Holidays from the Island

fear of flying


Many of us feel an inexplicable fear of flying on an airplane. Some people can help themselves to relax with a shot of brandy, but for many people it doesn’t help, besides, drinking is really not a solution to a problem and will definitely not eliminate your fear of flying... Here is the first part of a 2 part guide (next part next week) 




Has learning how to overcome fear of flying become a priority for you? Do you imagine that everything that could go wrong on a plane, will go wrong? Does your anxiety cause your heart to race uncontrollably before, during and after the flight? Has your fear of flying prevented you from even getting on a plane?

If any of these are familiar to you, you’ve come to the right place. Most fear concerning flying is irrational—it is a set of fears based on events that will very likely never take place. This guide will addresses safety issues of the air travel industry and help you begin approaching flying based on facts rather than unfounded fear.


Eliminating Irrational Fears

Virtually all forms of the fear of flying come from three root fears:

Fear of the unknown, Lack of trust in the airplane itself, Lack of trust in airline personnel (pilots, mechanics, air traffic control, etc.)

My aim is to shed some light on the unknown and provide relevant information on the airline industry in general to help bring your level of fear down. It is important to note that the fear of flying is not a rational response to a legitimate danger.

It is a response based on irrational fear from within yourself.

As you learn the facts about airline safety, you will be able
to replace irrational fears and anxiety with a calmer mindset based on facts about airline industry safety. Armed with this information, you will hopefully learn how to overcome fear of flying quickly for good.

No one can truthfully say that air travel is completely risk-free. But it is the safest mode of transportation. Consider this quote from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website:

Air travel is the safest mode of mass transportation. According to Dr. Arnold Barnett of MIT, based on the accident rate over the last few years, you would have to fly on average once a day every day for 22,000 years before you would perish in a U.S. commercial aviation accident. In 1998 there were more than 10 million departures and not one fatality aboard a commercial aircraft.

Let’s look at another angle of how to overcome fear of flying in airplanes. Here is some interesting data:

Average Deaths Per Year

Bicycle 1,000

Gunfire accidents: 1,452

Medical procedure complications: 3,000

Drowning: 5,000

SOURCES: Bureau of Safety Statistics, National Transportation Safety Board

Compare those stats with this one: From 1982 through 2010, 3,288 people in the U.S. died from airplane related causes. To emphasize, these stats are not from one year, but from 30 years combined.


A Car Feels Safer

A big part of this rationale goes back to the trust issue: In a car, you control your destiny and feel safer, while in a plane, you are not in control and experience more fear. This may be true—to an extent—but does it mean you are safer? Consider this: To obtain a pilot’s license, you need years of training. To obtain a driver’s license for yourself, you merely need to pass a basic written and driving test. Plus, as a driver, you cannot control what other drivers do. Other drivers often drive while intoxicated or are distracted by talking on a cell phone, texting or fiddling with the radio.

Pilots, on the other hand, are constantly monitored through radio during a flight. From 2002 to 2007, there were 109 deaths due to aircraft crashes according to the FAA. During the same time period, 196,724 people died in automobile accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The FAA has estimated that flying is about 200 times safer than automobiles, which the previous statistics bear out.

graph cars v planes1

How Do Airplanes Stay in the Air? Are They Really Safe?

Fear of flying statistics reveal that 73% of fearful flyers are afraid of mechanical problems during flight. So an important part of how to overcome fear of flying is understanding of how an aircraft works and learning to trust it.

There are four forces that work together to allow a plane to fly: gravity, drag, lift and thrust. I won’t get into the scientific explanations, but suffice it to say that the process allows planes to fly as naturally as it is for us to walk. As one pilot said it best, “planes are the happiest in the air.” Everything about a plane is designed to fulfill its purpose—to get its passengers and crew safely from one place to the other through the air.

Safety procedures includes repair and upkeep. Airlines engage in ongoing routine maintenance and overhaul planes as needed. For every hour that it flies, a modern airplane undergoes 11 hours of maintenance.

It may surprise you to know that jet engines are much simpler than those in automobile engines or even lawnmowers. This makes them much more durable and less likely to break down. And in the unlikely event that one of the engines fail? A plane is perfectly capable of running on one engine.


I think that is enough for Part 1 - Hopefully we've given you some information that will help you with overcoming the fear of flying.

Good luck with everything and happy flying! We will be back next week to look at Turbulence, Chance of Problems and Pilot Training.... 


Fuertenews is a free publication bringing you news and views about Fuerteventura. Any donations would be welcome.