So over the weekend, you might have seen a couple of shoutouts from me at the Silkair Bringing Boeing Home event, where they held a media event to welcome the arrival of several new Boeing 737 jets to the Silkair fleet flown all the way from Seattle. The highlight of that was being invited to try out the flight simulator over at Flight Experience as a part of the celebrations.
Now my late father was a pilot, and he was one for a long, long time. You would think that would have influenced me at some point in my life into wanting to be a pilot myself – I entertained brief flights of fantasy about being a stewardess (~~Singapore Girl, you’re a great way to fly~~), but flying the plane itself was never on the cards because I’d inherited my Mum’s shortsightedness and also because I knew that flying wasn’t just about pushing a bunch of buttons and a joystick around.
I mostly saw my Dad poring over stuff like huge binders full of papers – his flight manuals were scarier than any file I had in school. And when he wasn’t flying, he spent a lot of time doing training and practice and getting checked out, so the moral of that story is that flying is no easy business… and the simulator proved me right!
I was paired off with another blogger and I volunteered to do the take-off, so I got to sit in the Captain’s seat first. I’d been in the cockpit before as a child – the perks of a pilot dad meant I actually had the luxury of sitting in the jump seat for takeoff and landing, (but of course this was way before the security paranoia of 9/11, so I’m thanking my lucky stars for that experience), but I’d never gotten the chance to actually sit in the Captain’s seat, so this was pretty cool.
According to some of the Silkair pilots who were around that day, the Flight Experience simulator was of pretty good standard. Of course it doesn’t compare to what they practice with, which comes with actual movement (that can cause motion sickness!) and really up-to-date graphics, but everything else was decent enough.
Before you even enter, you watch a briefing video which tells you what all the controls are, but trust me there is no way you’re going to remember any of it if you’re not already familiar with it. On the plus side, your ‘co-pilot’ is one of the staff, and he obviously knows exactly what to do, so just listen to him rattle off stuff and concentrate on following his instructions.
I can drive a car pretty decently, but flying a plane means knowing where all the buttons are and being able to keep your eye on the various gauges and controls seemingly all at once. According to the actual pilot who was sitting behind me, he said that they have a ‘no-crash’ setting, so even if I was really bad, I probably wouldn’t embarrass myself too much :P
The whole affair is pretty realistic – the graphics aren’t the highest resolution, but they’re clear enough such that you can make out most major landmarks and tell whether you’re headed skyward or plunging down. Besides take off, I got to try banking the plane to the left, which I’m pretty sure if I did for real, there would be a lot of passengers barfing… I think I’ll stick to the window seat – it’s much more fun being a passenger than an actual pilot!
All in all, a fairly fun experience. Quite frankly I probably wouldn’t pay to do this because I’m not that big a fan of aviation, but for those who are, I think it’s quite a realistic mock-up of what actual pilots go through, so barring you actually being a pilot, this is probably the closest you can get to the cockpit!
Flight Simulators in Singapore
You can check out Flight Experience at the Singapore Flyer – the prices are listed here here – it’s not particularly cheap, costing $175 for the cheapest 30 min flight of Boeing B737, but apparently they can get pretty packed!
You could also check out SG Flight Simulations at Orchard Central where you can fly the Airbus A320 – it’s cheaper ($69.50 for 30 min), and they have options for the more hardcore flying enthusiast as well with a separate facility with more hi-tech equipment in Changi (and also costing correspondingly more!)
And we’ll end this off with a fun picture of me at the Silkair photobooth – flying (or being flown perhaps) is such a joy indeed!