The world’s leading flight simulator has landed in London (Putney to be exact) and offers a fun – and very realistic – opportunity to get in front of the controls in an actual Boeing 737 cockpit and see what it’s like to fly a commercial jet airliner.
I booked a session at Flight Experience recently and had such a good time. And even though I was well aware that I was only there for a bit of fun once I was in the pilot’s seat the pressure was on and the simulation felt and looked real.
The state-of-the-art flight simulator was a full-scale repurposed cockpit with high definition 180° panoramic visuals, changeable weather and day/night conditions and augmented sounds and vibrations. You can choose from 24,000 airports to “fly” in or out off.
I choose Heathrow for my 30-minute simulation. I was impressed with the graphics and the “views” of London I got to take in before prepping for my descent. My copilot and instructor, Paul Kendrick (a profession pilot himself and cofounder of Flight Experience London), was brilliant at talking me through all the steps from takeoff to landing, using laypeople speak but (as far as I could tell) not dumbing things down for me.
I’d recommend a Flight Experience simulation to just about anybody – whether you’re wondering if you’d like to pursue a career in air travel, you fly a lot and wonder what’s going on at the front of the plane while you’re in flight, or you’re a big toys and gadgets geek eager to find out how jets work.
Cofounder Nick Taylor (who has more than 30 years of operational and senior management experience in the aviation industry) said that 14 is generally the youngest age they tend to accept for booking simulations. But that age is just a rule of thumb. If you know a child that’s really into planes or dreams of one day being a pilot, it’s worth getting in touch about booking a session.
In addition to simulations for entertainment, Flight Experience runs psychologist-led sessions for people trying to overcome a fear of flying.
Prices start at £109 for a 30-minute “scenic flight” package.
Flight Experience London also operates Groundschool London from the same Putney premises with courses and programs designed to help launch careers in air travel. Options include a Pilot Foundation Course, a Future Pilots Programme, and a variety of foundation courses and more.