July 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts July 2002 Current Issue
July 2002
Short Cuts:Flying Without Fear

imageAviophobia, more commonly known as fear of flying, has risen substantially since Sept. 11. “A recent study suggested that up to 46 percent of Americans are afraid to fly,” says Dr. Michael P. Tomaro, who runs the Milwaukee, Wis.-based Institute for Human Factors and has a practice devoted to aviophobia. Tomaro brings more than a degree in clinical psychology to the job he worked as a flight instructor for 14 years.

While noting that professional help is warranted in some cases, Tomaro advises fearful flyers to try these self-help tactics:

• Practice muscle control. Before or during the flight, sit down and relax your limbs. Try to regulate your breathing. And don’t expect immediate results; give it 15 minutes or so to begin working.

• Think things through. From this calmer state, confront the logic to any fears or misconceptions about flying. Worried about the pilot’s experience level or possible bouts of turbulence? The flight staff or even the pilot should be willing to address any questions or concerns.

• Try a little self-analysis. Is it really flying itself that’s bothering you, or are you anxious for some other reason, such as being separated from loved ones? Identifying the true fear is necessary to overcome it, says Tomaro.

For more information, including simple exercises that can help relieve anxiety, call (888) 847-3351 or go to


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