Fear of turbulence - Is it normal?

Hey!

So,some months ago i was in a flight when a severe turbulence started, even knowing that it is not risky i got so scared. Definetly the worst experience i ever had on an airplane. Since then, i had 2 flights and in both i was so nervous for experiencing turbulence again. I definetly have a fear of turbulence.

But here is the problem : I want to be a pilot.

I can´t describe how much i love aviation, same as all of you. I love the anxiety when boarding, the engines roaring, the plane taking off with an insane power, the views, the perfect landing… everything. But now i cant handle turbulences, even a light one scares me a lot.

Do you guys have fear of something related to fly?

Is it normal to have this fear as a future pilot student?

Do you have any tips for handling turbulences?

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So, I have a flight today actually, and the best I cope with turbulence is by focusing on music and just holding the armrest.

Of course turbulence is scary(especially severe) so it can be traumatising. But aircraft are statistically much safer than ground vehicles, so you will be fine.

Nothing really scares me when flying, simply because I love it and will always love it!

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No not really. With what I know, I know I am in good hands and am aware of what is occurring.

Yes! You do not know all the techincal information behind as to why these events are occurring. Naturally most people who don’t know what is happening in an event get nervous. Flight school is to help you learn so you can know that what is happening is usually normal and you can apply it to when you fly commercially.

Buckle up and listen to the flight crew at all time. Try to watch a movie or do something that distracts you.

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My little sis grabs on to my arm very tightly during takeoff. She is afraid of the engine throttle increase sounds during takeoff.

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When I was young, I was scared of takeoff but not landing but it’d be the opposite now if I was still scared loooool

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Lolz me too! Being an avgeek, I get excited during takeoff and landing.

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Being completely honest here, I actually enjoy turbulence, it’s like a roller coaster for me and I find it fun!

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That’s how I like it… But sometimes it makes scared for a split second when the plane drops 10ft lmao

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No remember sometimes there that feeling seconds after takeoff where you feel as if the plane dropped a few feet lol, and it makes you so scared

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Yes, that’s normal.

Remedy? You gotta fall in love with the turbulence first.

I could tell you my story. Hope it helps…

(1) As a pilot, repeat to yourself that fear is good. It’s what will keep you safe. Knowing no fears will get you and others in potential danger. But what about as a passenger…?

(2) I remember when I was 7 my heart dropped and almost cried seeing from the window how the wings were about to fall off the plane. Although at the time I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I even took flight lessons and did some cool “aerobatics” (because my instructor was a crazy cowboy) but it never dropped some aspects of my fears of flying.

Now after several years in IF and appreciating piloting more than ever, I don’t get that much nervous anymore flying as a passenger IRL. The accidental trick? Appreciating wing flexes!

Saw a video where they were testing the wings on a plane bending it forcefully with cranes to almost 90 degrees! That just soothes me calm. So that’s the case, it must do that, its what it’s for! Been addicted to lots of extreme wing flexes afterwards, like Madeira landings, this 777 has the tips of its wings practically over its fuselage!

Now, whenever I travel I must have the window seat overlooking the wings and would be very disappointed if we don’t get any “fun” (a.k.a turbulences) during the ride. I saw clouds coming up and I go “Yippeee!”, just gotta respect the engineering. When the turbulence is non-stop, like going through a full stormy flight, I even got bored at some point and fell asleep.

(3) Another thing, a bad habit of mine: binge watching air crash cockpit recordings before any flights >sigh< bad idea! But having been watching aircraft disaster shows on cable made me realize that after any incidents, they’d change how the system works. For example: Did you know that flight instruments come in threes? Made by three different companies for fail safe measures.
So by now they’ve thought of everything and its up to the pilot to fly you in a safe, professional and skillful manner - this is why I only fly with reputable companies and avoid notorious dodgy ones.

For example:

A captain pilot friend of mine told me in his previous airline company (where I knew for a fact they’re notoriously cowboys - fun to watch sometimes in FR24) his mates took amphetamines to keep up with the schedule - I will never take dodgy airlines in my life as a passenger - except if they let me fly it myself lol.

So in short: Appreciate and love seeing the technology in action and know for a fact that for everything else by now they’ve thought of everything - it will be up to the human pilots to take great pride, respect, knowledge and care flying it, which is what you’ll get from airlines with a good track record!

(4) But perhaps, these figures with real authority on the subject could tell you themselves!

This explanation from Mentourpilot helps a lot!

https://youtu.be/EuLURmITq_E

and here's a word of assurance from Capt Sully regarding fear of turbulences

https://youtu.be/mHq18y7Vlw4

and here are common reasons of fear flying as a cargo pilot, but don't fear anything as a passenger pilot!

https://youtu.be/Ry4UsPw0rf4

Okay. Now’s your turn to give me any logical advice you have: I’m your opposite, I completely fear low level flights, particularly the boarding and that feeling from those powerful roaring take-offs 🤦‍♂️ (even seeing that airfoil vapor from the window, altough liking it, but still makes me realize the momentum)

Btw, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll achieve your dream as a pilot, cheers!

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Personally, I have never been afraid to fly. I just think of the turbulence as a roller coaster ride.

A good coping mechanism could be to familiarise yourself with the flight deck of a plane that you usually fly in. This will both help prepare you for a career as a pilot and visually show you how unlikely it is that the plane will just fall out of the sky if you can wrap your head around the autopilot system and how the aircraft automatically compensates for the force generated by turbulence. I want to be a pilot for my home airline Aer Lingus which has a fleet of only A320s, A321neoLRs and A330s. Because of this, I familiarised myself entirely with the A320 flight deck, learned as much as I could about every switch and realised that the aircraft is much more technologically advanced than I thought and in turn is much safer than I thought.

I forgot where I heard it, but here is a GREAT tip. Write your name backwards on a piece of paper. Just like that. Then write it a couple of times (still backwards) with your non dominant hand. After that, try writing it with your eyes closed. Your mind will be so focused on the task of doing that, that it will barely realize that there is turbulence. Just remember to take deep breaths, and focus on this task. Hope this helps!

It’s different once you’re a pilot! Fear is about the unknown, and being out of control… pilot training is about knowledge, and being in control😉 .

Once you understand more about the physics and engineering involved, and once you have control, I believe the fear will go away.

I experienced this myself, not with turbulance, but with height… I am scared of heights, I hate being on a ladder and there’s no way I’d ever go on a high fun fair ride or big wheel etc…

But, I flew light aircraft at all heights up to 9000 ft, with no fear at all. In the aircraft I could look bank hard and look right down at the ground and experience nothing’s of the bad sensations I get standing on a ladder!

Go figure… ? It must be about control and knowledge.

LOL just wait until you get into a small airplane on a hot unstable afternoon! You’ll get used to it.

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Turbulence is just going to happen regardless of what airplane your flying. Fear is a natural reaction to the unknown, and your fear is just that!

However as a pilot student, you will need to conquer that fear. Either with knowledge of what turbulence is, or experience flying in it (during flight training). I have absolute confidence you will be able to overcome this…

For the knowledge part(this information may not be 100% correct, please ask your CFI if you have questions), turbulence can come from multiple sources, the uneven heating of the earth’s surface causing “thermals” which is warmer air rising from the surface. Or it can come from weather: for example wind shear, (god forbid) thunderstorms, clouds… and so much more including wake turbulence from other aircraft…

Turbulence is just the “fun” part of flying, and it is here to stay. Good luck with your training!

Absolutely. Two years ago, flying made me really nervous because of the unknowns about it. But over those two years I started to play more advanced flight simulators, and I learned how VNAV, FMS, MCDU, (and lots of other things) worked. All the unknowns were gone, and everything that happened, I knew what would happen next.

The answer to your troubles is simple: Experience.

When you fly more in X-Plane, real life, or any situation that has the 100% entire experience from cold and dark to shutdown, and you learn how things work, you will get over your fear.

Good luck, I believe in you!

Of course it’s normal! Turbulence is never fun to go through, especially when your not in the one in control of the aircraft and what’s it doing!

Think of it this way, despite your fear, remember that the planes and pilots operating them are built and trained to handle and operate safely in extreme levels turbulence. So you’re in good hands!

I’ve no been to flight school but I assume that part of becoming a successful pilot is learning how to fly in such conditions. So you won’t be expected to fly in such conditions without going through a good amount of training. So don’t worry about encountering such conditions on one of your flights and not knowing what to do. And if you do encounter any turbulence on one of your training flights, your flight instructor is qualified and trained to help you get through those conditions.

Hope this helps! Best of luck in your piloting journey. I’ll be rooting for ya.

-CNG

Woah! Thanks for the replies, can´t wait to fly again to put in practice the tips you guys commented.

I was a little bit concerned because of this problem, but now i see that it is completely normal. Is just trusting the pilots, the engineers and the airplane.

Again, thanks for taking the time of replying, thats one of the reasons i love this community. ❤

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No problem my man. That’s what the IFC is all about! Always love to help my fellow pilots/aviation lovers out!

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