I was in a plane crash: here's how I deal with flight anxiety #Travel#anxiety#emergency#travel February 17 2014 | Caroline drechyng My photos before and after Air France 358's crash. In August 2005, I was a passenger on Air France flight 358, a flight from Paris, France, to Toronto, Ontario. Upon arriving over Toronto, our plane flew into a sudden storm, landed too far down the runway, and slid right off the end, bursting into flame. We had to evacuate down the emergency slides, and all of our luggage burned to ashes along with the plane. I remember when the plane was approaching the runway, I thought that we were coming in quicker than most landings I've experienced. There was lightning in the sky, and a passenger behind me turned to his partner and joked, "Well, nice knowing you." When we landed, a few people in the cabin began to clap, congratulating the pilot on a tough landing in tougher weather. Then, when we thought it was all over, we hit a tremendous bump. I remember flying a few inches off of my seat despite still wearing my seat belt, and some of the yellow oxygen masks falling out of the ceiling. When we came to a stop, I still thought that it was just a very very rough landing… then I looked out my window on the left side, and saw flames. That's when everything in my memory starts to move in slow motion. That's also when I got the fuck out. I undid my seat belt and jumped up at the sight of the flames. The flight attendant at the exit nearest me was opening the emergency door. We had fallen into a valley designed to catch planes before they hit Highway 401, the busiest highway in North America. We had to run up a hill in the still-pouring rain to get away from the crash. The police arrived on scene, and we made it back to the terminal and were treated for shock. I phoned my parents from someone else's cell (the line was busy — they were being bombarded with phone calls from relatives who were watching the news). Related Post What I learned about disaster planning and response during the Colorado floods A flash flood warning compelled me to abandon my Boulder home late in the evening. I returned home four days later to find that the... Read more That was when everything hit me, my adrenaline dropped, and I freaked the fuck out. I was alone, and although some other passengers offered to console me, I stayed alone while I waited for my dad to make the two-hour drive to pick me up. (I had missed my connection — can you believe it?) Miraculously, no one died as a result of the crash, but there were many severe injuries. My only complaints were some scratches as a result of sliding down the emergency slide in a skirt. I wear leggings on planes, now! Right after the crash, I was asked by many reporters if I think I'd have trouble getting back on a plane. I said that I can't know for sure if I'd have trouble, but I definitely won't rule out flying for the rest of my life — I love to travel way too much. In my recovery process, I've identified some ways to cope with my newfound anxiety… Know what to expect My next plane ride didn't come until 2008, and part of me wishes I had purposely flown closer to the plane crash. That flight, to Los Angeles, was a particularly turbulent one. I find, now, that despite having no problem with flying before the crash, I definitely have trouble with it now. Interestingly, it's not take-offs or landings that I find most alarming — it's turbulence. Knowing that certain routes have more turbulence than others, and that the turbulence on your flight is normal, is very helpful when dealing with it in-flight. Another tip I learned from my friend who is a flight attendant is to watch the flight attendants. They've been through so many types of flights, they know when something is a-miss or not. If you feel as though the turbulence means certain peril, look to see if your flight attendant is happily chatting with a passenger or expertly pouring coffee. If he or she is, you have nothing to worry about — and thankfully, most times, that's the case. Talk to a professional I flew to Punta Cana later in 2008, and the flight was much easier than the flight to California. But when I planned my trip to South Africa, involving a six-hour flight to Europe and a 12-hour flight to Johannesburg, I began to worry that my mental preparedness wasn't enough. I spoke with my pharmacist. He recommended that I go to a doctor and request an anti-anxiety drug that is common for people with a flying phobia. If you think that your phobia is prohibiting you from traveling, speak to your doctor and/or pharmacist. You may find a similar method to be helpful; you may not. For me, I found it helpful in getting me to sleep through the long flight from Europe to South Africa. I knew that if I had to be awake the whole time, I'd white-knuckle it for 12 straight hours. Drugs worked for me, but you and your medical professional might decide that there are other methods to help. Herbal remedies? Meditation? Therapy? Flight anxiety is common, and there are lots of coping strategies out there. Know that your safety really is a priority Because of the competent, fantastic crew on Air France 358, I and all other 297 passengers escaped death. If I'm ever nervous, I think about how, even in this treacherous scenario, we were able to survive because the safety system worked. Since the plane crash, I've been on dozens of flights (over 30 in the last two years alone). I read the manuals on safety procedures, and I listen to the safety demonstrations at the beginning of the flight. Remember that the chances of anything going wrong are slim, but even if something does go wrong, the possibility of survival is a real one. Anyone from flight 358 can tell you that. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Caroline Caroline was the Offbeat Empire copyeditor from 2011-2015. Caroline is a Canadian genderweird witch and literature PhD student living in Aix-En-Provence, France. They love art and powerlifting, and they spend their free time with their boyfriend, their girlfriend, and their black cat and familiar, Zee. @drechyng @drechyng PREVIOUS Mother fucking dragon faucet in your mother fucking bathroom NEXT Let's talk about the raclette, retro step-sibling to the fondue pot Show/Hide comments [ 53 ] Wow, i live in Toronto and this is the first time I've heard a passenger's account of that accident. Good for you for dealing head on with the anxiety, i can't imagine what that does to your mind having gone through that. 11 agree Reply Thank you for sharing your story. While I don't have any anxiety of flying, it is good to hear of the coping mechanisms. Good for you for continuing to do what you love and finding ways to handle it. 6 agree Reply How did you handle losing all your things? I know it probably seems silly to worry about your belongings, but when I think about all the things I travel with (meds, laptop, cell phone, etc.), I have to wonder how I would handle losing all of them. Did you have problems replacing important phone numbers or documents? Did you mourn the loss of a favorite shirt or a sentimental piece of jewelry? 23 agree Reply I still mourn! It seems silly cause they're just things but I lost basically my entire wardrobe and a whole lot of family heirlooms that I was bringing back with me. Sometimes my mom will say "what ever happened to (blank)" and I'll look at her a certain way and she knows exactly what happened to it. I'm lucky that this was the hardest thing to deal with, but it sucked and even now continues to suck! It actually took me a very long time to bring myself to pack anything sentimental again for fear that it would happen all over. And when I replaced my wardrobe, I didn't get anything I truly loved because I had it in the back of my mind that I needed to guard myself against losing in the future. It's only been recently that I've started to grow attached to material objects again, though I believe I'm wiser for it regardless. 9 agree Reply Hello Caroline, Fellow Canuck here…thanks for sharing your story. A lot of what you described reminded me of a bad car accident I had years ago on an icy road. Car flipped end over end, and tobogganed across a field on its roof. I ended up upside down in a ditch, Like you, I was basically unharmed (& the car was barely discernible as such), but that slo-mo feeling? Yep, that's a clear memory! Horrible feeling. A few years later I was having trouble giving any kind of presentations at school or work, & I kept connecting the feeling with the crash (feeling out of control?), and was melting down when I had to do any presentations or drive even a short distance in less than ideal conditions. I went for hypno-therapy. I maybe had 5-6 sessions, & no, you aren't right under, clucking like a chicken, you're alert. The therapist was *awesome* & she was the one who said, yep, I think you're good to go now. She even gave me a recording of a session so I could listen to it as I needed. My work health plan covered most of the costs, but it was….hmmm…maybe $80-$100, per? And well worth it. I still don't like to even be a passenger in a car in the winter, let alone drive, but it's better than what it was. I think when you go through any life-or-death situation like this, you will always have ongoing after thoughts/after shocks or different habits/thoughts around things, etc. And I'm all about people doing whatever they need to do to get through it, too. Howl at the moon, take a medication, yoga, whatever – it's ALL good. 1 agrees Reply I used to be a very bad flyer, but I've gotten better by learning about the physics of airplanes. But faced with an intercontinental move later on this year, where I will be taking my cat with me, I'm getting all sweaty and shivery at the idea of actually encountering a problem on that flight. A friend of mine experienced the same while flying while pregnant: she said being responsible for another being who has no choice but to depend on you was truly terrifying. Were there parents with infants or passengers with pets in your flight? 4 agree Reply I used to have a pretty big fear of flying, because I just could not understand how this giant hunk of metal could propel through the air. It felt like magic, that could fail at any time. I imagined wings and engines falling off. Most of my fears were because I did not understand the physics of flight. All of that changed when I started dating a commercial airline pilot. He explained the physics to me, and actually drew diagrams. He also clued me in on the extensive flight training of pilots, their rigorous qualifications, and about airplane safety in general. He said he has no fear of flying, but does feel the stress of having the lives of hundreds of people in his hands. One time, we were flying over an ocean together and there was turbulence. I very nearly had an epic panic attack, ready to climb the ceiling with insanity. I looked over at him, and he had his head back, eyes closed, hands folded across his chest, perfectly relaxed. I trusted that, here's a person who knows exactly what the plane is doing, and why. And he was relaxed. So I relaxed too. I try to keep that Zen image of him in my mind when ever I fly. 15 agree Reply Thank you for sharing this! Hearing your story and how you've dealt with flying anxiety will surely help me and many others, who have never been involved in an accident but have fear nonetheless. 2 agree Reply Really interesting post 🙂 There is a book called Cockpit Confidential, written by a commercial pilot by the name of Patrick Smith. I have a bit of an obsession with planes and have watched every episode of every season of Air Crash Investigation, the result being that I am now nervous as hell about flying. This book is amazing – he explains a lot of the things passengers often interpret as 'dangerous' (e.g. Aborted takeoffs and landings, turbulence, sudden increases or decreases in altitude, steep banking) from the point of view of the pilot. I've found it to be both incredibly interesting, but also very reassuring. As for anxiolytic meds, the most commonly prescribed class are the benzodiazepines (at least here in Australia – the one I see most as a pharmacist is temazepam). These drugs do their job well, however, I've always avoided them as they decrease your alertness (they help you sleep), which is the last thing I want in the event of an incident. Just something to keep in mind. On a final note, if I recall correctly, the chance of being involved in an air disaster is close to 1 in 45 million. 8 agree Reply Ooo I might just have to read that book, I freaking hate steep banking! 3 agree Reply Seconding (thirding? fourthing?) Cockpit Confidential. I read it in its previous incarnation as Ask the Pilot and I still think about it nearly every time I fly! 1 agrees Reply THIS! to the statistics thing! Whenever I get nervous on a plane, I just pray to my lady of logic and statistics and feel better. 3 agree Reply Thank you for this story! Two of my friends were in the Asiana crash last summer, and hearing them describe what happened is pretty wild. Given what happened in that crash and yours, the best thing to focus on really is that the flight attendants' training and the emergency procedures worked about as well as they could have. I'm fine with flying myself, but hate turbulence and landings–not because I'm afraid of a crash, but because I hate the stomach-drop feelings. It's the same reason why I can't stand roller-coasters. I either try to fall asleep for the landing, read something really engrossing so I'm distracted. If I can't, I try as best I can to focus on my breathing. I've also gotten lax about paying attention to the safety demonstrations, but this is a good reminder to listen up even if it's boring. Just in case, I still always decide which exit will be the best one to use based on proximity and how many other people are likely to use it, before we take off. Finally, like Cassie, I'm also curious about how people deal with losing their stuff. Taking anything with you in an emergency is a huge no-no for good reason, but that means that passengers have to deal with potentially losing important info (passport, credit cards, driver's license), valuable items (laptops, cameras), and anything sentimental they're bringing with them. In the grand scheme of things a lot of it is replaceable, but it just seems like a tough thing to deal with. 4 agree Reply Just letting you know I replied to Cassie's comment. I was lucky in that I had my camera on my person. If I had lost all my photos (this was before uploading on the go was as easy) I would have been devastated. Reply One trick that I found somewhere online to deal with turbulence is to bring a bottle of water (either empty through security and fill from a water fountain, or just buy it after going through security), and drink half of it. Leave the other half in the bottle. When turbulence starts, put the bottle on the tray table or hold it in your hand on your armrest. Watch the level of the water in it as the plane moves. You'll see that the movement that FEELS big to you is often quite small. I usually spend the flight keeping the plane in the air through sheer force of will, but I did that the last time I flew, and it helped me quite a lot. 6 agree Reply I am familiar with this trick. Unfortunately, it failed me when I was sitting at the back of a small plane during a very turbulent flight. My soda, rather than calmly sitting my tray table during the turbulence, spilled all over my stuff below the seat in front of me. The spill was minimal as such, but it certainly didn't help me feel better about the turbulent air! 2 agree Reply I can believe it in puddle-jumpers! The scariest flight I ever had was in a small prop plane. The flight was only 35 minutes, but we were the last plane to leave the airport before they closed it for an approaching storm, and before we took off, they came onboard and REARRANGED THE PASSENGERS TO DISTRIBUTE THE WEIGHT EVENLY. Every bit of turbulence thereafter was terrifying! 5 agree Reply My four year old has flown a whole bunch in his life, and is a big fan of turbulence like you wouldn't believe. We were flying to Florida last year right when Tropical Storm Andrea was kicking in, and while we were landing I had a middle-aged man praying out loud (complete with DEAR GOD PLEASE SAVE US) on one side and my child, who was responding to the turbulence with euphoric cheers, on the other. Needless to say, it would have been rad to have this water bottle trick for the praying dude. Also, I have no idea why my kid likes turbulence so much other than it probably seems very exciting if you don't immediately assume turbulence = we're all going to die. 5 agree Reply This is awesome; I will remind myself the next time I'm flying to keep a four year-old's perspective. 2 agree Reply I was once on a turbulent flight, and one of the other passengers had a small child who reacted similarly. Maybe it's because they haven't been conditioned yet to think that it's "scary"? The plane would do that stomach-churning thing where it felt like it suddenly dropped several feet… everyone on the plane would gasp in horror, and this kid in the back would shout "Wheeeeeeeee!" It actually really helped lighten the mood for the rest of us. Haha. 2 agree Reply Oh, totally. We're also really good about not freaking out when stuff like that happens, because we don't want him to freak out. We've talked with him about why turbulence might be scary to some people, but also that as long as we're following the instructions given (stay seated, etc) we don't need to worry until they tell us to. So I guess if we're not freaked out it's party time? 😉 Reply I love turbulence. It's like my flight comes with a bonus fair ride! Whee! 3 agree Reply I've used antihistamines (i.e.: not the non-drowsy kind) before to help me sleep on long flights, if that helps anyone. Great post! I'm in awe! 1 agrees Reply I have crazy flying anxiety, despite an uneventful history of plenty of flying. Two things that have helped a lot: – This cracked article telling me that 97% of airplane crash-ers survive: http://www.cracked.com/article_19698_7-deadly-things-you-wont-believe-most-people-survive.html (If it's not true, please do NOT tell me, okay?) – Flying Southwest whenever I can. Last time I looked up the stats, the only person to die as a result of SW crash was someone *on the ground* who *got hit by the plane*. I can live with that. I like that they make employee happiness a priority and that they take some extra care training their pilots… I feel like I'm in good hands. Plus, they let you pick your seats, so as long as you check-in early enough to get a good number, you can pick a spot in the 2/3rds-the-way-back, slightly-more-survivable-zone. (Though I still take window even though aisle is preferable – easier to snooze.) I don't like to take anything to knock me out, though- drugs tend to make me panicky anyway, and if there ever is a bad situation, I don't want to be doped up trying to deal with it. (Of course, I still have plenty of anxiety about catching viruses from close quarters, migraines from perfume abuse, and the inevitable back ache and ear pain (I have awful ears)… suffice to say, I'm not big into flying.) 4 agree Reply The mortality rate in passenger jet crashes is around 33%. Around 1/3 passengers are killed in a crash. Obviously it varies hugely depending on the nature of the crash. Air France flight 358 was called a "miracle" for a reason though – the author of the article is lucky to be alive – it could have gone a lot worse. Reply As a pilot the best thing I can suggest, which others have already spoken about, to deal with flight anxiety is to learn a bit more about aviation (air crash investigations does not count). Actually read about how planes fly, how they are built to withstand turbulence, the difference between what you and what your pilot actually thinks of as a life threating situation. I've had more than my fair share of mid air incidents, engine failures and the like and at the end of the day none of it has stopped me flying because I know how the plane works. What I consider the biggest, most important bit of information I can give to people who hate flying is, aeroplanes are built to fly. Not to crash, not to fall out of the sky but to fly. If the engines all stop, they will still glide, gracefully and smoothly. And most importantly, the pilot, they want to go home too, they are not out flying because they want to die, so breathe, be calm, they wouldn't do it every day if they didn't think they could sleep in their own bed at the end of it. 25 agree Reply Thanks for this comment! It's really interesting to hear from a pilot's perspective. 2 agree Reply Okay, now I have the time here is a few little bumps and noises you might encounter on a plane. 1. You have just taken off, you are pressed back into your seat, the engines are roaring and the scenery is rapidly dissapearing. There is a loud thump from beneath you, you might even feel it, you freak out. Relax, it is the wheels locking safely up into position for cruise. 2. You are getting higher, past the initial rush, the wheels are in place, the engines roar comfortingly and the cabin crew are getting up and about. Then the engines go quiet. Relax, this is them throttling back for cruise. 3. You are coming into land, the ground is getting closer when suddenly the engines roar and you are climbing like a bat out of hell. This is an aborted takeoff, there is a lot of reasons it could have happened. Perhaps there is low lying cloud and by the designated lowest safe altitude the pilots cannot see the ground, time to 'go around', perhaps a bunch of horses just ran onto the runway (dumb arses that they are) 'go around' or perhaps there is some blonde student pilot and her instructor sitting in their plane on the runway with an open mic wondering why the tower has not cleared them to takeoff alreaDy (Ahem, not speaking from experience or anything…..). Lastly, most of the time, if the turbulence you are going to experience is severe (provided the pilots have prior warning) they will tell you. They will get everyone strapped safetly into their seats before they encounter it and they will be ready and if it is to bad up ahead, they will divert to avoid it. Flying is all about getting people safetly to their destinations. Safety is everything in aviation and every time there is an incident not only is it investigate but (at least here in Australia) all the pilots find out about it through a safety publication sent out every three months by the aviation safety authority so we can all learn from the mistakes of that day ajd stop it happening again. Sorry for the spelling errors etc. I am not the best at typing on my tablet. Flying is fun, look out the window, imagine the people down on the ground, see if you can spot other planes in the distance and follow the cues from the professionals. Oh and if your hostie is looking stressed don't assume the worst, it is probably because that arsehole in 13B is harrassing her rather than something far more sinister. 14 agree Reply Thanks so much for taking the time to share this info, it's a huge help. 2 agree Reply I can never get enough of this information! I tell and re-tell myself these things when I fly, and I still need to hear it again from the professionals. Thanks! 🙂 Reply That reminded me of a comment one of the flight attendants made on a recent trip of mine during the standard safety announcement: "We don't anticipate a drop in cabin pressure, or we wouldn't have come to work today, but if there is one…" 6 agree Reply I am afraid of flying and have to say that all the appeals to reason in the world don't break the panic feeling. I understand the physics, I understand what pilots go through, just like I understand that frogs are not harmful animals, but I still panic when I see them too. I take lorazapam to fly. It breaks the bio-feedback loop. So I may *think* this turbulance is horrible the plane is going to go down, but my heart doesn't race to increase that thought. The panic thoughts are still there, but they don't escalate. For now, that's what gets me through. 4 agree Reply Yep, me too. I take klonopin before I fly because it's the only way I don't go into full-blown panic attack mode when the slightest bit of turbulence hits. I know how planes work and I understand the physics, and I just can't shake the feeling of "I am in a tiny hunk of metal over which I have absolutely no control and we are only in the air by the force of pure magic". Turbulence to me means instant death. I've flown hundreds of times in my life and every time my anxiety gets worse because I figure "the more often I fly, the more likely I am to get a crash sometime". Again, logically I know this is not how it works, but no amount of logic assuages my fear of flying. It got about 100 times worse after 9/11. Not to mention that I'm extremely tall and don't fit in the seats at all so it's horrifically uncomfortable. I HATE flying. 1 agrees Reply Thanks so much for this post! I have anxiety to the extent that I get anxious about being anxious in the future. So, among my flying-related fears is that I will be in a serious situation like the one you describe and come out safely but be too afraid to fly again. I love to travel and would hate to be restricted by fear. Knowing that you can still fly after experiencing a crash is so helpful! I have dealt with fear of flying a lot. There was a great ask-the-pilot type website with little videos that helped me a lot at one point. There was even a period of time where I stopped being afraid entirely, but then my fear started to come back since moving back to the east coast of the US. I hate turbulence, and flying up and down the east coast (often in smallish planes) is really the worst. It seems like there's always bad weather somewhere. I take Klonopin (a benzodiazepine) when I fly, which I have prescribed to me for anxiety in general. It's pretty much the only time I use it. It's a medication that I'm comfortable with, and it doesn't make me feel groggy or sluggish. I'd say if a person is so uncomfortable while flying, he or she might indeed consider taking medication, if s/he is not otherwise opposed to that type of treatment. You can work on the dosage and type of medication so that you feel comfortable with what you are taking and not too out-of-it in flight. 3 agree Reply My dad is a commercial airline pilot and that day I happened to go to the office with him at Toronto Airport and witnessed the whole thing from a hanger. I remember seeing the flames and I said to him there is no way people are getting out of there. I am so glad that everyone survived and you are doing ok! Best wishes to you! 1 agrees Reply Wow! Yes, my parents were seeing it live on TV and they had a bunch of experts saying that the odds of surviving a crash like that are a million to one or something. That must have been awful for my parents to hear when in reality we all survived. 1 agrees Reply I used to work for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and during downtime at the office I would read through the reports of airplane incidents… which really fed into my fear of flying. I was only a bit scared before that, but it got a lot worse. But like you, I love traveling too much to let this stop me. I ended up getting a prescription for Ativan (lorazepam). It works fairly well. I don't get the feelings of loopy, blissful relaxation that some people have described – it's hard to describe, but it basically just flattens my emotions so that I can't get too worked up or anxious about the situation. Combined with a Benadryl or two and I'm knocked out for most of a transatlantic flight. 1 agrees Reply My best friend is a flight attendant based out of Chicago, so she often flies in terrible weather. I asked her if she ever gets flight anxiety, and she said no, because she has confidence in the pilots and knows how much training they go through for all kinds of situations. They really do know what they are doing, so I keep this in mind if I'm ever nervous on a flight. It is always good to take a minute to go over the safety card at the beginning of your flight, so if anything does happen, you'll know what to do, giving yourself the best chance to walk away unscathed. 2 agree Reply Well it varies on the pilot. If they are infamous ones who crash their planes, like Pierre-Cédric Bonin, or Captain Rodion Medvedev – then it's really not always people who know how to handle the situation Reply Shortly after my first flight ever (I was in my teens), there was a crash at my local airport that had only one survivor. The following investigation helped the airport make some much-needed changes and to be vigilant that it wouldn't happen again. That gave me a lot of confidence to fly with them in the future. The first time I flew after that, I broke out in a cold sweat on takeoff and I had a lot of panic-driven thoughts. It helps me most to have something I CAN control, like a book I'm already way into that I can play with in my hands while I read. 1 agrees Reply Just wanted to add–if you are a parent, ensure your young children are safely secured in their car seats on the flight. Yes, that means you'll have to purchase a ticket for them if they are under age 2. The FAA, AAP, NHTSA, NTSB and every airline recommends children ride in their car seats on the plane to have the best chance of surviving an accident–or even severe turbulence–which can pull a lap baby from their parents' arms, turning the child into a dangerous projectile. Lap babies and babies in carriers or wraps are not safe and pose a risk to all other passengers. 5 agree Reply "[…] even if something does go wrong, the possibility of survival is a real one." YES. I think this isn't said enough. Every time I read the emergency brochures of the airplaines I get to a worst-case-scenario easily, and it's not easy to imagine a situation where a plane can actually crash and people can go out alive. This story is a great example of it, and in my opinion this kind of stories help more than the frequent planes-don't-usually-crash talk. The thing is, they don't usually crash, but when they DO, you can get out of it. And so you have to be prepared (reading the brochures and knowing what you have to do in that case). (I also felt that the description of Lauren the pilot is very reassuring: "aeroplanes are built to fly. Not to crash, not to fall out of the sky but to fly.") 2 agree Reply Thank you for sharing your story! I fly a lot and also have a lot of anxiety about it. This was very helpful and also Lauren's pilot comments. I don't take medication when I fly (I have anxieties about anxiety meds!) but I have specifically-designated "airplane relaxation music" that I listen to while boarding (and now can continue listening to it during takeoff and landing). It just gives me something to focus on. Reply Wow. Thanks for sharing your story…it's incredible and terrifying to think about what you went through. It's also wonderful that you are strong enough to be able to fly again. I've obviously never been in a plane crash; I used to have terrible flying anxiety, and I honestly think that if I did experience what you did I'd never be able to get on a plane again. I used to have to fly every two months for a job I had, and for the first few flights I was completely panicked the whole time. It was so bad that I would spend weeks before the trip dreading it, losing sleep over it, and trying to think of ways to get out of it. The thing that helped me get over that the most was taking an online course designed for people with flying anxiety. It was basically a series of articles and videos featuring pilots, flight attendants and other aviation people, talking about the physics of the plane, how everything works, and what is normal. It included video and sound files of ALL normal but scary seeming sounds a plane might make at any point during the flight, as well as explanations for potential strange smells and unusual but OK occurrences that might happen but won't kill you (such as the plane being hit by lightning, which apparently happens all the time. 0_0) It was really helpful, and even though flying is still not my favorite thing, I can actually relax and even enjoy the view now because I'm not cringing at every little sound and bump. 1 agrees Reply Do you still have the name or link to that course? We have a family trip coming up in May and I'm already dreading it with my horrible flight anxiety. This sounds awesome. 2 agree Reply Here it is: http://www.fearofflying.com The group that puts it on is called SOAR. I hope it works for you! I did not use the phone counseling but they do have it available…and as far as I can tell it's free. The deep relaxation technique was pretty helpful too, as I could never take drugs on planes for fear that I'd be too zonked out to react correctly to danger. 🙂 Good luck! Reply In poking around on the site after I googled it, it seems like they do offer some paid stuff, but I didn't use them at all…I just used the free resources and the videos that are posted to YouTube (just search "fear of flying SOAR") Reply At the bottom of that website (in the News section) there is a rather surprising piece of advice to help you. "To overcome fear of flying, think about sex… with Rachel Belle" Reply I work on software for plane engines, and let me tell you there are SO MANY fail-safes, about a million unconnected things would have to go wrong at all once, and (as everyone else has said) even when something DOES go wrong to the point where you, as a passenger, might notice it, there are still so many backup systems and processes. I honestly used to get a little nervous flying before I started this job, but while my adrenaline may peak on takeoff or during turbulence, I feel so much more confident in the plane than I used to. I also no longer complain when I have to wait a long time for them to fix something on the plane before we can board, or to get a new plane; I know now that these are usually for our own safety, and again this just shows how much the process is made to make flying exceptionally safe. Now if only driving were so safe… 🙁 4 agree Reply Can someone tell me why it would make them less nervous to be on drugs/sleepy during a flight? To me, if something's going to happen, I want to be completely lucid, like the OP, so I can handle it safely. Drugs that make you drowsy or loopy sound like they would get in the way of a fast exit if needed, or of any emergency situation. Why would you dull your senses? Just curious. Reply Flying is as natural to me as breathing, I was 5 days old for my first flight, and flew well over 100 times before I was a year old. My parents are pilots, my grandfather was, my aunt is. That said, this was still super useful to me. My partner does not fly well, and I often don't know the best way to help. Now I feel like I'll be better quipped to share that information in a more supportive way. Thank you so much to the OP for sharing, and to everyone else for the comments. I love how productive this thread is! 1 agrees Reply i've had my pilots license before and while i was the pilot in a puddle jumper we hit turbulence so bad once that my 5' 4" self cracked my head on the planes ceiling. my instructor had hit much worse being he was taller. we landed shortly after that, also i was above one of my instructors friends when he and another plane collided mid-air both died. high wing on take off and low wing landing on the most stupid runway laid out air port in ohio. which was shut down shortly after. when we finally landed at the next air port over our phones were going off the hook, i was flying same kind of plane as the low wing and when it hit the news our families were freaking out. in Michigan at college was the only thing that ever scared me. my idiot instructor there caught the plane on fire on the ground at the fbo. and left me stuck in it. then tried to blame me for it. but i had hit the coms while he as telling me that the procedure was wrong. still not afraid of flying or to fly. but had several friends who were, and to cure them i'd take them up in the puddle jumper. and zip around and do 60 degree turns, practice engine failure and correcting stalls. and it really worked. flying lessons usually can be offered at most small county strips. and can be 100-200$ an hour depending. i highly suggest trying it out. after you take off and land a plane yourself on the first lesson, you won't really fear it on a commercial flight. you'll be like yeah i did that just fine, so i know the professional can. 1 agrees Reply My cousins a couple years ago were on their way to all of us in Florida. One of them it was her second time flying, ever. They had their little toddler daughter with them. Plane went up, smoke filled the plane, plane landed at the next airport, and they had to get out using the slide. When they did finally arrive from another plane, we all thanked them for taking one for the team. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.