Until about three years ago, I loved flying. And, as a travel journalist (and a frequent flyer), that was a good thing.
But then I was involved in an unfortunate air incident – something that has affected me since and naturally, I developed a fear of flying.
And I'm not alone. Millions of people have flying phobias – real fears that disrupt travel plans and stop sufferers, and their families, enjoying the overseas holiday they would like.
So when Christopher Paul Jones, a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, offered to debunk some of the myths associated with flying, I just had to publish them.
Myth 1: Flying is unsafe.
Hands up who thinks flying is unsafe.
Even those of us who do not have a phobia will probably raise our hands for this one. But when you’re told that the odds of you actually being involved in an accident when flying is one in eleven million, it might make you question why you are scared in the first place.
Myth 2: If a plane crashes it’s over.
In fact, you have a 95.7% chance of walking away from a plane crash.
This challenges the idea that so many of us have that suggests driving is so much safer because you can walk away from a car crash.
Myth 3: Plane crashes are common – I keep seeing it on the news.
You see them on the news because they are so rare that when they do happen, they make the front page. There are 100,000 flights per day, think about that in comparison to how many actual crashes you hear about.
Myth 4: It does happen to somebody.
Of course it does, things happen, but if you are going to use this junk logic then you’d need to worry about driving 220 times more than you would flying, and 5 times more about sleeping.
Myth 5: The airline companies aren’t affected if we crash.
Actually, the plane that you are flying in alone is worth around £100,000,000 and the compensation that an airline company would need to pay out would also cost millions.
Myth 6: Turbulence is dangerous.
Fact: Turbulence does not increase the odds of an aircraft accident.
For most of us, turbulence is simply annoying but for some it can bring on a real fear that the plane could be brought down. Actually, the worst you can expect from a bout of turbulence is spilling your in-flight refreshments.
Myth 7: Lightning can bring down a plane.
Fact: No modern plane has been brought down by lightening and modern planes are designed to withstand a lightning strike.
Myth 8: If an engine fails the plane will fall from the sky.
Fact: A plane is simply a big glider and planes can be flown and landed without an engine. And your pilot will have gone through rigorous training to land this big glider.
Myth 9: The wing of the plane might fall off.
Highly unlikely, actually. Wings are stress tested before a plane is even allowed to ever take flight.
Boeing conducted a ‘wing flex test’ that had the wings of a Boeing 787 flexed upwards by approximately 25 feet. This proved that the wings of a plane can handle even the most extreme forces.
Myth 10: Worrying keeps me in control and prepares me for the ‘what if’.
You cannot control everything and trying to do so creates stress. One in every 2.5 people has a heart attack because of stress and worry. You are actually more likely to die of a heart attack than from flying.
Once you look at a flying phobia in a rational way and realise that, actually, most of what we believe can be attributed to myth, it might be time to think about working on your phobia with a skilled therapist. Therapy can set you free from your fear of flying and change can happen quickly.
Stop being the one who misses out on overseas travel. Life is short, and there is a wonderful world out there waiting.
And for me personally? I've often considered therapy. In fact, one of the people involved in the same plane incident as me had therapy – and he says it has worked well overall for him.
Do you have any phobias? What are you fearful of?
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