So here is my trip report which takes place from the left seat rather then a back seat. I went down to Alteon in Long Beach on Sunday and took an hour long flight in their 717 full motion flight sim. One word to describe the experience is unbelievable. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. Here is a recount of the trip. (Please be kind, this is my first trip report. Also photos will follow as soon as I find my misplaced USB cable for my digital camera)
I arrived down at Alteon at 8:00 am with my friend Jerry. Mike, (or Midnight Mike as he is known here) met us at the front door and took us on a tour of the facility first. He showed us several rooms that had two dimensional displays of different cockpits for training, a room with cabin trainers for the MD
-80 and MD
-11, and a room with a fully functional stationary MD
-11 cockpit. Then we went in to a very large room that housed four different sims. There was a 737-200 sim, a 737-700 sim, and two different MD
-80 sims, one 87 and one 88 I think. (That I am a little hazy on). Mike let us walk into each sim and have a look around and even take pictures in them.
From there it was off to the building which houses the MD
-11 and 717 simulators. We arrived at the 717 sim and met our instructor Eldon Chambers, a really cool guy who used to fly B-52's, B-1's, B-2's, KC
-10's and KC
-135's just to name a few a/c. The stories I bet he can tell. After introductions I took the left seat, Jerry took the right and Eldon sat behind us manipulating the computers to add different effects, etc. We started at the gates at LGB
. From there I taxied over to runway 30 via taxiway Charlie and lined up on the runway. The minute that a pushed the throttles forward and the plane slowly broke away it felt so unbelievably real. The undulations while taxing on the pavement, the rocking back and forth, it was weird how you really just felt like you were moving in a real plane. Eldon gave me a few little tips before I applied takeoff power and we were off. He called my V1, V2
and rotate speeds which were 125 kt, 138 kt, and 143 kt. My fear all along had been that once we started to rocket down the runway I wouldn’t be able to steer too well with the pedals however I was able to keep it on the centerline and we climbed out to 3000 feet. It was during the climb and level off that I discovered the primary importance of pitch. You really fight the yoke if you don’t keep the pitch correct. Anyway, we flew around the area for a little while and then flew back to LGB
and I executed a smooth ILS landing on runway 30.
We set up again at the end of the runway and this time took off and headed for Catalina Island. Once over the island Eldon had me stall the plane and then recover from it. That was awesome. The stick shaker went crazy and we heard the stall warning and then I simply applied full thrust and nosed down a bit and she came right out of the stall. You could really feel it in the plane which was amazing. From there we headed over to LAX
to land on runway 7R. Eldon changed the weather and put me in the soup, my ceiling was 500 feet. I followed the glide slope and about 2 miles out he told me that I was going to do a touch and go, which in a 717 sounded like a lot of fun. I touched down about 1500 feet down the runway and gave it full power again we were up in the air about 3000 feet later. This is where Eldon decided to throw me some curve balls.
He said I was handling stuff to well which was a nice compliment even if he was just being nice to a rook like myself with no real skill, so he intensified the weather and told me to head back to LAX
to land on 24R. Then he added heavy chop. Then some hail. Still I was going along fine, we were at 3000 feet and on the downwind at 230 knots. I made the turn for final and began to line up for landing. Next thing I knew an engine fire light was on and my number 2 engine was lit up. I shut her down with the help of Eldon (because I had no idea of what the correct procedure was) and we continued into 24R. I really had to mash on the pedals to keep the plane from slipping too much and I was really working hard. Jerry took care of my flaps and gear and we came on in. Over the threshold everything was good, but then...then I bought it. We hit pretty smooth considering I had an engine out and I had, uh..35 minutes on the type
but as my front bogey came down I headed left into the grass and boom we were done. We all had a chuckle and decided I would try it again. First of course I made an announcement over the PA explaining our rather rough landing and promptly blamed it on my FO. (Just kidding) I took off from LAX
and headed for LGB
again. Once we were about 10 miles from touchdown Eldon shut down number 2 and I again began to maneuver. This time I was able to intersect the glide slope and follow it all the way in and touched down and brought her to a stop with no problem.. I was very proud of myself and it was there at LGB
that we taxied in and I ended my time in the 717.
Eldon showed me the computer analysis of my last approach which shows how far on or off course and altitude one is, I maintained almost a perfect route all the way in sans one moment where I dropped 100 feet below the glide slope. We headed back over to the main building where Mike was waiting. He gave me a gift bag that had lots of great a/c photos in it and two really beautiful posters, one of the 777 family and one of a 767-400 for Jerry. Jerry is going to hang it in his office on the sitcom we work on together. It also had some booklets with all the Boeing a/c info in them and some 717 stickers. I even received a certificate stating my completion of the flight sim training which I thought was a really nice touch.
I thanked Eldon for taking us flying and he was off to take someone else on their dream flight and Mike showed us a few more things before we left. I got to see some really great models of DC-8's, a DC-10, MD
-11, and MD
-80. I offered to buy them like I am sure every other person says when they see them. We also went over and checked out the MD
-11 sim (my next flight will be in that) and even got to go back to the main room with all the other sims, and take some more pictures.
After that we headed out back to our apartments in LA
. So I gotta say that this was the most amazing experience. For $150 you get to fly for “1" hour and you get a tour of a really amazing place. Mike and Eldon were both fantastic guys and the experience couldn’t have been any better. Anyone who lives in the LA
area or has the chance to get here really needs to take advantage of this offer. For all of us plane geeks that don’t actually become airline pilots it is simply an irreplaceable experience. I am already planning my next trip, this time on the MD
-11. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I will add some pics as soon as a can.