I used to have a fear of flying. That is not good for anybody, but especially a travel writer. I never let it stop me from taking a trip – I just had to make sure I’d filled my prescription of Ativan before I boarded the plane, and would take at least half of one prior to take-off. (Once I couldn’t remember if I’d taken one, and ended up taking two. When we tried to check into the hotel, I kept turning around and walking straight into the steps I’d just descended, looking like a wayward lunatic. Not my finest moment.)
As the plane took off, I’d nervously wait until I guessed we’d reach our cruising altitude. During flight, I hesitated to get up to go to the bathroom as the weight of my footsteps could be enough to throw us off balance and send the plane into an uncontrolled spiral.
For some completely irrational reason, landings didn’t bother me. If I could see the ground from the plane I somehow thought all is well. The illogical part of my mind was totally in control at that point, reasoning that somehow I’ll just open the window (?) and jump out. (???)
Turbulence especially bothered me as it felt like the plane was – you know, about to take a plunge. Then I read somewhere that planes do not fall out of the sky. And that turbulence was just like the plane was bouncing a bit on a bed of Jell-O. Or something like that. Then I read the book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel, written by Patrick Smith, an airline pilot, travel blogger and author. “For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket,” he wrote.
At that point I realized information is power when it comes to conquering my fear of flying. The best way for me to overcome it was to learn more. So I read the whole book. My #1 tip for overcoming fear of flying is to educate yourself more about flight.
If you’re a nervous flyer you’ll find comfort in learning more about the mechanics of air travel, like that fact that turbulence is normal and not considered a safety issue. I learned many other things, like: Why can’t my dog fly on a plane in the summer on some airlines? What do all those chimes during a flight mean? How much does a new airplane cost? Can leaving cell phones on really interfere with cockpit equipment? I also learned that pilots hate going through security just as much as the rest of us.
These are just a few of the questions answered in book. If you’ve ever wondered about any aspect of airplane travel, from how much pilots make to what are the odds of a midair collision, then you’ll enjoy this entertaining and informative book. And it may just help you overcome that fear of flying like it did for me.