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White-Knuckled 'Grads' Face the Wild Blue Yonder

December 03, 1987|SHIRLEY MARLOW

Some of the passengers on America West Flight 254 from Omaha, Neb., to Des Moines and back clutched arm rests. Others did breathing exercises to calm themselves and many gasped as the Boeing 737 took off and landed. The flight was something of a commencement exercise for 50 people who had taken a free, three-week "Fear of Flying" course sponsored by the Omaha Airport Authority. Some participants called the classes and the 25-minute flights a conditional success. "I didn't throw up and I didn't cry," said Eleanor Byrne after the landing in Des Moines. "And I think I smiled." The group, under the direction of psychotherapist Sandy Kutler, met for more than an hour each session, sometimes aboard parked planes. All had avoided flying because of claustrophobia, fear of a panic attack, fear of heights or a reluctance to relinquish control of their lives to a pilot, Kutler said. Many said they were not fearful of a crash. Kutler said she explained to them the psychology of fear, the mechanics of flying and how to use relaxation techniques.

--A judge in Indiana is making sure that students he places on probation learn their lessons. He has sentenced a teacher to tutor them. Hammond City Judge Peter Katic places teen-agers on probation for alcohol possession convictions. Terms of the probation include doing well in school, and Katic has sentenced four of the students who received a D or an F in a class to 30 days in jail. Now, the judge has sentenced Mark Bailey, 27, of East Chicago, to spend 200 hours tutoring some of the 80 students in the probation program. Bailey, a mathematics teacher at Indiana Technical College's Hammond Center, was sentenced for stealing about 18 books from the school, then selling them to another for an $18 profit. "His being arrested fell into this program beautifully," said Bobbi Costa, an aide to the judge.

--A German shepherd dog acquired from East Germany for the Shreveport, La., police K-9 Corps has been discharged because his handlers' discovered he is claustrophobic and afraid of the dark. The dog, Lord, was returned to East Germany and replaced with another dog in a City Hall ceremony, police department spokeswoman Cindy Butt said. "They said (Lord) did real well outside," Butt said, "but when you got him in a small place, he just couldn't work."

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