Published: Jul 23, 2019
Last Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Flightseeing is one of the most unforgettable shore excursions one can take, heading up in a small plane or helicopter to experience breathtaking views that typically can’t be enjoyed any other way. They’re especially popular in Alaska for getting into stunning remote areas, like the hard-to-reach Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan.
Float planes and small aircraft are commonly spotted throughout the 49th state as it’s far too vast to drive, covering more than 660,000 square miles, with many of the very best places inaccessible by road. Tours via small, sturdy aircraft make the wilds of Alaska available to the average traveler, with jaw-dropping views that are no longer reserved just for the extreme adventurer. You may even be able to watch whales breach or pinpoint bears and other wildlife on land from above.
It’s truly an experience of a lifetime, but for the millions of people who have a fear of flying, it can also bring about some anxiety. Fortunately, that fear is generally unfounded – driving around your own neighborhood brings a greater risk. And, most find that witnessing scenes that include snowcapped peaks, gem-like lakes, magnificent waterfalls and breathtaking fjords from above, instantly causes those fears to melt away.
If that’s not enough to ease your anxiety, these strategies can help you overcome your fear of flying so that you can experience what’s likely to be one of the highlights of your trip in Alaska.
Know the Statistics
The chances of dying in an aircraft accident are just one in 11 million, while there is a one in 5,000 chance of dying in a car accident. In the U.S. alone, there are over 30,000 deaths a year caused by auto accidents and only 475 deaths resulting from aircraft incidents. The reason more people are afraid of flying is primarily due to sensationalism in the media. As we usually only hear about plane crashes on the news, the perception of just how many accidents there are, and their severity, tends to be skewed.
Just like the rest of the country, Alaska has strict regulations when it comes to compliance with industry safety standards. Any company operating a tour that makes their guests feel unsafe will show up rather quickly in reviews on sites like Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor.
Avoid Too Much Caffeine
While drinking a cup of coffee probably won’t hurt, it’s important not to overdo it as caffeine tends to exacerbate anxiety. Do drink lots of other non-caffeinated drinks like water as dehydration can also contribute to fear.
Visualize the Destination
Visualizing the destination ahead of time, imagining yourself soaring over glacially-carved cliffs, dazzling alpine lakes, waterfalls and majestic creatures in the unspoiled wilderness, can be a powerful antidote to fear, helping you to get so excited about the experience your anxiety starts to fade away.
Don’t Conceal Your Nervousness
There’s no reason to be embarrassed about having a fear of flying. As mentioned, it’s extremely common. You don’t need to suffer in silence, you need support. You’re likely to find that your pilot tour guide will go out of his or her way to check in several times on any fearful fliers during the flight. They’ve seen this all before and can often make the journey one that’s filled with smiles, not teeth chattering.
Breathe Deeply and Allow the Scenery to Melt Your Fears Away
Try to maintain a relaxed posture rather than clinging to the armrests of your seat, which can heighten any anxiety you may be feeling. Sit back and breathe deeply, especially during takeoff, and allow the awe-inspiring scenery to take your mind off those fears. Gaze out at the 3,000-foot-high granite walls, scoured by glaciers created thousands of years ago that plunge thousands of feet into dramatic fjords. Watch for wildflowers above the tree line and waterfalls that cascade down the rock, disappearing into the forest.
The striking natural beauty is sure to delight all your senses, just about guaranteeing an experience you’ll want to enjoy again and again.