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July 28, 2006

Test Flight (0)

Back in March I started a bio-feedback program to control my intense fear of flying. Several weeks ago, we performed a test. That test involved hooking every sensor we’ve ever used being hooked to my body and then some time in a small twin engine prop plane.

Ready for Takeoff!

The picture above shows Rusty, my bio-feedback therapist holding a laptop. I’m covered in sensors standing next to Dave, the owner of the plane. When I first arrived and saw Dave on oxygen I had a massive increase in fear. Fortunately, he was not to be our pilot that day.

The sensors attached to me include, muscle tension in my forehead, temperature on one of my fingers, some form of stress sensors on a couple of other fingers, and bands around my chest and stomach to measure breathing.

During therapy, I have learned all sorts of breathing and relaxation techniques. I’ve also learned how out of touch with my physical body I have been. It is amazing if you actually take a few moments to concentrate on what your fingers feel or relaxing your shoulders.

Fearless Pilot.

Once we were in the plane, we did a couple of simulated takeoffs. (Basically we hopped 6-10 feet into the air and then brought the plane right back down.) I was seated in the front next to the pilot, which is a vantage point I am not used to.

After a couple of trial runs I decided that to really test things out, I needed to be in the air. So up we went. I’ll say that on a hot day, it is a bumpy ride in a small plane. We did a simple loop and then landed. During the flight there were times I managed to regain some control.

Rusty video taped the flight out of the windows from the back seat. The wild thing is that a couple weeks after the flight, I watched the tape while hooked up to some sensors. I was shocked to watch my body react as the engines revved up and at different traumatic spots during our short flight.

On the above chart of the session, you can see that by the time we watched it the third time, I had managed to control myself a bit better through the use of some of the techniques. Last week, I watched it using a new technique and barely reacted at all. As we wind this interesting journey, we will be coming up with some routines for me to go through on commercial flights-- which I’ll need for a couple of flights next weekend.

Posted by Rich at July 28, 2006 11:18 AM

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