Can a helicopter flight cure the fear Of flying?

Gary Ellson gives a pre-flight briefing to flight phobic Gemma Murphy, Vanessa Head and Lindsay Williams.
Gary Ellson gives a pre-flight briefing to flight phobic Gemma Murphy, Vanessa Head and Lindsay Williams.

Bournemouth International Airport based Bliss Aviation has launched a package designed to help those with a fear of flying overcome their phobia – using a helicopter flight. Gary Ellson, Bliss Aviation’s Chief Executive and a helicopter flying instructor, has introduced the initiative after realising that by using a helicopter, their Pilots can offer the reassurance that they can land immediately should the “flight phobic” passenger become over stressed by the experience.

“Fear of flying can also be part of other phobias, including Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia, so by using a helicopter with its great views and unrestricted environment compared to that of a tube like aircraft, we also have an advantage,” says Gary Ellson.

The Fear of Flight session start with a briefing by the Pilot who will explain how the helicopter flies and will also ensure that the Flight Phobic customer realises that helicopters can actually glide if an engine fails.  

“This is something that many people who go on trial lessons and pleasure flights are not aware of yet still fly – they are much braver than I am!” exclaims Gary whose training requires the skills to land an helicopter without any engine power.  

With the assurance that the pilot will initially hover the Flight phobic customers a few feet off the ground for a few minutes, the helicopter is then loaded and started.   After everyone is “happy” and adjusted to the feeling of hovering,  the helicopter will then take off with the passengers assured that they can return immediately to the ground on the airport if they become to anxious or distressed.

“By coordinating with air traffic control at Bournemouth we can operate away from runways and not have to spend time positioning to land if our passengers require.,” assures Gary Ellson. “But if everyone on board is happy, we then go for a short 15 minute flight to view Bournemouth’s beautiful coastline.”

One businesswoman, Gemma Murphy who is MD of View HR Ltd, said that she was very reluctant to fly in helicopters. “This package has helped and I even enjoyed the opportunity to have a go at controlling the aircraft after relaxing once airborne having learnt so much during the briefing.”

Bliss Aviation encourages the flight phobics to fly with a friend or relative if they wish, or they can fly with a group of fellow phobics.  Flights for an individual are priced based on the cost of a 30 minute helicopter flying lesson at £215 or £140 per seat with up to 4 people sharing the flight in a larger helicopter.

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