Taking off and landing at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport is an experience to remember and it’s fun to try it on a Boeing 737 flight simulator.
I push the thrust levers to full power and the Boeing 737 jetliner rolls down the runway. As we gain speed, the thrill of flying sends a shot of adrenalin coursing through my veins.
It takes all my concentration to keep the jetliner in the centre of the runway by applying even pressure on the touchy rudder pedals.
My instructor, experienced pilot, Perbender Hayer, throws instructions at me: V1, rotate and maintain 136 degrees, raise the undercarriage and flaps.
Finally, we’re in the air and climbing to our assigned altitude of 3,000 feet.
Boeing 737 flight simulator
I’m in the captain’s seat of a Boeing 737 flight simulator at Flight Experience.
The cockpit is a realistic simulator based on the Boeing 737-800NG and has CAA and CASA certification to do up to half of an instrument rating, as well as a number of instrument flying currency credits.
This means it can be used for pilots to accrue flight time and receive instrument flight training.
You don’t need any flying experience to have a good time on the simulator. The instructors are trained to work with everyone from complete beginners to experienced pilots.
Choice of airports
Before takeoff, the most important part of the experience is the pre-flight checks, which Hayer steers me through. From a choice of 22,000 airports around the world, I choose one of the most difficult airports to land at.
In control of the simulator, I bank the aircraft to the right to pick up the approach path to Kai Tak, following the strobe lights over Kowloon.
As I head for runway 31, the 180-degree external visuals of buildings and mountains make the whole experience all the more realistic.
These images bring back memories of my previous jump seat landing experience where the rooftops of Kowloon and nearby mountains seemed frighteningly close to the aircraft.
With only one runway, which jutted out into Victoria Harbour, and the closeness of the buildings and mountains to the landing approach, Kai Tak was considered one of the world’s most difficult landings to attempt in bad weather.
As we turn onto final approach I commence the landing check list, power back to idle and lower the flaps. Hayer instructs me as to the correct flap settings and reminds me to dial in the landing speed of 146 knots.
The recorded voice of an air traffic controller confirms Flight Experience 556 is cleared to land.
As we approach the runway threshold, I raise the nose and on touchdown apply the reverse thrust and brakes to bring us to a safe stop.
Only then do I realise I’m bathed in perspiration and have been holding my breath since we commenced our descent. It’s an exhilarating experience I’d highly recommend to anyone interested in flying.
Flight Experience is available in several countries around the world.