Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog 20th September 2017


Did you see this picture in the Daily Mail Online?

Looks very scary, don't you think?

This was taken by Chris Hine in his garden in Byfleet, Surrey, UK. It shows two commercial aircraft looking dangerously close...Or so it seems. This is actually a great picture.  Between those aircraft, there needs to be 1000 feet of separation which there is.  Still, the picture looks great despite the optical illusion created by the vantage point.  Full article Link here 

This is an email from someone that joined us at Birmingham recently and flew four weeks later. The interesting thing for Jane is that she had (like a lot of people) some mixed emotions as to whether the course had 'worked' for her.  It can take a while to shake old thinking habits...


I've just returned from a holiday in Florida, I must say my family was really impressed with me on our flights, although I felt a little nervous waiting for the flights and had to do my breathing exercise and read my flying without fear book, once I was on the aircraft I felt ok and wondered if I would be able to look out the window, I was really pleased with myself that I did look out the window (I've never sat by a window before because I just couldn't look out). One of my fears was the approach to landing, well I looked out the window on the approach and landing, so I was really pleased.
My other fear was walking on the plane, this I didn't manage to do but I stood up in the aisle, I'm flying Virgin to New York in November for my granddaughters 16th birthday so maybe I'll walk on the plane on that flight.
Although it was my son Lloyd that paid for my course for him I'm glad that I feel much more comfortable about flying, I'm so glad we both felt better for doing it.

Yours sincerely
Jane Zap...


A recent Manchester course attendee:
I attended the course yesterday and hadn't flown for over 10 years. I was scared of taking off and built it up to be this horrible thing that I didn't want to ever do again. Since losing my dad last year it's sort of made me push myself to my limits and beyond and make him proud. My mum is 70 next year and wants to go to New York to celebrate so I thought I'd bite the bullet and book myself onto the course.

The course was amazing and I loved every second of it from Pilot Pete, David the cabin crew trainer and Paul the pysch-ed guy. All of it was fantastic and helped me a lot especially my team leader Mags who helped me every step of the way from getting on the bus to sitting next to me on the plane. I even got the full security package getting a massage from the staff. I can say I think I'm over my fear of flying but I'm still not keen on taking off but I'll get used to it with the more I fly.

I just want to say a big thank you to you all, Richard, Paul, Pete, David, Mags and all the other team leaders I didn't think I'd ever get on a plane again but now even though I didn't like the take off I'm excited to get on a plane again.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

This is one of hundreds of thank you messages posted on our message board... Please have a look at 11 year's worth of thank you messages. 
20 Year Anniversary

The original flying without fear programme started on the 1st November 1997 with just 8 people in attendance.  Back then, we just ran ground courses to give people an experience and some helpful knowledge surrounding flying. About five years later, we then added flights to the programme.  Things change all the time. New therapists, pilots and team leaders join us, some have stayed the duration and we are extremely grateful to all of them.  Some of our team have sadly passed on.  Thank you to all of you.

Picture: 2003 launch of courses with flight.
Left to right:  Paul Tizzard, Sir Richard Branson & Richard Conway

What we offer has changed over the years too.  We now have courses with flights. Courses without flights. Courses on a 121 basis for executive and celebs. Last, but not least, we offer courses for children too.

Our dear Flying Without Fear friends that have passed on.

Left to right: Psychotherapist and voice of chocolate David Landau; Capt Norman Lees Mr Energy and part time Spitfire Pilot and Capt Pete Dunlop, probably the most relaxed and capable pilot we have ever met.

The Voice of Chocolate recordings can be accessed via a special page here.

It would be our honour to help you face your fears when you are ready.  Our next courses are below.  We also have a book out called, 'Flying Without Fear, 101 fear of flying questions answered' which is available on Amazon.

Take care,

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear Team

Future Courses

Manchester 5th November

Gatwick 12th November

Kids with flight (6-12):

Gatwick 12th November


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog 08/08/17

Hello and welcome to our August Blog.

When is the best time to do your course? (FAQ)

A lot of people ask us this question.  Normally, the question ties in with this extra information:

'...I was thinking of booking your course about two weeks before my holiday.  Do you think that is enough time for me to fly comfortably?'

This, at face value, sounds like a reasonable question and maybe you have thought similarly yourself?  It is the wrong question!  Allow me to explain.

The course and flight proximity is the wrong way to look at it.  The actual best time to book our course is when you are in the right frame of mind to book onto it.  When you are saying to yourself, 'enough is enough!  I need to get my fears sorted out!!'  THAT is the best time.  Beating a fear of flying is a process that takes time. It takes a different amount of time for each person. Our course works best when part of a process of beating the fear. This can start any time rather than treating the course as a 'one stop shop.' 

Many people often have a lot of success of just coming on our course as a 'one stop shop' and doing nothing else but I am personally gobsmacked how they manage that - it seems like a heck of a lot of pressure to put on yourself?!

Start today, do something regularly towards beating the fear.  Examples -  read books on fear of flying, practice relaxation techniques, try mindfulness, stop watching programmes like Crash Investigation.  These are all things that you can start now at no cost. They all help.

Inspirational Story

Shortly, on our YouTube channel, 'Virginflyingwithoutfear' we will upload an inspirational story.  You will meet Janine and Mags.  Both have been on our courses as nervous flyers.  Janine 5 years ago, Mags 2 years ago. They are now team leaders helping other nervous flyers.  AND, Janine is even a trained pilot. Watch the clip as Janine meets Mags just before her aerobatic flight!  Amazing, well done to both of you. We truly believe anything is possible in terms of beating your fears. Never give up as these two in the clip prove.  Video link here.


I keep checking the weather before  I fly...

Nervous flyers check the weather and see it is windy and get worried. Pilots check the weather and think, 'great, it's windy. Wind = free lift' 

Nervous flyers check the weather and see it is sunny and feel relaxed. Pilots check the weather and see it is sunny and think, 'Could be thermals today which might mean a bit of turbulence.' 

By the way, pilots are never worried about weather and especially not turbulence because they know it is safe. 

The weather rules':
  • It is either safe to take off despite the weather or we don't take off till it is safe. In other words, there are strict rules around when you can take off and when you can't. Thundercloud overhead, we wait for it to pass. Rain, we can take off. Cross winds we take off if they are within our legal limits. If too much wind coming across the runway above our legal limits, we wait.  This is a simple way to look at it but that is it in a nutshell
  • The same rules apply to landing. It is safe to land or it isn't.  If it isn't, we can wait for a while. Still not great, divert to somewhere else.  Yes, we do have enough fuel to do that... it is all part of the planning before we even take off.
  • Once we get above the clouds, we are above the weather. No matter how rubbish weather is near the ground, above the clouds it is sunshine all the way.
Recent courses:
We have just run a couple of great courses at Manchester and Birmingham.  Here is a bit of feedback from both:

Manchester July 2017
Having not stepped foot on a plane for 16 years, I really didn’t think that I ever would again. I hated the entire experience on the few flights that I had been on when I was younger.
However, my husband and son wanted to go to Florida, and I decided to book the holiday, and booked my place on the FWF course the same day. I decided that I really had to do something to try and overcome my fear, but was doubtful that anything ever could.

However, I was wrong. The Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear course was fantastic. Delivered in a common sense, humorous, yet thoroughly professional way, it covered all aspects of travelling by plane. We were given breathing exercises and coping mechanisms to help us deal with our individual fears and thoughts. The technical information given by the Pilot, and the general information given by the Cabin Crew gave a practical and accurate insight into the plane and airline training procedures.

I met some really lovely people on the course, and it was very reassuring to know that everyone there was attending to try and overcome their individual and personal fears in relation to flying.
The FWF team were amazing and obviously excellent at what they individually and collectively do. A special mention to Christian, our team leader who was brilliant. Friendly, professional, reassuring, and had no problem at all with answering as many questions as you could put to him. Thank you Christian!!!

This course has changed my life in the fact that I got on the flight yesterday, and although nervous, managed to practice the breathing and coping mechanisms to help me through. I felt as if I had actually enjoyed the flight, and found it to be fine. This was a amazing considering how I used to be on flights, you wouldn’t want me sitting next to you as a passenger.

So thank you so much to the FWF team, this course will change my life, and that of my family. Enabling us to go on the family holidays by plane that I haven’t felt able to do before. I wish I had done this course years ago!
With Many Thanks & Kindest Regards,
Mrs Celeste St

Birmingham July 2017
I attended the Birmingham course on July 23rd.  I would like to add my thanks for a great course. Please thank Karen for helping me on a one to one basis and Ralph for answering my questions all about take off! I would very much like to single out for praise the facilitator for my table,  James.  He was so calm and unfailingly kind and supportive throughout the whole process.  He was fantastic at explaining and stopping catastrophising whilst we endured the two hour delay at Birmingham airport and a bumpy take off. Although I didn’t love the flight I was able to put a lot of what I had learnt into practice and feel able to get on a plane again and definitely know that something has changed in my brain and acknowledge I am at the beginning of a journey and my phobia WILL improve every time I fly! It was such a relief to take off and not be sobbing with fear!
Thank you again for all your support.

By the way, this is the route that we took on flight tracker (thanks Chris Rolinson - team leader).  It looks like we didn't land but we did, that particular app didn't track below a certain height!

I wonder how safe am I flying...

This was pointed out to us by Chris Rolinson (Chris what would we do without you?!)  It is a nice easy read on the BBC website.  Enjoy.

Live Poll at Manchester Course

As people arrived on the 30th July Manchester course, we asked them to go onto their mobiles and answer the question, 'How did you fear start?'

And the top reasons came back as below. Interesting stuff?

Take care,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Fear of Flying Courses

Adult Premium course with flight. 12th November 2017 Gatwick

Children course with flight. 12th November 2017 Gatwick (available to book soon)



Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog July 12th


We are moving into the summer months which is always a very busy time for us. Coming up shortly, courses in Birmingham and Manchester. 

Last weekend we ran a children's experience day in the aircraft mock up area at Crawley Virgin Training Centre. We think it went well and we are considering how to run that course in the future. 

The same week, we received an email from someone who's work we have promoted in the past.  So, we thought we would do it again.  Charlotte wrote a book called 'Suzie goes on an aeroplane' aimed at helping nervous children to travel.  The amazing success that she has recently achieved is that an animation of this book will be on all Virgin flights to help nervous flying children.

Well done Charlotte!

Charlotte is also working on a male version of the story which is out shortly.  Good luck with your books.

A great question by email:

Hello, I want to book on the 30July fear of flying course in Manchester. However, I am not flying with Virgin when I go on holiday and I don't want to leave the session scared of flying with any other airline or feeling disappointed that I'm not flying with virgin on this occasion. Can you advise how impartial this course is.
Thanks, Helen

Our Answer:
Our courses have been running for 20 years for Virgin.  The courses are crewed by a mixture of Virgin and non Virgin people and the whole day does feel very Virgin. However, and it is a big however, we exist to get people flying comfortably.  We do not mind who you fly with as we know that Virgin does not cater for every destination.  Everything we cover on the courses around safety are international standards that all airlines sign up to - that includes your low cost airlines too.

From via Chris Rolinson

Chris sent an email  to us from Chris is a team leader but also a previous nervous flyer.

Subject: Airline safety and security mid year review for 2017

The first six months of 2017 represents a milestone in the history of civil aviation. For the first time since 1959, there were no airline passenger fatalities involving large jet airliners during the first six months of the year. tracks a number of events and issues related to airline safety and security, with a particular interest in passenger deaths on large jet airliners and certain models turboprop-driven airliners that both have a capacity to carry 10 or more passengers and that have been certified to fly in the US.
When looking at this broader class of aircraft, there were still no events in the first half of 2017 that led to a passenger death, a situation that has never happened before in the 22 years that has tracked such statistics.

Best wishes,

Paul & Richard

Future Courses
PREMIUM: Birmingham 23rd July; Manchester 30th July; Gatwick 12th Nov.
GROUND: Norwich 6th August.
Kids (6-12): tbc

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Flying without fear blog June 2017

Welcome to today's blog.

Since we last wrote, we have run a fabulous course at Birmingham.  Here is the route we took on the flight at the end of the course. We always get asked, 'Where are we flying to today?' and we feel a bit rude saying, '...well basically, Birmingham to Birmingham!''

So, this is the actual route we took on our last Birmingham course to give you a bit of an idea of how things work.  This is narrated all the way by one of our pilots.
Credit:  Chris Rolinson, former nervous flyer and now proud course team leader

New Stuff

New ground course launched at Norwich International Aviation Academy.  6th August, we are running a ground course with a difference.  Working in partnership with the Aviation Skills Partnership, we are running a course at their lovely new aviation academy in Norwich AND we will have use of an operational but grounded 737.  Same amazing price as other ground courses and if this goes well, we hope to run some more.

New style children's course running in Gatwick area at Virgin Atlantic Training Centre.  This is running on Saturday 8th July AM.  It will be more of a hands on experience for the young people following feedback from previous children courses we have run...

Paul Tizzard, Co Founder, flew to DOHA last month to join the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to talk fear of flying.  The room was packed with 300 aviation professionals and safety trainers from airlines all over the world.  We hope that the fear of flying treatments available will be offered by other airlines that currently don't run courses.

The essence of the talk was around encouraging cabin crew and pilots to speak more. The talk was called, 'When less isn't more.'  Nervous flyers want more chat from the pilots and crew as to what is happening. The talk was focussed on around getting the balance right as some people (non nervous) don't want any talking from the flight deck - they just want to get some sleep. It is always a balance.


Recently, in the UK (and of course around the world) there has been a spate of terrorist incidents.  It goes without saying, these are awful events for all the victims and families affected.  We know that a lot of people that come onto our courses, also have a fear of terrorism.  What do we say about this on our courses?

None of us are 100% safe from terrorism.  The security services have to get it right every time to prevent or catch these perpetrators.  The terrorist only has to get it right once to be successful.  As you know, terrorist incidents are about disruption.  They need 'easy wins' to get their atrocities in the media. For that reason, terrorists tend to go for maximum impact but 'softer' targets. They want to get in and see the terrible act through. 

Commercial Aviation has tons of things in place to make sure we are not a 'soft' target.  There are many things that we can talk about on our courses to reassure people. There are many things we cannot talk about in terms of safety measures in place. Most you will never know about. And, of course, there is lots more going on in the background that none of us know about.

Future courses
PREMIUM: Birmingham 23rd July; Manchester 30th July.
GROUND: Norwich 6th August.
Kids (6-12): Gatwick 8th July


We use humour on our courses. Why?  If people feel reassured by our credibility from 20 years of running courses but we also make them laugh a bit, it helps the brain learn more effectively... (Education theory over!)  Occasionally, just occasionally, we accidentally offend someone. We never intend to of course.  We keep our courses light hearted and maybe a little quirky cos we are a Virgin course.  Would you expect anything else?  Also, we treat all of our guests as normal people with a fear.  Everyone that attends our courses is intelligent and manages a full life - they just happen to have a fear of flying.

Having said that, do not follow this link if you are easily offended
Or this link either as contains some swearing!  .Why you can't use your phone humour 
Best wishes,

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Monday, 15 May 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog May 2017

A question that we get asked a lot by the media is, 'How many people actually fear flying?'

So, we have put together some data from various sources over the years. Plus, we will explore some very recent research around fear of flying too. 

How many people have a fear of flying?

1980. 1 in 4  adult Americans  (Dean & Whitaker. Boeing)
2001. 1 in 5 US. (Gallup)
2012.  30% of UK population (H.J. Guninski, Cranfield University)
2014.  US 1 in 3.  UK 1 in 4.  (YouGov)

In February 2017, YouGov (UK) ran a poll with aviophobes and this is what those people thought about flying.

57% of those with fear of flying, will still fly.  However, 81% of the nervous flyers would NOT consider a fear of flying course.  We guess that they fly but under duress?

26% believe the safest seat is an aisle seat
20% believe the safest seat is at the back of the aircraft
46% believe no part of the plane is safe!

When asked, who do they perceive is the safest airline...

38% said British Airways
24% said Virgin Atlantic
Whereas, only 5% thought Ryanair were the safest despite the airline having a faultless safety record. (It is perception because people believe lower prices = less safety)

Top 3 aspects of flying people are afraid of:

68% Technical failure
61% Turbulence
56% Bad weather while flying
Only 38% said terrorism.

Also, more people fear take off than landing. Why?  Landing = ALIVE!

We hope that you found these interesting?

Best wishes,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Course Dates

PREMIUM: Birmingham 28th May; Manchester 30th July
GROUND: Heathrow 25th June
Kids (6-12): Gatwick 8th July (New style course launched)

One of our flying without fear courses in action

Monday, 3 April 2017

Flying without fear blog 3rd April 2017

Welcome back.
Our YouTube Channel - Virginflyingwithoutfear

We have had a channel on YouTube a long time - we often forget it is there.  Sorry about that. Anyway, we had this really nice message today from someone that has found one of our videos extremely helpful to beat his fear of flying. Someone that we have never met, has been helped.  The video that Robin talks about below is 12 minutes long and it is on our site for you to watch too.

Subject: A note of gratitude
I want to ensure I commend the flying without fear video that Virgin Atlantic has put on you tube for the public viewing that is fantastic. I have always had a fear of flying and have had to travel for business and personal most recently for family urgencies. Flying has never been a pleasant experience for me because I was unaware off the functionality of a plane and the logistics of flying.

This video course has been an absolute blessing in conquering my fear of flying. I have had family urgencies and business trips that I have taken over the last several months. Before viewing the flying without fear video, I shied away from flying for five years and although not on a Virgin flight , I have flown on another domestic Carrier, I watch the flying without fear video before each flight of the 6 flights I have taken in the last 2 months. I am an environmental health and safety Manager and cannot THANK Virgin enough for providing the tools to help me gain knowledge, understanding the flight process and also understanding the plane mechanics. It has given me a renewed faith in the pilots and how safety for the passengers is at the forefront of each flight.

Thank you Virgin Atlantic!!! A top quality Airline carrier!! I look forward to my next flight on Virgin and it will be a " flying without fear" flight. Again, all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I appreciate what you do and the video presentation has been saved on my favorites and viewed each time I take a flight! You folks are top quality and am ever so grateful for the extended knowledge I have received, and have worked toward conquering the " fear of flying" Thank you so much, Robin Chaiken
I am okay with shorter flights now, but what do I do for longer flights?
Someone asked on the message board for any tips for longer flights... Their background was that they had attended our course and had flown many times, but never for more than 4 hours.  They asked us about taking a longer flight of 8 hours and what could he do to make it okay...This is what we advised in case you missed it. 
1. Take stuff to do
2. Buy your own water after security to keep hydrated and not be reliant on crew
3. Compartment your time. 11 hours is a long time just sitting there so plan your time to receive boredom. 1st 2 hours, eat. 2 hours film. Go for a walk. Sleep. Read. Another film. Rest again.
4. Make yourself comfortable.  Put on air vents, adjust your area to make it your own. Wear loose comfy clothing.
5. Go for a walk about or two during flight. Helps you feel less tired and lethargic.
6. Eat etc. in UK time's (or stay in your own time zone). So if you take late flight, don't eat extra meals as it can make you feel horrid!
7. Drink lots of water and very little alcohol.
A new question that has been added to our frequently asked questions:

What aircraft types do you use?

We use either Virgin branded aircraft or local trusted aviation partners to provide our specially chartered flight.  We know that the safety standards for anyone that flies in UK airspace are the same as mandated by the Civil Aviation Authority and Joint Aviation Authority. Therefore, we use the type of aircraft and airlines that you are most likely to fly with from your local airport.  We want you to know how safe all commercial aviation is in the developed world and for you to fly with ease from wherever you choose to fly. 

However, we were saddened to see recently that some of the companies that also run fear of flying courses are using the idea 'come onto our courses as we only use our own aircraft.'  We think this is misleading you as nervous flyers.  We are all here to help you beat your fear of flying - it is not solely about you flying with one airline only.    To get around the world, we all have to use and trust a variety of commercial airlines. 

The course we run is for Virgin.  We use Virgin aircraft if we can but we also use other great carriers such as Flybe, Jet 2, Germania and previously Monarch and BMI.  These are the type of aircraft that you are likely to fly from your local airport. These airlines safety standards are amazing too.  We all have to meet the same standards of safety.  Customer service is a different matter.  Airlines can save money by not including drinks, food and leg room can be quite different.  There are lots of ways for 'alleged low cost' airlines to save money but none of those are around safety.  In fact, a lot of airlines share engineering support, pilot training, facilities, commercial insight...

We think it is healthier for you to think of flying on any commercial aircraft as meeting the same safety standards - everything else is about customer service.  In commercial aviation, it is safety first for all of us.

Take care,
Paul & Richard
virgin atlantic flying without fear

Future Courses:
PREMIUM: Birmingham 28th May.

Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Leeds, Southampton - we are working on it

GROUND: Heathrow April 30th

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog March 2017

Recently, we were very lucky to be super busy with two sold out courses...

We have noticed, over the years, that no two courses ever run the same.  Even at the same location there are different people, different stories and occasionally some interesting challenges to deal with.

At Birmingham in February, we had some weather challenges. Nature decided that the people who joined us to beat their fears should also experience some strong winds!  We always say this when it comes to weather, safety first.  It is so strictly regulated in terms of cross winds and storms and birds even, it is either safe to take off or we stay where we are. Same applies to landing.  If an airport becomes unsuitable to land at, we might circle for a while or we might go somewhere else.  Every commercial airline that you will fly with, operate to the same standard.

At Birmingham it was gusty.  Not to the point of being unsafe to take off but the wind made its presence felt.  We think that this is a good thing to happen on a course like ours. As the pilot talks you through everything that is going on, it gives all of our previously nervous flyers a chance to understand what is actually going on as it happens. Very helpful.

This is the route we too took that day, for those that like that sort of thing!  (Thanks Chris Rolinson, Team Leader and former nervous flyer for sending it in)

Here is what one of our attendees said about the Birmingham experience on our message board:
What can I say about yesterday except a massive THANK YOU to everyone involved in helping my wife Sue overcome her fear of flying.

From the moment we registered where Richard sent us off with Lois then all through the day with Paul, Captain Gary, Dr Jo and John we were treated fantastically with Richard and Gary especially going out of their way to provide first class assistance.
The course itself was very comprehensive in it's topics and no one's questions were ignored with genuine and easy to understand answers given.

The flight itself whilst not the smoothest of flights had a running commentary from Captain Gary who explained every detail as we went along which was a massive help.
I really did not think Sue would even get on the plane tbh but with all the help and support given during the day she got on, stayed on and whilst initially scared soon became calmer and ended up enjoying the flight and the whole experience.
So again a big THANK YOU to everyone involved in helping Sue to overcome her fear of stop Australia to see her Dad.

From our Gatwick course:
I honestly don't know where to start. Attending the course yesterday was one of the best things I have every done. Driving to work this morning, I looked up at the sky and thought to myself "What a beautiful view I'd have if I was up there flying now" and then smiled... then I was shocked that I had that thought! Before, I would look up at the sky and think "I am so glad I'm down here!" To me, that sums up my experience.

I can only describe it as it feels like my mind has been reset and I am starting my flying experience all over again, with the power to train my mind to not fear flying.

Richard and Paul, you have created something so wonderful, and I will be forever grateful! Steve, the pilot, was fantastic! I have not laughed and learnt so much at the same time! Turbulence will always be "sexy" from now on in (if you've met Steve, you know what this means). The psychology section was extremely helpful and I have learnt so many strategies that I will use on and off of an aircraft! Dave and my team leader Justine, were so informative and helpful throughout the whole day and answered ALL of my questions with genuine care and attention.

Lastly, I would just like to sincerely thank everybody who was involved with the course yesterday! You have changed my life!

Hopefully see you up there one day!

P.S. Here I am, all smiles on the flight!

End of this month, we are running at Manchester fear of flying course or should I say, flying without fear...

Anyway, that is our last course for a couple of months and numbers are filling up nicely. The more people we meet, the more people we get the opportunity to help.

Take care
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Next course:

26th March 2017

28th May 2017