|Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 4):|
In my experience, and that of other agoraphobics I have spoken to, fear of heights is rarely a factor in aviation.
I would agree with this. I think fear of flying, which is pretty common is distinctly different from fear of heights.
And let's be sure we are talking about a phobia here and not just good-sense respect for these things. Blunt truth is falls and airplane crashes can kill you equally dead. In the case of phobias I don't think that fact has anything to do with the emotional responses.
I don't have any advice on your fear of heights. If it is spoiling your life to any real degree you might consider whipping it, either on your own or with professional help.
About flying, I do have some opinions. It is possible that a bit of your fear will impinge a little bit on your flying experience. For that reason I'd counsel you to hire an instructor for a flight or two. Be very
honest with him/her before the flight. Express your concerns and your interests. If you get a good one they will brief you in advance what to expect, sights and sounds you will experience. They should not make any deliberate effort to frighten you but should let you experience the entire normal flight envelope.
For your part, you should be absolutely certain that no unreasoning fear is going to immobilize you when flying solo. Before you kick the instructor out the first time you should be truly at home in the airplane and comfortable with the height above the ground.
My understanding is that fear of height is triggered most often by looking down
the side of something - a building, a cliff, off a bridge. It involves a foreground reference, where your feet are, and a hard stop at the bottom and an obvious intervening distance. At the US Army Airborne School (paratrooper training) there was a rule of thumb that said that 34 feet was about the limit for normal fear of height. That if you were going to have any problem with it, it would show up by that height. For that reason their cable practice towers were 34 feet high.
I don't completely agree with that. I grew up with a 150-foot cliff in my back yard. No fence! By the time I was 18 or 19 I would run, face first down that cliff. I would find new routes up and down it. I was comfortable there. A couple years later as a private pilot I climbed Halfdome in Yosemite. My brother and a friend hung their legs over the edge and looked five thousand feet down at Mirror Lake. I had a hard time walking within two feet of the edge.
That bothered me, so four years later when I went to Toroweap Point on the north rim of the grand canyon I had 'worked on it' by then. I now have a picture of me, hanging my toes over the edge of a three thousand foot drop. I think we can accustom ourselves to a lot. Hell, I used to be afraid of girls! It is just a matter of finding our incentives.
With that in mind, I wish you good luck in this. I hope you enjoy flying!
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.