The plane’s going to Chicago, the pilot’s going to New York the passengers are going to pieces was a memorable tagline for the 1980 spoof movie Airplane but thankfully it didn’t apply to my husband’s participation at Flight Experience!
Flight Experience is in Northbridge and features a Boeing 737 simulator, which is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority for pilot training. It is, however, mainly used for a fun experience.
Would-be pilots are given a 15-minute pre-flight briefing detailing the bewildering array of instruments in the flight control area before being let loose in the cockpit. Passengers are allowed to sit behind the pilot and instructor.
There are many airports to choose from although Flight Experience has a list of favourites including the old Hong Kong Airport.
But before trying out the infamous Kai Tek runway, my husband opted for landing at Changi in Singapore. He had control over the yoke, thrusters, landing gear, brakes and taxiing on the runway. The instructor, who sits in the right-hand seat, helps the budding pilots to turn at the correct time and gives timely reminders regarding the altimeter (height of the plane above ground) and the vertical speed indicator. The pilot keeps a wary eye on the gyroscope that indicates whether or not the plane is flying level and straight.
In the Singapore terrain simulation, my husband did several circuits of the airport to gain familiarity with the instruments before doing a ‘touch and go’ landing and then a full landing and take-off. This procedure was repeated for all three chosen airports. Different environments are available for landing, including a night-time landing and landing in cloudy or rainy conditions.
After successfully completing the Changi challenge, our 737 then took off from the new Hong Kong airport at Chek Lap Kok to land at Kai Tek. This old airport closed in 1998 but was well known for its runway approaches that skimmed the Hong Kong high-rise buildings. I can remember coming into land there in the early 1990s and thinking that I could almost reach out and touch the washing hanging on balconies!
So watching my husband navigating his way through the skyscrapers was definitely a special moment, albeit a virtual one. Another item of interest was Checkerboard Hill, which is on the edge of Kowloon. A checkerboard pattern was painted on the hillside as a reference point for pilots to turn right on the final runway approach.
After the excitement of powering over the rooftops in Hong Kong, my husband then turned his attention to the mountainous approach to Queenstown in New Zealand.
Again we had a very interesting circuit of the nearby terrain before landing at the popular resort town’s airport. However this time things didn’t go quite as smoothly – suffice to say that had we landed in real-time instead of virtually, the sheep on the hillside would not have escaped unscathed!
The whole 90 minute Flight Experience, a birthday gift, was excellent. From the friendly receptionist to the full briefing and the flights themselves – it is a very professional experience. My husband thoroughly enjoyed being Captain for the day. The passengers (three friends as well as me) had fun and especially enjoyed the crash landing but some time for duty-free shopping in Singapore or Hong Kong would also have been appreciated!
Junior Jets (12 years and under) – 20 minutes – $79
30 minutes – $195
45 minutes – $245
60 minutes – $295
90 minutes – $395
Address: 355 Newcastle Street, Northbridge, Perth
Phone: 08 9228 8737
Opening hours: Closed Sunday and Monday. Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Entertainment Book: No
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