Help to tackle a fear of fly­ing

Reporter Sarah Cod­ding­ton talks to psy­chol­o­gist Grant Amos about her fear of fly­ing.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

I’m a jet­set­ter. I’ve seen the Eif­fel Tower. I’ve been swim­ming with sharks in Tahiti and blocked my ears at the in­tense roar of footy fans at a Liver­pool foot­ball match.

The travel bug was passed on to me by my fa­ther.

When I was young he took me on long road trips all over Aus­tralia.

I’m lucky to have trav­elled to Europe, Eng­land, Scot­land, Hong Kong, Los An­ge­les, Buenos Aires and Tahiti and lived in Aus­tralia.

And I still want more – next on the list is a hon­ey­moon in Raro­tonga.

But there’s one thing hold­ing me back. When­ever I think of air travel I’m con­vinced I’m go­ing to die.

Ev­ery noise the plane makes ter­ri­fies me. My heart rate gets faster and my palms get sweaty.

My fear dates back to when I was nine years old. We were land­ing in Syd­ney – the plane touched down and it leaned to the side. Ev­ery­one got into the brace po­si­tion. I copied. The pi­lot man­aged to land safely but I never re­cov­ered.

This re­ally needs to stop. With a fi­ance from Eng­land I’m bound to be trav­el­ling half­way across the world for the rest of my life.

I de­cided it was time to seek help so I got in touch with Fly­ing with­out Fear pro­gramme di­rec­tor Grant Amos.

The psy­chol­o­gist was asked to set up the course by Air New Zealand in 1982. Nowa­days he trav­els all over the coun­try help­ing peo­ple just like me.

are

in

high-pow­ered

Most po­si­tions.

They in­clude lawyers, pro­fes­sional ath­letes, movie di­rec­tors.

A typ­i­cal client is an ex­pert wor­rier. Just like me. I’m al­ways think­ing ‘‘ what if’’.

‘‘What if the pi­lot dies and we plum­met out of the sky and land in the sea and then we are eaten by sharks?’’

But Mr Amos as­sures me that isn’t go­ing to hap­pen – the plane can­not plum­met out of the sky. It’s phys­i­cally im­pos­si­ble but I need to learn how a plane works to un­der­stand that. And the scary land­ing I ex­pe­ri­enced was com­pletely nor­mal for Syd­ney. The plane was sim­ply head­ing into a cross­wind.

Mr Amos tells me there were 12 plane ac­ci­dents out of 36 mil­lion take-offs world­wide last year.

That puts my fear into per­spec­tive.

Ap­par­ently I also fall into the cat­e­gory of peo­ple who don’t like to be out of con­trol. I need to learn to re­lax and let oth­ers take charge. Tips to help on the plane in­clude hav­ing noth­ing by my feet on take­off, prac­tis­ing re­lax­ation tech­niques and learn­ing to ac­cept changes at the air­port.

Mr Amos says there’s no quick fix to get­ting over my fear. It will take work and chang­ing my be­hav­iours.

Most peo­ple who seek help are like me and use air travel fre­quently. Some think that trav­el­ling of­ten will help con­quer the fear but it just en­hances it.

If they be­come more ex­ag­ger­ated my thoughts could even­tu­ally stop me from fly­ing. So I’m tak­ing my first step to­wards con­quer­ing my fear. Next time I go to the air­port I’ll try to take in its ex­cit­ing el­e­ments, rather than en­hanc­ing my anx­i­ety.

I will take things to help me re­lax.

And I’ll try to be re­as­sured that I’m more likely to win Lotto four weeks in a row than be in a com­mer­cial plane crash.

Photo: SARAH COD­DING­TON

Fre­quent flier:

Fly­ing with­out Fear pro­gramme di­rec­tor Grant Amos says his typ­i­cal client is an ex­pert wor­rier.

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