I have wished to review the issue of airplane phobia when I have
recently faced with several cases of fear of flying during my travels.
 The fear
of flying
that was not used to be quite important in old times is really
a major problem in today’s conditions.  The fear of flying of a
person who has to often fly particularly for business reasons makes his life
extremely difficult.  The problems
increase when the fear of flying that is thought to emerge at the rate of 25%
combines with other fears.
 As a result, the fear of flying may turn into a phobia and
reduce the quality of life. The fear and anxiety are two concepts that are
confused with each other from time to time.
from these, there are also phobias

Fear is the emotional respond that we give against
the external dangers.
Phobia is a kind of fear.  We call the fear that
emerges in response to a particular situation and objects which are not
normally frightening, as phobia.
In fact, we know
that our fear is out of proportion to the events or objects.
 We believe its meaninglessness or futileness, as well.  We can not cope with our
fear and try to move away when we confront or are likely to confront the
situation that we fear.
 Symptoms are like other phobias.
They can be listed as sweating, heart palpitations,
shortness of breath, stomach complaints, the inability to control
 For some, the fear emerges at the moment when the flight plan
becomes a current issue.
 Some undergo this process, even the process of the airport,
in a quite calm fashion but the problem becomes
apparent when it comes to boarding the plane.

Therefore those passengers who try to get back through the door are the
nightmares of airlines and other passengers.  After overcoming
such processes, all the symptoms may emerge with a similar stimulus because of
a slight tilting of the plane or just because of the possibility to tilt.


Also, the severity of symptoms may increase in case of
Claustrophobia (phobia of enclosed spaces) or phobia of heights.
are likely to emerge due to a physical problem such as ear and heart, as well
as the necessity to communicate with strangers due to social phobia or a crowd
increasing the fear of germs or momentary anxiety.


causes the phobia?


There are different views explaining the causes of phobias. In some cases, one may be sometimes
determined as the reason.
subconscious defends against the anxiety. Anxieties
emerging for other reasons, especially those which are difficult to be put into
words, are directed towards the objects or situations.
 That is because it is
possible to move away from the objects and situations and avoid the anxiety.

Sometimes the phobia is a learned behavior.  A sad and alarming event
occurring when confronted with an object or situation may be the source of the
An event that was experienced in
association with an animal in the childhood may turn into phobia even in the
absence of another event.
 It is known that the heredity and some biochemical changes are
effective in the emergence of phobias.

plane accident you have had or plane accidents you have watched or read may
trigger your phobia.  It has been observed that
the rate of fear of flying has increased in many countries particularly in the
United States after the September 11 attacks.
 Members of your family,
especially your mother’s fear of flying may be the reason of your fear of
need to cope with it so as not to get affected from your mother’s fear of
flying and if she had flied with you and you had not felt her fear you owe a
thank-you to your mother.


The treatment of phobia is generally applied when it begins to
affect one’s life.
 If you
need to board a plane as a part of your business, you start to seek treatment
when your social and business life is blocked by the fear that a storm will
likely break out.
 Behavioral methods such as systematic desensitization and
confronting can be used for the purpose of treatment.
There are treatments carried out step by step using a real
aircraft and providing information.
 You may cope with your fear by taking medicine
to help you to board the plane or by having a liquid or attempting to enter in
the cockpit.
You may decide not to fly deeming it
as a better solution.
 But do not forget that flying is also joy, power, and freedom
along with the fear.
If the fear of flying keeps
you from realizing your dreams and business, it is time to seek for a real


Prof. Dr. Bengi Semerci