Dubai: Soaring across the Dubai skyline in an Airbus A380 has always been a pipe dream of mine. And as I sit next to two of Emirates' most experienced pilots at the controls and watch us bank effortlessly past the Burj Dubai, the kid in me can only beam with happiness.
But shortly after this brief moment of euphoria, the door opens and an Emirates staff member walks into the flight simulator.
But it's not a wasted experience. Apart from checking out all the new gadgets and gizmos in the cockpit of this mammoth new aircraft, I caught up with Captains Abbas Shaaban and Patrick De Roek, who will be flying the first A380 from Hamburg to Dubai on Tuesday.
Gulf News: What, for you, is the most enjoyable part of flying this aircraft?
Captain Shaaban: It has to be the feeling of flying the biggest airliner in the world - that's a thrill for me. She is just beautiful. She's stable, she has responsive engines - very smooth, and great to fly.
Gulf News: This aircraft is regarded as the most technologically advanced to date. Can you tell us a bit about the training process?
Captain De Roek: It's pretty straight-forward. The A380 is part of the Airbus fly-by-wire family. The manufacturer has kept the same philosophy and architecture in terms of flying and operating the airplane. We have the advantage of tapping into some highly experienced A330 and A340 pilots who only need a transition course for the A380. We will have around 100 pilots flying A380s in the first year of operations.
Gulf News: What is it about these aircraft that got you interested in the project?
Captain De Roek: Well, of course it's a culmination of many years working on the project and then being able to fly the aircraft. The A380 is pushing the boundaries in terms of efficiency; from the use of materials, the amount of fuel burned per passenger and noise reduction, both inside and outside the aircraft. These are real achievements for such a huge aircraft and to be part of this project is really a privilege and a pleasure.
What will be going through your mind when you take off from Hamburg in a few days time?
Captain Abbas Shaaban: It's really a historic moment to be taking off from Hamburg on this delivery flight. My main objective is to hope everything is going to go right. We'll try our very best to make it as smooth as possible for our guests. That is what I'm hoping - for everything to go right.