90 Minutes at iPilot Munich


Mark Zanzig at iPilot Munich

Photo: Alexandra Sabova/iPilot Germany

If you have followed the development of my site and blog you may have noticed that not only I’m a travel afficinado but also have a thing for flying: Floatplanes in Tofino (Canada) and San Francisco (USA), Cessna’s in Namibia and Botswana. At home I used to “play” with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator for more than two decades. What’s more, my father used to be a pilot – but that’s another story.

So Petra decided to give me a very cool gift for my last birthday (I won’t disclose my age here, as it’s far too embarrassing): a 90 minute flight lession on a Boeing 747 at the Munich office of iPilot. While I have some experience with FSX, I never really looked at the “big birds” of the software as these are too difficult to handle (for me) on my PC, and as a consequence I have been flying mostly Cessnas and Beavers successfully at home.

Needless to say, I went with mixed emotions to their office on a Saturday evening in April. For the lack of time (and eagerness) I did not really prepare for the session, and I felt really bad about this. I wondered: Would they really want to see a guy who has almost no clue how to handle a big plane? But after like two minutes that fear was gone entirely.

The cockpit of the simulator felt very authentic, from seats and instruments to controls, switches and lights. Alexandra, my flight instructor, explained the basics to me, and within a few minutes we were taking off from Munich airport, and I was beginning to understand how the plane reacts. Then we moved on to Hong Kong, where Alexandra and I took the short flight from the new Hong Kong International to the former one in the city center (which had been closed about seven years ago). This one is really interesting as you have all essential elements of a flight in a single session: Take-off, short flight, approach, landing. This went really well, and I could feel the vast difference between a PC simulator and a professional simulator. We did this a couple of times, and it worked better every time. (Alexandra might disagree with me on this one, hehe.)

Next were two difficult approaches – the island of Madeira, and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. Finally we did a couple of scenic flights: Vancouver, Dubai, and Las Vegas at night.

Well, what can I say? The experience has been truly fantastic, five stars plus, and I will certainly book another session later this year. A big “Thank You!” to Alexandra and the iPilot team for an inspiring, exciting, and entertaining flight lesson!

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