Vanessa Skilton

Strangely I find myself in an industry where, at one stage in my life, I had anxiety and a mild fear of flying.

These days, I tend to somehow get miraculously seated next to people who have a genuine fear while flying.  The great thing is that I can talk my way through that fear with them and can make them feel assured of a somewhat less anxious flight.

For the first 16 years of my life, I traveled on small airplanes to Flinders Island on holiday with my family who lived there at the time. Apart from suffering ear issues (and I still do) I recall loving the turbulent rides, likening them to a roller coaster.

When I was about 18 I returned from a two week trip through some remote parts of Australia, the flight into Launceston was a VERY bumpy flight. So bouncy was the flight, the airplane used the whole runway to land.. and some of the grass at the end! I am pretty sure there were claw marks on every armrest from that flight. I remember hearing a remark from someone on the ground watching the flight land, that it was coming in swaying from side to side and no surprises that we bunny hopped along the tarmac.

And herein started my fear of flying.

My next flight was to Adelaide, probably not even 6 months later, and I was nervous again to step foot into this big lump of flying metal. We had some minor turbulence coming through the clouds and my traveling companion saw my concern and he swiftly told me it was like flying through some pea soup.

I know it never stopped me from flying, however, a few years later I dated a guy who was an aeronautical engineer who told me what noises meant what was happening. In fact, I became quite fascinated by how airplanes worked. I made sure I was sitting in a window seat so that I could watch the wings do their thing, slow us down and steer us with just minor tweaks.

Pilots spend thousands of hours training and in all sorts of conditions, the simulators now are so high tech that they move just like being in the real scenario.

I still occasionally get anxious however have learned to keep myself occupied in other ways. It could be listening to some music, talking to someone seated next to me, or the other fabulous idea is to have some smell that you like with you. Whether it’s a spray of your fav perfume on a scarf or oils in a handy bottle. It really does work because it uses another sensory system and then minimises your anxiety.