- A 2006 poll indicates that 27 percent of American adults are at least somewhat afraid to fly in an airplane; 9 percent are “very afraid.”
- People with aviophobia worry obsessively that they will crash or even die of their own fear. In extreme cases, an individual suffers a full-blown panic attack, which can include physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and dizziness. Such intense fear may cripple careers and prevent people from visiting family or friends.
- Fear of flying often yields to treatment with do-it-yourself DVDs, hypnosis or virtual reality. Perhaps the most effective therapy, however, involves confronting the fear with facts and exposing patients to what they fear—by putting them on an airplane.
Karsten Kramarczik, a magazine art director from Schriesheim, Germany, never liked to fly. Even as a child, he found that the prospect of enclosing himself in a long metal tube and hurtling through the ether at nearly the speed of sound made him shiver. Nevertheless, for much of his life Kramarczik forced himself to get on airplanes. Then, four years ago, doubt mysteriously turned into full-blown panic on a trip to Barcelona. He has not flown since.
According to a 2006 USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, 27 percent of American adults are at least somewhat afraid to take to the skies; 9 percent are “very afraid.” These statistics suggest a recovery since the September 11, 2001, attacks, shortly after which a Gallup poll indicated that 43 percent were wary about getting on an airplane, including 17 percent who were “very afraid.”
This article was originally published with the title Nerves in Flight.