To those who have known peace their entire lives, the loud aircraft at an air show are the sound of freedom but for those who have fled war they can trigger panic and terror. With the London Air Show, which bills itself as the “loudest show in town,” in full swing this weekend, a social agency is trying to help recent immigrants and refugees cope with the roar coming from the airport. “It can bring back a lot of traumatic events that happened in the lives of our clients in their previous countries,” Rifat Hussain, the settlement manager at the Cross Cultural Learner Centre told the CBC. “A lot of times, just the noise of the planes, especially if they’re fighter planes, would send them into this panic mode and send them into survivor mode and they go into the closest place where they can hide themselves and their families.”
The London show has the usual assortment of jet-fueled wonders that delight the families that attend every year and Hussain and his staff never gave it a second thought. But several years ago, during routine follow-ups with clients, they learned just how profound an impact those sounds could have on people from war-torn homes. Before the show starts, they phone those who might be scared by it and even encourage them to attend the event to see for themselves that there’s no danger. “What we think is normal may not be normal for somebody else until they are ready for it to be normal,” he said.