The Cure to a Fear of Flying: Become a Pilot

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Tessa B.

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Sunset From a Plane Window

Sunset From a Plane Window

Tessa B.

Tessa B.

Sunset From a Plane Window

You might think that pilots have loved flying ever since they were kids. Many have. But for Jen Baker, that is definitely not the case. Jen had a terrible fear of flying, but, she suddenly developed an interest in becoming a pilot after learning more about it. Just two years later she was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor.

Jen wasn’t afraid to fly until she was about 18. By then she had three friends pass away at young ages, which changed her perspective on life. “I used to travel by airplane on family vacations a lot when I was growing up. It finally occurred to me that a plane crash could happen to me. So I developed a fear of flying. I ended up going to college on the opposite side of the country, so I had to fly a lot to and from college”. Her parents took notice and her mom enrolled her in a program at American Airlines called “Fearful Flyers.” It was a program that helped people get over their fear by exposing them to the different aspects of flight: air traffic control, aerodynamics, speaking with pilots, learning relaxation techniques.

Soon she became more comfortable with the idea of flying. “Before I started my flight lessons, I bought a basic book on learning how to fly. Once I started to understand aerodynamics and how the air traffic control system works, I started to lose my fear.” After reading the book, Jen actually got very interested in flying. “Once I learned a little about aviation, I wanted to learn more. A family friend suggested I take a single flight lesson at the local airport. Once I had a lesson, I was hooked and enrolled in a program to get my license.”

Jen got her commercial license in 1994 at Fullerton Airport and became a flight instructor in 1995 at John Wayne Airport. She has some advice for nervous flyers. “I’ve found that most people are still nervous about turbulence. So I always ask them if they would expect their boat to be perfectly still in the water. When they answer no, I remind them that they can’t expect their airplane to be perfectly still while it is passing through air. This usually helps them think of turbulence in a new, less fearful way.” Jen says she has no regrets about learning to fly. “It was probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but I always say that the biggest challenges hold the biggest rewards.”

 

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