The fearsome fear of flying

On any given flight, there’s definitely one person who has a phobia of flying. Most people think that they are just being naive and that they need to ‘grow up.’ What they don’t know is that it is a much more serious issue and that just ‘growing up’ is not going to help them.

I am an aviation enthusiast, which is very contradictory considering I was afraid of flying few years ago. It was impossible for me to even set foot in an airport let alone boarding an aircraft. Even if I had to travel via flight, it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience and I would be grappled with fear for the duration of the flight till we touched down back on home sweet home, the earth. But the future of traveling was via airplanes and I decided that it was imperative for me to get over this fear. In this article I’ll explain to you how I got over my fear of flying.

If you have ever taken part in a debate competition or a Model United Nations you’ll know that whenever you have done the proper research and are well armed with your points of attacks and defense then you don’t feel any kind of fear while getting into a heated discussion. Whereas on the other hand you feel scared, distraught when you haven’t done the proper research knowing that you are vulnerable. The same concept applies in getting over this fear, get to know how an airplane flies.

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Let me give you the basics of flying. The engine of an aircraft (Jet) is the most important part, it provides the thrust and power that is required to get the aircraft moving. The working of a jet engine can be summarised in 4 words – suck, squeeze, bang, blow. The engine sucks the air in from the front, squeezes it through its body via a narrow airway, adds jet fuel while doing so and blows it out of the back of the engine which gives the thrust and gets the aircraft moving. By the way, an airplane can fly on just one engine. (Fly, not take off)

The next important part is the wings. The wings of an aircraft are responsible for providing lift to the airplane. Ever seen an eagle in the sky? The wing span of the eagle allows it to stay in the air. Same principle applies in airplanes, the wing acts similar to the wing of an eagle (of course) and provide the lift that is required to stay in the air. A fun fact! If all engines of an airplane fail, the airplane won’t just drop out of the sky as most people believe. In fact it will just start gliding, losing altitude gradually, allowing the pilots to maneuver the airplane to the nearest airfield for a safe landing.

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All of this is happening together and that will make a lot of noise, so the next time you are in a flight remember, the more noise an airplane makes the better. It means everything is working.

People have also questioned me many times, “Is there enough fuel?”,”What if we run out of fuel in mid-air?” This is highly unlikely. The fuel that is filled in an aircraft is very carefully calculated by engineers, pilots and other experts who take into account various factors like weather, fuel cost, distance etc. and decide how much fuel is to be carried. Let’s take an example, for every 10 metric tonnes of fuel that is carried on an aircraft, we get 10 hours of flying time but to carry this 10MT of fuel, 3MT of fuel is burned. Therefore fuel is expensive and flight crews are advised to carry minimum safe fuel levels to reduce cost and pollution. Fuel levels are categorised in many ways, trip fuel- is the main category, i.e. how much fuel will be required to cover the distance, diversion fuel- is then added just enough for a trip to the nearest alternate airfield just in case the conditions at the destinations are not suitable for landing, taxi fuel- for the distance that has to be covered while on the ground, minimum reserve fuel– which gives 30 minutes of flying, and finally contigency fuel – for unforseen circumstances.

Therefore, yes there is always enough fuel in the airplane and you needn’t worry about it. It is very carefully calculated.

Here I have stated some very basic facts and figures about airplanes that should resolve any doubts that you have in your mind about the functioning and the flying of an airplane. There’s also another way to learn all of this.

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Flight Simulators are a fun way of getting over your fear of flying. You can learn how to fly an airplane while sitting at the comfort of your home. It teaches you almost everything there’s to know about flying. There are detailed papers and manuals that help in gaining knowledge about airplanes and how they fly. Even an interactive flying training session is present in it that simulates a real life flying lesson at a flying club at your local airport! Microsoft Flight Simulator X is availabe in the Steam market and it has a variety of airplanes to fly and with over 25,000 airports to fly from and to with to-the-scale distance and size of the airports. It’ll help you in getting over that fear in no time.

If you think that the pilots are incompetent and will eventually plunge you to your sudden death then you are wrong. Being a pilot is one of the most difficult jobs in the world let alone becoming one. They are highly trained and can handle almost any situation. They have to go through regular testing every 6 months to check if they are still capable of flying an airplane, and they are always well rested with almost 12 hours of gap between successive flights.

Getting to know how something works really helps in getting over the fear of it. The quote,”Knowledge is power” is definitely true. You never know, you might turn to become an aviation enthusiast with over 2000 hours logged in on a flight simulator and your phone’s gallery filled with landings and pictures of airplanes.

Priyamvad Rai

 

 

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One thought on “The fearsome fear of flying

  1. Superb article. It has cleared many of my misconceptions and doubts of flying. Now onwards the sounds coming out of engine while flying will not disturb me.
    Keep writing friend👍

    Like

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