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Flying fears increase after crash


Reported by Cheryl Whiting

A plane flying high above the clouds, a sight many may feel is frightening. Photo by Simran Gill.

A Vancouver International Airport course to help people who fear flying got a spate of new requests following the fatal plane crash Monday in Colombia.

Flying Without Fear helps dozens of people every year and on Tuesday, Layne Daggett, the counsellor who leads the class, received more calls than usual.

Tragedy causes growth in course

“When an accident occurs like the crash in Colombia yesterday, the that just intensifies their concerns,” says Daggett, a retired chaplain at the airport.

People used to seek help from Daggett because of their fears of flying and that’s when he developed the course. Since 1983, hundreds of people have taken the course, which does individualized or group counselling sessions.

The morning after the plane crash, which killed 71 people including members of a popular soccer team in Brazil, Daggett took five calls. He normally has 20 students in a month.

Course has helped with long-term fears

One person who has taken the course, Beverly Thompson, said she was too scared to fly for 40 years after she was passenger on a plane that had a bomb threat while travelling to Tahiti from Los Angeles.

“I used to fly a lot, my husband and I owned an airplane so my life was really impacted by not flying in a big way,” she said Tuesday. “I just finally thought I’ve got to do something.”

Thompson said the way the course is taught by having students go through security, talking to the pilots and flight crew and getting desensitized to the things that trouble them helped her recover from her fears.

“I had so many chances to do so many fabulous things that I couldn’t,” Thompson said. “This summer my daughter and I went to Europe for six weeks.”

Another person who took the course, Ann Robinson, said she didn’t fly for more than 20 years after surviving a plane crash in 1963.

She continues to take classes to help her get over her fears and was able to board a plane again after going through the course. She said Tuesday that she calls Daggett every time before she gets on a plane.

“I’ve just been to Toronto and for the first time I can honestly say I got on the plane and back and I feel really good.”

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