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Aviation Expert Explains The ‘Scary Sounds’ Planes Make During Takeoff To Help Soothe People Who Are Nervous To Fly

Photo: G-stockstudio / CanvaPro
Aviation expert standing in a plane

If you find yourself biting your fingernails on the way to the airport or sweating through TSA, you’re not the only one — millions of people around the world deal with a fear of flying. In fact, studies show that airplane “arm grippers” encompass over 40% of the American population, a percentage that almost ensures someone on your next flight is fighting their worst nightmare. 

Although numerous studies have proven the safety of airplanes — with hundreds of aviation experts even suggesting it as “the safest way” to travel — these fears don't just disappear. For nervous fliers, self-proclaimed “aviation nerd” Riyadh Khalaf endeavored to provide some comfort, hoping to at least remove the fear surrounding the “scary noises” during takeoff. 

The aviation expert soothed those nervous about flying by explaining the different ‘scary sounds’ an airplane makes. 

“If you fear flying and the weird noises from takeoff freak you out, then listen to me,” Khalaf said at the beginning of his video. “I’ll explain what each one is so you can be cool and chill the next time you fly.” 

   

   

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As the engines are powered up and begin moving the plane along the runway, there’s a series of noises that seem to stand out for plane passengers — a symphony of dinging, banging, and buzzing that’s eerie at best. 

But, according to Khalaf and other aviation experts, these noises are standard for all flights. Not only should they not be anxiety-inducing, but they should also provide a sense of peace, often indicating complete safety precautions and communication among cabin staff. 

In preparation for takeoff, the pilot uses ‘dinging’ noises to communicate with flight attendants.

If you’ve heard those ambiguous dinging noises on a plane, you’re probably quick to look around for a flight attendant, wondering what they could mean. 

Khalaf explained that these chimes are “the pilots telling the cabin crew that takeoff is about to happen, that we’re on the edge of the runway, and they need to be seated.” While you’re in the air, you might continue to hear these noises for a variety of reasons as the crew continues to communicate. 

   

   

This “airplane talk” is a secret code of “dinging” that’s essential to safety while airborne and also incredibly intriguing to nosy passengers onboard

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During takeoff, the consistent ‘banging’ noises are just lights being run over — telling the pilots they’re in the middle of the runway. 

“You’ll hear the ‘bang bang’ ... that’s simply the nose gear, the nose wheel, going over the lights in the middle of the runway,” Khalaf said. “It’s actually telling you that the pilots are right in the center in a very, very safe zone.” 

At the same time, if you find yourself in a window seat, you might also notice movement on the wings with sections moving in and out. No, this isn’t a wing breaking or a malfunction of the airplane — it’s actually a way for pilots to control the “lift” during takeoff and landing. This could also make a noticeable noise. 

   

   

Khalaf named the ‘scariest’ part of takeoff — the sudden ‘dip’ once airborne — as essential to ensuring the integrity of the engines. 

If you’re a nervous flier or even just an infrequent one, you might find yourself wishing you were in the air already, with the hustle and bustle of takeoff being too much to handle. 

Of course, then comes the “scariest” part of the takeoff: once the plane is airborne, it does a little ‘dip’ in the sky, which can be heard by a slight change in the engine noise. Not only does it shock plane passengers, but it sparks fear, as many describe it as “a feeling of falling” for a second. 

Aviation Expert Explains The Scary Sounds Planes Make During Takeoff Photo: Bitmap Stock / Shutterstock

“That little dip is for a number of reasons,” Khalaf explained. “To preserve the engines, they can’t be running at full takeoff power for more than a few minutes. Also, for the people living around the airport, it’s to make the area less noisy.” 

So, while it might feel like it, rest assured you’re not falling out of the sky.

Flying can be nerve-wracking, especially in the current state of media that seems to capture every malfunction or “horror story,” but don’t let that stop you from traveling, visiting loved ones, or taking a vacation. 

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango, focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.