April 16 - Aerophobia, or fear of flying, is a condition that keeps millions of otherwise rational people from ever getting inside an airplane. It can cause great distress and even panic but one company in Europe is reporting success in curing the phobia by exposing sufferers to their greatest fear and helping them overcome it. Rob Muir reports.
She may be smiling but Jitka Galuskova is terrified of flying. However, she's confronting her fears, with the help of professional pilot Jan Hejak and a programme called iPilot. In an Airbus A320 flight simulator Jitka is trying to take control of her problem. SOUNDBITE: JITKA GALUSKOVA SAYING: "I fear heights very much with the combination of enclosed space. This is very unpleasant for me." Jitka is one of millions around the world who suffer from aerophobia, the fear of flying. When she heard about Prague's new iPilot programme, she says she knew she had to try it. SOUNDBITE: JITKA GALUSKOVA SAYING: "I wanted to try to fight off the fear because this causes problems in my private and also professional life." iPilot says it can help. Here in Prague, and eight other locations in Europe and the Middle East, people like Jitka can meet their fears head on. Seated alongside a professional pilot they can take off and land at more than 24,000 simulated airports. They can see first hand how pilots like Jan Hajek do their job. SOUNDBITE: PILOT JAN HAJEK SAYING: "We try to show our clients the procedures inside the cockpit and explain how we solve the problems people fear the most like stopping engine fires, and we show them that these situations are quite manageable and that aircraft can fly safely afterwards." And for Jitka it seems to be working. Having taken control of the aircraft briefly in the early sessions, she says she already feels more confident about flying as a passenger... at least inside a simulator. . SOUNDBITE: JITKA GALUSKOVA SAYING: "I trust I will overcome this fear and will start flying in my real life as well." It would be a major step forward. iPilot tells its clients that the sky is the limit. Rob Muir, Reuters.