Flying a jet airliner is easier than you think

There are a couple expressions we use in English to suggest that something is not difficult; we say it's not rocket science or we say it's not brain surgery. I want to show you that flying a jet aircraft is easier than you think. If you start with the thought that something is difficult, you might end up thinking that it's dangerous if something goes wrong.

We need to dispel myths so that you see flying for what it is … normal. Many people feed their fear of flying because they think that flying a jet plane is difficult and demanding. By understanding it you’ll see that it doesn’t hold as many fears as you believe.

Flying around

Just flying along in a jet plane feels nice, there’s a speed range of 130 to 600 miles an hour. It climbs and descends quickly and goes around corners easily. In fact it feels just as you’d think. Most people find the controls a little stiffer than they’d imagine but a lot more sensitive … sounds wrong doesn’t it?
Yes they are  ‘heavy’ to move, but when you do move them the plane responds immediately and moves a long way for a small change of  ‘steering wheel’ movement.
At first you’d find it to hold a steady height because with so much energy the smallest of movements will take the plane up or down … but  when you know how to fly, there’s a device you can set that means you can let go of the controls and the plane will continue what it was doing. It feels like a lorry and handles like a sports car.

Taking off

Taking off, despite what you may think, is a very straightforward procedure.  Most anxious travellers believe that the plane is right on the edge of what it can do, but in fact every take-off is well within a plane’s capability, and what’s more … the engines are not straining. Of course before we even get on a plane to fly it we know that it is perfectly serviceable. 
There is a complete description and video of taking off on our Premium fear-of-flying-on-line-course. We do our take-off checks and then press the thrust switch and the engines will increase their thrust until they reach the correct amount for take off.  We, the pilots, keep the plane pointing along the runway by using the rudder and then when we’re going fast enough (Vr)  we raise the nose … and off she flies!
No nail biting drama, no hanging on to the controls, no Hollywood style ‘willing the old bird into the sky’, no squeezing the ‘last drop of power’ out of an unwilling engine. Simple, straightforward, well rehearsed, standard procedure.  We’ve got a detailed description of taking off  and a commentary from the flight deck on our Fear of  Flying Audio CD set.

Landing

Landing is simply allowing the plane to lose speed as it gets closer to the runway. We trade speed for lift. In my book  ‘Flying without Fear’ I explain how to land a plane, so I won’t repeat it here.

Emergencies/ Non -Normals

Starting from basics the first thing to say is that things rarely go wrong. In my airline career nothing happened to me. And as a young instructor, the only thing that happened to me was a slight engine malfunction so I landed  in a field. (My claim to fame is that the guest who arrived before I did, and I’m sure his arrival was much more dignified, was Yehudi Menuen the violinist. But nevertheless I was invited to sign the famer’s visitors book just below Mr Menuen’s entry).
When malfunctions occur in a plane they are simple to deal with and the airline’s procedures determine who flies the plane and who carries out the checklist. Modern aircraft have electronically displayed checklists and until the actions are completed correctly they stay visible on the navigation screens.
People who have flown the simulator with me are always amazed to find how simple it is to control the aircraft.
See more about flying planes on our Premium on-line fear of flying course.

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