The Pan Am Podcast

Episode 33: Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty, Helping Others With Weighted Wings

January 29, 2023 Pan Am Museum Foundation Season 2 Episode 33
The Pan Am Podcast
Episode 33: Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty, Helping Others With Weighted Wings
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Show Notes

In this episode we are joined by Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty.

Johanna joined Pan American World Airways in 1970 as a flight attendant, and was later promoted to purser, trainer, and in 1986 was appointed Corporate Manager of Pan Am’s new Employee Assistance Program (also known commonly today as EAP).

In this role, Johanna was responsible for the oversight of bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of the 1988 Lockerbie disaster.

Her new book, a memoir called Flight With Weighted Wings, was released in January of 2023 and is available from the Pan Am Museum’s online store.

Watch Johanna’s Pan Am corporate video to new employees from 1987 on our YouTube channel. 

Johanna received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. 

Today Johanna is an expert in crisis management from a psychological perspective, and a renowned expert in the field of trauma, addiction and recovery.

She served as Vice President of Treatment Services at the Betty Ford Center from 2006 to 2013, before serving as CEO of the Las Vegas Recovery Center, Senior Fellow of Clinical Services, from 2013 to 2016.

In addition, she adds her 40 years of personal recovery to her long list of accomplishments. Johanna developed and implemented Crisis Response Programs for Pan American World Airways, Trans World Airlines, and has facilitated the training of Crisis Response Teams for several other airlines as well.

Working at Pan Am during the Lockerbie bombing led to her becoming a pioneer in the aviation industry, organizing, training and responding to aviation disasters, and facilitating trauma processing, grief counseling, and critical incident stress debriefing guidelines. 

 In 1996, she provided counseling services to the family members of the 230 individuals, including over 50 TWA employees, who perished on Flight 800, the third-deadliest aviation accident in US history. In 2000, she received the FBI’s “Exceptional Service in the Public Interest” award.

Then in September of 2001, Dr. O’Flaherty was again called to New York to assist with counseling airline employees and facilitating the Crisis Response training for the New York City Transit Authority after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. She also conducted critical incident response training for the FBI and first responders.

Dr. O’Flaherty provided counseling to the first and last responders of the October 1, 2017 massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, where 58 people were killed and another 546 injured. The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

Dr. O’Flaherty has been featured on American news channels CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN as well as several podcasts as an expert in her field.

To listen to more of Dr. O’Flaherty, check out the podcast called Living OnBrand with Kim and Glenda.

For more information on Johanna or to contact her, her website is

Today, Johanna maintains a consulting practice and has an active schedule as a keynote speaker in crisis management and addiction. She resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

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