London - Coping with a fear of flying might require counselling, therapy or even just getting aboard and gritting your teeth until you’re back on terra firma.
But pop down to a rather unremarkable industrial estate in Devon and you might be able to conquer your terrors for good.
At least that’s what former pilot Andy Wilkins, 56, says. He has recreated the interior of a Boeing 737-800 in one of the estate’s units to help fearful flyers.
There’s a fully-equipped cockpit and, behind it, a cabin with the familiar small windows, overhead lockers and seats with little leg room. The simulator also features announcements from the “crew” and the sounds that terrify nervous flyers.
Mr Wilkins, who took redundancy after 20 years with Thomson Airways, counsels clients and discusses the flying process with them. The client then uses the simulator to “fly” the plane themselves.
Since launching the Virtual Jet Centre in Newton Abbot, he has already helped eight clients beat their fears. He said: “People have left saying that instead of feeling nervous about a flight they were excited.”
Mr Wilkins also offers pilot training, educational trips and corporate events at the unit. It costs £100 (about R1 800) per hour for a three-hour Fear of Flying session.
One client was Emily Kaye, 38, who had to be prescribed Valium to fly. Since doing Mr Wilkins’ course she has been on holiday to Greece and didn’t need medication. She said: “I became more afraid as I got older. But I felt 100 percent better after the course and was able to fly to Greece with no problems.” - Daily Mail