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Amit's Blog and News

Amit Lennon's Blog and News

Virtual Airspace

As a photographer you spend your life creating an environment that might not be entirely truthful, so it was great to be on the receiving end of the same manipulation at the BA flight simulator centre at Cranebank in Heathrow.

This is a training centre, teaching and refreshing pilots' flying skills for commercial Aeroplanes. All pilots have to pass a simulator test for the plane they fly, every year, and the centre is used by many different airlines, so we had a small time slot before the next set of pilots arrived. 

The centre has 18 different simulators, each one an exact replica of a different plane. Strange mechanical boxes suspended on hydraulic legs in a large hanger, twisting and turning by some unseen controller.

Inside the box, you are completely immersed in a fully functional cockpit, a 747-400-3 jumbo in our case. The engineer dials in various weather, navigation and geographic scenarios and the pilots have to land or takeoff in them. Its the last safeguard before they are put in charge of hundreds of peoples lives.

Outside the window is a 220 degree concave mirror, that reflects the simulator's live projection. It really is very realistic, especially when the hydraulics are active and the whole box banks, dips and rises just as a plane would.

Time flies (sorry) and the reality of a hanger in Heathrow melts away. The illusion is seductive, persuasive and very compelling.

Who needs reality.

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