Passengers attending bespoke Fear of Flying courses at the UK's Virtual Jet Centre are flying high after staff revealed they have a one hundred per cent success rate in combatting their phobias. The unique one-on-one courses have been developed by Captain Andy Wilkins who flew for Thomson Airways for nearly 20 years, on both Airbus and Boeing Aircraft.
He has always been involved with training, and is passionate about helping people to enjoy the experience of flying.
"My life-long experience of flying, plus the special psychological techniques I have developed and honed over the years help to banish the fear of flying that is so debilitating for so many passengers really do work," says Captain Wilkins.
About one in six people have some fear of flying – or aviophobia - which can affect relationships, the ability to travel and the ability to take business trips.
"A lot of people tell us that every creak, noise or encounter with turbulence can bring about feelings of impending disaster, making it hard to relax – let alone sleep on a flight. In extreme cases, it even prevents flying altogether," says Captain Wilkins.
"Virtual Jet Centre and its dedicated and experienced team can help you triumph over your fears, whether it be with the ultimate goal of visiting a loved one overseas, attending an international business meeting or even enjoying that exotic holiday you have always yearned for but never felt confident enough to book.
"We have spent many years talking to passengers that suffer from this debilitating fear. Fear of flying is a simple phobia but with many complex factors. There are millions of reasons why the fear develops in the first place, and so we treat each of our clients with understanding and sensitivity to work through their phobia.
"Our approach is to empower you with knowledge, and to this end a major part of the course is to teach the person to actually fly the jet themselves, learning in the process exactly how an aircraft flies, what happens as you raise and lower the gear and flaps and which noises accompany this process. We also have a realistic aircraft cabin environment which is also used to help build confidence and confront fears."
So far the team at the Virtual Jet Centre have put almost 100 people through the course with a 100% success rate.
"I completed a fear of flying course because I was fed up with being scared of flying as it was ruining my enjoyment of holidays," says Nikki Martin.
"I work with people helping them to get over phobias but couldn't cure myself. I have just returned from my holiday and feel it was money well spent. I was a little bit anxious at the airport that this would work but once on the plane felt a lot calmer. I experienced some turbulence which would normally freak me out but I was fine. On the way home I was really relaxed. I am even contemplating being able to go further afield now."
The Boeing 737-800 NGX Simulator used in the Fear of Flying courses was custom built by Andy and a team of technicians to create a simulator that handles and performs like the real aircraft. Clients can, if they wish, finally take a real flight out of Exeter Airport accompanied by Captain Wilkins as a final part of the course.
The award-winning Virtual Jet Centre is situated in Devon just off the A38 at Chudleigh.