Since 1982 when they first entered service, 767s have flown more than 16.2 million flights, and have carried millions of passengers. It is the favorite airplane on Atlantic routes, and flies across the Atlantic more frequently than any other airplane. I have flown in them many times, but have never flown one, well, not until now.
The nice thing was that I took off, cruised for a while, and landed without even leaving the ground, thanks to United Airlines’ flight simulation machine. My friend, Jim won this experience for four people at an auction months ago, and invited me to experience this with him.
I can honestly say that I will never look at airline travel the same ever again. We learned a lot of the basics, and Jim even got to fly and land a plane in a storm with a defunct engine. The simulator was so realistic that one bad move would have us all shaking, and warning sounds and lights would alert us to various dangers and what I called RBF (Really Bad Flying). It was so realistic that I was half expecting a flight attendant to come in and offer us our choice of entree.
About three hours later I boarded my actual flight from Denver to Chicago, and as I passed the cockpit of the small regional jet, I have to admit I kind of scoffed, looking at the handful of controls, compared to what I had just experienced. Before this day, as a plane took off I would think “ah, we are on our way.” But not now. No, now as we were taking off my first thought was, “wow, what a nice rate of climb”.
Of course the reality is that a plane’s automatic pilot does a large percentage of the flying these days, but I like to think that if anything amiss happened, I would be able to step in and land us safely. As long as the plane had a big parachute… and we were landing onto a huge piece of foam… and it was all some kind of dream sequence.