Busy Day

Yesterday wound up being quite a busy day. I spent some time in the morning racing Nykolai in Burnout with smash competitions and trying to clock best time in a champ car. From there it was a walk down to Carlisle St to get food to make for dinner then lug it all home.

Once home I headed over to Reservoir so I could drop off AG’s extremely cool “oil can guitar” that he’d picked up in South Africa. An amazing piece of work where the body is literally an old oil can with wood neck, hand made pickups and controls. From there we drove over to Brunswick East to pick up AG’s car that had been sitting under a tree for months while he was overseas. Clearing off the collection of possum poo, cobwebs and leaves was the least of the problems. Battery was dead (jump started from my car) and brake fluid was very low, but we got it running and ready to go.

Not long after getting home I got a call from Carlo to see if I wanted to come down to his Flight Experience store and spend some time in their 737-800 simulator. How could I refuse that? So, after dinner it was off to the city and 3 hours in the cockpit flying into and out of airports around the world.

Another busy, happy Saturday but not much time for rest today either: I’m about to head off to Queen Victoria Markets to do the week’s shopping then we have lunch with Kitt’s brother. Maybe some down time will be possible this arvo? Maybe?

Aviation Weekend

This weekend has been a busy aviation weekend, that’s for sure. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon and evening attending the VATSIM Oceania 2007 Convention out at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne airport. The conference is all about operating flight simulators, ATC simulators and the whole “online experience” that people get these days. Amazing stuff.

I went out there with Carlo as a representative of his Flight Experience operation here in Melbourne. He was presenting there so we caught a few others in the agenda and then stayed for the dinner. Between the end of the conference and the dinner, we shot over to the airport for a couple of drinks while watching the aircraft come & go. While there we caught Virgin’s new Embraer E-170 jet come in and park – it’s doing flights around the country to train pilots, cabin crew and ground staff on the specifics of its operation.

On the Sunday I went out the Yarra Valley for a day’s crew training with Balloon Sunrise. We spent some time reviewing the crew procedures manual, then had some pizza for lunch and ended up taking a balloon out to a field so we could rig it, inflate it and deflate it, all without the pressure of commercial operations. The idea was that we could take the time to discuss what was being done at each step and review important issues, etc. Much easier to do in the daylight without passengers and with heaps of time to review, etc. It’s an idea that Rob’s been trying to get happening for a while now and it really did work well.

Of course, we wound up attracting a few people who thought we were going to launch. Not likely – it was getting rather unpredictable with winds puffing all around the place. The joys of a mid-afternoon inflate :)

Training inside the balloon
In the R44 After lunch and while the others were taking the balloon out to set it up, Peter took Marlon & I out for a flight in the company’s new helicopter. We’ve set up Sunrise Helicopters and are running a Robinson R44 (Clipper II) model based off the lawn in front of Balgownie Estate. NEAT!!! A quick 10 minute ride (sadly with me in the back – DOH! :) was a lot of fun then it was back to the training session.

So, quite the aviation weekend. Now, if only I could have added in some flying time where I was at the controls, well, then it would have been almost a perfect weekend :)

Fly me to the moon

I’ve just returned home from about 5 hours spent flying a 737-800 around Australia and NZ. It was, of course, a flight simulator – this time a fixed-base simulator that’s built around a collection of computers running MS Flight Simulator but with the “real thing” 737-800 cockpit with seats, controls, panels, the works. Three projectors drive the screens you watch from the inside and, aside from the lack of movement, it’s amazingly realistic.

Having been in a number of full motion sims, including the latest A330 sim that’s worth over $30 million, this one was extremely good and costs considerably less than that :)

The simulator belongs to Flight Experience here in Melbourne which is run by my friend Carlo. They’ve got the sim out at the QANTAS sim center near Essendon airport where it’s being tested and verified by the techs. Very soon now it will be relocating to its operational quarters somewhere in the CBD.

As a fixed base simulator it’s sufficient for procedures training and some level of official 737 training, thus it can be used by commercial pilots seeking their 737 endorsements to at least get a large part of the way there. This type of work represents about 5% of the market for Flight Experience as they’re targeting the general public, who can come in and see what it’s like to fly a jet airliner in and out of airports here in Australia. People can finally see what goes on behind that closed door up front, where they might get the odd tantalising glimpse of the “pointy end” :)

For tonight, Carlo and I were checking the unit out and having a lot of fun in the process, flying around Coolangatta & Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne and including some insane landings & take-off’s at Moorabbin. Fortunately, crashes were turned off, so we didn’t wind up splattered all over the virtual landscape as we probably should have (Moorabbin’s longest runways are somewhat smaller than those at Melbourne :)

All up it was great fun and I’d totally recommend having a session with Flight Experience when they’re up and running. I know I’ll be spending a few more hours in the unit when funds permit.