Fly over Dover

  • Published
  • By Airman Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Imagine this - You plant your feet on the pedals and firmly hold the steering wheel. Your stomach feels unsettled and you hesitate from pressing any buttons, knowing the consequences could be devastating. Keep the nose high, the tail low and balancing just enough to keep the plane flying you think, 'Wow, it's like flying a real plane! Except, it is just a game.'

Trent Sewell and Maria Perez, Holy Cross Elementary School fourth graders, had the opportunity to fly and land a C-47 Sky Train using the flight simulator at the Air Mobility Command Museum.

The experience was one the children would not forget, they said.

"I thought it was cool," said Perez. "But it was confusing because you're moving the pedals up and down to move the plane left and right."

Controlling a plane is challenging for those who have never flown before, but anyone can experience what flying a plane would feel like, by visiting the AMC Museum's flight simulator.

"If you can land, then you can fly," said Michael Boyd, AMC Museum volunteer. "People crash because they don't listen to instructions and press random buttons on the steering wheel."

Mr. Boyd is one of the museum's flight instructors trained and qualified to operate the flight simulator software.

He starts the day off with the usual line, 'would you like to fly a plane?' as a curious passerby is drawn in by the mysterious contraption.

Next, the inquisitive person sits in an old seat, taken out of a C-141 Starlifter with rollers hand built into its wooden floor board and waits to steer the simulated C-47.

"All the controls are set up and ready to fly," said Mr. Boyd, "I lower the landing gear, and operate the throttle and flaps while the pilot controls the plane."

Being able to reach the rudder pedals is the only thing that stops people from trying, he said.

Although there are many regulations for becoming a real pilot, anyone can enjoy being a pilot for a day.

"I want to be a pilot and fly for a civilian aircraft company someday," said Sewell.

They both took the challenge to fly and landed safely with ease, agreeing that it was a fun experience - they would definitely want to try flying it again.

To fly and land successfully, pilots use the 'spot view,' allowing one to view the surroundings from behind-the-aircraft.

"It's easier than flying from a cockpit view because you can correct yourself faster and see everything you're doing right or wrong," said Mr. Boyd.

Settings can be changed to just about anything to make the flight more interesting and life-like, said Mr. Boyd. Currently, the program is scheduled for the plane to be in mid-air, ready to land.

There are several control and visual options to choose from, such as the map you would like to fly to even the littlest detail or color on the plane.

"When you fly, you're landing on the actual map of Dover Air Force Base," said Mr. Boyd. "You can also fly to airports around the world, change the time of day, season and weather condition because the program is designed to be as realistic as possible."

Building the simulator became a reality when Dave Doyle, a former flight engineer, mentioned he had a flight simulator at home, said John Taylor, AMC Museum operations manager.

"The museum started to build the project, putting actual models of the planes we have in the museum onto the system so we can fly them," said Mr. Taylor.

As spectators wander around the museum, their attention is drawn from seeing planes on the outside to a pilot's view inside as visitors come, one-by-one, soaring through the sky.

"The simulator is a pretty big deal, it goes well here," said Mr. Taylor. "On a weekly average, we have several people calling the museum and the first thing visitors want to know is, 'can we fly?'"

"Being able to fly and crash planes on the simulator helps those practicing to become pilots learn from their mistakes," said Mr. Doyle.

The simulator is free and available at the AMC Museum Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.