Here's your chance to fly a Jet Airliner. We'll strap you into the captains seat and after our pre flight checks we'll pushback from the terminal and taxi to our takeoff position.
"Cleared for takeoff" - we're rolling... "V1, rotate" and we're airborne in your hands! You fly the aircraft and relax as you take in the scenery, but don't relax too much as you're in command for the landing.
Under the expert guidance of one of our instructors you'll circuit the aircraft and bring it in for that perfect landing. It'll be an experience that will be with you for life.
Located in: Tauranga & Hamilton.
For more details, see their website or ring 0800 SIMULATOR for your nearest venue.
ADMIN NOTE: 20th October 2010 - The Auckland venue has now split off to become a separate entity under it's own branding. Early reports indicate it is still the same technology, just rebranded to "FlyAJet" to differentiate itself from the other sites.
ADMIN NOTE: This review is a follow-up to the previous one by the same member, in the manner of restitution for the problems caused during the previous visit. This is a prime example of 'how to fix up your PR mistakes' in action, after we spoke with the manager of that Flight Experience centre to alert them to the negative review and how widely it had been read.
I went to the Takapuna flight experience with my son and father on a Tuesday night. We started off with a quick briefing with my soon to be 'co-pilot' Allen. He was dressed immaculately as a pilot, but also had the feel of one of those senior Air New Zealand pilots (for all I know he possibly was one). This sort of attention to detail makes a massive difference. It's all about suspension of disbelief - you immediately start feeling like a real commercial airline pilot yourself!
Once you get in the simulator it just gets better. It is pretty much exactly the cockpit of a 737. You sit down and go through all of the regular pre-flight checks. You're flicking switches left right and centre. Then with the engines rumbling away you are ready to pull away from the terminal...
The simulator was loaded with Hong Kong (our choice). The scenery is great and immersive... when you get a chance to look at it! I was spending a lot of time focussing on my flight instruments, and radar. It gives you exact replica of the instruments used in a commercial jet. And the control column and rudder pedals all feel very real - you really have to fly this machine. In fact all of the controls from throttle through to flaps, and trim are realistic.
So all of this realism leads to one surprising result: Coming into land at Kai Tak, your heart rate goes up and up, in fact as I banked heavily at the checkerboard I might even have broken into a sweat! You really don't want to crash this plane. My son and father were passengers, so I especially didn't want to crash!
Both fascinating, enjoyable, and a surprising adrenaline rush. Highly recommended.
Flight Package: 45min 'Flight Experience'
Sadly I have to write very negative review of my time at the Takapuna Flight Experience.
My father bought me a 45 minute "flight" (with dvd and photo) for my 40th birthday. The price was $220, not an insignificant amount for my retired father, but this was supposed to be a very memorable birthday present. Gosh it was memorable... but for all the wrong reasons.
It was quite difficult to book at the Takapuna one as they are quite busy, we eventually got a booking about 2 weeks out; for 4.30 on a Wednesday. You get to take 2 passengers, so I left work early, picked up my very excited young son, and my dad, and we got along a little bit early. Their T+Cs are very clear that if you are late, well that means that you will get less time, so we arrived a few minutes early.
When we arrived the person at the door (who later turned out to be the manager) said "take a seat, your instructor will be right with you." Sadly this statement was the first of many lies this person would tell, over what developed as the single most horrible customer experience I have ever had.
After waiting for 25 minutes after our start time eventually our instructor came out of the simulator with the previous customer. No one talked to us at all in the intervening 25 minutes. After fluffing around with photos and so on for the previous customer the instructor eventually came and talked to us. No apology for now being 30 minutes late at all. He then started a pretty poor and distracted run down of how the simulator was going to work. Then he went off for a bit, and came back and said that they were just setting up for a documentary, and it would be another 5 minutes.
Setting up for a documentary??? Anyway we waited for about 20 more minutes and he came back and twiddled his thumbs in front of us for a bit more, never offering a coffee or an explanation. After a bunch of questioning it turned out that the Campbell Live show had asked earlier that morning that they could use the simulator for a story... and so they just bumped us. Without telling us at all.
Eventually after we had been waiting for one and a quarter hours we demanded to see the manager and get our money back. But he couldn't see us because he was busy with the TV crew.
Finally, after a bunch of shouting we got to see him, and he basically spun us a bunch of lies with numerous excuses including the TV crew showing up unexpectedly, and the simulator breaking down. He did say sorry, but did not seem at all apologetic. He could not explain to us, given that he knew about all these things much earlier, why he never told us that we would be delayed... instead expected us to sit without information, while star-struck he hosted the TV people.
They position this as an experience of a lifetime, price it as such, and then don't care at all about the experience that the customer has. I cannot stress enough how much I would not recommend this to anyone, unless you are a pilot in training, and you need to put up with the poor service. But don't buy it as a gift, you could easily end up embarrassing yourself if our experience is anything to go by. Can you imagine how my poor dad felt after trying to organise this... and my son who had been so excited but didn't even get to go on the plane after a huge wait. To add insult to injury they refused to give a refund on the spot, we will have to wait for that.
Fairly basic customer service training could have meant the situation was handled considerably better, but given that the "manager" was involved, I wouldn't expect this to happen.
The only realistic "flight experience" going on here is one of sitting around in the airport.
Flight Package: 1 hour 'Simulator Experience'
This has been one of the best experiences that I have had as far as Flight Simulation goes. It is not every day that one has the chance to fly a 737. The simulator is set up as the cockpit of a 737, it is to scale and you operate it for the most part as you would a normal aircraft. The controls are very realistic from setting the autopilot to selecting the navigation beacons and flying an ILS approach.
If this sounds too serious for you do not worry at all, even if you have no flight experience this is a great way to find out what it is like without taking the risk or costing you a fortune in flight time.
If you are a pilot in training this is a great 'to do' simulator, since training is required for your instrument rating and the simulator is rated by the CAA.
This is something that you definitely have to do if you are interested in flying or ever wondered what it would be like to fly an airliner.
Being a pilot myself I thought the experience was realistic from wind to the way that the controls operated. We did a takeoff at Tauranga aerodrome with a standard departure climbing to 13000ft and doing an ILS approach into Auckland International Airport. Having flown this a few times myself I have to say that the experience was really life like and I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in flying.
This is a great training tool as well as loads of fun. If you are thinking of doing your 737 rating, clocking a few hours in this simulator is not going to hurt. Not only is it cheaper than the real thing but it is a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with the controls and procedures of the aircraft and possibly cut town on actual training time.
In conclusion I have to say that it is the most fun I have had in some time.
Flight Package: 30min 'Introductory Experience'
Now, in all fairness I didn't know what to expect... I can't even fly videogame planes very well... I suck so badly that even my 7 year old son can shoot me down when we play the occasional game of Crimson Skies... what does THAT tell ya! So it was with great curiosity, and much preparation for embarrassment, that I plonked my ample butt in the left hand seat of the 737 simulator in Wellington's Courtenay Central, tucked away in the far-right hand corner of the ground floor, behind all the food stands, by the embroidery kiosk.
As my instructor took me through all the warmup and instrument layout routines, it all seemed quite common sense, but as we continued, I started to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of buttons, switches, toggles, levers, dials, screens and controls I had to interact with, and it gave me a far better appreciation of the skill it takes to fly an aircraft, even a small one! And to add insult to injury, I wasn't being shown even a quarter of it! The cockpit is remarkably accurate, with every control faithfully included.
The biggest thing that struck me was the lack of motion reactions. With the huge cost, and safety issues, of an indoor hydraulic rig, I could see why these sims are fixed-platform units, and though this didn't detract much from the experience, I still found myself feeling something was missing when I did a bank turn, or a touchdown, and didn't feel a single jolt... it was strange, and made it a little harder to really get in deep into the experience... however, my long-term back injury was grateful for the smooth ride, so it balanced out well, and I had more than enough to focus on without adding 'sore butt' and 'vertigo' to my list.
The graphic rendering engine that drove the whole visual side of it was great, despite it's obvious and admitted limitations. As buildings pass a certain size threshold they simply vanish, or sprout out of the ground like rectangular mushrooms, which can be a little distracting at times, especially if you are frantically trying not to look like a gimp and spot the navigation beacons that your trainer is pointing out are "...right there in front of you, the two flashing red lights right there... no, THERE... on those buildings... in front of us right now!" It was quite strange, but by the time I was coming around for the second pass the magic-sprouting-buildings were no longer distracting and failed to interrupt my smooth landing at Hong Kong's old Kai Tak airport. The lack of fine-resolution detail was not a factor at all, as it soon became simply a case of "avoid that big blocky thing and follow the blinking lights" and, of course, stare intently at the instruments and artificial horizon indicator, so that you don't end up testing out a wet-foot approach.
Because of the limited timeframe available, due to heavy bookings on the only day we could make it, I wasn't able to really get in and put it through it's paces, and just did a take-off, loop, touch'n'go, loop and full-stop landing at the Kai Tak airport. Now for those who don't know their aviation history, Kai tak is the infamous airport in Hong Kong which is located INSIDE the city, meaning pilots have to bring the planes down over and between skyscrapers and apartment blocks in order to touchdown. This airport was closed back in 1998, and replaced by the Chek Lap Kok airport, which is built offshore on an artificial island of reclaimed seabed. After coming in through the buildings twice in the simulator, I can imagine what a mighty relief it is for the pilots not to have to worry about snagging a clothesline on final approach anymore!
Overall, this was a really fun experience, well worth a try. For best value, I would recommend you dive in with the full 1-hr session, as you will end up with more fly-time and less talk-time overall... and with a large number of cities, flightplans and routes to choose from, you're going to find something worth exploring. All the thrills, without the threat! No mad suicide bombers to worry about on this flight, and you're in control! Get to it!
Flight Package: 1 hour 'Simulator Experience'
How could one not give this experience a perfect ten? You would have to be pretty bored to even consider anything less than a perfect ten.
I rolled up to the Auckland location, rather conveniently located at Botany Town Centre and was introduced to the flight instructor for this trip. On chatting with him, I found out he also works for Air New Zealand as one of their instructors in their 767 simulators. According to him, these Flight Experience simulators are better than the Air New Zealand ones. I felt in remarkably good hands for this trip - and even if the instructor was nervous about my zero flying experience, it didn't show.
After being walked through the instrumentation and the control panels, we were then ready for the pre-flight checks (no half measures here - thorough professionalism throughout), and as you are the captain of the aircraft, it is up to you to run through each pre-flight checklist. Once all that is done, you get clearance from the control tower, you power up the engines and get ready to taxi to the runway and begin your flight.
The flight I undertook was a take-off and landing experience; and it truly is an experience. I flew around Christchurch, buzzed over Akaroa, Lake Ellesmere, over Lyttleton harbour, over my former home in Sumner, out to sea over Brighton to Woodend, where we changed our bearings toward the airport, and I was talked down and landed with barely a bump. I now feel quite ready to take my place in a disaster movie as the hero who gets talked down by some poor chap in the tower.
For the truly dedicated, I was informed that after six hours flying training, you can go solo and take a friend with you for the ride. My instructor even mentioned one chap who is trying to fly around the world with each trip. This is a little difficult because, as my instructor explained, the trips do tend to be in real-time and one can't really cut out 12 hours flying down to an hour's flying experience.
Flight Experience has a number of packages to choose between; from the basic 30 minute scenic flight, to a two-hour 'ultimate experience' (which must be a mind-blowing one at that!) and should you ever get the flying bug Flight Experience have packages which allow you to do some formal flight training - and with the calibre of the instructor teaching me, you can be assured of some of the very best training possible.
So, if you have ever fancied flying a plane, or perhaps you want to confront your fears or phobias, or just want to try it for the sheer fun of the experience, then this, truly, is for you.
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