When you think about it, feeling nervous while ascended 40, 000 feet in the air, aboard an apparatus that weighs more than 400, 000 kilos, really doesn’t seem all that irrational.
It is estimated that as many as 40 per cent of us feel a “little jittery” before boarding an airplane, and about 10 per cent of the population suffer quite serious anxiety.
My 89-year-old grandfather was a pilot for more than 40 years, most of which he spent at Qantas. Recently, I asked him how many times he thinks he has flown over the course of his career. He laughed and then paused for a moment, before replying “It’d have to be pretty close to 100, 000”.
One hundred thousand. At 26 years old, that is significantly more times than I’ve gotten out of bed.
As part of his job, my grandfather ran courses for people who were exceptionally afraid of flying. And here is what he told me.
For someone with a fear of flying, no amount of statistics are going to help.
You can tell them that their chance of being in a fatal accident is no more than one in 11 million, or that you are far, far, more likely to die in a taxi on the way to the airport than suffer a plane crash. Unfortunately, anxiety isn't cured through a barrage of statistics.
"Generally what frightens people is that they don't know what's going on," he explained. "We fear what we don't understand".
Mia Freedman talks about how she manages her anxiety. Post continues below.
There's one analogy that he said helped people more than anything else.