Our day in Dallas as part of the OneWorld MegaDO started early with a full breakfast buffet at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport. The meal was outstanding and plentiful and most of the attendees made it although early as we had a full day at the C.R.Smith Museum and American Airlines Flight Academy. It was my big day. I’d be flying a Boeing 737-800 series simulator. In essence a 10 million dollar video game. Upon arrival at the venue the 160+ of us attendees were divided into smaller groups with friendly, helpful, courteous, and fun employees. This was not the phony glad to have you with us, but American was thrilled and all of us felt the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff. One sober moment was passing the memorial garden dedicated to those AA family members lost on 911. I took a moment to remember the sacrifice of those the AA family lost on behalf of all of us. I’m glad I had a chance to remember.The operations center was full of computers and work stations as you saw from my tweets, Yes, Mommy Points and the Points Guy taught me how
I’d seen the Chicago operations center on a previous UA tour but found this to be much more complex as it entailed worldwide operations. It was then off to the simulator.Some of us were pulled aside to fly the simulator. I was second of the three attendees in this particular simulator and felt relatively confident I could handle the task at hand after watching my buddy Geoff bounce it in before me. The simulation is amazing visually and the added feature of synchronized motion makes it feel as real as possible without burning jet fuel. I took off from an unknown field and shortly found myself climbing to 4,000 feet above San Francisco Bay. The weather was clear and I was flying at dusk, although with just the push of a few buttons it could have easily been night time, foggy, raining, or whatever the instructor wanted. I did not have any issues keeping the aircraft indicator at the proper elevation or on course but the back pressure on the yoke was severe and I had to adjust the trim to ease my efforts on the controls.
After several minutes in flight we reprogrammed for landing and made it safely through a visual approach with the assistance of the instructor with power, flaps, and landing gear. I must admit a little over steering just prior to touchdown, and I missed the center-line by a few feet, but I greased the landing. It was so good I could hear you all cheering from the back of the plane. I gave myself a solid B for keeping us on course, altitude and the approach, an A on touchdown, and a C for the wing wobble close to the runway. We walked away so it was all a success.
The rest of the day was spent is smoke filled cabins, sliding down evacuation slides and operating the exit doors. I watched some of the gang struggle to board the life raft in calm conditions of the swimming pool. God save us all in 6 foot seas, freezing cold water and under true hazordous conditions.
The whole day was a lifetime experience and the simulator for this aviation geek and my charity bid of $205 to the Susan B Komen Foundation for the opportunity was well spent in more than one way.
Rick Ingersoll is one of the world’s experts on frugal travel and flying free and the author of The Frugal Travel Guy Handbook. A retired mortgage banker from Traverse City, Michigan, he has retired to Hilton Head Island,... All Articles
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