Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fear of Flying

Are you afraid to fly...or know someone who is? It's not all that uncommon. Why in the world would someone be afraid to fly on an airliner? After all, statistically it is far safer than the ride on the freeway to the airport!

Usually it has a couple of components: a loss of control and an ignorance of all the sounds, vibrations, and motions associated with an airplane. Of course, all is this is exacerbated by the press any aviation accident receives.

Here's what I have seen done when we are aware of the problem. We ask the scared person to be boarded first and for him to come to the cockpit. We give him a tour and answer any and all questions. We talk about our experience (typically, there are upwards of six or seven decades of flying experience between the two of us). We discuss pitch and bank angles...they often feel much larger than they are because the inner ear feeds you false information that can't be counteracted by what you see. That sort of thing typically takes care of the ignorance side of the equation. The loss of control side is harder, for there is nothing he can do to affect what about to happen on the flight. The person simply has to trust that we will do our best to take him safely to his destination. That trust is harder to come by.

So we remind him of the bottom line: We want to go home to our families after the trip; and if we are going home, then our passengers are on their way to their destinations as well. Oh...and don't forget...Pilots are always the first people to the crash site! (Actually, that choice of words doesn't do much to calm a nervous flier's nerves!!) But it is true, and therefore, we will be doing everything in our power to operate the flight as safely as possible.

Oh...and for anyone who is deathly afraid of flying, most airlines have a program to help you overcome that fear (at least ours used to). Just call and ask about it before booking your flight.


Debra Bell said...

hello Charlie,

I got here via your homeschooling blog. I now absolutely love to fly, but it was a debilitating fear in my life for years. Constant flying and solid teaching on the sovereignty of God did the trick.

I've often wished that airlines would provide a flight map identifying the states, rivers, cities, landmarks, etc. we are flying over. I sure appreciate it when pilots provide these details, but it's rare. Is there any source for a flight map such as this online?


Charley said...

Thanks for reading, and for commenting, Debra.

I'm glad that, with God's grace, you overcame your fear of flying!

Quite honestly, with your small window, a map would be of very little help. Some of the newer airplanes have an in-seat display that cues off of the Flight Management Computer and shows your position relative to different places. But those are expensive (and breakable) gadgets, so in this day and age of budget cuts, they are the first to go.

And I think I'll put a post out on the philosophies of our PA's.