The very first flight I took my two children on turned out to be a near-disaster! Afterwards I obtained a copy of the aviation investigation report; it made fascinating reading! Apparently we clipped the tops of trees on take off from Gatwick and went completely off the radar. The report stated that it was as near as you could get to a crash without it actually happening and was due to an engine being on fire during take off. Suffice to say we survived and although this experience was very scary it hasn't put me off flying but has actually made me appreciate that even if something goes horribly wrong it is still one of the safest modes of transport.

If you have a fear of flying (aviophobia) you are definitely not alone; several studies have found that up to 40 percent of people have some degree of anxiety about flying. This degree of fear can range from being slightly disturbed to absolutely terrified.

The American film director Stanley Kubrick was so terrified of flying that he shot many of his films in Britain, his adopted home. Actress Whoopi Goldberg has such a strong fear of flying that she hires two drivers to work in shifts so she can get from New York to Los Angeles by bus in 23 hours.

An expert on the fear of flying is Professor Robert Bor, a psychologist, pilot and co-author of ‘Overcome Your Fear of Flying’. He states that the first time in history that people had watched a commercial air accident in real time was 9/11. It had such an impact on people and as a result there was a massive decline in air travel in North America as people took to the roads. Some people perceived they were at less risk but this shift actually resulted in far more deaths through car crashes than would have occurred through air accidents.

If you are avoiding air travel but really want to overcome your fear then there is help out there. British Airways’ ‘Flying with Confidence’ and Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Flying without Fear’ courses have helped thousands of people overcome their fear of flying. Both airlines say that they have a 98% success rate.

If you suffer from mild aviophobia then staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol, tea and coffee during a flight is recommended. Also, taking slow deep breaths will help relaxation by bringing more oxygen into the body. There are many causes of aviophobia; the most common fear is of not being in control. You may feel that the time has come for you to explore the root cause of your anxiety by means of therapy or alternatively you may wish to seek medical advice.