Fear of Flying – Part 1 of 3 (Dread) – Version 4 – March 2017
About 25% of the travelling public have a fear of flying. One quarter of this group are so afraid of flying that they completely avoid air travel, and their condition qualifies as a phobia. (National Institute of Mental Health) The fear of flying may originate from (amongst many other reasons) :
- fear of in-flight turbulence
- fear of the aircraft falling into “air pockets” (that do not exist)
- fear of not being able to see out the front or to be “in control”
- experience of friends who were injured in aircraft crashes, incidents
- dread originating from exposure to images, videos and stories of crashes, hijacks and terrorist activities
Our fear of flying is not rational. It’s not justified by facts and/or statistics. Our perception of our safety in the air does not match reality (click here for more statistics). On average:
- You need to fly every day for 123,000 years before you can expect to to be in a fatal crash.
- You have a 1 percent chance of dying in a car accident, but only a 0.01 percent chance of dying in aircraft accident.
If our fear is irrational and imaginary then why do so many travellers have a Fear of Flying when the statistics show flying to be safe? The answer involves irrational fear and our mind’s calibration of Dread.
Our “Fear of Flying” is an instinctive response to “Dread”. Dread prevents our rational (slow) mind governing our primitive (fast) mind. Dread enables the fast, intuitive and reactionary processes that protect us from the sum of our fears, hopes, lessons, prejudices and distortions. Dread:
- works in our fast and reactionary mind to startle us into solution that might involve fight, flight or play dead
- inhibits our slow mind from rationally assessing and responding to risk.
Dread is an inherited and developed trait. Evolving over many generations, Dread assisted the fittest beings to instantly prioritise, decide, plan and survive unexpected events. Those who did not react fast enough dropped down a rung on the food chain. This explains why we fear terrorists, sharks and snakes more than cars even though we know that cars are the biggest killers. A mind that retains a Dread for flight, will engender an immediate panic response to flight. This response is delivered well before the slow mind can intervene to counter and comfort us with rationality (flight safety statistics) or respond to the presence of a friendly face or a calm voice. So Dread, properly tuned can and does save lives. But in our new high technical world where the charging lion is replaced by a quiet electric car, Dread for the lion is not just illogical, it’s also out of sync with reality and so it’s now also potentially dangerous.
QF32 is also a gift for fearful flyers, as I was for decades despite doing a fear of flying course. I recommend the book to others with fear of flying. Many thanks Captain de Crespigny! (Liz McInnes)
To allay a Fear of Flying, it is never good enough to just talk calmly about numbers and statistics, for these thoughts reside in the slow mind.
To allay Fear of Flight, we have to re-jig our basic fears, hopes, lessons, prejudices and biases – and thus re-program our (fast) mind’s equation for Dread. The next articles provides a happy solutions for those who have a fear of flight.
- Fear of Flying – Part 2 of 3 (A Pilot’s Technical Cure)
- Fear of Flying – Part 3 of 3 (The Cure – Annabelle Brayley)
- Justine has a fear of flying
- QF32 – Keep Calm!
- Our greatest fear is of fear itself
- Doc Holiday quizzes Captain de Crespigny about Nervous Flyers
- An Easy Trick To Get Over Fear Of Turbulence, From Captain Sully Sullenberger (the third clip in the video sequence)
- Les Posen – video on Fear of Flying for Aviation Personnel