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It’s a funny old thing, one minute you are trotting along through the Nottingham sunshine the next you are sat in a very small, dark Boeing 737 Cockpit with a bloke you have just met saying – “steer with your feet until you are in the air…”

Greeted at the door by the excellent team, I was whisked into the simulator which is an exact replica of the 737 – genuinely this what you have when you turn left on a plane and keep going, and it feels real…very real! 

With the minimum of fuss my instructor set the computer for where we would be starting, JFK and we were off.

As I powered along the runway, I was indeed steering with my feet and it all felt very real and a bit strange, then pulling back on the stick it gets even stranger…  After years of taking the mickey out of my pilot friend for not actually doing anything it turns out that there are quite a few things that need your attention; Climb rate, banking, speed, direction – oh and best avoid the mountains too…

As I battled on – fraught with concentration and giving any passengers a ride that was akin to an angry donkey on a very hot tin roof, my instructor passed on a pearl of wisdom that he was given when he first started flying, which was, you should never multi task in a plane rather give each thing your total attention for a small amount of time before moving on to the next.  And it worked.

Pretty quickly I was really actually flying – an whilst it wasn’t a perfectly smooth trip with probably a rather to “intimate” view of the Statue of Liberty I was actually handling the plane on my own complete with an “effortless” landing after a quick trip around the New York area.

And I have to say I loved it.

The highlight though was the second trip and in particular the second landing!

The plan was to take off from what is the The New Hong Kong airport and head to Kai Tak – the old Hong Kong airport.  It is a distance of about 10 miles but it is a crazy journey that takes in mountain ranges, almost invisible guiding lights and a nasty turn in between sky scrapers to hit the tiny postage stamp of land they call a runway… and I was doing this one solo.

Genuinely it is a bonkers journey and I can’t quite believe that it was until a few years ago an actual airport taking the worlds biggest planes and even more crazy was that I did it – all on my own and with only the “smallest” of bounce on touch down (certainly enough to spill a overfull G &T but not enough to make the front page of the local newspaper).  And it felt brilliant.

I think this is the beauty of Simspot, it is VERY real.  Yes I know that there wasn’t wind and turbulence etc etc– although I bet they could dial it in – but it was a genuinely real experience needing real concentration and a proper “engagement” to doing it well.  And it is available to all of us, without years of training and in the middle of our town! 

It was great fun, a brilliant experience and definitely worth doing.  Check it out

Right I’m off to Duty Free…

Author: Paul Chapman, Entrepreneur\’s Circle.




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