Why you must learn how planes work

Fear of Flying School

Do you hate flying because you’re worried a mechanical problem will crash your plane?

For example, are you concerned that turbulence might send you plummeting? Or that the wings might snap off?

If so, you must learn how to fight off these negative – and irrational – thoughts. But how?

My secret weapon

In my experience, you must first arm yourself with FACTS about how planes work. And how they’re flown.

But simply learning the facts isn’t enough. You also need to BELIEVE them. Especially when, inevitably, negative thoughts seep back into your mind.

How do you learn to believe?

By learning how to use facts to successfully CHALLENGE those negative thoughts.

What’s more, you must learn to wage this mental war even when you’re feeling anxious or fearful.

This may sound like a ton of work. But playing this mind game is essential if you’re to get over your fear of flying. And the more you practise it, the better it works.

Use facts to understand what’s going on

Besides allowing you to overcome negative thoughts, facts can also be used to boost your overall sense of wellbeing. After all, you can use them to make sense of your flight as it’s happening.

For example, if you build a rough understanding of how the undercarriage operate, you’ll feel at ease with the noises and bumps they make as they’re working.

Even better, you can use facts to predict events, sounds and sensations BEFORE they happen – something I find deeply re-assuring.

For example, when I was a fearful flier, the thing I hated most was takeoff.

Now, it doesn’t worry me at all. Why?

Because I learnt a lot about how takeoff works. This included all the key steps involved in the manoeuvre. And an understanding of what can go wrong and what the solutions are if something does.

Today, I still think through these facts before every takeoff. Then observe them in action.

For example, I picture the sequence of events that will happen immediately before, during and afterwards (e.g. release of the brakes, thrust applied, length of roll along the runway, nose up, wheels up, retraction of flaps, reduction of engine power, etc) before each one happens. Then observe them as they occur.

This makes the takeoff feel routine and un-remarkable. Much like driving your car to the shops.

So learn the facts. And how to use them against negative thoughts. Because the sooner you do, the quicker you’ll beat your fear.

Which facts do YOU need?

Which aspects of flying do you need the facts on?

Do you need to know how takeoff REALLY works?

Or why a plane can keep flying even if an engine fails?

Or something else?

Let me know in the comments.

Leave a comment

1 comment

  1. Luis

    Hello Tim!

    Next Sunday I have a 2h30m flight from London to Lisbon and will be back to London the Monday after.

    I always loved flying and I have done flights of more than 16 hours in the air. Since February 2015 I’ve started to feel uncomfortable about having anxiety and panic attacks on the plane.

    In two hours and a half I’m constantly going to the toilet and walking around the plane.

    What triggered my panic is the fact that I can’t get out of the plane. And if I feel ill, they don’t have a way of helping me.

    Can you help me on this one?

    What medical procedures do the companies have for someone that is suffering from anxiety and a panic attack during a flight?

    Thank you!

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