I wasn’t really all that thrilled to see the Malaysia airlines flight simulator on our Discover Malaysia itinerary.
I have flown on hundreds of planes so was unsure why I would want to fly a plane again in a flight simulator.
I love those travel experiences you have when you are not expecting much, but it turns out to be AMAZING.
I didn’t realize we’d actually be flying the plane. You might think it doesn’t sound so thrilling because you’re really only pretending to fly a plane, but trust me it is!
I now cannot board a flight without exclaiming my cleverness, “Hey! I flew a plane once.”
We split into groups for the flight simulator experience. Bern, Ant and I entered the first simulator and I was thrown in the pilot’s seat for take-off.
I have written before about my fear of flying. I loathe taking off in an aeroplane; every single time I convince myself that the plane is going to fall back down again. (I have crazy thoughts while flying)
Now I was in control of making sure the plane would not fall out of the sky.
We went through the safety checks, the control tower gave their commands, and my Malaysia airlines co-pilot began firing off instructions to me, to which my inner voice responded with,
“Mate, I’m not really a pilot; I don’t know what you are talking about.”
We must have managed to communicate something because I was driving out to the runway and then stopping to let other planes land.
I wanted to ask my co-pilot why we had to wait for the plane to land because there really wasn’t a plane there.
“Can’t we just start the fun please?”
Flying is not about the fun, it’s about the safety. Everything in the flight simulator has to be exactly as it would be in real life. So we stayed put until the other plane safely landed and the runway was clear.
All pilots go through rigorous training and testing in the flight simulators, each time they are thrown unknown circumstances to deal with.
The flight simulator can bring up any airport in the world to fly in and out of, and it can throw any kind of weather condition, from storms to clear skies, to turbulence and fog so thick you can not even see the runway approaching.
Every six months the pilots must return to pass the test again and if they don’t they are taken out of the planes for more training and testing until they do.
I started to sweat and shake when it came time to get on the runway and take off. Just like the real thing. I felt intense pressure build up around me to get it right. One mistake and we’d be brown bread.
We got the countdown and then we were off tearing down the runway at real-plane-taking-off speeds. I got the nod from my co-pilot, pulled back onto the steering wheel and took her up! Wahoo.
Did you just see that? I flew a plane!!
The steering wheel, heavy and stiff in my hand made it hard to hold and direct. A little square on the screen blinked on one of the many screens in front of me which I had to keep on the horizon line. If I didn’t the plane would nose dive down or soar too high, depending, or bank too far to the left or right.
Lucky my expert co-pilot knew hot to take control back when I lost it.
We flew around and around over fields and different landforms and soon it got to be lots of fun. My co-pilot continued with his flying jargon and playing with all the controls trying to teach me all what they were and what they meant. In one ear out the other.
Who cared? I was flying a plane!!
We threw the plane into cruise control and switched pilots. Ant jumped in and decided that since we were in a flight simulator it was time to discover what it felt like to crash a plane.
Bern and I were busy chatting while he was getting ready to land the plane and suddenly we all banked sharply to the left, squealing “Oh My God we’re going to crash.”
The plane swerved back and forth and began rolling before we crashed into a field. Yep, being in a plane crash is scary.
Our co-pilot did not laugh and put Ant immediately back up in the air to try again and land us safely. Both Bern and Ant had a turn to land the plane.
Our instructor’s advice was the simple mantra “Precision is essential.”
The only time pilots really steer and control the plane now is on landing and take-off, the rest is cruise control, so the landing has to be bang on.
Why was it take off that always worried me then?
The flight simulator really gave me a sense of just how safe flying is and how strictly safety procedures are adhered to. I think it actually helped to alleviate my flying fears.
I still feel a little apprehension, but now when the plane taxis on down I just whisper to myself,
“You’ve got this girl. You flew a plane once before remember. Piece of cake.”
I know how safe it is now to put a plane up in the sky and that it was not going to come back crashing down….
Unless Ant is the pilot.
Would you like to fly a plane?
Or would you perhaps already be a pilot?
Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored by Malaysian Airlines and Tourism Malaysia