December 03, 2019 3 min read

For a lot of people, fear of flying is real - especially now, a time of year that can required a lot of air travel. Read on to learn some helpful techniques and more about our nation-wide Fear of Flying course.

Planes are big, fast and loud. Even frequent fliers can feel a little uneasy in the air from time to time from unexpected bumps, unavoidable weather, or mysterious mechanical noises.

Around 1 in 4 people has some sort of fear of flying. It can be particularly challenging to deal with, because it often presents when the passenger is all settled in their seat, ready for take-off.

Most people who get on board a plane are unaware about how airplanes work, and what exactly the pilots are doing in the cockpit as you sit back and try to relax. Whether you are struggling to relax, or avoiding air travel altogether - a little bit of knowledge can go a long way to ease your mind. Air travel does not have to be daunting!

What is turbulence?

Turbulence refers to irregular movements of the air. During takeoff and landing, this could be because of irregular airflow over structures and land masses. Even at higher altitudes, the air can behave differently because of mountain ranges, or the temperature of the earth. Of course, weather systems also cause turbulence, but pilots can avoid the worst of the weather using specialised equipment and communications.

From the perspective of the pilots and crew, turbulence is completely normal. A few bumps are all part of the ride, and no cause for alarm. Most travellers will only experience light or moderate turbulence during their jet setting lifetime.

Whether unexpected or forecast, there is one thing to keep in mind: turbulence can be uncomfortable, but it is not unsafe.

How do planes stay in the air, even in turbulence?

Aircrafts are designed to fly, and that is what they do best! The wing shape causes air above the wing to move faster, which causes the pressure of the air to decrease. With low pressure above, and higher pressure below, it causes a force that lifts the wing up. Propellers, powered by the engine, use the same principle to provide forward movement, called thrust

Planes are designed to withstand the most extreme weather or turbulence conditions. Passengers who are not comfortable flying, will often misinterpret the sensations they feel in the air, thinking that the turbulence is much more severe than it actually is. What might feel like a sudden drop is actually just a gradual and anticipated altitude loss, while still flying forward.

With so much forward thrust, it is impossible for a plane to simply drop out of the sky. Modern planes also accommodate for possible damage and it does not affect the plane’s ability to safely fly, and land. They can land with only one engine, or with no engines at all! Without any engines, a Boeing 777 can glide for around 210km, from a cruising altitude of 40,000ft. That is plenty of time and distance to safely land.

Fear of flying is something that, for most people, can be overcome. It is an individual experience for each person and with the right combination of psychology, aviation theory and on-the-ground realistic flight simulation where you are in the cockpit, many people find a way to feel more comfortable about flying.

At Flight Experience, we offer a Fear of Flying course that includes an initial, non-obligation conversation with a psychologist, to assess whether you could benefit from Fear of Flying sessions or a course. We run those on an individual or group basis, or even online! Find out more on our Fear of Flying Course Australia website.

In the meantime, here are some quick fear of flying tips that can get you underway!