Subject: Fear of Flying
Dear Kim:

Let me start by telling you that I too am an anxious flyer. If I can take ground transportation and arrive within a reasonable time, I would much sooner opt for that option. Unfortunately, my husband would rather take a 1 1/2 hour flight than an 10 hour car trip. Therein lies the problem.

To address my fear (and preserve my marriage), I contacted Air Canada who put me in touch with 2 behavioural psychologists. These psychologists conduct a fear of flying course in conjunction with the airline. The course lasted 6 weeks with each session having two components - the psychological desensitization part and a presentation by a member of the airline team (flight attendant, pilot, mechical engineer, air traffic controller, etc). On the fifth week, we even had the opportunity to go into an Air Canada flight simulator with a pilot who showed us (through the simulation, of course) what it feels like to have 100% turbulence. When we asked him what he worries about when he experiences this type of turbulence at cruising altitude, he said that his only worry is to not spill his coffee. I'll never forget that comment and it has really helped me to overcome my fear of turbulence.

The psychological part of the course was composed of desensitization visualize your happy place and you tie that with the various experiences you will have flying. The course leaders take you through all that. Believe it or not, it really works.

I also bought a fear of flying audio tape authored by a retired airline pilot which was similar to the course and was excellent. If you're interested in the title, just email me directly and I will find it for you.

All this has really helped me to deal with my fear. Although I am still not crazy about flying, I don't lose sleep over an upcoming trip anymore.

Believe me, such courses really help. I recently (after Sept 11) returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand where we took 10 flights and my worry meter didn't register above normal. I consider that success for me.

Hope this helps. All the best, Minna