Turbulence? Debunking biggest concerns to fight fear of flying

SAN FRANCISCO - If flying is one of your fears, you're not alone. One class has been helping people overcome the fear for decades, by debunking some of the concerns keeping you on the ground.

"The plane just dropped suddenly," one woman remembers.

"We actually went up in an airplane and found out afterwards we had gone up in a hurricane," another woman recalls.

"What really scares me is somebody blowing something up on purpose," one traveler says.

"I actually thought I was going to die, says another traveler."

It's led to some odd routines. "I have to like touch all four sides of the door on the way in and you know with the seats," says one passenger. "And count to 100 during take off."

It has almost led do some missed opportunities.

"I thought ok I'll just never fly again I'm old I don't care," one woman says. "But my daughter is going to college and I want to go with her."

That's why these people have decided to not only share but face their fears in this Fear of Flying Clinic. Students learn it's not the fear that's the problem but the way they think about it. And once that changes so does the fear.

"It's not easy to do because you do have a whole set up of automatic beliefs that are causing you trouble," says one of the class instructors.

That's why debunking students' biggest fears is so important.

"I have some very disappointing news for you all about turbulence," says commercial pilot Captain Mark Connell. "We don't care. It doesn't make much difference to us."

As scary as it might feel, Captain Connell compares a plane hitting turbulence to a car hitting a pothole. He covers everything from turbulence and weather, to pilot training and preparedness.

"There's something helpful about that to think to yourself well he flies planes all the time and he's not scared so I probably shouldn't be scared either," says Mimi Kravetz.

Kravetz has been scared of flying since she was 10.

"When there's turbulence on an airplane, my heart starts beating quicker. I feel really panicky. I can't focus. I can't sleep and I wanted to get out of that feeling," Kravetz says.

Now she's ready to face her fear. "It'll be interesting on Monday to try and go in to see if I can replace my current set of thoughts with a set of new ones," Kravetz says.

And get into the air with as much ease as the plane she's riding in.     

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