When I marvel at the awesomeness of aircraft soaring through the skies, and I mean awesome in the true sense of the word, I admit that I don’t usual give any thought towards the many people who find air travel a terrifying prospect. I have lived my entire life close to people who have debilitating fears about flying and as a direct result my family holidays growing up have always been within a relatively short distance away from our home town. Although I always knew that this was a very big fear for many people, I never knew why, or took the time to understand the fear.
Aviophobia is the fear of flying. A phobia is usually described as an “irrational” fear towards a specific subject or object etc. I’m sure that many of those who have this fear of flying will be quick to tell you that it is not irrational though. Action movies, global news and of course the memories of 9/11 have all left impressions and who could blame them for being afraid of something which can cause such devastation.
However strong these fears of flying are, I am very confident in thinking that much of it stems from the level of security and paranoia which surrounds air travel these days. Whenever I hear people making the comparison between boarding a plane and boarding a bus, I often wonder how many buses they have traveled on which required them to book a ticket well in advance, que at various gates to have your luggage tagged and identification checked, told to proceed through multiple degrees of security checks, and once on board they are then shown a compulsory safety demonstration. The idea of all of that makes me nervous simply thinking about it. Of course, in order to make air travel the safest form of travel (which it is) we do need to be vigilant against the tiny minority who may want to cause harm. Whilst I support this, I do feel modern air travel is somewhat menacing because of these security measures in place.
Once through the rigmarole of actually getting in to the air then the fear of actually flying comes in to itself. In every day life and situations I personally find comfort in understanding or having working knowledge of that which has once made me nervous or fearful. As a huge flight enthusiast I have learnt, with interest, the physics involved in order to get an aircraft off the ground. I have an understanding of exactly what the wings are doing to produce lift and how it stays airborne. Knowing that these are the laws of physics and my entire reality would have to be majorly corrupted to alter these laws allows me to relax and almost take for granted the wonder that is aviation.
Perhaps by trying out a basic flight simulator and “getting a feel” for what the aircraft does in the air when you are at its controls will allow those who suffer from aviophobia to over come those fears. By pointing the nose of an aircraft down, watching it increase in speed and feeling how the nose of the aircraft wants to come back up again when at higher speeds could reinforce the fact that, simply put, a plane is simply a large glider with engines. Even controlling light aircraft in a simulator could be extremely beneficial to those wanting to over come aviophobia.
Maybe I am a little bit biased and am simply conjuring up reasons as to why more and more people should enjoy aircraft and simulators, but I honestly believe it could help many people.
The reason for this post about Aviophobia was due to a TV program showing in the UK on Channel 4. The show was called “Fear Of Flying – Caught on TV” and is availiable on 4od (its on demand website.) Its a great look in to air travel from the perspective of those who have difficulty with aviophobia. Filmed by themselves or friends on mobile cameras it follows a handful of passengers and their steps through air travel. If you suffer from Aviophobia yourself or if you simply have an interest in aviation, I can reccomend this show.
You can find the show here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/fear-of-flying-caught-on-camera/4od
Enjoy the show if you watch it and stay tuned for the next leg of my around the world adventure…..
Thanks for reading!