Fear of flying

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the event has brought many impacts on the aviation industry, such as a large decline in air passenger volume. And of course! people started to befear of flying.

(Image embedded from [http://i519.photobucket.com/albums/u359/jpg] on 20 Sep 2009)

What is a fear of flying?

A fear of flying is simply described as a feeling fear of being on a plane while in flight. It also known as "avoiphobia", "aerophobia", "aviatophobia", or "pteromechanophobia".


Fear of flying has effects on both Physiological, Emotional, and Psychological symptoms.

Physiological symptoms includes:

  • Muscle tension; tremors
  • Heavy breathing
  • Heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Abdominal and intestinal discomfort, especially discomfort in the stomach with an urge to vomit.
  • Excessive sweating, weakness, dizziness, prickly sensations, dry mouth, flushed or very pale face.

Emotional Symptoms includes:

  • Over anxious. This will most occur with the person doesn't trust the people who will be manning the flight.

Psychological symptoms includes:

  • Can't control themselves
  • Inability to struggle to fight the fear.
  • Impaired memory
  • Narrowed perceptions
  • Poor judgment
  • Negative expectancies
  • Perseverative thinking
(Video embedded from YouTube on 20 September 2009)

Causes of fear of flying

The causes of fear of flying are vary and depend on a person.

These include:

  • Weather conditions, such as storm sound.
  • Fear of closed in spaces (claustrophobia), such as that of an aircraft cabin
  • Fear of turbulance
  • Fear of take offs
  • Fear of flying over water or night flying
  • Fear of crowds
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of terrorists
  • Fear of falling
  • Fear of heights (acrophobia)
  • Fear from bad or unpleasant previous experiences with air travel.
  • Fear of crashing resulting in injury or death
  • The result of hormone release during pregnancy
  • The result of difficulty with the regulation of emotion when not in control due to developmental issues.
  • The result of the media sensationalize airline crashes, such as, watching air crashes investigations, or movies about air crashes.
  • Lack of understanding and knowledge of the principles of aviation . For example, people think that a failure of the engines will cause the aircraft to plummet to earth, but actually not, as well as they do not understand how airplane stay in the air, so it can increase fear of flying.


  • Knowing information about the reality of aviation.

Having aviation knowledge can diminish the fear of flying because once fear of flying people understand of the aviation facts, they will have more confident and knowledge, which can overcome the fear of flying. For example, knowing that an encounter with turbulence will not destroy the aircraft, understanding how aircraft fly, and other elements that related to this issue. Consequently, attending course and training seem to be a good method to broader their learning and practicing, which can decrease aerophobia.

  • Do some therapy for fear of flying.

Some of them are:

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to influence a patient’s dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure, in order to overcome the fear. This was mainly developed through an integration of behaviour therapy with cognitive therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can also process in individual therapy or in a group. Due to the symptom of aerophobia, the patient will likely blame themselves for their weaknesses and they will be thinking of all the bad things that could happen. Therefore, CBT focuses on 4 specific coping strategies that seem to be most associated with fear of flying, which are rumination, self-blame, acceptance, catastrophizing. These strategies attempt to adjust the patient’s thinking and attitude about flying.

2. Systematic desensitization is an behaviour therapy that uses relaxation technique to cope with fear of flying. The primary goal is that the patient will learn to overcome the fear in each step of hierarchy, which will carry on to the last step of the fear in the hierarchy. The patient will be asked for a number of questions to help a therapist determine the specific phobia. The patient will also participate in relaxation exercises or occasionally with anxiolytic drugs. Once they have been taught these skills, the patient must apply them to respond towards and overcome situations in an established hierarchy of fears. The fear can be treated by systematic desensitisation where the pilot first learns to relax on a cue and then is showing to progressively closer contact with the feared situation within short periods in the minimum of anxiety

3. Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is based on concepts form Chinese medicine. This is involved in the existence of invisible energy field's in the body, named "thought fields". TFT approach aims to decrease negative emotions, which can cause the fears. The benefits of Thought field therapy include lowering mood swings, decreasing personal and travel anxiety, and reducing stress.

  • Medication

The use of psychoactive medications may help a patient to reduce fear of flying, although it can produce some symptoms that cause additional anxiety, side effects, and allergic reactions. There are several medications for the treatment such as benzodiazepines. Besides this, some people may self-medicate with other psychoactive substances, such as consuming alcohol, this method, however, is not good solution as well as it is contradicted from therapists. Therefore, the patient should carefully select the options that best suits for the patient’s condition.

How to cope with fear of flying.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 15 August 2009)

Extra Video from The View show :)

This show presents the story about fear of flying, therapies, and all Techniques based on therapies, which easily calm fear of flying quickly. This show was also presented by Comedian Whoopi Goldberg and Dr. Roger Callahan with Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Fear and treatment are discussed on the television show "The View". Enjoy!!!

(Video embedded from YouTube on 1 October 2009)
(Video embedded from YouTube on 1 September 2009)
Wikipedia.(2009). Fear of flying. Retrieved September 16, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_flying Wikipedia.(2009). Cognitive behavioral therapy. Retieved 1 October, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavior_therapy Wikipedia.(2009). Systematic desensitization. Retieved 1 October, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systematic_desensitization Joseph, C.(2003). Fear of flying: A review. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from medind.nic.in/iab/t03/i2/iabt03i2p21.pdf

Want to know more?

-Fearofplanes http://www.fearofplanes.com/:
This is the websirt that you can explore more about fear of flying. That includes interesting articles, posts, tips, and how to.

-Fear of Flyinghttp://www.guidetopsychology.com/fearfly.htm.
This is another good website to explain more aboyr the effects of fear of flying. This also includes more details about fear of flying in pilots.

-Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavior_therapy
The website shows details about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

-Wkikpedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systematic_desensitization
The website shows details about Systematic desensitization

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors



Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License