Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Flying Without Fear Blog January 2019

Hello and welcome to 2019! We hope that you were able to take a restful break?   We are still here, helping people as much as we can despite not having course dates to offer currently.  We are still working on getting some dates for future courses. In the meantime, if you want some free help, you can look on our YouTube channel 'Virgin flying without fear.'  There are various clips there we have amassed over the years to help you.  If you are looking for something good value to help you, please have a look at our book on Amazon, 'Flying Without Fear, 101 fear of flying questions answered.'   We really hope to have some news for you soon regarding dates. Here is a nice email that came in just before 2018 ended... Thanks Phil.

Sent: 30 December 2018 21:23
Subject: Thank you so much!

I completed the Flying without fear course about 10 years ago in Birmingham at the age of 56 having never flown before.

It opened up a whole new world, literally! I've flown many times since, including trips to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Italy, Turkey, Russia and have just come back from an amazing holiday in India (with Virgin Atlantic of course!), something that I could have only dreamed about before the course.

I loved the Dreamliner experience, especially the Premium Economy on the way home, very welcome after an exciting but tiring holiday.
 I just wanted to reiterate my huge thanks to your amazing team for the excellent course. I never fail to recommend it to anyone I meet who is at all apprehensive about flying and there are quite a lot of them! Thanks again and keep up the good work.Best wishes
Phil B


Take care,

The flying without fear team

+ 44 1423 714900
YouTube - virginflyingwithoutfear
Facebook -  virginflyingwithoutfear
Our Book: Flying Without Fear 101 fear of flying questions answered

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Flying without fear blog December 2018

Welcome to the December blog....
Last month, we were 21!  

Paul Tizzard wrote to Richard Branson in October 1996 with the idea of fear of flying courses to help the public.  Sir Richard immediately loved the idea and with the support of Steve Ridgway (CEO Virgin Atlantic) gave the go ahead.

Here is a picture from September 1997 at the official launch of the programme with the key people at the time.
From left to right:

Capt. Norman Lees, Freda Angus (General Manager), Steve Ridgeway (CEO), David Landau (Psychotherapist), Lois Diplock (Ground Staff), Dawn Dart (Aviation Medicine), Paul Tizzard (Programme Creator), Ruth Davies (Customer Service Manager)

Our mission, from the outset was as Capt. Normal Lees put it, 'Let's get people flying!'  His passion was to help people to get flying - no matter what airline.

We started our courses with some simple ideas which have remained in place ever since - no matter how big the courses have got.  The first five years, we ran courses without flights despite being offered them by Steve Ridgeway at the beginning - we wanted to keep the courses small and friendly.  Of course, over the years, the courses have evolved but the DNA remains the same.

1st November 1997, the first official courses ran.  we set up our courses with a few simple aims that we have stuck with ever since – no matter how big or small the course is.
Our Aims

  • To give you back control of how you travel
  • To keep the staff ratio high so that our courses feel as friendly and as welcoming as when we started with just 8 delegates on 1st  Nov 1997
  • To treat you as adults who are professional, capable people that just happen to have fears/phobias
  • To give you honest facts about flying safety
  • To give you tried and tested psychological techniques and approaches
  • To pamper you while you are with us – hence, we give you proper food and refreshments all day included in the price
  • To make your day fun as well as informative
  • To make sure speakers are carefully vetted so they are not just knowledgeable but also empathic
  • To after you in the way you would expect from a Virgin offering
We have continued to improve and innovate along the way but you can still see the thread of the courses has not changed.

We are really sorry that we do not have any courses to offer you at the moment but we are working on it...

Take care

Paul Tizzard
Virgin Flying Without Fear Creator

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Flying Without Fear Blog October 2018

Greetings.  Welcome to the October 2018 blog.

'It seems that there are always aircraft incidents going on...'

This was something said to one of us recently.  When questioned, it doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.  Q. So why is that people have this perception that there is always something going on?

Our theory...

Anything, and we mean anything that happens at an airport will make the news. It does not have to be very dramatic. The public are hungry for aviation related incidents. It is interesting even for the alleged non-nervous flyers.  There are always stories out there about aircraft and airport related being unsafe in some way.  Most of it is not true. Many of the stories we hear about turn about to be exaggerated at best and often woefully inaccurate. 

Q. So what can you do to inoculate yourself to inaccurate information?

You probably can't stop listening to things like that. However, you can decide what happens next.  We always suggest that you should ask an objective expert.  Drop us an email or, you can go on sites like this one.  This is  Government site that offers the facts.  Link here.

Thanks by email  


From: Dawn
Subject: Thank you

I just wanted to thank you. I attended your fear of flying course in March, not telling anyone as I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. I was amazed at the amount of people who shared my fear. The whole experience was amazing and your staff were truly brilliant. Every question I had was answered and to have the staff and captain then join you for a flight, explaining every sound and sharing that flight with people who all shared this same fear made such a difference.
I had tried over the past 20 years to get over my fear but because I did not know what I was frightened of or where it came from made it very difficult to resolve.
Flying used to be the best part of my holiday and when I was young I had worked in Tenerife and was accustomed to flying alone. For some unknown reason later in life when I was flying quite a lot for work from absolutely nowhere I had this terrible fear that just came on over a few flights, it was so bad that if I looked at a plane in the sky my stomach would turn like I was going on a roller coaster. My last  flight to Edinburgh with work I had to call and say I couldn't get the flight back and came home on a train. I never flew again for over 9 years which was such a disappointment to my husband and children. 9 years later my friends husband had a very bad stroke which made me realise that life is too short so I went to the doctors who gave me some tablets and  we booked a holiday the following week, so left myself no time to change my mind, we had to get passports and everything. Anyway I cried and was petrified but did it but it ruined my holiday as I spent the whole time worried about coming home, all of my friends said you just have to do more and you will be ok, anyway we did a further two holidays in a 4 month period but it just got worse and 11 years ago I said to my husband and children that is it I will never fly again, and found that we could holiday without flying by taking a cruise from Southampton which is what we did for the past 11 years.
After completing your course this March, I booked a holiday and flew  to Tenerife  in April with my friend, put a deposit on an apartment that my son and I completed on in July and last month I returned from going out on my own for a weekend, so that is 3 flights I have completed since attending your course in March, one being on my own and I am expecting to fly virtually every month. 

If this time last year someone would have told me that I would fly again, buy a property and fly on my own I would have never believed it. I will say I am still nervous and really do not like the taking off but thanks to your course, the tapping technique, it has changed my life, so thank you and your team so very much.
Kind regards

Sad Loss of one of our team leaders

Here is a message from Richard Conway, Course Director:

David Flynn was an incredibly giving and caring member of our team. He originally came to us for help with his own fears of flying, prior to helping so many others with their fears. He was a great support to Paul and I, regularly travelling all over the country to attend FWF courses, wherever he was needed. 
Such was his passion for FWF, David insisted on having his own car professionally sign written, to promote FWF courses and he regularly handed out business cards to those who enquired around Manchester, where he lived.
I have no doubt that all those who knew and worked with David will be deeply saddened by the awful news. 
Best wishes to you all,

Take care,

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Extra help whilst we are sorting out new premium courses:

121 Courses:   Our executive/celebrity 121 courses are still available should you need them. They are tailored to the specific needs of the individual that contacts us
Our Book: flying without fear - 101 fear of flying questions answered
YouTube: VirginFlyingWithoutFear

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Flying Without Fear Blog September 2018

Hello and welcome to our flying without fear blog.

A question that we get asked a lot...?  What airlines are safest to fly with and not?  Saw this recently on Yahoo and here is the link to an interesting article allegedly naming the 20 safest airlines.

Despite us recommending this to you, please always take a balanced view of what websites say is a safe airline over another airline. 

As a rule of thumb, we and our families would happily fly (safety wise) any airline that operates in the developed world airspace.  Anything that flies into UK has to meet our standards for example.  It is also reassuring to know that other parts of the world operate to similar high standards.

Thanks by email

People write to us often with their own stories. We always ask permission to print them.  And the reason why?   Many of you tell us that you find the stories inspiring and helpful.  These are ordinary people like you that have done something extraordinary.

Hi Paul, Richard and FWF team,

I attended your course at Gatwick in November last year and I'm pleased to say I've just returned from a short break in Jersey and flew for the first time in nearly 6 years.

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to book a flight after doing the course but I'm so glad I did.

I found your course really helpful and although I still struggled with my stress levels, I was able to keep my mind from worrying about the worst that could happen and actually enjoyed the view.

The flights were quite straight forward, although the outbound flight was a bit bumpy through some clouds.

The next step is to go a bit further affield, I've been thinking about Berlin. Ultimately, I want to go to Disneyland Florida and New Zealand to visit my best friend. Thanks to your help, I'm sure I'll get there!

Thanks again!!
Kate D

A seasoned flyer thanks us

Hi Paul and team,

Once again thank you for your invite on the 4/3/18 of which I attended nearly 21 years after that first initial course.
The strange thing from 21 years ago was that after the sudden death of my father[aged 57] I felt obliged to treat my family to a big holiday to Florida so one evening in/or around May/June 1997 I booked this through Virgin Holidays for the following April 1998.
The very next morning I called Virgin Holidays up to cancel that holiday as I just could not go through with it.
Virgin Holidays asked me to hold this request until they had made contact with you and at that time you were planning to start a Flying Without Fear Course.
That same day I spoke to you and I agreed to be one of the first participants on the course as I then explained-If you can help cure me you can help cure anyone. The rest is now very positive history that I will never be able to thank you enough for.

21 years on - my 100 year old Grandmother [my Fathers Mother] passes away-leaves me some money and once again I feel obliged to treat my family. This time I now research what aircraft we are flying on with Virgin Atlantic,  I go on Seat Guru to find the best economy seats that I can afford. As always promised - we only fly with Virgin Atlantic long haul and £3428 later myself and four other members of the family are looking forward to a three week road trip around California. All of this is now happening because of You and all the members of your fantastic team.

I am living proof that facing this fear of flying 21 years ago has opened up a world of fantastic experiences for myself and my family and I am more than certain this would never have been achieved without the commitment of The Flying Without Fear staff conducting such a workable system of approach-then and also now

I truly thank your Team for not forgetting me as I will not forget what you all have done for me.

With Appreciation and Kind Regards.

Lee Midwinter
The media

We have had some pretty strong winds over here with Storm Ali...  This is an article I saw with this heading which we don't think is very helpful:

Storm Ali latest: heart-stopping moment Ryanair plane abandons touchdown at Dublin Airport

If you have never been in a 'go around' as we call it before, then it can be surprising.  It is not a heart stopping moment for the pilots. Pilots approach every landing ready to do a 'go around' if the conditions are not optimum for landing. This includes strong winds.  It is as straight forward as this to a pilot. 'If it is not safe to land (or take off for that matter) we don't.'   The Ryanair 'go around' made the news but their well trained pilots are just doing their job - safety first always. 

This might seem hard to accept when you are sat in the back of an aircraft and you suddenly are taking off again but here's the thing. It is always safety first.  Once the pilots have cleared the runway, after a few minutes they will come onto the PA and say what has happened. It is not a drama to pilots at all.  This is just one of those things that they train for and have to practice in the simulators every six months.  Hope that helps a little?

Take care,
Paul, Richard and the flying without fear team


Sunday, 5 August 2018

Flying Without Fear Blog August 2018

Hello from a blistering hot UK! (At time of writing!)

Just wanted to say a quick hello so that you know we are still here!

True, there are no public courses listed but we are very much still doing stuff in the background.  We hope to have some news for you soon.

In the meantime, we thought we might showcase a cool little App we were introduced to. You may have heard of it already - SkyGuru.

Developed by Alex Gervash - a pilot, psychologist, and fear of flying treatment specialist. Since 2008 he has been studying and treating fear of flying. Today over 8K of his program graduates are flying happily all over the world. His extensive experience and expertise in the field is what led Alex to an idea of teaching a smartphone to act like a personal guide, explaining everything happening during flight in real-time.

From Viktorina - Co Founder and COO

"Named as one of top 10 great gifts for travellers by Forbes and one of top 10 travel tips of all time by Conde Nast Traveller, SkyGuru acts like a personal in-flight guide, providing real-time explanations of everything happening during the flight: aircraft movements, unfamiliar sounds, and even... passenger sensations! SkyGuru will also share fascinating aviation facts, refer you to unique points of interest nearby, and even recommend the best seats to enjoy a perfect sunrise or sunset and most interesting landmarks given clear sky weather analysis. The app works without internet connection or GPS signal on board. 
We use professional aviation and meteorological data before your flight that is then analysed and translated into simple human terms. Once on board and in airplane mode, your mobile device sensors are used to detect the various flight stages. Knowing where we are, what is happening, and what to expect next, SkyGuru provides a more calm, comfortable, and interesting time on board." Available on iOS and Android.

Here is a video demo of how it works..
Our thoughts...

We are promoting this App as we can see there is really good intention to help people.  That is exactly why we started the programme 21 years help people to fly without fear.

Take care,

Paul & Richard
Programme Directors

Flying without fear

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Flying Without Fear Blog July 2018

Hello and welcome to this month's blog.

We have not run courses for a while and perhaps you are wondering what is going on?!  We are working behind the scenes and there will be new dates being offered soon.    If you would like us to add you to the waiting list to be contacted as soon as new course dates/locations are released, please click here.

Thank you by email.

To: virginflyingwithoutfear
Subject: It works

Hi All. 

Just a short note to anyone who is not sure what the course can do.  A couple of years ago I decided to take the plunge having had a fear of flying for about 60 years.  The course explained everything and by the time we boarded the plane I felt amazingly relaxed.  We had a flight around the Isle of Wight from Southampton and it was fantastic. 

I realised that I had been missing out for many years opting to go
everywhere abroad by boat. Having flown to Spain and back which was a
good two hour flight to practice all we had been taught we ventured to
Australia to see family.  We went on a Virgin round the world ticket
which actually costs less than you think. We included Singapore, New
Zealand, The Cook Islands and the USA on the way there and back. I
can't thank the course organisers enough. Without their help I would
still be "grounded".  The course really works and I've never looked
back. Thanks to all concerned. To anyone hesitating its money well
spent so just do it.

Peter W

Thank you for writing in Peter.  Amazing after 60 years of having a fear of flying, it just goes to show it is never too late to tackle it!

Saw this in a twitter feed, looks great doesn't it?!  Here is the link.  In a nutshell, aircraft are getting safer, posher, plusher, safer again!

Revealed: how the amazing, luxurious interior of the world's longest aircraft will look

The Media - Shakira!

At the fear of flying course, we love the media. We have had so much fantastic publicity over the years, we are enormously grateful. However, the media for you plays a different role. There is always some story about aviation (or so it seems) going on - isn't there?!

Well, if you are a nervous flyer, you are wired to spot these stories whilst they sail by the rest of us...  Here is a typical example which does the trick...the trick of keeping the nervous nervous.  Shakira's flight emergency landing.

It seems like it was a decompression. The article does not say which type - there are different classifications.  Also, every commercial aviation business has a plan, a back up plan and another plan for this type of thing. Funnily enough, none of this is mentioned.  That is the only criticism of these sort of stories, we don't get all the details/facts so we are not able to rationalise it.  Don't you agree?

Anyway, we are still here. Feel free to use our message board for questions.  We also have various helpful clips on our YouTube channel 'Virginflyingwithoutfear'   Plus, of course, there is our book, 'Flying without fear 101 fear of flying questions answered.'   On Amazon.

Take care,

Virgin Flying Without Fear Team


Monday, 25 June 2018

Flying Without Fear Blog June 2018

Welcome to the flying without fear blog for nervous and ex nervous flyers!

This blog, thought we might pick up on a few themes that seem to be appearing in emails we have received this week.




We have received a few emails about engines and how good or safe are they?  This is an area we cover really well on our courses because we like engines.  Aircraft don't need engines to fly, that is what the wings do.  However, engines get us off the ground and give us the power to point towards where you want to go.    A little simplistic but broadly true.

What a lot of people don't realise about engines is how much testing they are put through.  It is truly astonishing.  The way that commercial aviation deals with any parts on an aircraft bears true here for engines too.  If your car service schedule said widget A was due replacing at 12, 000 miles due to being less effective, your garage would do that.  In commercial aviation, if we knew widget A was due to stop working, or just not be as effective at 12,000 miles we would probably change it anyway about 4,000 miles!  We have massive safety capacity in commercial aviation - we call this redundancy.

Here is a link to a clip to show you some of the tests that engines go through - you should find this reassuring.

Thank you email & our comments below

From: vunv@<removed>
Sent: 7 June 2018 6:21 p.m.
Subject: Re: recent Flying Without Fear Course

Hi, I recently went on the Flying Without Fear Course at Gatwick which I must admit I did try to cancel and not attend as even the thought of the course made me nervous. 

I've just returned from my first flight to Spain since the course and can honestly say what a difference it's made.  I boarded the plane and sat happily through the take off and landings. Previously I would have clung onto the seat, checked the lifejacket was where it should be, not look out of the window and sit through the rest of the flight hardly speaking until we touched down.  The night before the flight I didn't feel that worried normally I would find it hard to concentrate and be really stressed knowing I've got to fly. 

On this flight, which was just under 3 hours, I was relaxed and didn't feel as scared or nervous as previously. I did think that at some point the nerves would kick in and I'd be terrified but nothing happened.  Although I'm still a little nervous, I'm no where near as bad as I was.  My friend could hardly believe it as I've flown with her before and she knows how scared I am.  

Just thought I'd let you know as I'm sure you'd appreciate the feedback. 

Kind regards


Our thoughts...
We are really grateful for Valerie's email.   It is both positive and honest.  Valerie spoke about something that she used to do which was 'checking the lifejacket, not looked out of window and sit through the rest not speaking...'

Nothing wrong with checking there is a lifejacket. That is sensible.  However, this was also wrapped up in lots of other patterns and rituals that it is easy to get into a habit of doing.  This is quite normal for nervous people.  A lot of people that have fears and one of the ways that they feel safe is to follow certain rituals and rules. These can get out of hand unfortunately.  It is worth considering, 'Is that pattern of behaviour I am currently using helpful for me to get rid of the fear or, is it helping to maintain the fear?'

Valerie nearly cancelled her place on the course and this is a normal thing nervous flyers sometimes do. After plucking up the courage to book a course, they book one. Then, they spend weeks and months dreading the decision. Quite normal and that is why it takes so much guts to show up like she (and everyone else) did.

Another part of Valerie's letter I really liked was the admittance of this ' I did think that at some point the nerves would kick in and I'd be terrified but nothing happened..'   This is really common when people change a habit or behaviour. They can spend ages almost testing it out or even being angry with themselves.  'Why aren't I nervous now?'  'When will I get nervous?'  'I can't believe it has gone!' 

Enjoy it I say. Once you learn something new and practice it, behaviours and thoughts change.

Message board comments - Southampton 24th June 2018

Here is one of a few messages on our forum from Sunday's course at Southampton.  This one made me laugh.  Well done to all those brave people that joined us for a great course.

'Well I spent nigh on 20 years crapping myself about flying. I was also a massive sceptic about courses like this. However having a girlfriend who inspires me and provided me with a massive surprise ‘the course’ I attended and was immediately comforted that firstly my fear of flying was also shared with so many different people.

The guys at Virgin who organise, and run the course were, in two words ‘bloody marvellous’. Warm, funny, sympathetic and realists who collectively convinced me that my fears, shared by may people are simply perceptions of what could go wrong, overcoming these fears was relatively simple in the session I simply replaced the negatives with facts or positives as they’re known. I also took note of breathing techniques, not difficult at all really, still crapped myself when we’re roared down the runway and lifted (loads of turbulence) but I persisted with my new tools ‘positive thoughts and controlled breathing’ and I managed to stay totally relaxed.

IT REALLY WORKED, so a great big THANK YOU to my wonderful girlfriend Jacklyn, and all the Virgin Atlantic team, and Matthew my farmer pal from Kent, well done to him too and all the attendees.'

Carpe Diem

Sometimes life can throw little surprises at us.  In the last four weeks, I have lost two friends of similar age to me.  Bit of a shocker.  This puts into comparison other things going on in one's life which can seem hard to deal with. 

The bottom line is this. Tomorrow is promised to no-one and this course was set up to help people to beat their fears!  That's it.  Of course, we would love you all to just fly Virgin forever more!  However, we actually just want to enable people to be free of this toxic fear that limits our life choices.  Not being able to fly is not the end of the world but it is big deal if it stops you doing what you want... Don't you agree?  None of us can afford to back down from scary things as they truly limit our lives.  You were not born with the fear, it is learned and it is never too later to learn something new.  Good luck :)

Paul Tizzard
Creator and Founder of the original Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear Programme