Taking a ride on a 747 Simulator

Taking a ride on a 747 Simulator

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Megan and I wanted to share with you the experience we shared Sunday. Through a close friend of Megan’s we were invited to visit ALTEON, a Boeing Company that has a flight simulator that pilots use to train on the 747s, the 200 series which is like Air force One except that it didn’t have the defense gadgets. We were introduced to Edgar Smiley, retired flight engineer who currently supervises the use of the simulator. We were told that use of the simulator ranges $450 an hour plus.

Read on for the whole story and then check out the 2005.11.17 – 747 Sim gallery.


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When we arrived the simulator was in use by a pilot brushing up on a flight he had scheduled to LAX. When we entered what we saw was basically a box on 6 hydraulic cylinders that responded to the crew’s input and the weather conditions that were programmed into the simulator’s computers. The audio outside and inside the simulator while not as loud as the real thing was realistic.

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Our simulation was a night time departure from Louisville off a northbound runway. Skies were clear, the stars were out and you could see the lights outlining downtown Louisville. For each of us take off was a breeze. We headed North following 65 for about 10 miles then to the West for about 10 miles and then on to the South. At about 15 miles to the Southwest of Louisville we swung back to the East until such time we would turn back to the North lining up with SDF’s runway for final descent and landing ( I hoped).

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Optimum bank angle was 30 degrees and yes I somewhat knife edged a couple of times(surprise surprise) but not severely and was able to recover without too much altitude lost. Although the passengers probably lost their lunch. I being first up was delighted with a good flight and a landing where life and limb was spared. I did however tear up a lot of green earth between runways by the time I had finally stopped. Edgar did say I left an impression on the runway on initial touchdown. My second flight no big deal. squarely lined up on the runway at touch down blistering through so fast that I didn’t stop until I skated thru all the lanes on the Waterson and destroyed the plane and all the passengers. Oops!!!

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Megan’s flight was smooth and easy and nothing eventful on the first flight. She landed on the runway just about picture perfect. The second flight? Well as she cart wheeled wing tip over wing tip down the runway I thought the simulator was going to burst into flames. Wasn’t pretty. Thank God it was a simulator!!!

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Despite it’s being a simulator it was all too real. You got caught up in the realism as the feedback from the yoke, and the lights, gauges, the sounds the sense of urgency to correct and then your over correcting. My favorite was “Sink Rate, Sink rate” and “Pull Up – Pull Up”
There was stress involved.

I remember Edgar saying this plane was set up perfectly and that it was all up to the crew as to how well it performed and that energy management was key to a successful flight. Hmm…Sounds familiar.

I am hoping that sometime, probably months out that perhaps we can bring a guest or three out to try their hand.

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