Fear of Flying

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Fear of Flying Fear of flying is no laughing matter I can tell you. When I decided to fly for the first time you would have thought that I had been told I had just two weeks to live. The prospect of been on a plane for 10 hours frightened the life out of me.

To try and ease the panic, I decided to visit Manchester Airport and see planes take off and land. I found a pub at the end of the runway called The Airport Hotel where you can watch planes take off and land right at the side of you, and have a drink and meal at the same time. This helped a little bit knowing how many take off and land every day.

The day of the flight........

Quickly dawned the day of my flight - I was terrified. Walking into the departure lounge past security felt like I was entering a different world. In what seemed like no time at all I was on the plane, a Boeing 767-300ER listening intently to the safety instructions, and then the doors were locked.

Panic was all over my face as my wife held my hand tightly, SHWOOOSH we were up OHHHHH S---. The next thing I can remember we were at 6500 ft and the seat belt sign had gone off. I remember thinking to myself "well there is nothing I can do now, "I am in it for the long haul" excuse the pun!.
The following video is an actual take off from Manchester to Orlando shot in 2000. Aircraft is a Boeing 767-300ER

The flight across was great, and seemed to take no time at all. The first 4 hours are really boring though as you are flying over the Atlantic Ocean so there is NOTHING to see. As you make your way down the Eastern Coast of the U.S.A though you really can start to make out different cities like Boston and New York.

About an hour before arriving in Florida the plane becomes a hive of activity as everyone including the cabin crew prepared for landing.
The following video is an actual landing into Orlando Sanford from Manchester in 2004. Aircraft is an Airbus A330-200

As we were coming in to land I said to my wife "I am not going to like this part am I", Nope came the reply, and then the plane dropped sharply 3 times ------- then the reassuring voice of a stewardess came over the tannoy and said this was normal.

I was down and in Florida, all the fear and emotions were quickly replaced with euphoria, I was there and was going to enjoy myself. I felt like getting off the plane and doing a "Pope" by kissing the ground.

The flight back home........

After my two enjoyable weeks in the Sunshine State it was time to come home, and again I was terrified, but with a new resignation that if I was to get back home there was only one way I was going to do it. Little did I know what was in store for me. No sooner had we got up in the air, the turbulence started, this was the first time that I had encountered real turbulence. I wont go into all the UP'S and DOWN'S but suffice to say it was horrendous, 7½ hours of a complete nightmare. When we landed I wanted to kill the pilot as I could not understand why he did not fly above, below or around it. I vowed never to fly again.

Sometime later I decide to reflect on my first aviation experience and to research what turbulence actually was. What I could not get out of my mind was the fact that the plane never really seemed to be in danger and that was rather comforting. I got a book on turbulence and read it front to back and it gave me a better understanding of how a pilot deals with it. Although I was living a nightmare, a pilots life is confronted with turbulence very often. This led me to the conclusion that they would not fly if they did not think it was safe.

I have now flown many many more times and better understand my fear of flying. Its not the thought of dying that bothers me, its the fact that I am not in control of my own destiny, I suppose I am a bit of a control freak. I still dont like flying but I really enjoy it when I am up there. I have even flown really small planes that only seat 59 people and have propellars. I have also piloted a 72 year old Waco Bi-Plane even though it was for a very short time.

I still to this day have my ritual of visiting the The Airport Hotel at Manchester Airport (ANORAK) and have seen some incidents there, but it has still not detered me from flying again.

I have a saying that I keep saying to myself: - "If I want to keep holidaying in Florida I have to fly", there is no after thought, the idea of not visiting Florida frightens me more than flying itself.

Contact your airline and find out what they will do to help you. All the airlines that I have flown with are more than happy to assist in any way they can.

For those of you who want a timeline and details of the flight I have done the following for you:-

The following is a very large file OVER 1MB
Zipped Version


I think I am cured, I not only fly more often now but have actually taken up flying using Microsoft Flight Simulator. I am also seriously considering taking my pilots licence. To think that I would want to fly a plane myself considering what I have said above is nothing short of a complete turnaround. YOU CAN DO IT........flying is pretty cool when all said and done.

I am also aware from many responses I have had that the events of 11th September 2001 (9-11) have put a lot of people off flying. All I can really say about that is, because of these horrible events the USA is probably one of the safest places to fly now because of it....