British Airways video shows 73-year old Ronnie Leach taking flight
A new British Airways video shows 73-year old Ronnie Leach, who has suffered from a lifelong fear of flying, talking shortly after his first ever flight.
In the video Mr Leach explains how, having never stepped on a plane before in his life, he was able to face his fears and fly from Johannesburg to Heathrow on a British Airways A380 super jumbo to visit his daughter who lives in London – with a little help from the airline’s Flying with Confidence course for nervous flyers.
Mr Leach, from Johannesburg, South Africa, says that after 72 years he thought he’d never be able to overcome his fear of flying.
But when his daughter, Chantel, called to say that she’d booked him on one of the airline’s courses in his hometown of Johannesburg – he made the brave decision to go for it, and hasn’t looked back, vowing to keep flying now that he’s discovered international travel.
The video also shows Mr Leach’s emotional reunion with Captain Steve Allright, the British Airways pilot who led his course in Johannesburg.
British Airways Captain Steve Allright, said: “It’s an amazing privilege to be a part of helping determined people to achieve their goals.
“It’s very special to be able to help bring families together and reunite them with their loved ones – just like Ronnie and Chantel.
“As professional pilots we love flying and want to share that with as many people as possible.”
The British Airways Flying with Confidence course has been running for more than 30 years and has successfully helped more than 50,000 people overcome their fear of flying.
The one-day course includes sessions with highly experienced British Airways pilots explaining the technical side of flying and common concerns such as turbulence, as well as expert advice from a clinical psychologist on relaxation techniques, and managing anxiety.
The courses run throughout the year in several airport locations across the UK and the rest of the world including; Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Johannesburg and Dubai.
UK based courses include a chartered flight with a dedicated British Airways short-haul aircraft and crew.
British Airways Flying with Confidence top 10 tips
1. Remember that turbulence is uncomfortable but is not dangerous. It is a perfectly normal part of flying caused by nature.
2. Learn to control your breathing. When you feel anxious, hold your breath, then take a long deep breath in, followed by a long deep breath out. Continue long deep breathing.
3. Combine the deep breath in with a muscle contraction. Clenching your buttocks is most effective, as it overrides other nervous signals going up and down your spinal cord.
4. Aircraft like to be in the air. They are designed to be in the air. Pilots and cabin crew like to be in the air also, it is a very normal, safe environment for them to be in.
5. Understand lift. The wings enable aircraft to fly, not the engines. A commercial aircraft flying at 30,000ft can glide for 100 miles even if all the engines fail.
6. Split a long flight up into half hour sections. Go with a plan of things to do, perhaps things you never get round to. Write a letter, watch a film, read a book, eat a meal.
7. Pilots undergo a rigorous selection procedure and are the most highly trained and tested professionals on earth. They are subjected to simulator tests every six months.
8. Commercial aircraft are incredibly well maintained, and are checked before every flight by pilots and engineers. Routine maintenance is conducted at regular, specified intervals by licensed engineers.
9. Air traffic controllers are trained and licensed professionals operating under a very strict set of rules. All pilots have to abide by the rules of the air.
10. Visualise yourself stepping off the aircraft into the arms of loved ones, or into a lovely warm climate, or into a successful business meeting.
And finally, book yourself onto a British Airways Flying with Confidence course before you fly! This is a one-day course that addresses all of the above and much more in great detail…