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Updated Mar 17, 2014 - 10:35 am

Phoenix instructor helps fearful overcome aversion to flying

PHOENIX — The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has caused second thoughts about getting on a plane for a lot of people.

Ron Nielsen is a retired U.S. Airways pilot who has a Master’s degree in professional counseling. He runs Fearless Flight, a program that helps fearful flyers through classes at Sky Harbor Airport and actually taking a flight on an airplane.

Ever since the Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared, his phone has been ringing off the hook. “I actually had to stop the registrations this week because I don’t think we can fit anyone else in the room at Sky Harbor airport,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen said the number calls that he has received in the past week is similar to how many he got right after Sept. 11.

During an appearance on KTAR’S Arizona’s Morning News Weekend Show, Nielsen talked about a recent student. “He had three weeks before a surprise trip to England on behalf of his fiancée,” said Nielsen. “He said ‘I gotta get over this or I might not have a fiancée any more.” The man was able to make the trip after attending classes.

The program included two classes on the ground, one of which is inside an airplane. In a third, optional class, students buy a ticket and go on a flight.

As for the Malaysia disappearance, Nielsen believed that as soon as investigators found out that the plane turned away from its scheduled flight path, they should have known that it was a deliberate act by whoever was in the cockpit.

“When you’re flying along, particularly over extended over water flights, it is required that you notify the controlling agency when you change course,” he said. That wasn’t done in this instance.


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