Step inside a flight simulator centre open day

 In Member Articles, News

BWPA South Region Representative and easyJet Captain Lisa recently had the opportunity to show her daughter what a day in the life of a commercial airline pilot looks like…

As an airline pilot, it is rare that I get to show my friends and family my workplace and my job, but when easyJet decided to open up our simulator centres for a weekend of visits, I jumped at the chance to take my nine-year-old daughter Clara onto the flight deck. She was just as excited to see what Mummy does as I was to show her.

After a short briefing, we headed into the simulator. Our training centre close to Gatwick Airport houses a number of state-of-the-art full flight simulators which we pilots use twice yearly to refresh and finesse our skills and procedures, as well as rehearse emergency scenarios. Today, however, was just for fun. My daughter decided she would like to fly from Jersey as we’d been there on holiday, so after a few quick screen selections Chief Training Captain Mark, who operated the simulator for us, had us sat at the end of runway 27 in Jersey. This is one of the shorter runways we operate to, I hasten to add! Given the choice of seats, Clara elected to fly from the Captain’s seat (well, why not?). And so with Mummy relegated to the First Officer’s side, we took off and flew around the island to show her how the Airbus 320 handled and the basic effects of controls. Then it was her turn to try her hand at flying a commercial jet. The Airbus is fly-by-wire and so very light on the controls, not requiring great physical strength, and Clara did a great job following Mark’s instructions as we carried out some general handling.

Lisa and her daughter in the sim

To show the versatility of the simulator (and because she wanted to), the simulator was then repositioned over the Alps and she saw how we can easily change conditions from day to night, plus alter the weather. After our Alpine sightseeing, Clara wanted to have a go at landings and so the simulator was again repositioned, this time on approach to Gatwick’s runway 26L. I hopped into the simulator instructor’s seat and Mark sat into the First Officer’s, so he could talk Clara through and help her with the approach and landing plus a go-around. I have to say, given that she had never flown before, she did a pretty good job – maybe it helps having parents who are both pilots! I got great joy from seeing my daughter enjoying herself and the sense of achievement she gained from having landed a plane.

It’s not often you can respond to “what did you do over the holidays?” with “I flew an Airbus!” so I hope this open day opportunity has encouraged the next generation of fliers to take to the skies.

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