When sat in a car you don’t usually become disorientated because you can see everything around you. That is until you find yourself in thick fog, or better still, close your eyes (not whilst driving of course!).
Have you ever closed your eyes in a car in an effort to get some sleep, but found yourself trying to work out where you are via the direction the car is turning? It’s difficult, as you become very disorientating. Did you turn left or right? Where are you? It becomes very confusing.
The same can happen as a passenger on a commercial airliner.
When flying you can’t see in front or behind the aircraft. You only have that little window to look out of. As soon as you fly into cloud, or when flying at night you can’t see anything and this becomes a problem for many fearful flyers.
You can feel the aircraft turning, but did you know that your brain ‘resets’ your balance relatively quickly. It adjusts to the new position, and believes this to be level.
So, if flying at night – for example – and you feel the aircraft turn right, after a little while your brain believes that you are flying level. When the aircraft levels, you will believe that you are now turning left. If the aircraft now actually turns to the left, the nervous passenger will start to believe that the plane has moved too much in that direction.
In truth, the aircraft may be almost level, but your anxiety will get the better of you. Your imagination runs wild and you start to believe the aircraft is going to roll over and fall from the sky.
Unfortunately, you can’t see the instrument panel that the pilots have and therefore you have nothing to prove your imagination wrong.
When this happens, you must make a conscious effort to pay attention to which way you are turning. Why not write down on a piece of paper every turn the aircraft makes? By doing so, you are rationalising your fears with FACT.
In the example above you would have been able to check back over your notes to see that the aircraft turn right, then left (to level), and then left again.
In this case you would now be aware that the aircraft is simply making a completely normal left turn,