Dubai: Ever harboured a dream of flying a jumbo jet? Well, here’s your big chance to give wings to your dream – with a Boeing 737 at your command.
Here’s the deal: You can be a six-year-old or an adult. Pick any city or airport in the world to take off from or land.
The cockpit is a mock-up alright, but it’s the closest you can get to flying a jumbo jet without a licence because the navigation exercise is real and so are the instruments.
Put together in a simulation pit near Reel Cinemas at Dubai Mall, iPilot, the German company behind the concept, offers anyone the chance to take on air turbulence with the help of a licensed pilot.
For up to 60 minutes per session, you get to captain the US-made twin-engine.
The session starts with a few minutes of instructions on how to read and work the flight instruments. Then off you go to do a pilot’s routine – cleared by the air traffic controller, take off, cruise at up 900km/h, fly in extreme weather conditions and land.
“Our simulators are as close to reality as can be, most of the controls are taken from a real plane,” said Ivo Poricky, a trained pilot and one of the onsite flight instructors.
Already a hit with enthusiasts, the simulator is attracting customers of all ages, from those with zero flying experience to seasoned pilots who want to try it.
As you take the captain’s seat, the instructor sits next to you and explains how to get the aircraft ready and control the flaps, stabilisers, adding power for take-off, setting speed, etc.
The sound effects, the view of the “outside” world on LCD screens and the response of instruments to your cockpit manoeuvres all help to create the sensation that you are actually flying a plane.
Peter Fatalski, a middle-aged Australian, thought his desire to fly would remain unfulfilled. “I was curious to know if I could handle a plane in case of a real life emergency,” he said.
Fatalski took a short “flight” from Dubai International’s Terminal 3. After telling passengers to fasten their seat belts, the screen flashed real-life views of the runway and surroundings as he took off.
As the “plane” gained altitude, Dubai’s landscape came into view – the towers, road networks, the sea and the desert. The mode control panel showed the altitude, airspeed and direction, among others – changing numbers.
After cruising for a few minutes, our captain finally landed.
“It was my first experience and I can’t believe I did it. Everyone who ever had a desire to fly should try this. I now have a greater admiration for what a pilot does,” he said.
Poricky said a crash or an emergency are among the most common questions people ask. “This is not a certified training,” Poricky said. “But yes, you would not feel lost once you have had this experience.”
Customers can choose from several options, including a 15-minute flight session. The cost ranges from Dh299 to Dh1,349.