Why Am I Scared Of Heights But Not Flying? (7 Reasons Why)

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Isabelle O'Gallagher

Isabelle O'Gallagher is a personal development and relationship expert who has consulted for some of the biggest companies in America.

Are you deathly afraid of standing on a high balcony but you enjoy being on a plane?

If you’re wondering “why am I scared of heights but not flying?”, check out these 7 possibilities to help you put things in perspective.

Why Am I Scared Of Heights But Not Flying?

1. They’re Two Different Phobias

Just because you’re scared of heights doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of flying too.

Fear of height and fear of flying are two different types of phobias. Contrary to what many people think, these phobias aren’t a package deal!

Fear of height is known as acrophobia, whereas fear of flying is called aerophobia or aviophobia.

Symptoms of acrophobia can manifest in various height-related situations where falling is a possibility, from simply climbing up a flight of stairs or a ladder to standing near a balcony at a high level or being on a bridge.

On the other hand, symptoms of aerophobia only appear before or during a flight. Also, this fear isn’t usually related to the plane crashing and falling.

Instead, aerophobia involves being afraid of certain aspects of flying such as the plane taking off or landing.

2. Statistics Are In Your Favor

If you’re someone who finds comfort in numbers, then you may not feel scared of flying because the statistics of death are actually in favor of flying.

In 2021, only 176 people died as a result of a plane crash, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the 684,000 people who died from falls in the same year.

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Does that make your fear of heights worse? Oops.

3. You’re Not Flying The Plane

Unless you’re a pilot, you’re not in control of the flight when you’re on a plane.

You know someone else is doing it and they use sophisticated computers to make sure everything is right. You also trust they didn’t get to become a pilot without proper training and passing many tests.

Not to mention, you’re sure that even if it wasn’t for you and the other passengers, the pilot and crew would do their best to ensure nothing happens to the plane because they don’t want to die too!

Such knowledge and trust can put your mind at ease while flying.

But when you’re the pilot of your body, you may feel like you can lose control and fall at any given moment.

4. Planes Have Safety Equipment

Planes Have Safety Equipment

Another reason why you may be scared of heights but not flying is the fact that planes are equipped with various safety measures that are meant to make you feel more secure.

Before the plane takes off, a flight attendant goes through a bunch of emergency and safety tools from oxygen masks to lifejackets.

Although they don’t guarantee survival in case of a plane crash, they can give you a fighting chance.

On the other hand, you may feel like there’s nothing stopping you from falling off a ladder, balcony, bridge, and so on. There’s also nothing to help “keep you alive” once you fall.

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All you can do is just wait for the impact and hope the damage isn’t too serious or fatal.

5. Your Perspective Is Different

When you’re at the top of a 10-story building and you look down, you’ll see cars, trees, and so on a lot closer than from a plane.

Such a difference in scale can be the reason why flying doesn’t scare you as heights do— it’s like standing on the peak of the Empire State Building vs looking at a satellite picture of Manhattan.

On a plane, you’re basically getting a bird’s eye view with a distance so huge that your brain ignores it. But from the top of the building, you can “feel” the distance to the ground more intensely.

Similarly, if you’re watching one of those parkour videos where you get to experience the point of view of the athlete, you’re likely to experience the same fear associated with height.

But if you watch a video from the point of view of a plane passenger looking out of their window, the clearly greater height won’t bother you.

6. You Can Ignore The Height

Speaking of looking down, one of the best things about flying is that you can act like the height isn’t there, to begin with.

If you’re on a plane, you don’t have to look out of the window if you don’t want to. You can just keep the window closed or book an aisle or middle seat.

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On the other hand, if you’re standing on a balcony on a high level, there’s no way you’d be able to even get there without acknowledging the height.

7. Everyone’s Reasons Are Unique

Last but not least, being afraid of heights but not flying could be associated with an experience that only you had to live through.

As such, you may want to dig deep into your psyche to discover the root of the problem.

For example, you or someone you know may have had an accident involving heights, so this caused you trauma.

Another reason is that you may suffer from anxiety and this disorder makes you scared of falling.

Worrying too much about what will happen and the pain you’ll go through if you slip and fall can develop into a full-blown fear of heights.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why men have short hair, why men wear earrings, and why wedgies hurt.

Wrap Up

Fear of heights and fear of flying aren’t the same thing. They’re triggered by different situations and involve being scared of different things.

If you’re wondering “why am I scared of heights but not flying?” As you can tell by now, it’s normal to experience one phobia without the other.


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