I have been a computer gamer since I got my first PC in 1999 and I have seen how games come and go each year according to the trend. Doom, FIFA series, Theme Hospital, Red Alert, SWAT are all among the titles that I have played over the years. However from 1999 until today, there is only one particular game that has always been on my PC and regularly played – it is none other than the Microsoft Flight Simulator.
My passion towards aviation is the sole reason why I have been simming since my secondary school years with platforms such as FS98, FS2000, FS9, X-Plane and partly FSX. The nature of flightsim being an “open-ended” game allows enthusiasts like me to gain a lot of knowledge about flying through the various onlight flightsim communities. I never reach the level of “as knowledgeable as a real pilot” but I have learned enough to know a thing or two about basics of flying.
Hence, when I got to know that there are flight simulator centres being setup in Malaysia, I got really excited.
I was delighted when Capt Amin Said, the Director of SimFlightKL, one of the three existing flight simulator centres in Malaysia discovered AzuanZahdi.com and invited me to check out the simulators and blog about it.
On 18th January 2014, I had the chance to experience SimFlightKL with the man himself, Capt Amin and his lovely crew.
Location wise, SimFlightKL has a good location being inside an actual airport. Occupying two lots on the 1st floor of the Subang SkyPark terminal, I can observe that SimFlightKL not only attracts enthusiasts but also curious passengers and users of the airport.
Let’s start with the Cabin Simulator Area.
This is like an “appetizer” to the real simulator. One area of the cabin has been designed to simulate an economy class section on an airplane with the window view linked to the same flight simulator on the cockpit. Here visitors get to be passengers of a simulation flight.
And another area replicates the premium class.
You might ask, why the need to have a cabin simulator?
It is simply because there is a demand for it. The cabin is perfect for briefing area, venue for airplane scene filming (hint” Pilot Café was filmed here!) and crew training. But most importantly the area has also been successfully used as part of the training to conquer the “fear of flying” .
Before we start with the simulators, I was briefed by the staff on the basics of flying – something that every customer will enjoy prior to their simming activities.
The “main dish” of SimFlightKL is of course the Airbus A320 Level 3 simulator. My exact first impression was “wow… did I just walked into an actual plane?”. At one glance I really thought that I am seeing a real cockpit.
Here are some close-up shots to see how real the switches, screens, panels are.
Quite real isn’t it?
It was finally time to fly the A320! But one thing that I have learned from my PC-based flight sim is that there is no such thing as “let’s just start the engine, hit the pedal and fly”. At least not for an A320! Luckily I had Capt Amin guiding me the process of starting the engine from “cold and dark” mode.
Layout of the cockpit seems quite familiar thanks to my favourite Wilco A320 flight sim add-on. Even without prior knowledge it would still be fun as there is always the co-pilot cum instructor guiding.
Switching off the APU and playing around with the switches for the lights.
Let’s go power up and fly.
The plan is to take off from KLIA, do a touch and go at Subang Airport before flying towards KL City to check out the Petronas Twin Towers and land in KLIA. Take-off is quite a challenge for me as I had never use a pedestal before and the plane kept going left and right with random accidental braking! 😛
I did an OK touch and go and Subang before pointing the plane towards the city centre. A close up view that reminds me of this flight that I took few years back.
Generally I love the feeling of manoeuvring the A320 using the sidestick. We did try the autopilot as well but hand flying was so much fun especially when Capt Amin managed the speed while I fly the plane.
After about 30 minutes, we headed back to KLIA for landing.
I never want to stop flying that A320 but it was time to check out the “dessert” which is the Boeing 737NG simulator. One last photo for our album 🙂
The Boeing 737NG sim is not as grand as the A320 but it is not too bad either!
I like how the setup of the cockpit that provides space big enough for both my wife and I to listen and learn about the controls at the same time from our instructor. Not to mention also that this simulator doubles as a flying demo venue as a lot of curious passengers and passer-by’s will stop and stand on the other side of the glass and watch the pilot in action 🙂
While the setup is simpler than the A320, the yoke and throttle feels much better but let’s not start the Airbus vs Boeing discussion/battle once again yeah!
After about an hour of simming (I could go on for many more hours!), it was time to check out another cool section available at SimFlightKL which is “aviation merchandise”.
Many cool stuffs that attracted my attention but my wife was fast in giving reality check to remind me how many aviation themed shirts that I already have and hardly wear! 🙂
Some of the aviation collectibles are quite rare which explains the high price tag.
Still there are smaller items that are within the affordability range of many visitors. For me the best souvenir is that one hour of real flight simulator experience that exceeds my expectation. It is definitely worth a re-visit soon!
Want to see me in action? Check out this 5-minute video compiling all the actions on that day.
For aviation geeks, try SimFlightKL at least once and most likely you will get hooked and wanting to upgrade your PC or even take PPL flying license!
For non-aviation geeks, this is a “something different” kind of experience that you might want to consider. A short flight sim experience is a perfect gift for a father during his birthday or father’s day (forget that neck tie lah!), to your kids and inspire them to be future pilots, boyfriends and girlfriends, a unique ‘dating’ experience 😛
A special thanks to Capt Amin and SimFlightKL for the invitation. Details on the simulators and packages available can be viewed at www.simflightKL.com.
SimFlightKL also offers real flights on general aviation planes for those looking to complement the flight simulator experience with real flying. I’ll write about this in part 2. 🙂
In the meantime, I am buying and giving away two 30-minutes slots on one of the simulators for TWO of my lucky blog readers to experience what I experienced in this blog post. All you have to do to win this giveaway is:
Selection will be random and closing date will be 17 February 2014. Winners will be announced a few days after that.