Thursday, 18 August 2016

Janine's story

This is a true story of how Janine, one of our team leaders, beat her own fear of flying.... Hope you like it...You will often see Janine helping out on our courses now, helping others to beat their fears too.
I think my fear of flying must have started when I was a child. I went on a flight at the age of 5 to Jersey for a family holiday, although I remember the holiday like it was yesterday, I don't remember anything about the actual flights.

My mum didn't really like flying, so as a family we never went abroad, my Dad would travel for business and managed to get Mum on a few trips, but not until I was much older. By this time I had grown up with Mum telling me how much I hated flying as the flight to Jersey had apparently hurt my ears and the longer this went on, the greater my fear of flying became. What I was afraid of I don't really know! 

I was happy holidaying in Cornwall and doing the 12 hour train journey to the south of France, I didn't even have an interest in travelling that much as I never challenged the thought that I could fly. After my Dad died I looked at a few aspects of my life and my apparent fear of flying was one of them. A friend pushed me into attending a flying without fear course. I didn't really want to go and spent most of the morning telling myself and anyone that would listen that I was not going to do the flight at the end of the day.

As the day went on, the team were great, really caring and I didn't feel any pressure to do anything I didn't want to do. The course has a psychology session that was really helpful, they even sat with me and took time one to one to talk things through. (Although I didn't manage to get on the flight that day, I was able to get right to the aircraft before it all got too much and I was taken back to the terminal to wait for the others to return).

I went away with determination that I hadn't really had before and re thought my plan, by this time, the course had done enough to actually change my way of thinking, this wasn't any way to live, there is so many amazing places to visit, so many things I have been missing out on, trips with My late Dad, friends and family.

My next move involved visiting a local flying club Take Flight Aviation in Warwickshire with the thinking that I might feel more in control in a small plane. The boss of the business happened to be there and took pity on me and suggested he take me on a five minute circuit to start with. It actually took the guys two hours to get me in the plane, but we went off and did a circuit it felt OK so we ventured a few miles further and went off around Stratford upon Avon. In the following weeks, I went back and did a few more local flights.

My next step was booking myself on the flight only part of the next flying without fear course in Birmingham, this time I went on my own, of my own choice, I was more relaxed and managed to do the flight, it was an amazing feeling to have actually done it, after so many years of not even being able to look at an aircraft, to actually starting to enjoy it. I then booked the shortest flight I could find from Southampton to Jersey, and then back to Birmingham. 

Eventually I started being more adventurous Geneva then Greece, gradually building up to longer and longer flights. Along the way I even joined the flying club and started to have some flying lessons, and was able to go away with the flying club on some amazing trips in light aircraft, including island hopping in Greece and Ibiza, something that I had feared for years I was actually enjoying, so many great places to visit. 

You can see that my fear was quiet real and had been instilled in me over many years and the fact that I had overcome something that I thought impossible. This made me want to help others the way Virgin had helped me, so when I was sure I was over my fear, and there were a few hiccups along the way, I offered to help out on the courses. I think that having been in that situation, that other people who fly regularly may not appreciate fully, really helps me to help others. I understand their situation and how they are feeling, although everyones fear is different, because I'd been there myself. 

The Virgin course was the best thing I have ever done, it has literally changed my life and I would recommend it to anyone.

Janine Wheeler
Sintra Hair Plus

Future Dates
PREMIUM: Gatwick Nov 6th; Manchester Nov 13th; Heathrow Dec 4th; Leeds Feb 5th. GROUND: Heathrow Sept 18th; Bristol Sept 25th.
CHILDREN: Gatwick Nov 6th; Heathrow Dec 4th.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Please help me...

That is how the email started on Saturday morning.  'Please help me, I have run off from my flight and I feel so stupid. I can't believe I have let everyone down.  My family have had to fly off without me...'

This is a heart-breaking email to receive and we get a lot like this.  The message from us is this and it is very simple. Please don't be so hard on yourselves. We have seen literally thousands of people just like you beat their fears. It is never too late.  The most important things that you can do:
  • Not to be  too hard on yourselves.
  • Keep moving forwards towards the fear.
  • Remember, it is not a race. Beating a fear is a process that takes as long as it takes.
Here are a couple of messages of encouragement we wanted to share with you.
Hello, (Thanks by email) 

I was hoping you could post some feedback for me regarding the Manchester 2016 course in April. I can't seem to work out how to login..!

I found the course brilliant but I wanted to wait until I had put it to the test on my next flight before offering feedback. Well what can I say...following a return from Italy last week I can definitely say it made a huge difference. Using a combination of a visual 'STOP' sign in my mind every time a negative thought popped up, along with forcing myself to base my thoughts on the facts around me (ie. Cabin crew serving drinks and looking relaxed) made a huge difference and I felt much more in control and relaxed. My husband also noticed a big difference! It would be unrealistic to expect I will enjoy flying but was it as stressful and unpleasant as it has been previously? Nowhere near!
Many thanks to flying without fear team!

Best wishes,
Birmingham July 2016

I would like to say what a fantastic birthday present my wife gave to me.
Recent flights we had been on mostly to the Far East, I was relying on drugs to just get me on the plane, then the long flight. Oh what a difference a day makes, the team from Virgin were great I was greeted with an happy birthday song from the whole room which settled me down (also embarrassed). The team were fantastic, they made everyone feel at ease from start to finish, Austin our team member had great stories to tell about his time when stewarding. Austin ensured all of our team were OK throughout the day, also when on the flight. I must say I did not know how the day would pan out, it was great to get on a plane with out the tablets, I recommend this flight to anyone who is nervous about flying. As the team told us, we were not born with a fear of flying. Good luck to all the people.
Mike Cantrell


Well I don't know where to start but first I just want to say thank you.
After years of flying and having to take diazepam, trying to drink my way through it, putting headphones in with loud music on or just sitting the whole way with a blanket over my head I can honestly now say I am excited to go on holiday and It feels great.
The team answered every question we through at them and they explained everything thoroughly even with much needed humour.
I'm still laughing at ding dong...wings off... and will now remember this every time I hear it.

Big thank you to Ralph for how well he explained every part of the plane, the flight, the checks and for his invaluable commentary throughout the flight. Also big thank you to our team leader mark and his patience ( even if we did make him wait for us to have one last vape before getting on the plane.
I will recommend anyone to go on this course if they have a fear of flying and I'd only wished I'd done it sooner.

Thank you thank you thank you. I can't wait to go on holiday now and will definitely take all the tools given to me to use if I ever feel anxious again and getting close to a panic attack. My other half also says thank you as he may have the feeling in his hands throughout the flight now.
Jeni x

Best wishes,
Paul & Richard
Future Dates
PREMIUM: Gatwick November 6th; Manchester November 13th; Leeds February 5th. GROUND: Heathrow September 18th; Bristol September 25th.
CHILDREN: Gatwick November 6th

Monday, 18 July 2016

787 Dreamliner take off and landing YouTube Clips

Recently, we were lucky to be able to use one of Virgin's new Dreamliners on our fear of flying course at Heathrow. This particularly beautiful aircraft is amazing... can you imagine conquering your fear in such a gorgeous piece of machinery?!

The day was 10th July and it was a beautiful day which enabled one of our team leaders (and former nervous flyer) Chris Rolinson to take some footage of take off and landing.  Enjoy the footage and for those of you looking to remind yourself what happens at each stage of take off and landing, this is priceless.

Chris is an amazing musician of some note and we have been using some of his relaxing music on our courses.  Here is a link if you fancy listening...
Piano Meditations by Chris Rolinson.

YouTube Clips


Take care,

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Dates

PREMIUM: Birmingham July 24th FULL; Gatwick November 6th; Manchester November 13th; Leeds February 5th.
GROUND: Bristol September 25th.
CHILDREN: Gatwick November 6th

Monday, 20 June 2016

Life changing - Thank you email

Dear Richard & Paul

I am a subscriber to the message board but, I hope you don't mind, I felt I would rather write to you directly. (If, for any reason you would like to use all/any of the below for any of your blogs or emails, please do so with my blessing. I would only ask that you use my first name only and rough location).

I thought you might be interested in hearing my story so, here goes (I have a feeling this might be a long one but I hope you'll bear with me). In addition to the story below, please see my question afterward. Thank you.

I was born in England in 1962 and, when my father obtained a job in Lagos, Nigeria in 1966, we (mother, father, sister and I) flew out - and returned - with B.O.A.C. on a VC10. Nothing remarkable happened and I remember the flights very well although I wasn't even 4 years old. My mother said there was nothing unusual about the flights. All good. Then, as I got older I developed claustrophobia with very severe related panic attacks. I wouldn't use lifts, travel by tube (I got stuck for over an hour between stations in the early '80s and didn't get on one again until the late '90s and that was only a few stops). I didn't like buses, being a car passenger, lifts... and, well, you get the picture.

My biggest fear, though, was flying. For me it was mainly the claustrophobia and being 'out of control'; 'I can't get off' and so on and also the 'usual' anxiety about being in an aircraft high in the air. I was known among friends and work colleagues as being a complete non-flyer. I have said to many people over the years "I will NEVER fly!". When I saw films, documentaries, football matches, even, where I knew that the participants had needed to fly to be involved, I felt ill - it was that bad.

However, over the years I realised (and was frequently told) that I was missing out on seeing the world "I don't WANT to see the world!" I would reply but, deep down I knew I wanted to see some of it - the USA particularly as I have an interest in American culture and history.

Fast forward to 2014…

I was 51 and, although my fears and anxieties were still there I decided to have at least one attempt at overcoming - or seeing if I could overcome - this fear which had been with me as long as I could remember. I did some online research on the various courses available and, after reading and viewing some of the testimonials and looking at some YouTube clips I logged on to your website to register. After some moments of personal doubt I registered for the next course nearest me: Gatwick Premium Course, 6th July 2014. I'd considered a ground course only but felt that, if I were to have any chance of overcoming this life-long fear that the chance to take a flight would be essential.

Come the day of the course I was, to be honest, not in good shape and as I left the house I said to my partner "what was I thinking?" and I drove to Gatwick feeling like a condemned man on his way to the gallows.

I didn't really know what to expect on the day, personally, (I had an idea, of course, from reading/viewing as mentioned above) but as soon as I walked in to the hotel where the course was being held, went through registration and met some of the other attendees and team members my outlook began to change. I was expecting to feel 'odd' but I quickly realised I was among like-minded people who, incidentally, had a variety of concerns about flying; some were like me, some were regular flyers who had developed anxieties/fears directly related to flying and some had never flown. I won't go in to too much detail about the course itself - I think it's important that anyone considering attending this does so with an open mind and 'goes with the flow'. I would say, though, although when we had a break about halfway through the day I didn't feel it was working for me and I couldn't put my finger on it. I approached Paul at this point and said "I'm not sure about this" and Paul was very reassuring with no pressure and suggested I just see how the rest of the course goes leading up to the flight. (There is NO pressure to fly at the end of the Premium Course).

After the break something, well, 'clicked' and I remember we were asked to write something positive down and I wrote, and underlined, "I CAN DO THIS". And, I did do it.

We took buses to Gatwick and went through the normal check-in, security and waiting at the Gate to board. Through these procedures (which, in the past if I'd seen on TV/in a film would had made me feel unwell) I kept waiting to feel anxious - it never came. I joined the queue to board - I was fine. Took my seat - fine. Waited for everyone to do the same - fine. Push-back - fine (incidentally, the running commentary from the cockpit - by a qualified pilot NOT flying the aircraft really helped). Taxi to runway and wait for clearance for take-off - fine. I had a window seat and as we went down the runway and took off I filmed it. Still, to my astonishment - fine! we climbed, we cruised, we flew over the Needles on the Isle of Wight (beautiful), we flew along the coast and turned back in over Brighton Pier (lit up by now) and, before I knew it we were landing back at Gatwick and, we were all fine. Loud applause, smiles and cheers on landing. Incredible. I had gone, in a matter of hours from "I will NEVER fly!" to having flown and it was the most wonderful experience.

Last year, 2015, my partner and I (who had, a few years ago attended a wedding in Portugal without me because I wouldn't fly) flew to Paris - and back, of course. I felt a bit anxious on the morning but the flight was a breeze. We had a very delayed flight coming back and, once again, I was not in the least bit anxious.

We thought of doing a slightly longer flight than Paris this year - maybe further in to Europe but I said "why don't we do New York City?". We got back last week. Flights were great (I felt anxious, I won't lie, on the outward trip after we took off but it passed after a few moments) but the flight was great and even a cancelled and delayed return flight didn't affect me in the slightest.

People who know me and know me well are astounded that I have gone from not flying to a trip to New York but I can honestly say I would never had done it - nor the Paris trip - if I hadn't attended the course. I would urge anyone, whatever their concern is: whether it is claustrophobia, fear of flying itself, or if you've had the concerns a short or a long time, do give this course a try. If I can get over 47 years of not flying then it is well worth trying a course for yourself.


So, Paul & Richard, there's my story and apologies for going on a bit.

Kind regards and with many thanks

John H

Future Courses
PREMIUM: Heathrow July 10th; Birmingham July 24th; Gatwick November 6th; Manchester November 13th; Leeds February 5th.
GROUND: Gatwick July 3rd.
CHILDREN: Heathrow July 10th; Gatwick November 6th

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Virgin Atlantic 787 aircraft

For those that love aircraft as much as we do....

On our next fear of flying course with a flight, Heathrow 10th July, we are really pleased to say that we will be using the 787 Dreamliner.  We are all really excited as most of us have never been on the new 'state of the art' aircraft.  This is what it looks like....

And inside, something like this...

We always say on our courses, that any aircraft that flies in the developed world commercial aviation has to meet the same standards of safety - yes, that includes alleged low cost airlines too.    We are all in the business that the foundation stone is 'safety first.'  However, it is a real treat for us and the nervous flyers that join us at Heathrow to enjoy the splendour of the 787. 

Best wishes,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Dates:
Premium courses: Heathrow July 10th; Birmingham July 24th; Gatwick 6th November; Manchester November 13th.  2017 Leeds 5th February.
Ground courses: Gatwick July 3rd.
Children's Course: Heathrow July 10th; Gatwick 6th November.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Proof it still works! Sunday 11th March 2012 Course Attendee

This message arrived in the last couple of weeks. Look how long ago she attended our course!  It is true testament to the power of someone overcoming their fear by not giving up. A course like ours is really effective when part of a process of beating the fear. Plus, staying determined.

Best wishes,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear
I just wanted to contact you regarding the course I attended on 11th March 2012
I had suffered from panic attacks for 4 years on most forms of transport, including lifts (basically anything I was enclosed in!) after suffering a panic attack on a train that had stopped in between stations for 30 mins.  After that the panic attacks seemed to occur whenever the train slowed down/ stopped & when I was in a car stuck in traffic.  Up until 2011 I would avoid driving on the motorway & certainly would not drive on there alone.  After suffering bad panic attacks on 2 flights & the Eurostar, I avoided travelling far & holidayed in the UK for 3 years. I attempted a flight again, but got as far as the airport entrance & turned around & went back home in floods of tears.  2011 was the first time I had flown for years.  I flew to Amsterdam, Italy & Tunisia that year, but I got myself so worked up the night before each flight & whilst waiting to board the plane, that most of the time my heart would be racing the whole way & it was so uncomfortable.
I wanted to attend your course to try & eradicate some of this discomfort & to help me actually want to book holidays going forward instead of dreading them - & your course certainly did that for me!
When I arrived at Gatwick an air stewardess came over to say hello to me & told me she'd just got back from a flight to Hong Kong & how that was 1 of her favourite places to visit. I told her about my boyfriend working out there & that was the number 1 upset of the day!! I feel so stupid now crying at the beginning of the day, but she was lovely & made me feel at ease.  She actually ended up sitting next to me on the flight, so I repaid her with Haribo sweets!
The course was good, quite interesting & I actually enjoyed the flight J I found it a bit tough during the day. I got upset when I got there when I found out that the flight wasn't till nearly 8pm, so I kept worrying about it at certain times during the day, but looking back now it was good to make us wait all day & we were also slightly delayed in the departure lounge waiting for our plane to land, but that has really helped me with the whole waiting at the airport experience & if there are delays on flights.
I did it with no Diazepam, no alcohol, no book, iPod, crossword book or scarf over my head & I actually felt better quicker.

My heart was racing a bit when I got on the plane & then a bit during take-off, but I was fine after that. I had a walk up & down the plane & handed out Haribos to my fellow frightened fliers, that I'd brought with me as a reward for doing so well.
During 2012, I then had had flights to Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Spain & Croatia and have been fine on all the flights, even though I have experienced turbulence at times & at some points up to 5 hour delays.  From that point on, I have travelled to some lovely holiday destinations including in 2013 my first long haul flights in 14 years to my school friend's wedding in Boston, following by 2 internal flights for a week in the Bahamas & last year 10 nights in the Dominican Republic.
My boyfriend had been working in Hong Kong for 18months from 2011, but I did not have the courage to fly out on my own to visit him – This was the final push I needed to make me attend your course, if he had stayed out there indefinitely, I would've had to fly on my own there at some point.  He flew home every 3 months to see me, but on the agreement that we got away to sunnier climates when he did.  He is now home for good & we have said that we will visit HK together in the future.
My boyfriend is a keen traveller & 'collects' countries as his hobby – he has visited 97 countries to date & I always used to feel under pressure to book flights that I wasn't comfortable with – Nowadays, it is me 'bugging' him to let me book our next holiday.
I believe it would've taken me years to fly again (if at all), if I hadn't attended your course, so I am very grateful that there was a course that you offered & that everyone running the course was so nice, helpful & understanding throughout the day.
I now keep a list of the places I have visited & the number of flights I have conquered -    If I ever get a bit nervous, I look at my list & feel proud of how far I have come.  In the last 4 years I have taken 49 flights J  
Thank you so much!
Vickie Brennan
Premium courses £267: Heathrow July 10th; Birmingham July 24th.
Ground courses £180: Leeds May 29th; Heathrow June 5th; Gatwick July 3rd.
Children's Course Heathrow July 10th

Monday, 9 May 2016

Thank you messages by email and exciting message

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to write to us. Here are a few messages this week to share with you....Also, some very exciting news.

Our next premium fear of flying course at Heathrow on 10th July, we are using the new Boeing 787. We are very excited as some of the team have not even been on-board one yet.  Hope to see you there.

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Dates
Premium courses £267: Heathrow July 10th; Birmingham July 24th.
Ground courses £180: Leeds May 29th; Heathrow June 5th; Gatwick July 3rd.
Children's Course Heathrow July 10th

Ground Course Thank You
Hi there,

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for a brilliant course at Leeds today. It was so informative and helpful and I couldn't have asked for more.
I feel extremely reassured about flying and its safety and 'look forward' to flying on a Jet2 aeroplane ( which was an issue for me), in and out of Leeds/ Bradford airport
(issue 2), whether there's turbulence (issue 3) or not and landing (issue 4) feeling much calmer.
Being able to listen to and ask questions of an extremely experienced pilot was invaluable. As was the knowledge and insights shared during the Psychological aspect of the course. It all just came together and made sense!!
Thank you so much - I will highly recommend it to others. I'm hoping not to need a booster session in the future, but if I feel I do, I won't hesitate to book.
Kind regards,

Julie Casper
Manchester Thank You

Hi there
I wanted to put a message up on the board with pics but am struggling to do it so thought maybe I'd send it directly to you?
I was at the Manchester airport course on the 10th April and was due to fly on the 12th April to Orlando with Virgin.
I found the course really helpful, especially the section with Captain Pete who was so approachable and knowledgeable (of course!).  On the afternoon flight I have to admit I was in a complete state, and didn't cope at all well BUT the staff were very helpful/encouraging, especially Paul (cabin crew).
When we landed I chatted to Pete and Paul until, embarrassingly, everyone else had gone.  Never at any point was I made to feel silly or patronised in any way for asking ridiculous questions.....of which there were quite a few!  Pete called the pilot who'd be flying me out to Orlando and told him to look after me (ha) and Paul said he would make a note for the cabin crew too.
I went home that day feeling like I couldn't go through with the flight and a bit of a teary mess BUT in the day between the course and the flight I think I had time to process all the information I'd taken in.
On the day of our flight I was greeted at the airport by special assistance who took me onto the plane first, we were then taken up to the cockpit to chat to Bruce and his co pilot. They were so lovely and helpful, showing me flight details/information for the days flight, weather reports and what to expect from the days flight etc. etc.
By the time we took off, I was very calm and in control of my thoughts!  I used the tapping technique (eyebrow, under eye, collar bone, karate chop etc.)and breathing in for 11 out for 7 a few times, flicked the elastic band on take-off with only a few tears on take off (usually I would be loudly sobbing before the doors had closed). Cabin crew were lovely and every so often a member of the team would very quietly check I was coping.  There was a small amount of turbulence, but I coped! I understood why it was bumpy I knew why the seat belt signs were on, I knew why the wing was moving etc. etc. etc.  Bruce paid me a visit half way through the flight to have a chat which really helped.
At the end of the flight, a member of cabin crew gave me a bottle of prosecco sent from Paul.  Paul if you are reading this, THANKYOU SO SO MUCH, I was very touched.  Thank you Pete for arranging my visit to the cockpit this helped massively.
The course WORKED and I have been raving about it to anyone who will listen!!!!
I feel so much more confidant flying now......just looking at prices for December!!!!
Thank you all at Fear Without Flying!
Best wishes
Heather Lamb

Dear Madam, Sir
Re :- Fear of flying course Gatwick 22nd November 2015
I write with reference to the above course which I completed with you some months ago. 
I wanted to put on record my most sincere thanks for all the help and assistance given to me, starting with the application/enquiry process with 'Gilly' back in June last year.
Had it not been for the calm and understanding manner in which she handled my initial enquiries, I probably would not have gone ahead with the course !!
She had always kept me updated and this gave me confidence important with those suffering from a phobia .
The course at Gatwick was well prepared and delivered, I also found it to be  a very cathartic experience ,  just by being there, with so many others with similar fears as myself helped to conquer my anxieties
In short I now have the confidence to resume flying again and this would not have been possible without your input!!
I would be more than happy to recommend your course to anyone who may benefit
Yours Sincerely
Mr Darren AGAR