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I try ‘Flight Experience London’ in Putney and land a Boeing 737

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The closest I’ve come to flying a plane was a computer game my brother had when we were kids. Though most of the time he wouldn’t let me fly the plane and I’m pretty sure whenever he did let me have a go I crashed …..

Anyway. I can now say I’ve safely landed a Boeing 737-800 in Hamburg and at the old Hong Kong airport at Kai Tak. Obviously I wasn’t actually in Hamburg and Hong Kong, but in the rather more prosaic surroundings of Putney, at Flight Experience London.

Flight Experience is a flight simulator business based in Australia, and this is the first franchise in the UK.  It is the only company to operate officially licensed Boeing 737 flight simulators.

I was offered the chance to have a free session – how could I refuse?

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Putney is a 15 minute train ride from Waterloo.  Flight Experience is just around the corner from the mainline Putney Station.

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The company has two parts to its business:

  • A Boeing 737-800 flight simulator
  • Groundschool London

The flight simulator is for everyone over the age of 14 who would like to experience a flight from the inside of the cockpit, taking charge of the plane.

Groundschool London is a training academy where future pilots can prepare for the complex application process.

Inside the Boeing 737-800 simulator

The best thing about the simulator is that the cockpit used to be in a functioning aircraft belonging to Alaska Airlines.  All of the switches, levers and buttons are exactly how you would find them in a real plane.

A 180 degree screen outside the windows shows the surrounding areas.

To be honest I got a little bit nervous when I saw the amount of switches and was worried that I’d crash – although as the simulator doesn’t move an accident would not have been that bad!  Luckily I had a co-pilot who explained everything and told me what to do.

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I got to do two take offs and landings. The first airport I chose was Hamburg, one I have flown into as a passenger many times.  I took off, did a large circle and landed safely.

The second take off was from the new Hong Kong airport, landing at the old airport of Kai Tak (image below), famous for its white knuckle approach between the skyscrapers.

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I am by no means an aircraft geek but this experience was genuinely amazing.  As I spend quite a lot of time in planes it was interesting to find out what’s happening in the cockpit whilst I’m drinking gin & tonic down the back.  If I can do it then you can do it too – absolutely no experience of real or video game cockpits required.

If you want to fly the Boeing 737, you can currently save a few pounds with their Summer offer:

  • Scenic Flight 30 minutes – £140 £109
  • City Circuits 45 minutes – £195 £159
  • City Flyer 60 minutes – £270 £199
  • Fly and Dine 60 minutes – £249
  • Ultimate 90 minutes – £360 £279
  • Multi City Flyer 60 minutes – £295
  • Multi Ultimate 90 minutes – £380

If you’re lucky you might also be able to grab one of the last discounted packages listed on Groupon.  We first mentioned these a couple of weeks ago and there was a big response.  There are only 30 minute weekend sessions still available at £52.  If the code hasn’t expired, you will save a further 15% if you are creating a new Groupon account by using code NEW15.

You can also book the venue, including time in the flight simulator for all guests, for corporate events.

The Flight Experience London website is here if you want to find out more.

Comments (26)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Paul says:

    As I mentioned the last time you plugged these guys there are other well established simulator companies in the U.K. Virtual Aerospace has branches in Brighton, Manchester, Northampton and Gloucester (as well as Tokyo). As well as B737s at these locations you can fly a Vulcan bomber simulator at the Manchester location. They can also offer experiences on the full motion sims actually used by the airlines.
    There are some good summer deals.

  • Will Hardie says:

    Good morning
    I’m flying to Adelaide for the second Ashes Test via KUL . Does anyone have experience of Business class on Malaysian Airlines MH1 and MH138 and 9?

    • Andreas says:

      Did someone say satay?

    • Jon says:

      The Adelaide sectors should be on the A330, which has their latest business class seat. Can’t comment on that as I haven’t tried it yet. London-KL will be on A380, which has a 2-2-2 configuration and a slightly dated seat (much the same as Qatar’s 777 pre-Qsuite) but perfectly acceptable, and comfortable. I’ve always found the food and in-flight service to be superb – and yes, have the satay. Worth using Chef-on-Call to pre-book your food (more choice and you tend to get served first), although it’s not currently available ex-London, but you should be ok for your other sectors.

      Try to get a seat in the front J cabin – smaller and quieter (only 3 rows) and the bathrooms at the front are much bigger.

      Contrary to what you may read online, the seat is fully-flat, although you may need to play with the controls a bit to get it so. One tip – once you have your tray table out, you can’t adjust the seat recline so you’ll need to find the right position first. If you then find the table slopes forward, use the seat-raise button to level it out. Not a great design, but once you know how to work it, it’s fine.

      At KLIA, the showers in the J lounge at the satellite building leave a bit to be desired. If you have OneWorld Emerald status, use the F (Platinum) lounge, otherwise take the shuttle train to the main terminal and use the regional lounge, where the showers are marginally better (and hopefully considerably better once the refurbishment is completed, due to be next week). At LHR, you may prefer the Qatar lounge, although the Malaysia Golden Lounge is perfectly good so long as not too busy.

      On the subject of Malaysia Airlines, if anyone has Virgin Flying Club miles and was thinking of using them on MH, you have until August 31st to book, for travel until late July next year (I think July 28th would be the last bookable date if I’ve done the maths correctly), before that particular sweet spot disappears. 145,000 miles LHR-KUL return in First, and if you go after mid-January on the morning flights you’d be on their new A350. Check availability on first 😉

    • Will says:

      I’ve done a few sectors on the A330 in business. Seat is great, food was some of the worst I’ve had on a plane.

      Thought the satay was genuinely awful compared to an average UK takeaway.

      My sectors were kul-hkg for reference.

  • Steve says:

    Am I right in assuming these are static simulators ?

    • Graeme says:

      There’s a clue i the article ‘although as the simulator doesn’t move’ 🙂

    • TimS says:

      Yes it is a fixed-base sim, not a full motion cockpit.

      • Roger I* says:

        How does it compare with Cranebank where I ‘flew’ a BA 737. Similar, I guess, though I only had one airport airport experience (LHR).

        My admiration of flight deck crew increased exponentially!

        • Rob says:

          The Cranebank ones are hugely expensive moving ones which BA uses for pilot training. Whilst I’ve not been to Cranebank, I imagine it is the same control set-up, probably slightly lower quality graphics and obviously the cabin does not move if you tilt the plane or shake if you hit the ground too hard!

        • TimS says:

          I never managed to do the Sim at Cranebank. I had to make do with the emergency doors, the smoke chamber and the escape slide.

          I did get to (very briefly) pilot a 747 on the way home from DEL one time though!

  • MrEgg says:

    The closest I’ve come to flying a plane was a computer game

    So nothing has changed then.
    Bit more realistic these days. Saitek Pro-Flight range is quite good if you want to build yourself a real cockpit (Cessna)

  • Wally1976 says:

    Anika – which of the 7 packages were you on?

    Scenic Flight 30 minutes – £140 £109
    City Circuits 45 minutes – £195 £159
    City Flyer 60 minutes – £270 £199
    Fly and Dine 60 minutes – £249
    Ultimate 90 minutes – £360 £279
    Multi City Flyer 60 minutes – £295
    Multi Ultimate 90 minutes – £380

    • anikaanika99 says:

      The press package 😉 I talked to one of the owners to find out more about the company and then did a circle from Hamburg to Hamburg and flew from the new Hong Kong Airport to the old one.

      • Wally1976 says:

        Ah OK, was just wondering how much you would be able to do in a 30/45/60/90 minute period.

  • Tony says:

    Just finished a 30-minute session through the Groupon sale. Truly a top-notch experience and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it! My only regret was not spending a bit more time studying beforehand to remind myself of flying control basics.

  • Jack says:

    I was lucky enough to have a similar experience as part of the interview process for the FTEJerez flight academy (amongst others, BA hire from here). Truly amazing and one of most fun experiences I have ever had! In the thrill of the moment you don’t notice that it’s not full-motion and it has a very realistic feeling. I’d highly recommend this to anyone!

    • Chris says:

      Nice one! How long is the training course in Jerez? Are you since qualified?

      • Jack says:

        It’s about 18 months – which I’ve always thought is a pretty short time considering the responsibility that comes at the end of it. I was accepted (after a really enjoyable 2-day assessment) but eventually decided to go in a different direction. Had I stayed on the pilot path, this would have been the place for me. They are easily one the top 3 training centres in the world, if not the best. If you are thinking about it, ignore the wild marketing claims of the bigger schools in England (CTC and OAA) and check out these guys.

        • Chris says:

          Thanks Jack! To be honest, I’d never make it myself…was just curious. Your decision must have been tough – hope your differing direction works out and you’re left with no regrets of cavorting with cabin crew in far flung places!!

  • Fitch says:

    I just had an hour’s session today via the Groupon deal.

    It was absolutely excellent.

    The guys are very professional and flexible. I rocked up with a scenario in mind; they already had one set up. We had a productive chat and agreed a compromise we were both happy with. They were also able to take account of my PPL hours and cut back the pre-flight briefing to maximise flight time.

    We flew ex-LHR, circuit, touch and go, circuit again, touch and go, off towards Mayfield then engine failure and emergency engine out landing at LGW – fantastic fun 🙂

    I would thoroughly recommend them and will definitely be doing it again !!

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