TRAVEL: Fear of flying? Not me, after I take to the skies
An incredible 12,000 people in the UK are too scared to fly, according to statistics but I can proudly announce I’m no longer one of them.
After 18 years of being too scared to step on a plane the Flying Without Fear team at Virgin Atlantic has taught me there is nothing to worry about.
Suddenly the world just got bigger.
A mixed bunch of men, women and three children, of varying ages and from different walks of life gathered in a hotel at Gatwick Airport for the course.
The nervous energy was palpable but as the morning progressed we all experienced lightbulb moments that helped us face our fears.
Taking part were people wishing to take the holiday they always dreamed of, businessmen and women who needed to take work trips without panicking and others who felt it was time to fly without relying on doctor’s prescriptions or large glasses of brandy.
A day of learning and one flight later on an Airbus and I was among 90 jubilant people cheering like fans at a football match after our plane touched down at the end of a fear-free flight from Gatwick to the Isle of Wight
For some it took a giant leap of faith, especially for one young man who stood sobbing in the tunnel leading to the plane, too terrified to step onboard.
But he did it, and, like me, was thrilled to have achieved so much in such a short space of time.
Course director Paul Tizzard said: “A fear of flying stops people making choices.
“It is never too late to face the fear, there are hundreds of reasons why people don’t like flying but there is hope for everyone, the first step is giving yourself permission to go for it.”
Common phobias focus around claustrophobia, fear of being out of control, panic attacks fear of crashing, turbulence and fear of the strange noises during flight.
Tailored to tap into every aspect of flight, the course began with basic principles of flying from female pilot Adelle Roberts, whose calm approach and no nonsense knowledge not only calmed jangling nerves, but for me, provided the penny-dropping moment needed to realize that planes don’t just “fall” out of the sky.
This was followed with information on cabin crew training, the psychology of fear, fast phobia cures from Paul Mckenna’s assistant Gill Harvey-Bush and techniques to calm anxiety.
Arranged so that we worked in tables of 10 it gave the course a personalised feel so that by the time it came to board our plane it felt like we were among old friends.
A delighted 65 year old lady, who sat next to me onboard the Airbus, said after completing her first ever flight: “I never thought I would do this.
“I thought I had got too old. Now I wondered why I waited so long.”
It is never too late.
Sunny shores and exotic climates here I come. I cannot wait to get out there.
There is no such thing as air pockets, the expression is an urban myth.
Planes do not “drop” during turbulence. They continue on the same flight path but instead are rocked. The balance mechanism in our ear, however, registers it as dropping, hence the stomach dropping sensation.
There is three of everything on board a plane. If one thing fails there are two back-ups.
Pilots across the globe are tested every six weeks in some form of exam, often within flight simulators. If they do not pass they lose their job.
The Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear course costs £265
Southampton, December 2
Leeds, January 13
Luton, January 20
Newcastle, February 3
Birmingham, February 24
Gatwick, for adults and kids March 10
Manchester April 28
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Weather for King's Lynn
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North