To celebrate the cinema release of Sully earlier this month, DIY were jetted away to a remote location – well, just past Gatwick Airport actually – to experience the joys of flying a plane – in simulator form obviously no one would be mad enough to let us fly an actual plane.
Our exact location for our Sully Flight Simulator experience was out in Crawley, West Sussex where our hosts for the day, Virtual Aviation gave us a crash course in how to fly a plane – quite literally. Virtual Aviation not only deals with the fun side of simulator experiences but within their 5 locations across the UK also specialise in pilot training.
Not only were we privileged to get an inside look and access to an airline training centre but an opportunity to fly a multi-million pound flight simulator normally reserved for training professionals – no pressure then not to push that red button we were told explicitly not to touch – With a professional ex-pilot allocated to our experience we headed inside a replica of what would have been the actual plane Sully would have been flying when he crashed into the Hudson River in 2009 saving the lives of all 155 passengers on board.
The entire simulator experience is ludicrously realistic, from the look of the cockpit, the buttons and dials on display to the actual motion and vibrations you would experience on a real plane. Our first mission was to actually take off – strapping ourselves in after a brief explanation of how to turn the plane, break and which dial we should really be looking at and we were off! This couldn’t be easier – until our ex-pilot handed over controls to us while giving us instructions on what to do next.
Becoming convinced that the assembled journos sat in the backseat waiting their turn had tampered with the weather settings, we hit some turbulence, strong winds in which we weren’t sure we were causing from our nervousness or where part of the experience. Even with the knowledge, this was a simulator and we were safe, it still all felt so real as we spotted the airport on the horizon and headed off to land the plane (whose controls are hypersensitive) with expert precision even if we do say so ourselves.
Huge thanks to everyone down at Virtual Aviation for such a welcoming and fun experience.
Sully is in cinemas now.