Speed Reads

faux flying

Using movie sets, a film studio aims to help people get over their fear of flying

It's the Safest Airline in the World, thanks to the fact that it doesn't go anywhere. At Air Hollywood, the goal isn't to get passengers to far-flung destinations, but to get them on a plane, period.

Air Hollywood is a film studio in Pacoima, California, where hits like Bridesmaids and Lost filmed scenes in fake airplanes and terminals. Starting earlier this year, the studio began to offer classes to help people get over their fear of flying, enlisting the help of retired airline pilots like Capt. Ron Nielsen, who told a recent class: "You're not alone. We're going to demystify fear of flying. There are no drugs, there are no secret pills. All you do is you give yourself one moment of peace without the pink elephant jumping out at you."

An estimated 60 million people have a fear of flying, the Los Angeles Times says, with half refusing to fly and the others turning to medications and therapy. At Air Hollywood, students get the entire flying experience over their two-day class, even going through a fake security line in a fake terminal. Once on a Boeing 757, guest speakers talk them through simulated turbulence, and discuss aircraft maintenance, engineering, and more. There are other classes available, including sessions for children with autism who are afraid to fly, and people who travel with their dogs.

Air Hollywood's owner, Talaat Captan, is aware that on one day a movie scene featuring a plane crash is filmed on the lot, and the next a class is held to get people over that very fear. "We scare people in one building and help them in the other," he said.