Keith: I wasn’t on a flight until I was 18 years old. My dad had a negative flight experience with a lot of turbulence ~40 years ago (before I was born) and decided he would never fly again. So growing up, our family vacations involved travel by car or train.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve taken hundreds of flights, including an around-the-world honeymoon. But at some point during my travels, I developed my own fear of flying. It probably didn’t help that I was on an Air France flight to Paris that was diverted due to a bomb scare. And I also saw US Airways Flight 1549 floating down the Hudson River because I attended college nearby.
I’ve watched hours of aviation videos on YouTube, read lots of research on fear of flying, and fully comprehend every statistic that proves how safe it is to fly. That hasn’t helped. But taking a recent flight lesson has put me much more at ease as a passenger.
I’m thankful that despite my fear of flying, I’ve continued to travel over the years. I know some folks (like my dad) miss out on amazing travel opportunities because they won’t step foot on a plane.
As an aside, my dad actually started flying again a few years ago. After discovering miles & points, I was able to book him a few award seats in Business Class and First Class. And enjoying a more luxurious flying experience made him comfortable to fly again.
I’ll tell you more about my flying experience and share a few other tips that have helped me conquer my fears.
A Scenic Flight to Catalina Island to Understand How Planes Fly
As part of the birthday gift from my wife, we got to take a scenic round-trip flight from Santa Monica Airport to Catalina Island.
Captain Bret at Skyward Aviation was the instructor and guide for the day. He really made me feel at ease right from the beginning. We departed from Santa Monica heading west toward the Pacific Ocean, and I was truly amazed at how effortless it was to takeoff.
Besides taking in the beautiful scenery on the way to and from Catalina Island, I was intrigued by the flight instruments and gauges, which showed us important details like airspeed and altitude.
We got special clearance to fly over the Los Angeles airport at a low altitude. As an airplane geek, it was neat to see all of the planes on the ground from a different vantage point.
Overall, the flight experience was life-changing. Although it was just a quick 45-minute trip to Catalina Island, I was able to witness the magic of flight with my fingertips on the yoke.
If you live in the Los Angeles area or are visiting and looking for a thrilling experience, I’d highly recommend checking out Skyward Aviation for a flight excursion.
3 Tips for Folks Who Hate Turbulence
Flying is often referenced as the safest way to travel. There are more than 100,000 flights per day around the world that take-off and land without incident.
A major part of my fear of flying relates to turbulence. My flight lesson definitely helped me witness just how stable an aircraft is when it hits bumpy air. If you don’t think a flight lesson will help, you might consider these tips to help you with your worries about flight turbulence.
1. Take a Fear of Flying Course
There are lots of online courses that can help folks overcome the fear of flying and turbulence.
One popular program is SOAR, which was created by a former airline captain and a licensed therapist. The course addresses more than just turbulence.
There are free resources available on the site. But you’ll have to pay if you want to take a full course.
2. Select a Seat in the Middle to Front of the Plane
The location of your seat on the plane can make a slight difference in how you feel when turbulence hits.
If you don’t like bumps, a seat in the back of the plane is not the best idea. Because the tail of the plane moves up and down more noticeably to adjust the plane’s altitude. Instead, try to sit in the middle or toward the front.
3. Check Pilot Reports of Turbulence
Before a flight, I always check the website showing pilot reports of turbulence. Just knowing in advance where the bumpy air might be located puts me more at ease.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll hit turbulence in the same spots on the map. But it might make you comfortable to know that other planes traveled through the turbulence before you.
For my birthday, my wife gifted me an amazing flight experience. I got to take a round-trip flight on a single engine airplane from Santa Monica airport to Catalina Island with Captain Bret at Skyward Aviation.
Besides witnessing incredible scenery soaring along the Pacific Coast, sitting at the front of the plane with my fingertips at the yoke allowed me to better understand the magic of flight. This was life-changing because it has helped me become a much less nervous passenger on larger aircraft.
If you’ve ever taken a flight lesson or have tips for folks with fear of flying, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!