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Do you fear when you fly? There's an app to help that.

Fear of flying is nothing to laugh about. Having a panic attack while on an airplane, or not being able to even board a commercial flight because of fear, are both more common than most people would imagine. One solution is to learn how to relax, and to become knowledgeable about the sights, sounds, and feelings of flying.

Virgin Atlantic has had an amazing 98% success rate in curing fear of flying though its Flying Without Fear classes. These are seminars held throughout the UK that provide flight knowledge through a Q&A session with Virgin Atlantic flight crews, followed by a psychology session to make attendees aware of what makes them afraid and provide techniques to combat the fear. At the end of the day, attendees are taken on a short flight to try out their new knowledge and prove to themselves that they can fly without becoming paralyzed with panic.

To reach a much larger audience, Virgin Atlantic has just released the Flying Without Fear app [US$4.99, iTunes Link]. While the app doesn't include a visit from a flight crew or a psychologist, it's designed to make the techniques that have been so successful in Virgin Atlantic's in-person classes available to owners of the iPhone and iPod touch.

Virgin Atlantic President Sir Richard Branson provides a video introduction, followed by video-based explanations of what's going on at every phase of your flight. There's a built-in FAQ section with answers to questions such as "What if all the engines fail?", a set of relaxation exercises, and even a fear attack button (at right) for those scary situations that can occur in flight.

Of course, the app can't be run during takeoff and landing when you're asked to "turn off all electronic devices," but hopefully you'll gain enough confidence through using the app prior to your flight that you'll be able to stay calm.

[via CNET]

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