Friday, 23 November 2012

Get yourself off to a flying start

Anyone who has ever watched Top Gun will have imagined (at least in their heads) that the planet will never be safe until their flying skills have been put to the test. 

Let’s face it, the Red Arrows would have nothing on us if we were to get behind the control yoke of a plane. I mean, our driving skills are already the envy of the roads, so just think what would happen if the cockpit was under our command…

If these thoughts have ever entered your mind, I have just the thing for you. British Airways (BA) is now offering flight training sessions in its multi-million pound, full motion Boeing or Airbus flight simulators. These simulators aren't like the ones you get a funfairs (although those can be fun too); these capsules are normally used to train professional pilots before they get to do the real thing.

It’s a bit dearer that a driving lesson, but imagine the rush you’ll get as you learn the skills that would make Maverick, Goose and the rest of the Top Gun crew stand to attention. You can take part in the training alone, take a friend along, or even arrange a corporate session for you and your workmates. The best part is, absolutely no experience is required. All you need is a passport to get through security and a reasonably clear bill of health, and the sky’s the limit.

Step one is a 30-minute pre-flight briefing in the Ground School, which will give you a detailed overview of the flight deck instruments, controls and systems. Once that’s over you actually get to press the buttons for yourself! In fact, you will be at the controls throughout the whole process, from take-off to touchdown, and all of the action takes place under the instruction of a fully trained BA pilot. The stunning visual effects, surround sound and advanced hydraulic motion systems will work together to convince you that you’re actually flying the plane.

If it’s a corporate session you’re after, various packages are available, with the potential for up to 24 colleagues to get involved. BA offers flight simulators and cabin simulators as well as conference and banqueting facilities for small or large groups. You may have been to team-building sessions with the work crew in the past, but this will blow all your other bonding experiences out of the… sky.

Corporate prices range from around £1,400 to £6,600, with flight times ranging from 30 to 60 minutes per guest. For this fair sum you get hands on experience, guidance from a proper BA pilot, refreshments and private room hire and, in some cases, additional cabin safety training. Providing your pilot agrees, you can even take pictures of the action to post on the work noticeboard.

Personal flight prices range from £399 for an hour’s session to £1,347 for a three-hour. If you’re stuck for gift ideas for the dad, brother or best mate who seems to have it all, nothing says Happy Birthday like an hour flying a Boeing 737. It could even win you a few brownie points with the father-in-law; especially if you go along for the ride. That way you get to fulfil your own flying dreams and make him a happy man at the same time. Heck, you could even hire the uniform and really get into character. Female flight attendants beware!

Read more from Joy in the upcoming edition of Sorted magazine, out soon.


  1. Ummm. I'll stick to Microsoft Flight Simulator ... much cheaper! (I'm just jealous as it sounds like really cool fun!)

    1. You could drop some major hints around the house - or write to Santa? ;)