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See Inside February/March 2008

Nerves in Flight

Many of us feel anxious before getting on an airplane, but some people truly panic when they fly. Here's how several aviophobes got over their fear

Karsten Kramarczik, a magazine art director from Schriesheim, Germany, never liked to fly. Even as a child, he found that the prospect of enclosing himself in a long metal tube and hurtling through the ether at nearly the speed of sound made him shiver. Nevertheless, for much of his life Kramarczik forced himself to get on airplanes. Then, four years ago, doubt mysteriously turned into full-blown panic on a trip to Barcelona. He has not flown since.

According to a 2006 USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, 27 percent of American adults are at least somewhat afraid to take to the skies; 9 percent are “very afraid.” These statistics suggest a recovery since the September 11, 2001, attacks, shortly after which a Gallup poll indicated that 43 percent were wary about getting on an airplane, including 17 percent who were “very afraid.”

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