Back in a Boeing

Perth in Scotland. A snapshot of a normal residential area. Normal people, living normal lives, with normal jobs and normal worries. But as always, scratch the surface and you can find some remarkable stuff.

Take this picture (courtesy of Google or Bing Maps, can’t remember)… somewhere in this picture is a typical suburban house with garage owned by a normal chap. By day he’s an automotive electrical engineer, by night he’s the caped crusader, fighting crime and injustice wherever it is to be found.

No he’s not a comic book action character, but he has achieved something remarkable. You may be thinking this is one of those “…built an aeroplane in his garage…” type things, but he doesn’t even fly real aircraft.

What he has done is take computer flight simulation to a whole new level by building a Boeing 737-800 simulator in his garage. Here’s the flight deck:

…and the view out the windows showing Stand 1A at Edinburgh Airport:

Ryanair parked on the stand next to us. It looks a little distorted from the camera position but when you are in the seat and your eyes are in the right spot it looks totally realistic…

Everything works. It’s just as lifelike as some of the sims I used to get tested in, even though it’s a fixed base unit and has no motion. Your brain soon forgets and fills in the feelings of movement from the visual cues and the instruments. Here’s me, back in the First Officer’s seat of a Boeing, taxiing out to runway 24 at Edinburgh for a flight to Luton. I flew the 757 and 767 back in the day, but the Boeing philosophies transfer from one type to another so I very quickly felt at home:

On the way down to Luton it was going quite nicely so just to liven things up we requested a minor emergency. The right engine promptly burst into flames.

A barely remembered Boeing engine fire drill from almost 20 years ago seemed to work, and the fire went out after about 45 seconds, just as I was getting ready to fire the second fire extinguisher bottle. We then diverted to Manchester, and due to the magic of the internet, the weather was the same as the actual weather at the time…this meant that I had painted myself into a corner with a 25kt crosswind for my first ever 737 landing, with one engine inop and a randomly guessed flap setting. It seemed to go OK but I don’t think Mr O’Leary will be calling me to fly one of his 737s any time soon.

I then swapped seats while the aircraft was repositioned instantly to Pula in Croatia where the weather was a lot nicer:

With all my massive 737 experience I was now promoted to training captain and Euan jumped in the right hand seat. His Dad built and flies an RV6A from Perth and took this pic:

Euan flew the take off, climbed out and leveled at 2500ft over the Adriatic. He then turned downwind and positioned for a landing on the runway we had just departed. A nicely flown approach and landing rounded off his introduction to the 737. Dad Ian said “this could be expensive!” as he contemplated the cost of commercial pilot training.

It then turns out that Euan has never flown with his Dad, maybe never flown at all. He was a natural. Kids these days eh?

A simulator in the garage…I want one.