If knowledge is an antidote to fear, then anybody who gets anxious about flying in a plane has a new resource to help overcome that particular source of dread.
Dial a Pilot, which launched earlier this summer, is a helpline that lets nervous flyers speak by phone with professional airline pilots to discuss any potentially disquieting aspects of commercial aviation.
The service's team of vetted, experienced, and professionally trained pilots is on call to answer all your questions about turbulence, weird noises before takeoff, mechanical failures, bird collisions, flight crew sleep schedules, the possibility of a gremlin that only you can see appearing on the wing of the plane midflight, or whatever else you're worried about.
Or, at any rate, your Dial a Pilot pilot will answer all the questions you can squeeze into a 15-minute call. That's how much time you get per session, according to the service's website.
A call costs $50. Hey, it's still cheaper than hypnotherapy.
Kyle Koukol, the airline pilot who founded the service, told the Washington Post he got the idea for Dial a Pilot after years of fielding questions from friends and family members with anxieties related to flying.
“I thought it was a really good opportunity [for nervous flyers] to hear from the horse’s mouth what’s going on in aviation, what we do in turbulence and why we move the flaps around—all of the things people experience on an airplane,” Koukol said. “That one-on-one, office-hours mentality felt like it was the way to help people.”
Note that the pilots who answer calls aren't trained mental health professionals. But then, most mental health professionals wouldn't know what to do when a jet engine stalls over the Atlantic Ocean.
With Dial a Pilot, the hope is that someone who's jittery about flying will gain some "sense of control and understanding," as the company's website puts it, by chatting for a few minutes with an aviation pro accustomed to navigating the skies on a regular basis. (The one type of info they can't share, per the Post, has to do with the secret procedures taken in response to security threats.)
To schedule a call, you just go to DialAPilot.com and select a date and time on the calendar for your 15-minute session. You'll be taken to an online form to enter your name, email, phone number, and payment info. You can also include the dates of any upcoming flights or other details you think the pilots should know.
You can opt to receive reminders via text of your upcoming call. When the scheduled time arrives, the pilot will call your phone. And then you can ask away.
To get answers free of charge about how dangerous in-flight turbulence is, see our helpful explainer on the topic.