It can, of course, be fear that one’s plane will crash. It can also be fear of fear itself: the fear that if they fly, they will panic. And, if they do, there will be no way to relieve the panic.
Panic can happen in an elevator, on a bridge, in a tunnel, or even in an MRI scanner. But panic on a plane is, for many people, their worst nightmare. At cruise altitude, relief is miles away. The plane will not land until it reaches its destination. The thought of being high up - held seemingly by nothing - is disturbing in itself. When the plane drops, it feels like the plane is falling out of the sky.
This is the reality a person with fear of flying endures. Meanwhile, there are people who fly comfortably. They regulate stress through brain circuitry that works automatically and unconsciously. Although we all have this circuitry, in many of us, it has not been fully developed. Anxiety is controlled by being in control. Otherwise, there must be some means of escape, literally by walking away on their own two feet, or psychological by keeping the mind focused elsewhere, or by drugs or alcohol.
In the air, passengers have no control. Physical escape is impossible. The only option is psychological escape that keeps the flight out of mind. But when the plane drops, that strategy falls apart. In turbulence, it is impossible to keep the flight out of mind. Relaxation exercises and breathing exercises no longer work. Panic, or even terror, sets in.
There is a way out of this problem. The answer is to more completely develop your ability to control feelings automatically, and apply this control directly to flying:
We understand that you have doubts. Everyone we work with does. But if you can set aside your doubts enough to give us a chance, you will – to your own amazement – be able to fly without distress.