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By Anon
#1481668
Over the last year, I've developed a fear of heights, and now it's started to impact on my flying.

Up to around 2,500 ft I'm fine, but suddenly about a year ago over 2,500 I start to get a feeling of panic, with my bowels turning to water. It's really weird.

To overcome this, I have started to keep my head in the cockpit a lot more than is ideal. I have also started breathing exercises, but just don't seem to be able to overcome it.

I've got about 500 hrs, and an IR(R) rating. Funnily enough if I'm IFR on top, I don't get this feeling.

Any help appreciated.
By johnm
#1481716
That's a bit bizarre, I used to be distinctly uneasy on top of tall buildings, but OK on mountains and in aeroplanes. I'd get a doc to take a look at your ears, I suspect some sort of vertigo related to balance system if it's suddenly come on.
By MarkJPK
#1481936
I recently read an article (which I now cannot find) by an experienced RAF navigator, were he describes an issue similar to your own.

He describes a real issue with flying at anything other than low level, especially at times when workload was low. Symptoms were similar to your own - panic, rapid breathing etc. He was still cleared to fly by the doctor but he made sure his crewmates were aware of the issue. It got to the point were he would do his best to avoid any medium level flying both in the planning stage and during the sortie.

He also goes on to describe his sense of relief when a sortie was cancelled, sometimes volunteering to give up his flight when an excuse presented itself.
He wrote the article after he retired and came to realise that he actually had a real fear of flying which he had suppressed for all those years, after all he was living his dream flying fast jets and it would be incredibly hard to admit it actually wasn't for him.

It turns out a lot of fellow aircrew have experienced similar issues but, understandably, have been reluctant to talk about it. I believe one of the crew members involved in the Tornado mid-air collision a few years back had a similar issue.

Sorry the above does not offer any solutions but I thought you may be relieved to know you're not alone and I hope you can work your way through it.
By Cessna57
#1484665
I had this for a while in the early stages of my training. I'd say "Do we have to go higher ? I'm comfortable here, I seem to be getting scared"

This went away when we did some PFL's from 3500'
You have so much time to relax and look around while you glide down.

My mindset is now Height=Safety.

One of the instructors I flew with was quite blunt when I discussed it. He said once we were over 50' you can't jump anyway. So, if you're over 50' you're much better off being nice and high rather than tootling about low.

You could reinforce this by trying some practice EFATO followed by a PFL from 3500'
I know which will scare you and which you'll feel calm and relaxed about when doing it.

I'm trying to decide if that's a good or bad thing to say to passengers ? "It's all the same over 50' you can't just hop out, infact it's much better as we turn into a glider and we'll have loads of height/time to glide home"
#1484776
Cessna57 wrote:I'm trying to decide if that's a good or bad thing to say to passengers ? "It's all the same over 50' you can't just hop out, infact it's much better as we turn into a glider and we'll have loads of height/time to glide home"

Not sure I would put it that way. I tend to say something like "If the engine stops, there's no need to panic. Gliders fly perfectly well without engines. We'll be going downwards, but at the altitudes we'll be flying at will typically have 2 or 3 minutes to find somewhere safe to land.".

Andy
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By foxmoth
#1496346
will typically have 2 or 3 minutes to find somewhere safe to land.".

2 or 3 minutes will sound a very short length of time to a nervous flyer, much better to just say "plenty of time". :thumright:
By ROG
#1563763
Don"t worry/
I recall this subject coming up on flyer some years ago. It happens to a lot of pilots.
I had a period of not wanting to go above 1500-1480 felt fine --1550 felt a bit worried.
After about 3 months the feeling went-as it"s totally illogical.
I still prefer to fly below 2500-you see more--but occasionally fly up to 5 or 6 thousand.
Accept that you"re not the only one and accept that its transitory.
#1563778
A chap I was learning with many years ago had a fear of heights which only kicked in at 300ft on finals when he had to shut his eyes...not ideal. He gave up in the end. I'm not particularly keen on heights but being strapped into an aircraft is a totally different sensation because you feel secure and not able to fall off something....ladder, tall building, cliff. You wouldn't get me over one of those glass floors either! I guess different people are affected in different ways.

EG
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