Growing up I never had a fear of flying. After college I had a job that was more than 50% travel and I flew all over the place. All of my jobs since then have required some travel. I moved far enough away from home that I have been required to fly back for several years. I did all of this with a lot of excitement and ease!
But, about 4 years ago I was on a bad flight. It was a little commuter jet that hit a ton of turbulence over Dallas and I've never been the same since. I have had to use a lot of techniques to get through flights since this happened: breathing, counting, drinking a cocktail, etc.
Well, I am happy to report that in the past year I have had several experiences with planes that have helped me manage and almost conquer this fear! Here's what I think helped and maybe some ideas for addressing fears in general:
1. Diving in. I rode in the cockpit. I got to see it all in action and see how you manage a plane. It's much more complex than driving, but still manageable for 1 or 2 people.
2. Asking questions. The pilots that I rode with answered my barrage of questions. I was honest about my fear of flying and they did not make me feel inferior or as if my questions were insignificant. And I asked a hundred. Maybe a few more.
3. Research. I was fortunate enough to tour an aircraft manufacturing plant last week. Are you kidding me? They test, double test, break things, try to break them again, research, and have hundreds of people working to make planes safe. I was thoroughly impressed. And trust me, I was looking for a reason to doubt the quality.
4. Trusting. If you ever get the chance to "feel" how the autopilot works, you should. It is instantaneously reactive to anything in the atmosphere. It's so fast that you hardly even feel it. Blew me away.
5. Appreciate. I took a chance to appreciate the innovation. We can fly. Say that out loud. Isn't that kind of cool? I took a chance to appreciate the convenience. I can get to Oklahoma in about an hour. I can be in Europe in 12 hours. That is freaking awesome. And I took a chance to appreciate the beauty. It's a totally different perspective. It's gorgeous up there...