FOFC's Story: Our Founding & History
The Clinic was co-founded in 1976 in San Mateo, California, by Fran Grant and Jeanne McElhatton, both licensed pilots and passionate fliers. At first, ambitions were modest: Fran wanted to get her husband, a fearful flier, on a plane to Australia. They assembled a small group of other fearful fliers and got to work. Through their connections in the aviation industry, and in consultation with behavioral experts, they developed a curriculum to help fearful fliers like Fran's husband understand how flying works, and how to re-frame his thoughts and feelings around flying.
By the completion of this first-ever Clinic, Fran's husband was so comfortable on a plane that he slept straight through the turbulence that used to terrify him. As these encouraging early results continued with each subsequent Clinic, and with more clients, Fran and Jeanne soon realized: not only did the Clinic model work, but FOFC could be a catalyst for change in the lives of countless others.
Over the course of the next 40+ years, the Fear of Flying Clinic has continued to provide education and support for thousands of fearful fliers. No small feat for a niche non-profit that has had to evolve with the times. What has remained constant, however, and is reflected in the legacy of its success, is the dedication and commitment of its volunteer Board of Directors, therapists and aviation experts. The drive to serve comes from a love of aviation and caring for our community of clients-- people from all walks of life who look to the clinic for support and answers in helping them to overcome their fear of flying.
Sadly, both Jeanne and Fran have passed away. Jeanne, most recently in 2018. She remained an active Board member until her death. She also continued to fly as often as she could. A recent trip with friends was to go whale watching off the coast—not by boat, but by air. She is deeply missed but her memory lives on in FOFC’s mission.