Ever since smartphones came about, new applications have consistently come out to help us in our daily lives. Many of these apps have been presented in our class, and I have actually downloaded a couple as a result. I’m hoping that this blog post will have that same effect.
One in every three people has a fear of flying. Statistically, this means that approximately 15 people in our class may have this fear. Since I’m writing this post, I’m sure you have already figured out that one of those 15 is me.
It’s too bad because I love to travel. My fear actually started at the age of 17 – right before I went to college. But what did I do? I applied to go abroad for a month. In Italy. A seven-hour plane ride. I clung to my seat the whole time.
People always tell me that planes are the safest mode of travel. I get it. But the whole point of irrational fears is that they’re irrational, so I’m sorry to say that people telling me it’s safe will not help. (If there’s anyone else in this class like me, PLEASE back me up on this one). I’ve tried everything from listening to music to medication and nothing seems to really help. However, I recently found out about an app that was created by a pilot to help people who are afraid of flying. It’s called SkyGuru. Obviously, I downloaded it immediately. Here are some features of the app:
Full disclosure: the app costs $19.99. The full version lets you input your flight number and will track your flight in real-time. It shows you a thin line that will tell you where you will experience turbulence and how severe, and also sends you messages during each stage of your flight explaining what the plane is doing. It looks like this:
However, there is a free version, where I can input my departure airport, arrival airport, and flight time. I did this for my flight to Chicago and it is still pretty similar:
As you can see on the left, it shows the weather at both airports at your time of departure and arrival. At the bottom, there is also a chat feature, which is like a virtual pilot that tells you more information. If you open the chat, you’ll see messages like the ones I received for this flight from the virtual pilot, as shown in the right photo. Not only does it tell you if there will be turbulence, but it also tells you the science behind it and how it poses no problem for the pilot or the plane. It will even tell you the sensations you will feel so that you are prepared for it when it happens. Like I mentioned, the full version will send you messages as you are flying. You can also give it permission to access your microphone so it can tell you about the sounds you are hearing. It’s pretty cool, so I have considered spending the $20 for a further piece of mind.
In the “In-flight” tab, I can track the G-force during the flight. This is my favorite feature. To give you some context on G-force, gravity produces 1 G. Free falling is 0 Gs. In those flights you’ve been on that feel like a rollercoaster, the G-force was probably around 1.6 (severe turbulence). Planes are built to withstand from -1 G to +2.5 Gs continuously, and up to 5 Gs temporarily. I used the app on my flight home to D.C. for Easter break and it didn’t even get over 1.1 G the whole time. To further prove my point, the photos of the G-force meter in the app are below.
In the photo on the left, my phone was sitting flat on a table. You can see that this is 1 G – just gravity. In the photo on the right, I shook my phone vigorously, more than turbulence would shake your phone. The red line at the top of the meter represents 5 Gs, and you can see that me shaking my phone barely made it past 3. It just goes to show that turbulence is not a matter of your safety, but rather about comfort during your flight. I learned this through SkyGuru, and it has helped immensely.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But wait, you just said that knowing that the plane is safe doesn’t help.” True. BUT, not only does this app tell you that turbulence is not a safety concern, but it also explains the mechanical and meteorological reasons that a plane feels turbulent unexpectedly. Without this knowledge, every single sound and movement is terrifying.
Although this app hasn’t been a magical tool that has cured me completely, I think it is going to help me more and more as I continue to fly with it. I hope that others who may be like me will try it out, and let me know if it works for them too!