Common questions that arise when one has a Fear of Flying:
1. I see a smoky like substance coming out of the air vents – is this smoke? No! This is very common for you to see especially when you are departing a hot/humid airport, and the cold air from the air conditioning is meeting that humid air, forming condensation. You can see this in your car as well
2. The lights just quickly flashed off, and then back on… Is there an electrical issue? No! Normal electrical power from the plane comes from the engines, however, when you are at the gate there is a very small engine in the back of the plane that not many people know about – this is called the APU, Auxiliary Power Unit. The sole purpose of the APU is to create electrical power on the ground, without having to run the engines, as this would be very unsafe for the many people walking around the plane on the ground. The flash of light that you may or may not see is the electrical power transferring from the APU to the Normal engines after engine start.
3. I constantly get that “floating” feeling right after take off, why? Planes will almost never take off, and climb right up to their cruising altitude in the mid 30,000ft range. Planes will very often level off at random increments assigned by air traffic control, this is for aircraft spacing, as well as, better aircraft performance. Each time that plane levels off, you may experience that slight “floating” sensation.
4. The engines just got quiet? Is something wrong? No! You will hear many different variations in engine sound, especially below 10,000ft. Airplanes have a speed limit below 10,000ft, which is 250 knots, or about 288mph. This speed limit is there for air traffic control to be able to space all planes accordingly, it would make it very difficult if one plane was flying at 350mph, and the plane in front of them is flying at 250mph – for that reason, all planes can’t exceed 250kts below 10,000ft over the contiguous United States. When you hear that engine get very quiet, it is simply the pilots reducing the speed of the plane to maintain that speed limit – keep in mind, you are in a jet, and jets like to go quick, these planes can very easily exceed 250kts, so the pilots have to reduce the power of the plane significantly to maintain that limit, hence, the quiet engines!
5. I hear a lot of noises when the plane is getting ready for takeoff, why? Prior to take off, the pilots will run through a series of tests assuring that all of the aircraft systems are working normally, and these systems can make a lot of noise. Many of these sounds that you are hearing are all tests that are being done prior to the take off.