Aviophobia (from Greek word avio meaning “air” and phobos or “fear”) is an unwarranted, irrational and extreme fear of being on an airplane, or other flying vehicles, such as a helicopter, while in flight.
A single traumatic incident might have caused a highly stressful or frightening real event at which, instantaneously this phobia is created. This single traumatic incident caused an intense fear and the person associates this incident with fear to help him avoid such situations in future. The initial fear may have nothing to do with flying and the problem might have started at a time when they were under extreme stress for something completely unrelated, but the mind somehow associated the negative feelings to flying anyway.
Some individuals might have not directly experienced the fear but may associate with someone who does, may it be a real situation, or maybe just watching a movie or dreaming about a horrifying plane crash.
Aviophobia causes great distress to a person when he or she is forced to travel by air. They can manifest as full blown panic attacks or other symptoms of stress such as palpitations, nausea, trembling. In extreme cases, a panic attack can be triggered by the mere sight of an aircraft or the thought or mention of air travel.
Treatment includes education of people with aviophobia about the safety measures that airlines take, and maybe by learning how an aircraft flies. Some airline and travel companies run courses to help people get over the fear of flying.