The fear of flying, aerophobia or aviophobia is believed to affect one in ten of the population, however, the real total is possibly much higher. So, the next time you are at sat in the terminal waiting for your flight to be called, you have taken your Prozac and finished your third Vodka and tonic. Take some comfort that somewhere near you will be someone else with the same kind of worries.
Fear of flying is very often a combination of other smaller anxieties which have been taken over by the idea of sitting in a hermetically sealed metal tube (claustrophobia) up in the air (vertigo) anxiety in crowds (enochlophobia) and that little bit of (OCD) we all have.
Most of our fears are learned by experience, or an associated experience, Worst-case example I have had to help a client with what he thought was a fear of flying when the reality was the fear of not being able to get to a toilet (There is no fancy name, but it is surprisingly common)
So when dealing with a fear of flying, the fear is rarely if ever about the aircraft, or the actual flying. Most people with a fear of flying only experience difficulty after having already flown many times. What happens is this, something happens on a particular flight that triggers a previously held anxiety. It might be a sudden drop caused by turbulence,( basophobia) or the engine noise is overwhelming, (ligyrophobia or sonophobia) the fear of loud noises or even something disturbing that you read or watch on the flight. (this might be why they never show the film Alive as the in-flight movie). Whatever the cause, it is your unconscious mind searching for something similar to that feeling, an older feeling so that your mind can know what to do immediately. But instead of finding a solution, your memory finds an old fear that was never dealt with. This, unfortunately, intensifies the original fear, and now links that original fear of flying. The Fancy name for this is (Afterwardsness.)
Seeking for A matching your memory increases the perceived importance or intensity of that original memory. So, If you are afraid of flying, then every time you re-activate the memory trace, you also make the original memory more frightening, your current fear of flying becomes more frightening. This process feeds on itself until it can become quite overwhelming.
This mechanism has been known for quite some time. Sigmund Freud called it Nachträglichkeit. In English, this becomes (Afterwardsness) or deferred action. the memory traces are revised after the fact in response to a fresh or new experience. The second event gives extra meaning to the original event, becoming more meaningful than it originally was.
The problem, of course, is that you cannot consciously recall the original event. So you are left puzzling why something today is giving you severe anxiety. In a wider sense, every time you think about something it gets stronger.