This past week has been really unique in so many ways. It started with a private event with much of the Delta SkyMiles team, followed by the Travel Executive Summit that I had never been to and then Delta hosted the Freddie awards at the Delta Flight Museum in grand fashion.
But none of these held a candle to the inner AVgeek inside me that had a chance to live a dream to fly a Delta 747. A friend, the outstanding Capt. Hank from Delta, told me he may have some time at the end of the day to give me a few minutes in a “sim”. It did not look like it was going to work, but at the last moment I got a text it would and so I UBER‘ed over to Virginia Ave. as quickly as I could.
Delta has a bunch of simulators at the corporate offices. They train, not just Delta folks, but others use these as well. They even have an old 737 one at the Delta Flight Museum that you can try for $400 / hour / max 4 people.
I had a few minutes all alone in the best seat on any jet, 0A with Hank sitting in as my copilot. Yeah, I had goose bumps.
So where did we take off and land from? A friend told me I should have asked for NRT or Narita, Japan, I would have asked for SXM at Princess Juliana in Saint Maarten, but I was not about to make any kind of special requests! It was honestly really fitting and FUN to take off and land from ATL or Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson considering how many hundreds of times I have been in back from the ATL!
The 747 is a dream to fly. So much of the throttles and more are automatically handled by the flight computers. Hank walked me through much of what I was seeing on the displays and how to sight ahead and glance down now and then to make corrections.
We came around and lined up for my first landing. Oh boy. How would I do. I really did not want to crash this puppy!
Now for some background I have some “real” time in the air. About 20 flight hours to be exact. I have flown small prop planes a number of times and a number of landings (just no solo flights). But this is not the same at all.
I was instructed on each step along the way and what would be called out to me and at 50 feet to “flare” the jet or softly pull back on the yolk at landing. The first landing I pulled back a little to hard and floated it a bit and then landed safely and proceeded to get my rudders backwards and drove right off into the grass. Oooppssseeee. The next two landing were much better and the last one Hank was nice enough to say it was “as good as any of his landings” ( I think he was just being nice).
This really was more fun than I can express in words. So many of us love to fly and love all things of the jet age and to “really” fly a 747 would be a dream come true. This was as close as I will ever get. Thank you Capt. Hank! – René
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