What Is Pilots Afraid Of? Fear, Stress, and Flights
One thing that all pilots fear is death. Now this is not always the fear of dying in a crash, although if a pilot crashes and dies, that is certainly a reason to be scared. But what are pilots afraid of beyond death? They are afraid of crashing, and they are afraid of crashing because they lack the skills to be safe and they don’t have the training or skills to maintain their own safety.
When a pilot is not on top of his game, he becomes “in the red” and his airmanship and flying capabilities diminish to near the sub-par levels. Now what are pilots afraid of? Well, if a pilot crashes, it’s not the end of the world. But if the pilot crashes, then his family will go bankrupt, he’ll be labeled a drunkard and his career will be over. Many pilots wouldn’t wish any of that for their loved ones, and some of them would even blame themselves!
So what are pilots afraid of? They’re afraid of failure. They’re afraid of a cockpit disaster, of a mechanical breakdown or of a pilot error. The list goes on and on…
Pilots don’t come trained to be perfectionists. Pilots come trained to make the flight safer. Pilots come trained to land an aircraft safely rather than first attempting to land it on a runway. What do pilots do that make them vulnerable to stress? Everything!
Pilots are trained to be fearless and trust their judgment. If a pilot’s judgment goes astray, he’s willing to take any risk to get it back on track again. He’s willing to try anything to save the day. This might mean flying into terrain he’s never flown over or flying into a weather system he’s never seen.
When a pilot is afraid of flying, that’s when he’s most in danger. It doesn’t matter if he’s flying a single-engine Cessna or a twin engine stallion, what’s dangerous to him is flying the plane. He doesn’t care if he crashes, he just won’t fly again. The plane won’t even turn up; it’ll just sit there like a lump in the earth. He won’t be able to fly again – his wings will be trapped or he won’t be able to glide smoothly.
Fear of crashing is one thing, but fear of heights is another. Pilots can handle planes that are one or two hundred feet off the ground, but they cannot handle climbing into a plane that’s higher than that. Pilots get nervous when they have to ascend to an altitude that’s several thousand feet. Imagine what it would feel like for you to have to jump out of an airplane that’s higher than you’re comfortable with. Now multiply that by twenty times and you might have an idea of how terrible it is to experience that fear.
There are many other reasons that pilots get afraid, such as the noise of a jet engine, bad weather, or debris in the air. Pilots who are afraid of heights often experience vertigo, which is a loss of balance and a sensation that you may feel dizzy, nauseous, or faint. Pilots who are afraid of death or losing their control sometimes create emergency decompression procedures to try to keep them calm. No matter what our pilots afraid of, the fear itself can be very debilitating and can stop them from flying altogether.
Many psychologists believe that this fear of flying is rooted in children. When they are young, most children will not be able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, so their memories will be distorted. Over time, the distorted memories become more genuine, and this distorted memory carries on into adulthood. In the case of a pilot, the fear of dying in a crash will begin at an early age and will carry on into adulthood.
Pilots who are afraid of heights can do many things to help themselves relax. Pilots can practice climbing into a plane with an instructor and learn how to use the controls properly. Pilots can practice with their friends by flying kites, a type of glider, and gain a sense of the vertical.
What are pilots afraid of can often be cured through visualization. If you’re afraid of flying because you are afraid of crashing, then visualization exercises can help you overcome that fear. You can sit in a cockpit and imagine what it would be like to crash in a plane. Imagine the disaster you would be causing and how your life would end up as a result. This exercise can be used several times a day, and over time, the fear may subside.