“120 knots, 140, V1, Rotate” is a recitation so often performed by commercial pilots, but how would you feel if it were from the lips of a 12 year old? Recently, the cadets of Bendigo and Sunbury Squadrons had the opportunity to try out the Captain’s seat with a visit to commercial Boeing 737 flight simulator.
Over the course of 2 weekends in August and September, Jet Flight Simulator Melbourne, located in Niddrie, played host to 25 cadets and officers from these two Australian Air League squadrons as they each experienced the exhilaration and challenges of virtually flying a Boeing 737-800 commercial jet.
And this is certainly no Windows home PC flight simulator. The Jet Flight Simulator is a full scale, completely realistic, fully working replica of the flight deck of a Boeing 737-800 Series, the most popular commercial airliner in the world and mainstay of the fleets of Qantas, Virgin Australia and a large number of overseas airline operators. In addition to offering ‘experience’ flights to the general public, Jet Flight Simulator also use their simulator to provide industry training and practice to prospective and serving commercial air transport pilots who are seeking “time” in command of a 737.
Cadets and officers alike were first challenged by the myriad of switches, buttons, dials and multi-function displays that make up the ‘glass-cockpit’ of a modern jetliner. The calm guidance from our ever-watchful our instructors Brad and Chris however quickly put all of our budding aviators at ease. Each virtual captain became quickly acclimatised and soon all were retracting landing gear, extending flaps, managing the thrust levers and of course, steering their aircraft through the computerised skies surrounding Melbourne Airport.
Those who regularly commute past YMEL were quick to note just how incredibly realistic the scenery was within the simulator. Buildings, roads, trees, even the aircraft viewing area at the north end of end of runway 02/34 were easily identified from the Captain’s seat as we each took off, circled our jet and brought it back for a nice (mostly) smooth landing. It is a credit to the skill of our instructors to report that every one of our pilots brought their plane back safely to the runway.
In all, the 2 days of activity resulted in both squadrons accumulating nearly 10 hours ‘air time’ in the simulator and a huge number of smiles from all who participated. A number of members gave comments such as “amazing”, “intense” and “breathtaking”. The instructors at Jet Flight also noted the piloting skill exhibited by some of our cadets and suggested to their parents that they consider flight training when they were older. Our slogan of “Training tomorrow’s pilots today!” never seemed more apt.
Our sincere thanks go to our instructors Brad and Chris, our gracious host Dee and everyone at Jet Flight Simulator Melbourne, all of whom have made us so welcome and have continued to be so supportive of the Australian Air League.
More photos can be seen here.
Sqn Lt. Mike Diamond