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I've Never Flown!  
User currently offlineOmShanti From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 65 posts, RR: 0
Posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2912 times:

Hello all,
My friend Jason has never been on a plane and he is pretty nervous about a trip he is about to take to South Carolina. Ive tried endlessly to explain the safe nature of flying but to no avail...further, he is so nervous that he is having second thoughts about "flying", and cancelling the flight and driving there.

Is there anything you can think of, that I can tell him to change his perception and get him on a plane.

PS. The thing that he fears the most is a huge massive structure, "staying in the air".

Looking forward to your suggestions


17 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineWilco From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 355 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2897 times:

usually the statistics work.... something like you have a better chance of winning the lotto than dieing in a plane crash.... and the most dangerous part of his trip will be driving to the airport.... that kind of stuff....

"Ever seen a grown man naked?"
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 66
Reply 2, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2826 times:

Seems like you might be dealing with phobia - by definition an irrational fear. The "staying the air" fear flies in the face of reality. Are there planes falling to earth all around him, night and day? There is no argument that will prevail over a phobia other than "do you want to go or not?"

When I was young everyone around offroaded a lot. I was really scared of riding across steep sidehills in jeeps. One day I realized that there was no huge pile of wrecked jeeps at the bottom of the hill. In fact there were tire tracks across the hillside where so many vehicles had driven across there.

Similarly, there is an entire industry based on the fact that nearly every airplane that heads anywhere at any time gets there. It is so reliable that there are actually multi-billion dollar companies that depend on it completely. They are called "airlines" and they would not exist if planes didn't "stay in the air" with some regularity.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineLeviticus From New Zealand, joined Oct 2007, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2811 times:

And maybe the most interesting example of them all, it is known from the statistics that the chances of dying in a plane crash is about the half of what it is to be kicked to death by a donkey.

User currently offlineEspion007 From Denmark, joined Dec 2003, 1691 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2720 times:

The problem is that if you get him there,Right after the doors close,and if he has a phobia,he will worry about every little bump and sound.And if youve ever flown you know there are alot of little bumps and sounds on any flight.BTW,wheres he flying from and on what?

Snakes on a Plane!
User currently offlineBoeing757/767 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2286 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2674 times:

Here's a fun fact, courtesy of the Air Transport Association:

"The safety record of the U.S. airlines stands out as one of the marvels of modern technology. Flying on commercial aircraft is by far the safest form of transportation; there are more fatalities on U.S. highways in a four-month period than in the entire 60-year history of commercial aviation."

Free-thinking, left-leaning secularist
User currently offlineFlySC From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2627 times:

Hey just out of curiosity, what part of SC is he flying to.
Fly Safely,
Jason D.

I do not fail!!! I succede at finding what does not work!!!
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2571 times:

usually the statistics work...

Personally I think that's bollocks.

I've never met anyone who is frightened of spiders who has then been reassured by leg diameter measurements or figures about the rarity of fatal spider bites.

Stop feeding the poor guy aviation statistics, just because you're into aeroplanes. You're dealing with a person, not a computer for heaven's sake.

If he's scared, then he's scared. It's not a logical response, and logic won't cure it. The only cure is experience, accompanied by support and understanding. Be a friend, not an encyclopedia.

User currently offlineEddieho From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 229 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2567 times:

Tell him to enjoy the flight! There's nothing wrong with it! Think of the new experience and the comfort that we airline enthusiasts enjoy! (and enjoy the view, movies, food, drinks, service)

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!!

User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 2478 times:

Take him to the local airport. Put his butt underneath the approach glidepath. Have him watch aircraft come in for a couple of hours. After awhile, he'll be so fascinated he'll insist on flying.

Besides, he gets on roller-coasters, right? An airplane is like the ultimate roller-coaster, except it's a lot more tame.

Okay, that was completely useless. There is nothing you can do to calm him. Just try to keep him on the plane. After his first flight, he'll love it.

Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineNycfuturepilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 791 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2407 times:

Are you going with him? One of my friends was afraid of flying a few years ago and I took him to MSY and when we were in the airport I showed him all of the different planes and explained how the different parts of the a/c allow the thing to fly. When we were in-flight i explained every noise and move that we made. He is now a plane fanatic and is becoming an A.Net member.

Father, Son, HOYA spirit
User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6290 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2355 times:

The fact that there are like... I think the neighborhood is ten-thousand commercial flights a day, and that's only 2/5 of the actual flying that happens in this nation- the rest is all private.

I think you need to walk him through the experience... boarding to deplaning. Talk about APU noise while on the ground. Talk about engine startup noises. Talk about flap noises. Gear retraction. Engines throttling back once you reach altitude. Turbulence, and the relatively weak risk it poses. Remind him to wear his safety belt, in case of clear air turbulence. Tell him about throttling back for descent. Flaps again. Gear again. Landing.

I have several irrational fears. I think the best thing to do is to calmly discuss with the person the details about what they fear, including things that they should not be afraid of, and things that they should be cautious of. In your case, explain away a fear of flap noises. But address the need to wear the safety belt. My father did this for me as a kid, both with flying and other things I was afraid of. I was always a scared kid. Paranoid.
They always say that we fear that which we do not understand. I think it's true. Airplanes are marvelous, yet simple machines. Do things go wrong? Sure. But rarely.

It's not likely that he will enjoy his first flight, considering how scared he is. I don't enjoy my first drive to an unfamiliar part of a city- I am paranoid about getting lost. But once I have done it, I learn to enjoy it later.

I hope I have helped.

User currently offlineCWUPilot From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 126 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2322 times:

Unlike what you would do with a child or an aviation enthusiest (aren't we the same thing?), you need to downplay the flight. Instead of bringing up the fact that he has never flown before or trying to give him advice on how to deal with flying, make it sound like the flight is the smallest, most insignificat part of the trip. Make the ride to and from the airport a bigger deal than the flight itself. Furthermore, keep the subject off aviation from now until you touch down back home.

He won't get over his fear until the flight is finished, so avoid the topic of flying and focus on simply getting him on the plane.


"The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work."
User currently offlineKilavoud From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2273 times:

"Ladies and gentlemen, This is your captain speaking. Welcome you aboard Trans Global Airlines, flight number 2 from Chicago to Rome. We are currently flying at a height of 35,000 feet midway across the Atlantic. If you look out of the windows on the starboard side of the aircraft, you will observe that both the starboard engines are on fire. If you look out of the windows on the port side, you will observe that the port wing has fallen off. If you look down towards the Atlantic ocean, you will see a little yellow life raft with three people in it waving at you. That's me your captain, the co-pilot, and one of the air stewardesses. This is a recorded message." (http://www.airodyssey.net/articles/jokes2.html)

This will surely help him.

Cheers. Kilavoud.

User currently offlineKilavoud From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2244 times:

Or try this one :

"Here's a conversation heard on a 747 flying from London to Vancouver. A gentleman, obviously a first-time white-knuckle flyer, was nervously asking his seatmate, an elderly woman next to him, about the length of the flight, the cruising altitude, etc. After take-off, he fell completely silent and started staring the inboard engine, apparently waiting for it to drop off. Half an hour later, the old woman tapped him on the shoulder and said: "Son, if you would like to go to the washroom, I'll watch it for you". (same website).

Good luck. Kilavoud.

User currently offlineDeltaMD11 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 1709 posts, RR: 30
Reply 15, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2197 times:

Last summer I went to Europe with a group of people. My friend Kate had never flown before (oh how lucky she was that her first flight was on an LX A332!). Her mother has a fear of flying so great that she refuses to get onto an airplane, thus they drive EVERYWHERE. So natually, she was kind of apprehensive herself about the whole experience. I just explained the flight regime to her, and to aid in what I was talking about I actually used a.net to show her some pictures of what things were. Of course we get on the plane and she's sitting there and her chest was pounding as we were lining up for departure, and she closed her eyes tight as we started rolling but once we got into the air and she was fine. She enjoyed the flights, except for the turbulence (which was insignificant in my opinion, but it obviously wasnt to her). In my opinion, if you know what to expect it makes the situation a little less nerve wracking. There is really nothing to be afraid of, and the statistics only support that notion. It's one of those things that once you've gone through it, it's fine. Just encourage your friend to stick with it.

I've also helped a friend through her first flight a few years back on a school trip to Mexico. This time it was in a Conti 733 from PHL-IAH (and then on to Merida, Mexico). She was sitting infront of me. It was a particularly rainy day, so we start to roll down the runway and she's going: "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God" and slams down the window shade. Next she reaches back towards me and goes: "Painter hold my hand" (I actually have a picture that a friend took of this that's quite hilarious). Once again, though, she was okay with it when everything was said and done, and the next 3 legs of our trip she made it through like a champ.

Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5557 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2185 times:

Just show him one of my trip reports. I always gloat about the good times I have while I fly, and that crashing is never on my mind!

User currently offlineKilavoud From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2136 times:

I have been flying so many times since forty years, that flying has become a routine for me, but every time I enjoy it. End of February I flew MAA(Chennai or ex-Madras)-FRA with LH on a 747-400. I had like usually an aisle seat and next to me was a young Indian, flying MAA-FRA and FRA-ORD. He told me he was flying for the first time (I could feel it). After two hours of flight he confessed that he was beginning to enjoy his first flight without fear. But after nine hours of flight, before landing in FRA he asked me : "As it is my first landing, I would like to know if it will be painful for me." I couldn't help laughing because of his innocent request. But immediately, as we were about to touch the ground, I put his mind at ease. Luckily we had no missed approach.

Cheers. Kilavoud.

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