TikTok travel fan goes viral with fear of flying cure

·3 min read
Vlogger Anna Paul shares her tip on how to feel safe in the air  (TikTok/anna..paull)
Vlogger Anna Paul shares her tip on how to feel safe in the air (TikTok/anna..paull)

Turbulence can be scary even for seasoned travellers, but one vlogger claims to have found a foolproof way of overcoming your fears.

Anna Paul took to Tiktok brandishing a small pot of jelly to explain how turbulence affects aircraft and why it’s no danger to travellers.

Posting to the social networking site on 13 June, she attributed her tip to advice from a “real pilot”, who compared the air pressure around a plane to jelly in a cup.

In the video, Paul has pushed a piece of balled-up napkin pushed into the centre of the pot to represent a plane, and shakes it to show the movement but support of a plane mid-turbulence.

“That is you flying through the sky, there’s pressure from the bottom, there’s pressure from the top, and from the sides,” she tells followers.

“There’s pressure coming from everywhere. And now, when there’s turbulence, it’s like this,” she says, tapping on the top of the jelly to make the piece of napkin wobble at the centre.

Her point is that, while the plane might shake as a result of any turbulence, it remains suspended in the sky, just as the napkin remains suspended in the jelly rather than falling to the bottom of the pot.

She said: “You can just chill there, you’re just wriggling in jelly. It’s not going to automatically fall just beause it’s shaking, and there’s never been a plane crash from turbulence so you do not have to be scared.”

The video has been watched 4.5 million times and attracted 44,500 likes, with many TikTok users writing that her hack had reassured them about the safety of flying.

@anna..paull

Fear of flying tip ✈️❤️

♬ original sound - Anna Paul

Turbulence is caused by eddies of “rough air” that are created in one of four ways. Thermal turbulence is caused by warm air rising through cooler air. Because it’s often associated with thunderstorms, it’s one that pilots can avoid in discussion with air traffic control.

Mechanical turbulence is caused by a structure, whether natural or manmade, affecting air flow. “These eddies can occur hundreds of miles from a mountain and can catch pilots by surprise,” said metereologist Kirsty McCabe of the Royal Meteoreological Society.

Clear-air turbulence, caused when two masses moving in different directions meet, is also very unpredictable. Wake turbulence, caused by planes themselves as they push through the air, is easier to avoid. “This is why planes can’t take off or land immediately after each other, or even fly directly behind another plane,” said McCabe.

“The analogy with jelly works because at the very high speeds a plane flies at, the air becomes relatively thicker, so you can think of the atmosphere as being more like a wobbly jelly.”

Though it’s true that turbulence does not cause aircraft to simply fall from the sky, there have been a couple of examples of crashes occuring as a result of turbulence, according to senior aviation consultant Adrian Young. These took place in the 1960s, however, with modern engineering and technology having drastically reduced the risks.

“Plus pilots are trained to fly the aircraft at the correct speed, and they know where not to fly, such as into a massive thunderstorm cloud,” said McCabe.

However, passengers are occassionally injured by turbulence. According to America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of injured flyers has averaged 33 per year over the last 16 years – while in 2017 there were just 17. Considering 2.6 million passengers fly in and out of US airports every day – 959 million a year – the odds of being injured by turbulence are pretty low.

The simplest way to stay safe during periods of turbulence is to keep your seatbelt fastened when in your seat.