When you actually break down the numbers, flying is the safest form of transportation out there. The emergency training that pilots and flight attendants go through is extensive, to say the least, and each plane is fully stocked with equipment to protect passengers during any number of terrifying scenarios. Plus, you don't have to worry about traffic jams in the sky, drunk 16-year-old drivers swerving around, or deers jumping in front of the plane in the dead of night.
However, despite the fact that planes are far safer than any car ride, it feels far more terrifying when a flight goes south (literally). In most cases, flight attendants and crew are instructed to go through with safety precautions before alerting passengers, in hopes the plane will stabilize before widespread mayhem.
My mom was a flight attendant for U.S.Air before I was born, and I know her scary story.