Behavior: Facing the Fear of Flying

Flight attendants cope with the trauma of fatal disasters

When a Southern Airways DC-9 crashed in rain and hail near New Hope, Ga., in 1977, Flight Attendant Sandy Purl was not among the 70 dead. But she came to wish she had been. Hospitalized and sedated for shock, Purl would leap from her bed each night shouting, "Grab your ankles!" and try to force other patients into the classic precrash body position. A year later, she was still overcome with guilt that she had survived and her passengers died. One recurrent fantasy was that her arms and legs were gone. Says Purl:...

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