Tag Archives: airports

Open Sky for Fearful Flyers

Had the pleasure to attend the very first Open Sky for Fearful Flyers class conducted by AirHollywood, the largest airplane mockup studio serving the motion picture, television and commercial production industry. While not afraid of flying, I decided to attend because I knew there would be useful information shared AND anything aviation-related designed to assist others is always a good thing. Well, we weren’t disappointed.

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The class was facilitated by Capt Ron Nielsen, a retired commercial airline pilot. According to a published bio, Capt Ron has been a pilot for almost 40 years and recently retired as a captain for a major airline. Flying has been a lifelong passion of his and he now devotes much of his time and energy to helping others overcome their fear of flying. He began working with those fearful of flying in 1987, and has gained a unique understanding of fearful flyers and their fears. His master’s degree in professional counseling has served him well in his endeavor to help others. His knowledge of people combined with his knowledge of airplanes has helped him develop strategies for fearful flyers to successfully manage their fears. Through his live classes and webinars, he has restored confidence to thousands who are now flying again.  He is frequently contacted by the media for his aviation expertise.

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The class was set up as a 6-hour course. Introduction of the weaker was followed by why people are afraid of flying (control, irrational fears, previous situations, etc.). After receiving statistics and facts about the safety of flying in today’s world, we partnered up with others in the class to learn more about what motivates your fear(s). As I’m not afraid of flying, my activity partner did most of the talking as I interviewed him about what makes him fearful. After sharing bios in a group forum, and what makes you fearful, we were treated to a very nice, casual lunch on the backlot. Lunch was followed up by “boarding” our flight. The studio is complete with Jetways and a motion-based mockup which simulates turbulence. We were then treated to the full phase of flight from boarding, to take off, cruise altitude, turbulence, landing, and arrival back at the gate. Even the owner of AirHollywood got in on the action, providing drinks from a beverage cart!

 

To my delight I had the opportunity to speak with the students in the Open Sky for Fearful Flyers course!

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Our day concluded with a tour of the AirHollywood props department and backlot, where we saw upclose and personal everything studios would need to film movie scenes, commercials, or photo shoots.

As this was the introductory course, AirHollywood and Capt Ron listened to, and answered questions from the students regarding what worked well and what we’d like to see in future classes. The goal is to have an on-going fear of flying classes complete with classroom instruction at the studio followed up by taking a real flight.

Here’s some of what we learned:

  • Every year, flying becomes safer > less accidents, although more traffic. Increases in safety due to better engines, technology, training
  • Fear of flying is NOT the same as risk of flying
  • Approximately 60 million people in the USA have a fear of flying
  • If you’re afraid of flying, first introduce yourself to the flight attendants and let them know. Then the pilots. Make sure all of the crew is aware
  • Breathing through a drinking straw will prevent you from hyperventilating. Carry one with you if you’re prone to hyperventilating
  • Sights. Sounds. Sensations — overcoming the fear of flight begins by recognizing these

I left the studio feeling great. It’s a nice feeling knowing that there are others out there who have a love and passion for what flight can add to your life and how overcoming your fear of flying can enrich your life and make it more fulfilling.

Talaat Captan, Capt Ron Nielsen, Rachel Owen, Me

Talaat Captan, Capt Ron Nielsen, Rachel Owen, Me

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Please see our previous post on visiting AirHollywood > click here

Sometimes you gotta just keep smiling

And then there was a time…

…I decided to wear a brand new pair of shoes on a trans-Atlantic flight. C’mon, they were Kenneth Coles! When I say I was looking sharp, I was looking sharp! Getting to Zurich was a bit of a challenge though. By the time we arrived the next morning my tootsies were tender. I couldn’t get to my hotel room fast enough to get out of those shoes! Sneakers on my layover were just what the doctor ordered. Next morning, the thought of putting those shoes on again caused me to tear up. And I realized that sneakers (not even the Braniff Converses or AirBerlin airplane sneakers) wouldn’t work with my uniform.

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So, I begrudgingly put on my Kenneth Coles and walked across the Atlantic. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And I continued to smile. And if you’ve ever met me you know I smile all the time, even when it’s unpleasant.

Moral: When your feet hurt it’s easy to  become a miserable SOB. Sometimes you have to smile through the pain just to make it home.

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Passenger dominoes

And then there was the time…

That I was working an (in)famous LGA to PBI flight; a flight that is known for it’s (ahem)…seasoned traveler. I always had a great time working these flights and you had to take on a new tone with this group of flyers. It always worked best if you could match their zeal and energy. One day during boarding there was a back up and people were standing in the aisle with no space between them. As a passenger was putting his bag in to the overhead bin he lost his balance and caused a domino reaction; bodies started toppling. When the domino effect reached a certain passenger she began to react in the most dramatic way. “Ooooh!”, she yelled! “He is trying to knock me down!” “Whats going on?!” She was about to really get going when I stepped up, looked directly in her eyes and said, “Ma’am! You know just as well as I do, that was not what he is trying to do. This began a few people ahead of him and no one was trying to do something to YOU.” She looked me dead in the face, completely calm and said, “You’re right.” She then took her seat. She couldn’t have surprised me more.

My thoughts on this situation: Assume the best in people, help them see the real situation and let them rise to the occasion. It always makes your day better when a passenger surprises you with a great experience.

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Tax Day, Concorde, and Regret

And then there was a time…

…when my roommate and I decided “Let’s fly Concorde to London!” Being FAs without a lot of seniority, and being based in NYC, we had limited funds. So we decided “Let’s do this after we get our tax refund!” For the next few months we flew our schedules and talked frequently about our trip. Our airline offered a sweet deal: for approximately $800 you could fly British Airways roundtrip (standby of course) to London. This particular interline agreement allowed you to decide whether to fly over supersonic and back subsonic, or vice versa. We decided we’d take Concorde over, spend a day or two in London, then hightail it back on a 747. Tax time came and went. Refund checks arrived and were spent. Time passed. We never took the trip. We all know how this story ends. After the accident of an Air France Concorde, the subsequent grounding of the Concorde fleet, and the economics of operating supersonic flights, Concorde flew into the sunset, never to fly again. The end of an era had arrived. Every Tax Day since then serves as a reminder. Not flying Concorde has to be one of my life’s regrets.

Moral: If there’s something you REALLY want to do, do it! Make a plan, stick to that plan. Live life without regret.

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If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper…

Then there was a time…

…we were cruising through the beverage service; nice crew, light flight, no troubles, very nice passengers. I say to the customer at the window, “And what would you like to drink sir?” And the LADY with the deep voice and sensible haircut at the window answers, “I’d like a Diet Coke.” Talk about embarrassing.  The fact that it takes a long time to pour Diet Coke added to the duration of my embarrassment. If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper I would have jumped out of the plane, never to be found again.

Moral: Look people directly in the eye when asking questions. Doing so can save yourself from embarrassment AND of the possibility of having to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane.

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So much depends on HOW you show up

And then there was a time…

…I was working a LHR to JFK flight and decided to go visit with Joan Collins who was seated at the front of the plane. Yes, THE Joan Collins! I spruced up, checked my teeth, opened the curtain and confidently presented myself at her seat. She was reading at the time and kindly placed her book to the side. “Ms. Collins, I heard you were onboard and wanted to come say hello and see if you needed anything.” With eyes wide open, a friendly smile and an attentive gaze, Ms. Collins asked, “Are you the captain?” I found her question splendid. I chuckled and let her know that I was a member of the cabin crew. After some small chit chat, mostly me telling her how I missed her appearance at a London booking signing and her travels to NYC, I refilled her beverage and returned to tourist class. She was most gracious and kind.

Moral: People can be very nice. Depending on HOW you show up and present yourself, people may think the world of you. You part ways feeling like you’re on top of the world.

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Aviation Geek Fest 2014 (AGF14) – Highlights

Aviation Geek Fest (AGF) is becoming a rite of passage for the serious avgeek. We first heard of this annual get together last year in 2013 (AGF13). Sadly, due to scheduling conflicts we were unable to attend. We followed the avgeekry antics and activities of those who were able to attend. To say we wish we had been able to attend is an understatement. So, it was with great determination and perseverance, that we cleared our schedules and made sure we were logged into the website minutes before the tickets went on sale this year. Once the tickets for AGF14 went on sale, those who hadn’t been quick on the computer were out of luck. The event sold out in 3 minutes! Thank goodness for the refresh button!

For those who do not know, AGF is the brainchild of AirlineReporter.com’s David Parker Brown. David began AirlineReporter.com in 2008 and has been sharing his knowledge and passion for aviation with others over many years. The first AGF was in 2009 and attendance for this annual event has been growing by leaps and bounds.

The weekend was full of activities that would turn the novice planespotter into a serious avgeek. Some of the activities and events included: tours of both the Everett and Renton Boeing factories, a raffle for amazing prizes, and the opportunity to meet bloggers, travel writers, those genuinely interested in aviation, and the opportunity to see friends and to make new ones.

Here are but a couple of the highlights from AVG14:

The prototype mockup of the Boeing SST — located at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center, the remnants of this mockup made our hearts go from V1 to VR in seconds! Of course we had heard and read about the Boeing 2707 SST that had never been built due to the large capital resources need to launch the program and political reasons. Click here for link to Boeing site regarding the SST, or here to read more about what would have been the first American SST.

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Inside the first Boeing 747 — going inside the first 747 ever built has been a lifelong dream. We’re sure more than a few avgeeks have this on their bucket list. Thanks to David Parker Brown, and his passion for aviation, he was able to gain access into this iconic aircraft for the attendees of this years AGF14. When the doors of the first 747 were opened we ascended the airstairs with great excitement. Walking inside this airplane was like walking into a time machine. On the day of our visit,  45 years and 1 week had passed since this aircraft took its first flight and would become the first aircraft given the moniker “jumbo jet” (the first flight was February 9, 1969).

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Again, we’d like to thank AirlineReporter.com and David Parker Brown in particular for making this years AGF14 truly amazing!

(More pictures from AGF14 available at our Flickr account: airlineguys)