Flying High: 5 Ways to Beat Your Fear of Flying

Flying High: 5 Ways to Beat Your Fear of Flying
The Carousel The Carousel has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Dec 22, 2016

Learn the secret to overcoming your fear of flying in just five steps! 

Standing at the entrance to the plane, Gary Booth felt queasy and faint. His palms were clammy, his heart raced and his mind ran through endless scenarios. If this sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. An estimated whopping one in four Australians are believed to suffer some form of flight anxiety, be it mild discomfort before a flight or crippling, immobilizing fear.

Flying High: 5 Ways to Beat Your Fear of Flying

For many Australians who live with this fear, aviophobia can be a real challenge. “I found myself declining business meetings or changing family holidays so I didn’t have to fly,” recalls Gary, who suffered severe aviophobia after a traumatic flight from Sydney to Melbourne. The flight went through a low pressure system, causing the jet to “toss around like a cork in the wild ocean,” he recalls. Now, over a decade and multiple aviophobia courses later, Gary has beat his demons.

While a fear of flying is quite common in Australia, there are ways to overcome your phobia. Here are the top five secrets to overcome your fear and fly high:

1. Visualise your environment

Michael Salem, author of Brave Flyer: How to End Your Fear of Flying, believes it’s important to focus on a safe environment. He recommends focusing on the airport or cabin around you and methodically identifying the aspects that make it safe, be it the seatbelts or flight instructors around you. It’s important to try and calm your emotions and visualise a safe zone.


Photography by Gary Booth: New Zealand 

2. Find a mentor

For Gary Booth, seeking help via an experience mentor was key to overcoming his fear. “It’s like learning how to drive. You can’t do it on your own so you need to find someone with experience who can teach at your pace,” he says. Many companies offer fear of flying courses, but make sure you seek out a course run by a team with aviation experience, such as ex-pilots.

3. Focus on the prize

For many, a fear of flying will create barriers prohibiting them from new adventures, visiting friend and even work trips. When you feel anxiety rise, focus your attention on the final destination or ‘prize’ of flying. Whether it’s time with family or an important client meeting, consider how it will feel when you reach your final destination, and make specific, tangible plans such as who you will visit or where you will dine that night.

4. Make a playlist

A week before your flight, create a playlist of calming songs that evoke a sense of safety and wellbeing. Listen to these songs throughout the week while at home or before you go to sleep, when you are in a comfort zone. Then, if you encounter any discomfort on your flight, such as turbulence, put on your earphones and focus on the music. Having a breathing routine in place will also help ease your anxiety.

5. Choose your seat wisely

If you are really rattled by turbulence, opt for a seat in the centre of the plane. Positioning yourself near their aircraft’s centre of gravity will lessen the severity of shakes if the plane encounters rough weather or air pockets. Avoid the back of the plane where turbulence can feel more pronounced.

Words by Sophie Miura

Have you overcome your fear of flying? Tell us about your experience in the comments below! 


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