British Airways helps 73-year-old conquer fear of flying

Captain Steve Allright, Ronnie Leach and Family

Imagine you are 73-years-old who lives in South Africa and you want to visit your daughter in London. Now imagine you have a life-long fear of flying!

That’s exactly the scenario faced by 73-year-old Ronnie Leach.

After 72 years, Mr. Leach feared he would never conquer his fear of flying and never get on a plane to visit his daughter Chantel in England.

Chantel had other ideas though and decided to book her dad onto a Flying with Confidence course in Johannesburg.

The course, led by British Airways Pilot Captain Steve Allright, included sessions with pilots and crew explaining the technical side of flying and addressing concerns such as turbulence, as well as expert advice from a clinical psychologist on relaxation techniques and managing anxiety.

British Airways Flying with Confidence

British Airways Flying with Confidence

Shortly after the course, Mr. Leach was able to fly to London to visit Chantel onboard a British Airways Airbus A380 Super Jumbo.

Captain Steve Allright said “It’s an amazing privilege to be a part of helping determined people to achieve their goals. It’s very special to be able to help bring families together and reunite them with their loved ones – just like Ronnie and Chantel.” adding “As professional pilots we love flying and want to share that with as many people as possible.”

Top British Airways Flying with Confidence Tips

  1. Remember that turbulence is uncomfortable but is not dangerous. It is a perfectly normal part of flying caused by nature.
  2. Learn to control your breathing. When you feel anxious, hold your breath, then take a long deep breath in, followed by a long deep breath out. Continue long deep breathing.
  3. Combine a deep breath in with a muscle contraction. Clenching your buttocks is most effective, as it overrides other nervous signals going up and down your spinal cord.
  4. Aircraft like to be in the air. They are designed to be in the air. Pilots and cabin crew like to be in the air also, it is a very normal, safe environment for them to be in.
  5. Understand lift. The wings enable aircraft to fly, not the engines. A commercial aircraft flying at 30,000ft can glide for 100 miles even if all the engines fail.
  6. Split a long flight up into half hour sections. Go with a plan of things to do, perhaps things you never get round to. Write a letter, watch a film, read a book, eat a meal.
  7. Pilots undergo a rigorous selection procedure and are the most highly trained and tested professionals on earth. They are subjected to simulator tests every six months.
  8. Commercial aircraft are incredibly well maintained and are checked before every flight by pilots and engineers. Routine maintenance is conducted at regular, specified intervals by licensed engineers.
  9. Air traffic controllers are trained and licensed professionals operating under a very strict set of rules. All pilots have to abide by the rules of the air.
  10. Visualize yourself stepping off the aircraft into the arms of loved ones, or into a lovely warm climate, or into a successful business meeting.

If you are interested in conquering your fear of flying then visit the Flying With Confidence website.

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About the Author

Nick Harding

Nick is the senior reporter and editor at Aviation Wales as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in Wales but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.

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