Turbulence is an element of every flight that’s simultaneously the most commonly-feared and commonly-misunderstood. But according to Fearless Flyers, a program designed to help travellers overcome flight anxiety, there’s really no reason to be concerned about this common aspect of air travel.
Almost one in four Australians suffer from aviophobia, a fear of flying, due to turbulence. But according to private pilot Jacki King, once you understand how unremarkable this experience is you’ll see there’s no cause for concern.
“Turbulence is a big promoter of customers to us,” Ms King told News.com.au.
“They just don’t understand what turbulence is; they see it as dangerous. They are triggered by the seatbelt sign coming on and don’t understand the real meaning of that. They see the seatbelt sign come on, they think there will be turbulence, and they think the plane is going to crash or the wings are going to fall off.
“Turbulence is one of our real biggies and just one or a succession of turbulent flights will have people come running to us.”
“Air is a fluid. It is constantly moving and constantly changing, just as an ocean or a flowing river,” Ms King said.
“The same thing happens in the air, but the fact that we can’t see it is the bit that spooks people out. Our meteorologist has some magnificent slides showing rolling wave clouds, which looks just like surf rolling in — so our clients can see how the wind does this.”
So, what’s the best way to cope with turbulence troubles? Ms King suggests in the end of the day it’s all in your head.
“I give people four words: jelly on a plate,” she told News.com.au.
“Just think of yourself as jelly on a plate when you are in turbulence — don’t tense up and don’t grip the seats. That will make it feel a lot worse.
“Just stay relaxed like you are in a car, jiggling along with the bumps in the road. That’s all it is up in the sky, it’s only the fact we can’t see it is the bit that spooks us out.”
Are you a nervous flyer? Or are you fine on a plane?