Hate that nauseating feeling you get when a plane takes off? Choosing the right seat on a plane can help with this, according to Kyle Koukol, a 29-year-old airline pilot based in San Francisco.
Koukol flies a Boeing 737 aircraft for a commercial airline. He told Newsweek that the “sinking feeling” passengers experience can be minimized, depending on where you sit on the aircraft.
Understanding the mechanics of what’s happening at take-off may also help calm any nerves about flying.
A message overlaid on the clip reads: “Hate flying and really hate take-off? Watch this.”
Dial A Pilot allows nervous flyers to book 15-minute calls with a pilot who can provide information to help ease their nerves about flying.
If you suffer from a fear of flying, you’re not alone. The fear was found to be prevalent among around 10 to 40 percent of the industrialized world, according to a June 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology.
An April 2019 in the peer-reviewed journal Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance found that the “fear of flying is one of the most common phobias” and “even though flight traffic has increased, there are new fears.”
According to the study, which analyzed flight anxiety reported from 1986 to 2015, “turbulence, unknown sounds, and fear of terror attacks caused the most anxiety.” More women reported being afraid of both flying and other situations compared to men.
How To Minimize That ‘Sinking Feeling’ on a Plane
The footage in the viral post shows a view of the plane wing from a window seat as it accelerates down a runway. The video was captured while Koukol was flying a Boeing 757 aircraft, he says in the clip.
Wonder why you get that “sinking feeling” during take-off? Koukol said that this is actually “the airplane changing its angle as it goes into the wind,” which results in feeling like “you’re just sinking there for a minute,” especially in the back of the plane.
If you’re looking to mitigate the effect of that “sinking feeling” at take-off, then “the front of the airplane is definitely a dampered experience versus sitting in the back of the aircraft,” the pilot said.
What’s Actually Happening When a Plane Takes Off?
A caption shared with the video says: “Here is what is actually happening during take-off.”
Koukol says in the clip: “You can see the trailing edge of the wing…that’s called flap,” as a finger icon on the screen points to a horizontal slit across the middle of the wing.
The footage shows the plane continuing down the runway as Koukol says “in just a moment, we’re gonna hit rotation speed [lift off] and you’re gonna start to see the nose just come up…”
“See those flight controls moving around a little bit,” the pilot notes, as the finger icon points to the far left end of the wing just before its angled tip.
As plane lifts up, Koukol explains: “And now we’re off the ground. For about the first typically 800 to 1,500 feet, we keep the power all the way to the take-off power, so the engines stay very highly spooled up.”
The video then cuts to the point of “flap retraction,” as the flap on the wing starts to retract, with the aircraft flying at a higher level than earlier.
“The flaps have come up a little bit, less curvature,” he said, explaining that this puts the plane in “a high-speed configuration, so that we can actually accelerate and get you to your destination as fast as we can.”
What Happens When a Plane Catches Fire—How Long Can It Fly on a Single Engine?
Koukol told Newsweek: “All modern jetliners are designed with extremely redundant aircraft systems on board and that includes fire suppression systems.”
Noting that it is “extremely rare” for the engine to catch fire, Koukol explained “we have a very specific checklist that we follow to handle the emergency.”
This includes utilizing an “isolation switch, known as an engine fire switch,” which shuts off fuel, oil, hydraulics and air systems to that engine in order to isolate the issue from the other systems.
The pilots then use “fire extinguishing bottles located in the airplane—they are plumbed for this specific purpose—to suppress the fire.”
He noted: “This would, of course, result in us shutting down that engine and losing thrust from it, but not to worry, we can fly for hours on a single engine.”
The pilot said the plane would be diverted to an airport, where fire trucks would be awaiting the aircraft upon landing “out of an abundance of caution.”
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