Fear of Flying is Real; Our Emotions are Real, But is the Threat Real?



For some, the fear of flying is caused by a perception that has been influenced by negative media coverage. For others, an unpleasant flight or experience may have been the trigger; strong turbulence, the loud vacuum-like toilets, the dreaded middle row seat, and weather may be to blame. Read on to learn more about these two popular triggers, as well as some interesting statistics and facts about plane technology to help conquer your fear.



In the news, negative stories such as airplane emergencies, unscheduled landings, and other scenarios leave us imagining ourselves in these situations. It is natural for those with a fear of flying to fuel their phobia with these very uncommon instances. We often forget that the news stories covered by media are worst case (and often shocking) scenarios chosen to increase viewership.

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever hear a news story about the thousands of planes that land every day without issue – boring, right?


We’ve all experienced flights where there has been turbulence or other normal situations that could be perceived to be frightening. Psychologists say that the way a person cognitively processes potentially threatening stimuli may determine whether a phobia develops or not. For example, the turbulence mentioned previously (or some loud engine noise) may cause negative symptoms such as nausea and anxiety during a flight which may contribute to the fear of flying.

But the question remains, how safe is flying?


According to the 2013 airliner statistics released by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), a record low number of accidents occurred. Although media coverage indicated an increase in incidents in 2014, it was still the safest year in history for number of fatalities.

Let’s take a look at Canada’s largest and busiest airport, Toronto Pearson International. From this one airport alone, approximately 1,100 flights take-off and land safely every day. Considering this number, it is easy to imagine just how many flights occur each day. The chances of something bad happening on your flight are actually 1 in 11 million. For comparison, the chances of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3.1 million. Here’s a little known fact: the only mode of transportation safer than an aircraft is an escalator or an elevator!


Flying has improved significantly over the past few decades with the introduction and development of remarkable technology. For example, engines have become more reliable than ever before, now designed with multiple safety precautions. These include the ability to completely power down and restart an engine in-flight (sort of like your computer) and the ability to fly and land with disabled engines. With advanced navigation and weather tracking technology, pilots are able to avoid thunderstorms and turbulent air masses, making the flight not only safer, but more comfortable for passengers. More and more aircraft components are becoming software controlled. These components are designed to be safe, and are tested vigorously. In fact, 60% of all aerospace project funds goes towards testing. In addition, due to technological advancements in Flight Management Systems, it is entirely possible for a computer to take-off, fly, and land a commercial aircraft with absolutely no interaction from the pilot.


In conclusion, while the fear of flying is natural, flying is completely safe. Understandably, it can be difficult to avoid and control triggers of this fear. Some tips to control the fear of flying include: keeping yourself distracted, listening to peaceful music, and breathing deeply. Remember – you’re not alone, and talking to people about your fear will probably help to alleviate it as well!

By Lisa Le The post Understanding the Fear of Flying appeared first on Aversan.