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Home > Fear of Flying > Why is that our nerves get so incredibly tensed when we fly?
Why is that our nerves get so incredibly tensed when we fly?
Flying - Fear of Flying
Tuesday, 15 May 2007 00:09

Hi Captain Lim,

I read your articles about flying and the safety tips to all of our questions. I am going to Long Beach on Thursday and I always get nervous when I fly by myself. I have flown at least three times a year and every time I get literally sick to my stomach when I think I have to fly on a plane, but once I am up in the air then I am safe.

Why is that our nerves are so incredibly tensed out there when, in all reality, it*s safer to fly?

I quite enjoy flying once I am in the plane and on my way. I just don*t understand the nerves that have to come before and it makes me get those thoughts in your head like what if I crash and don*t make it? What if there is a hijacker?

Its very hard after everything that has happened with 9/11 but I know that we have some of the most well trained pilots and that*s what keeps me flying.

If you would like to write me back, I would love to hear your answers to some of my questions.

Thanks,

Kiley

Hi Kiley,


Yes, many air travelers get nervous at the thought of flying. You are therefore, not alone as I have answered many similar questions before.


Let me start off by asking you this question. Are you fearful when you are driving or being driven to the airport in a car? Most likely, not! Remember, more than 42,000 people in the USA are killed on the road each year. According to the US Department of Transportation, car accidents accounted for 90 % of transportation fatalities, yet the public is not necessary uncomfortable when human lives are lost on a smaller scale - especially when someone dies in a road accident. But coverage of air disasters by the media often gives the impression that air travel is unsafe. This inevitably led some air travelers to believe that, every time they board a plane, it may crash!

Yes, one reader has written to criticize me for misleading the public by citing statistics on how safe flying is; but I would go on to say that figures is a more persuasive mean of imparting information than generalities at times. Perhaps he was one of the fearful flyers that make others more fearful of flying! So I believe, the most effective tool to calm air travelers is to ensure that they become informed.

So why are some air travelers so fearful? Being not well informed, the fearful flyers think that death may be inevitable before the crash actually takes their lives. Such negative thought triggers lots of physical responses to the danger of flying.

The fearful mind activates several physiological events simultaneously - amongst others, a hormone that mobilizes the entire body is pumped into the blood stream, causing blood pressure, heart rate and breathing to increase. The brain then shift from conscious thought to the survival mode - the fight-or-flight reaction.

When one is intensely afraid, one cannot "think" rationally too. Also, your muscles tenses in response to the perceived fear and you may experience blurred vision. Surprisingly, your hearing improves and you may hear mechanical sounds of the plane better than the person sitting by your side - someone who is not afraid. Your stomach becomes upset as the lining secretes more acid in reaction to your fear. The cumulative effect is an even more tensed and fearful flight!

So how you can lessen your fear and all the negative physiological responses prior to or during the flight? By being well informed and simply thinking about positive thoughts ? one of which is that flying is much safer than driving. Secondly, doing the relaxation techniques
through controlled breathing.

Wish you a pleasant flight?

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