Are You Afraid to Fly?

If you’re afraid to get onboard you’re not alone. Studies show 1 in 3 have some sort of fear of flight, or Aviophobia. Don’t feel too bad, celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock have said they also get a little white-knuckled. Remember football legend and sportscaster John Madden? After he suffered a panic attack on a plane he decided to custom build a bus dubbed, the Madden Cruiser. It became the only way he traveled from game to game around the country.

A retired commercial pilot will be teaching a class on how to overcome your fears on March 23rd at Air Hollywood in Pacoima. Ron Nielsen’s logged over 16,000 flight hours and since 1987, Captain Ron, as he’s affectionately known, has helped thousands of people get over their fear of flying.

In a recent interview I did with Captain Ron, he told me people are typically afraid of two things when it comes to flight, the mechanics of the plane (equipment failure, noises, pilots, etc.) and the emotional (claustrophobia, sense of loss of control, etc.).

He told me he’s helped people as young as eight up to those who haven’t flown for forty-five years. He says the median age of his students is 39 and they are predominantly women. If you need a support buddy you can bring someone for a small fee. If you’re really interested in bumping up your chances of eliminating you fears you might consider booking an actual roundtrip flight that happens following the class. Captain Ron says he typically flies Southwest Airlines because they let him use an actual A-320 for his class at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. For the trip on the 23rd in Pacoima, students who choose the post-class flight will go roundtrip from Burbank to Sacramento escorted by Captain Ron – note: the plane ticket is separate from the class fee.

Captain Ron has taught a class at Air Hollywood in Pacoima for years. He says the facility, which is best known as a movie/TV set, gives the sense of going through security, walking a jet way and sitting in a life-size airplane cabin which is actually capable of simulating turbulence. And, he told me he enjoys a 100% success rate when students accompany him on the actual flight immediately following the class.

I had the chance to meet one of Ron’s success stories named Sue. Sue told me she was freaked out to fly following a horrific commuter flight from Washington, DC to New York City in the middle of a thunderstorm. But, because travel was part of her job she told me she resorted to alcohol and anti-anxiety meds to get her through the flights. After reaching her limit she says she searched online for help and found Captain Ron. From there, she says she became a believer.

The class is called, Cleared For Takeoff, and happens March 23rd at Air Hollywood in Pacoima.

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Photo: Captain Ron

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