Commercial pilot Katie Pribyl has been flying planes since she was 17.
Fear of flying, or aerophobia, affects nearly 7 percent of people, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“I always like to remind nervous-looking people seated next to me when I’m traveling as a passenger that flight is actually the safest way to travel,” says commercial pilot Katie Pribyl, who has been flying since she was 17, “and that aviation safety records are as high as they’ve ever been.”
If that practical reassurance sounds great, but doesn’t help when you are experiencing turbulence 35,000 feet up in the air, Pribyl recommends trying an affordable “discovery flight” at your local airport or flight school for about $100. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has a flight school finder at aopa.org. The pilot will give you a tour of the plane pre-flight and show you how everything works. “A lot of people are afraid of flying because they feel the situation is out of their control,” says Pribyl. “Sitting in the cockpit yourself for half an hour learning how things work is often the best way to reverse it.” Then you take a 30-minute flight seated next to the pilot while she explains everything that is going on in real time.
Lessen external stressors by arriving at the airport with ample time to get through security and to pick up your favorite healthy snack to bring on the plane for comfort.
Listening to an audio book or music while taking off and touching down helps block out potentially irksome sounds and redirect your thoughts.
Fear is more likely to gain a foothold when you’re alone. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you, whether you know them or not.