Triggers and Remedies

747Fan

Lifetime Elite
Care to share your story as to what triggered your anxiety surrounding turbulence? Does getting back on the horse and facing your fear help?

Here is my trigger:

I had flown countless times before without an issue. Now I'm not talking about a few trips to NYC or Atlanta from my hometown of Boston, my flying time included trips to Hawaii (twice), London (twice), Greece, California, Vegas (to many times to count), Florida, etc, etc. During all of those trips, the only turbulence I experienced or new of was light turbulence, a little side to side shaking or a few little bumps. I loved airplanes, I loved flying, and I even thought about getting my Pilots license. All that would change on Febuary 17, 2006.

We had booked a flight to visit my in-laws and found a deal on priceline.com. Delta Comair would take us from BOS to JFK on a CRJ-200 and Delta Shuttle America would take us from JFK to AUS on a EMB-170. I was a little concerned about not flying main-line Delta, but oh well. Seeing that the EMB-170 was a new jet, I was excited.

On the second leg of our trip, we boarded the EMB-170 and I was suprised by the spaciousness of the interior. We took off from JFK and I reclined back ready to enjoy the 3+ hour flight to AUS. About 2 hours into the flight, we started to experience light turbulence which was normal to what I had felt on my other trips. Things changed rather quickly. The plane started dropping and swaying from side to side. I quickly grabbed on to the seat in front of me. As I looked out the window I could see that we were surrounded by dark storm clouds. The dropping persisted. I looked back and one of the flight attendants was sitting on the floor, clutching the seat arm next to her. Passengers were crying. As I ooked forward again, you could see the front of the plane literally bending from side to side. Suddenly and without warning, the front of the plane pitched downward and we plunged downard at which time I and several passengers let out the infamous roller-coaster scream. This turbulant ride lasted for 45 minutes until finally the Pilot came on and said we were through the worst of it (after reading this forum, this is only considered Moderate Turbulence:eek:).

We were on the ground 30 minutes later and I was calling the rental car agency planning my drive back to Boston as I was not getting on another plane.

Months later, I realized that I couldn't let my fear stop me from traveling. I thought, how often does this really happen? I had never experience this before and I was a seasoned travelor. Was I just lucky on those past trips? When I get on a plane now, that February day comes back to me as if it happened only yesterday. I ask myself why am I doing this to myself? What use to be an enjoyable experience is now torture. And it hasn't gotten better.

Now, I'm more turbulence aware during my flights. I can feel every little bump, shake, and vibration. I wait for it to get worse, luckily it hasn't to this day. My last trip is on Nov 23, 2007 back to Austin, TX on the same plane. After trying to face my fear, I have decided to give up after this trip. The car is my friend now and that is where you will find me when traveling.
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
That's quite a story. I can only imagine how that must have felt. If it makes you feel any better, perhaps it would be considered moderate-severe. It must have been bad if the flight attendant was sitting in that manner.

The plane is designed to bend (rather than snap in half), but I would think that'd be unnerving to see. It probably would have been just as bad in a mainline jet.

I think though, that your experience probably doesn't happen all that often, as you mentioned that you had a lot of flights in the past. It was just a matter of luck.

I had been back and forth between Michigan and Maryland/DC a lot for a couple of years, and although I didn't fly when the website indicated rough weather, I certainly had my share of flying in questionable weather (blizzards, thunderstorms, rain) and it was never really bumpy at all.

I've had the lights go out in the middle of a flight, landed on a runway full of snow at full engine reverse (and apparently, one of the engines stalled out because they were reversing so hard), but I'm still here. And so are you! :)
 

kingpenguin78

New member
When I was a kid I was never scared of flying either. For some reason during my early-mid 20s I became quite apprehensive about flying. No real triggers, but maybe it had something to do with coming to terms with my own mortality, 911 and my concerns about lack of control.

Anyhow, after rationalizing what is really going on and starting to read up again on aviation (I have always loved it and always wanted to get my private pilots license) I have come to terms that there is nothing to be scared of, and life is full of risk and commerical aviation is very low on the scale.

Just remember how many times you have had close calls in a road vehicle, and rationalize against that fact that even during the worst turbulence, it was never a 'close call'.

As well, I highly recommend going for a discovery flight at your local small airport, it allows you to see how an airplane works and the physics and logistics behind what is going on. Sure a Cessna 172 isn't a Boeing 737 but the concepts, motions and experience are quite similar and it might help you come to terms with what is actually going on. Plus, they let you fly a little bit!
 

monkeyshaved

Lifetime Elite
I think people who are worried about flying seem to fall into one of two categories - those concerned with the chance of malfunction and crashing; and those (like me) who just HATE the sensation of being in a plane in turbulence. Maybe there are some poor people in both.

But for my part, there was no single event I can pin it on. I remember always being anxious about flying, and while occasional slightly rough rides may have made things worse, they were not the trigger.

I have a theory that fear/phobia/anxiety about flying might not be so common in those people exposed to lots of flights when young.
 

747Fan

Lifetime Elite
I think people who are worried about flying seem to fall into one of two categories - those concerned with the chance of malfunction and crashing; and those (like me) who just HATE the sensation of being in a plane in turbulence. Maybe there are some poor people in both.

But for my part, there was no single event I can pin it on. I remember always being anxious about flying, and while occasional slightly rough rides may have made things worse, they were not the trigger.

I have a theory that fear/phobia/anxiety about flying might not be so common in those people exposed to lots of flights when young.

I agree with your theory. I, like you, HATE the sensation of turbulence. I also think that if I was sitting in the cockpit and able to see out the front windows, it wouldn't be as bad. Lack of control is probably just as bad as the turbulence itself.

Someone recently e-mailed me who read the post and said that they fear turbulence, but never dwell on it. They deal with it when it happens. I am one of those that dwell's on how bad it is going to be before we ever take off. I guess it is the way I am programmed really.
 

Hunter75

Forum Mod / Channel 9
I was never too apprehensive about turbulence either. I worked a job that had me flying about 150K miles per year (more than 125 flights each year). I was based in CLE, so I had flown in all types of weather including wind and blizzards. I then took a job training for an airline, so I flew even more; spending time in EMB-120s all the way up to 777s and 747s.

I was on a station visit to Kileen, TX (GRK) to train some ground workers. I planned to ride back to IAH on my company's EMB-120 and then on to SLC with Delta, but we cancelled our flight due to severe weather. I noticed that American Eagle was still planning to take their Saab 340 to DFW, so I bummed a ride so I could still make it home to SLC that day.

We climbed out of GRK and were immediately tossed about in the wind. The flight had about 7 passengers and one FA. We never made it above FL100, and actually spent most of the harrowing 50 minutes to DFW at FL60. The FA never got up. Passengers cried, vomitted and prayed. The flight crew kept apologizing and explaining the situation. Each time they attempted to climb higher the aircraft would rock and plunge violently. We eventually made it to DFW and I'd never felt so good to be on solid ground.

Ever since that experience (and several scary moments going in to SGU in the summer), turbulence gets me a little nervous. I know there's little danger. I know the plane isn't going to crash. I just get a little uneasy. It doesn't affect my decision to fly, but it does play a role in my route and aircraft selection. I used to ride 19-seat Beechcraft 1900s all over the Midwest and fall asleep before take off. Those days are over.
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
I've seen those little Saabs take off at DTW. Even during light winds they seem to flit around like a leaf in fall.

their Saab 340 to DFW, so I bummed a ride so I could still make it home to SLC that day.
 

christy

Lifetime Elite
My trigger is very similar to yours, 747Fan. When I was younger I loved to fly, and frequented the small Dash-8 turboprop planes that were (and still are) very common around eastern Washington state. My harrowing flight was in one of those very planes flying over the Cascade mountains from Seattle to my hometown 40 minutes away. The plane felt like a roller coaster--pitching nose up, then falling back down again over and over. I practically kissed the tarmac when we finally reached solid ground.

For a while I though I was actually making progress on my fear until I had a relapse on a trip to Albuquerque (my most common work destination). I was flying down for an awards ceremony at night, so I flew in on an afternoon flight in the dead of summer. As we passed through FL100 on the descent, it literally felt like the plane hit a speed bump in the sky. I've never heard a pilot react so fast to get the flight attendants seated. After we jostled around for a while it started to smooth out a little bit, so I relaxed as we came in to land. As soon as the back wheels hit the ground, the plane tipped up on one wheel, then tipped across to the other wheel before finally slapping down. I'm amazed the edge of the wing didn't scrape the runway. Now when I fly into Albuquerque, I just keep reminding myself that they built an Air Force base there, so it must be safe!

I know intellectually that nothing will happen to the plane during turbulence, but I still can't shake that same fear that I've felt ever since that flight seven years ago. I have to travel now for work, so I can't let my fear stop me; but like other posters here, I definitely select my routes and aircraft carefully. I will no longer fly small prop planes or commuter jets, and I try to always take my familiar flight to Albuquerque at night to avoid the harsh mountain wave activity in the region.

The other thing that helps is reading different stories and posts from my fellow turbulence dislikers at this site. I can tell it's made a difference in my mindset when I fly. Three cheers for Turbulence Forecast!
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
You guys will be happy to know that the site was tuned to provide more frequent updates. Pilot reports of turbulence and turbulence areas update every 20 minutes now. Thank you for your support, TF will be around for a long long time.

The other thing that helps is reading different stories and posts from my fellow turbulence dislikers at this site. I can tell it's made a difference in my mindset when I fly. Three cheers for Turbulence Forecast!
 

747Fan

Lifetime Elite
You guys will be happy to know that the site was tuned to provide more frequent updates.

Do you know if there are plans for the "Maximum Turbulence Potential" page to be added to the Mobile Website? I do like that page, but given its size, I'm not sure if it will show clearly on the blackberry/cell phone. I know right now I have a hard time reading the numbers in the Potential Turbulence Areas page. Not a complaint, just a question.

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, please continue. They definitely help.
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
On the mobile site, on your blackberry, you can click on the map. Once you click on the map, you can then click the track wheel, or press the blackberry menu button on newer models, and select full image. You'll be able to scroll around. You'll have no problems reading the numbers. Right and left is easier with a trackball model, but on the track wheel model, press and hold shift to go right and left.

I have just added 'US Max Turb' to the mobile site, per your request. You might have to 'refresh' the browser to see the addition.

Thank you for being a TF supporter.


Do you know if there are plans for the "Maximum Turbulence Potential" page to be added to the Mobile Website? I do like that page, but given its size, I'm not sure if it will show clearly on the blackberry/cell phone. I know right now I have a hard time reading the numbers in the Potential Turbulence Areas page. Not a complaint, just a question.

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, please continue. They definitely help.
 

Brave

New member
Newbie

Newbie

As someone who craves information about turbulence, I was so happy to find this site!

In regard to this thread topic: I was six en route on Lufthansa from Holland to LAX, I had flown three or four times prior. During our decent, I felt a ringing in my ears and an extreme dropping sensation. I still remember a horrified look on the flight attendant's face and also my mother's as the decent was much too fast and "steep." I cried my head off and just felt ringing in my ears for hours after landing. This one incident started a lifelong (so far) fear of flying, roller coasters, ocean motion, mountain driving, etc. I would not get on a plane from age seven to 21; I missed out on some fun family events. Since then, it's just a have-to riddled by pre-flight nervousness. I'm always seeking info as I still believe there's got to be a way to combat this.

I now fly about four 1-2 hour legs per year, but like so many, will try to find ways around this. I used to drive from Seattle to San Francisco for business.

Some random thoughts:

* I wish the airline would pre-warn about the possibility of moderate to severe turbulence. I would gladly schedule another flight or even get off the plane.

* Usually when I mention my apprehension to flying, someone will cite how safe it is. I see I'm like others here: it's about the sensation of turbulence, not that I think I'm going to die.

* I recently tracked how many times I've flown since 1988: 104. Out of those flights, four made me very nervous, or could have been considered moderately turbulent. So now I play the probability game: 4% of the flights will be very uncomfortable, not so bad I guess.

* Most importantly, there hasn't been one flight that I could not handle. Nervousness and a lot of positive self-talk yes. So the fear is the anticipation, not really during actual incident.

* I state the positive, e.g., "I can handle it", versus the negative, "I am not afraid."

* I yawn a lot and get sweaty palms a few hours before flying.

* I used to check the weather days in advance, but then would be nervous up until departure. I guess this is a good thing to do since you can change the flight, but how many of us have the flexibility to do that?

* There's no greater feeling than the seatbelt sign going off and the pilot giving a "we expect a clear and smooth ride ahead."

* Does it really help if the pilot tells you four hours in advance that the landing will be rough? I rather sit in comfort for 3 1/2 hours, rather than worry all that time.

* Ginger Ale (or Ginger tablets) seems to highly recommend.

* Flying in/out of Las Vegas at night is definitely smoother than any other time.

* You couldn't pay me to get on a prop, or even a small jet like Horizon. I will always pay extra for the larger plane. I've noticed that 757s don't really do well in turbulence. A32s do better than 767s.

* Amazing how we can fret with fear, then look over at the little child who's giggling and having fun.

* The consistent fear battle gets exhausting; unfortunately my dream is not to fly in peace all the time...it's to never fly again. I can't think of anything - done with regularity - which I rather not do.

I will check this site frequently, thanks for letting me share. :redface:
 
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tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome, I am glad you found the site and enjoy it so much. As for this flight, is it possible there was a pressurization problem which required a fast descent?

During our decent, I felt a ringing in my ears and an extreme dropping sensation. I still remember a horrified look on the flight attendant's face and also my mother's as the decent was much too fast and "steep."

At least now you have the site, and also be sure to check the mobile edition at the airport at m.turbulenceforecast.com

* I wish the airline would pre-warn about the possibility of moderate to severe turbulence. I would gladly schedule another flight or even get off the plane.
I think this is probably a decent probability percentage.

* I recently tracked how many times I've flown since 1988: 104. Out of those flights, four made me very nervous, or could have been considered moderately turbulent. So now I play the probability game: 4% of the flights will be very uncomfortable, not so bad I guess.
Doesn't that conflict with what you said before?

* Does it really help if the pilot tells you four hours in advance that the landing will be rough? I rather sit in comfort for 3 1/2 hours, rather than worry all that time.
As a Michigan resident, Vernors is much better ;)

* Ginger Ale (or Ginger tablets) seems to highly recommend.


It's amazing how much the desert heat makes a difference. I suspect early daytime is best, but night's probably ok too.

* Flying in/out of Las Vegas at night is definitely smoother than any other time.

I think it might have to do something with the length of the plane. The 757 is a long plane.

* You couldn't pay me to get on a prop, or even a small jet like Horizon. I will always pay extra for the larger plane. I've noticed that 757s don't really do well in turbulence. A32s do better than 767s.
You are welcome. Be sure and tell all your friends about the site!
I will check this site frequently, thanks for letting me share. :redface:
 

Brave

New member
You are correct that I contradicted myself. What I meant was that I wish I could get forewarned about turbulence while in the terminal or BEFORE takeoff while in the plane. If the latter, I would get up and leave if the doors were still open.

However, once we're airborne, it's too late. In this case, I prefer not knowing about turbulence far in advance. Still a little contradictory, but in one situation I can remove myself, in the other, I can't.
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think they'd ever mention it, it would probably cause too many problems for the airline. So you just have to check the site instead. I did so for a couple years when going back and forth from DTW-BWI (or surrounding airports, depending on fares), and I dodged the bumps very well.
 

NervyFlyer

New member
My story..

My story..

Is so similar to so many here that it is barely worth repeating. Grew up flying everywhere, all over the world. Never cared. Gradually grew fearful of turbulence. I had one bad flight, coming into JFK during a snowstorm where the luggage flew out of the racks and people were screaming. Oddly, I was pretty relaxed at the time.

Since then, my fear has gotten worse and worse. I am on edge for days before flights, and its all about the turbulence. I also can't ride roller coasters and get nervous on mountain drives. I have three kids now and it is very difficult for me to have them or my wife see how stressed it makes me; embarassing and frustrating.

I have tried EVERYTHING. Therapy, medications, a "hyppnotist to the stars" in brookline, Mass, self hypnosis, helicopter flying lessons. In the end, good old fashioned alcohol seems to help the most, and there are periods of time when it gets a bit better. One time I was seated next to a famous sports figured who I idolized and I chatted with him the whole cross country trip, ignoring the turbulence. Other times I am white knuckled even when the flight is smooth and stare out at the horizon to keep my mind calm.

I have considered flying private, and have been offered some flights with super rich friends on their planes, but I turn it down because I fear a smaller plane will be more turbulent.

I would give anything for...

-- a drug that put me to sleep for the LA-NY flight before take off.
-- someone building a plane where you can't feel turbulence
-- an end to my irrational fears.

Like most of you, I completely understand how safe it all is. It's just the turbulence. I've always wondered if it was related to balance, or an inner ear thing?

Anyway, thanks so much for this site. Tomorrow I am flying back on my own and hear that it is rough out there, so maybe you can help me dodge the bumps. Thanks again,
 

Brave

New member
Thanks NervyFlyer. Reading your post is like reading my own mind.

One thought:
I seem to be more nervous on less than 2 hour flights than on the longer ones. The former is short enough for nerves not to settle, so I'm on edge the whole time. It's hard to stay nervous for 10 hours. This might also have to do with the size of the plane, as they're obviously larger for longer flights. My sub wish: a 747 from San Francisco to Las Vegas.
 

Brave

New member
Remedies

Remedies

There are a number of books, CDs, etc. on the market, are any of them effective? I've heard that therapies that stress finger tapping (or a wristband that sends a pulse) works.
 

NervyFlyer

New member
I wish

I wish

I had known about the Vegas nighttime trick before last summer. I lived in Vegas for six weeks and drove back and forth from LA to avoid the hellish turbulence.

One thing you guys (or gals) might want to check it out is a little device called The Stress Eraser. My wife bought it for me, it sounds like bull, but its quite helpful. Won a bunch of awards, including gadget of the year from Wired or Time or something. I've only used it twice, but it definitely lowered stress.
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
Brave, I merged your new thread with this one, as there is similar discussion about devices. The Stress Eraser does look interesting. I might have to get one and do a review. Below are two different links to the product.

Stress Eraser 1
Stress Eraser 2


I had known about the Vegas nighttime trick before last summer. I lived in Vegas for six weeks and drove back and forth from LA to avoid the hellish turbulence.

One thing you guys (or gals) might want to check it out is a little device called The Stress Eraser. My wife bought it for me, it sounds like bull, but its quite helpful. Won a bunch of awards, including gadget of the year from Wired or Time or something. I've only used it twice, but it definitely lowered stress.
 
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