling uncertain or conflicted before the fear of flying symptoms developed?

Had anyone done anything to you that had left you feeling emotionally hurt and angry before the fear of flying symptoms developed?


What exactly might a fear of flying prevent you from doing?

How do you really feel about not doing it?
Maybe you don’t really want to do it.
Or maybe you feel guilty about doing it.

If you can narrow down what scares you, perhaps I can give you more help. I think the website I have linked, though, is probably a good place to start. Fortunately, you have some time to address it.

4 Responses to “Fear of Flying”

  1. JD at I Do Thingson 15 Mar 2009 at 3:02 pm edit this

    Excellent response. Fear of flying is nothing to sneeze at, especially a long flight over water. I used to be terribly fearful of flying, but I’ve been able to control it with pills. That’s not everyone’s best solution, but it works for me.

    With a background of anxiety disorder, I know what causes my fear: fear of having a panic attack at 30,000 feet and not being able to “get out of there.” I’ve worked thru all the scenarios, how safe planes are, etc, but nothing helped until the pills.

    For a while, I’d be nervous before flying until I took my pill, after which I felt fine. Now I’m not even nervous thinking about a flight, because I know the pill always works.

    Just my 2 cents.

    I’ll be back with my own question, once I come up with one.

  2. Bobon 15 Mar 2009 at 5:03 pm edit this

    Thanks JD, what kind of pills do you take, brand, ect?

    Thanks for the post on my question Stephanie. I have had one bad experience while flying, my very first time flying, coming into Toronto in a thunderstorm we dropped quite a bit, they said we hit an air pocket, but I had the fear of flying before then, just boosted my or justified my fear, so I’m sure it didn’t help.

    I think if I was knocked out I wouldn’t mind because deep down inside I know the flight will probably go okay, logically look at the numbers, not that many crashes.

    One of the problems is no control, the plane makes a sudden movement, I’m a write- off, I don’t know what is going on in the cockpit, plus all the odd sounds the plane makes, again because I have not flown that much I don’t know what is normal and what isn’t.

    One thing I find helps is talking about it, putting it down on my blog, also one thing I have going for me this time is I am going to be going to fulfill a lifelong dream, so if I die in a crash so be it. Going to seminars and meetings, which I hate, I feel that if I die in a crash I died for no good reason, to do something I hate, I have a seminar coming up in October, the month when ice will probably form on the wings and make us crash, and for what , some stupid meeting,lol.

    If I think about it logically it doesn’t add up, no reason for the fear, yet I have the fear and I don’t know why.

  3. fliton 17 Mar 2009 at 10:58 pm edit this

    I’ll be flying for the first time in years this summer…. s’long as none of my students are working anywhere near MY planes, I’m good :)


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