Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flying a Jet Plane

This past weekend my parents, Andrew and I had a chance to fly a Boeing 767 jet. Not to worry though, you won't have to be looking out for us on your next flight! It was actually in one of Boeing's simulators.

My aunt raises Guide Dogs for the Blind and every year my parents go to the charity auction. At the last one my mom won the raffle to pick out any one of the items available that she wanted before the auction started. She ended up picking 4 passes for the simulator.

We went to one of the Boeing buildings in Renton and were escorted into the building, name badges and all, and taken to like a giant room that had 6 or 7 simulators on each side. It was kind of like a warehouse really. Now, keep in mind that these things cost between $15-20 million a piece. There's a bit of money sitting in that room. They are the ones the pilots learn to fly on so that's pretty neat.

We were all supposed to be able to fly once, so we got into the simulator with the instructor and off we went. It's hard to explain what it looks like, but similar to a giant egg I suppose. It sits up on hydraulics and there is a ramp that's lowered to walk across to it. Once inside it's just like a cockpit expect there are 3 extra seats in the back for onlookers.

Andrew went first and did very well. He flew around Seattle and did a flyby of the Space Needle. It's amazing all the controls that are up there, it's an exact replica of a real plane. The computer animations were amazing as well. Where the windows are were screens that showed in real time exactly where you were going. From the runway, all around Seattle and back. He landed very well too!

My dad went next and by this time my mom and I decided we were going to chicken out and let the boys go twice. I was getting a little sea sick! The simulator makes it feel so real and moves like the plane does. Even going down the runway feels like you're actually doing it and has the little bumps that you would feel if you were taxiing (not sure how to spell that...) down the runway.

Anyways, my dad was in the Air Force for a while so was sort of familiar with the controls and such so did well too. His landing was a but rougher, but neither one of them crashed! After my mom and I decided to let the guys go again the instructor put us at the San Francisco airport. Andrew went first again and he got to fly under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was crazy! When my dad went in SF he got to fly through a hanger which was also pretty weird!

Overall, it was pretty fun and no one crashed so that was a plus! My mom asked the instructor and he said they could simulate just about everything. Even something like the crash on the Hudson can be simulated. Turbulence, thunderstorms, just about anything you could think of. I was happy to get off though, I will admit. It didn't make me any more excited to get on the plane to Hawaii. Not looking too forward to that!

1 comment:

  1. Dianna - Our nonprofit advocates for state funding for new parks and public lands in WA. We're adding a small live auction to a fundraiser we're organizing. We're trying to find out how much the simulator goes for without asking our Boeing contact in case we don't have room for it. Would you be willing to ask your parents how much they bought it for? I'd ask the charity directly, but it can be hard to track down this kind of info.