A HELICOPTER school has launched a package to help people overcome fear of flying.

Gary Ellson, chief executive of Bliss Aviation and a helicopter flying instructor, introduced the idea because pilots could offer phobic flyers the reassurance of being able to land immediately.

Mr Ellson said: “Fear of flying can also be part of other phobias, including agoraphobia and claustrophobia, so by using a helicopter with its great views and unrestricted environment compared to that of a tube-like aircraft, we also have an advantage.”

The Bournemouth Airport-based business will begin its Fear of Flight sessions with a briefing by the pilot, who will explain how the helicopter flies and that it can glide if an engine fails.

“This is something that many people who go on trial lessons and pleasure flights are not aware of yet still fly – they are much braver than I am,” said Gary, whose training requires the skills to land an helicopter without engine power.

The sessions begin with the helicopter hovering above the ground for a few minutes before taking off, with the passenger assured that they can return to the ground if they become too anxious.

“By coordinating with air traffic control at Bournemouth we can operate away from runways and not have to spend time positioning to land if our passengers require,” said Mr Elson.

“But if everyone on board is happy, we then go for a short 15 minute flight to view Bournemouth’s beautiful coastline.”

Gemma Murphy, managing director of View HR Ltd, was very reluctant to fly in helicopters.

“This package has helped and I even enjoyed the opportunity to have a go at controlling the aircraft after relaxing once airborne, having learnt so much during the briefing,” she said.

Passengers can fly with a friend or relative, or with a group of fellow phobics.