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Fear of Flying: how to understand and conquer this phobia

According to major research, fear, or anxiety about flying, affects almost 25% of the population.

For some, it’s nervousness during turbulence; others are stressed during take-off and landing; and some with extreme anxiety refuse to ever get on a plane, period. Many people face this problem all their lives, while others develop it later in life.

Whether traveling for business and/or pleasure, fear of flying can have a major impact on a person’s life.

The good news is that there is help, and relief, in many forms. For almost as long as flying has been a mode of transportation, there have been programs designed to educate the flying public on the safety and reliability of air travel, and to help people cope with the nervousness they may feel either before or during a flight.

There are a variety of “fear of flying” programs that educate travelers about how airplanes work and how safe they are. Some use actual on-board experiences to help desensitize travelers, and others teach coping skills and techniques to help people deal with anxiety while it is occurring.

One of the most widely known programs, which boasts a great following, is SOAR, founded and run by Captain Tom Bunn, a former Air Force pilot, retired airline pilot and licensed therapist.

SOAR is available online and includes DVDs, downloads, and many other resources. The materials feature lectures on the mechanics of flying, how safe it is, and why our system of airlines, pilots and the FAA works so well. Plus it offers coping techniques and anxiety management tools that flyers can use when they experience nervousness onboard.

The latest addition to the program is an app that actually works during a flight to tell the traveler everything that is happening. The user loads flight details into the app prior to traveling, and it explains everything that is happening from landing to takeoff, so there are no "mystery noises" or unexpected movements to cause or increase stress.

In addition, there is a weekly newsletter, online group chats, and both group and private phone consultations.

Does this program work?

It worked for our writer, a travel planner for 20 years who also directed numerous travelers to this program.

While we do not endorse any product or service directly, we definitely encourage researching SOAR as an option if you suffer from this very common affliction.

There is help, and whether you use SOAR or another program, there is no need to spend the days before your flight stressing and your hours on an airplane white-knuckling the armrests.

It is time to relax and enjoy the flight.