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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Take to the skies with flight simulator Dream Aero at Yas Mall

We test the flight simulator and discover that it’s perfect for both nervous flyers and those looking to fulfil childhood dreams of becoming a pilot

Mietesh Suru in the simulator. Jason Von Berg / The National
Mietesh Suru in the simulator. Jason Von Berg / The National

Many years ago, at junior school, I was asked to present a project on a profession I wanted to pursue when “I was big”. The brief was simple: based on your choice of career, present something that would test your ability to research, express your passion, and show your ability to understand what goes into said profession.

I decided that I would quite like to become a pilot. I remember going to an air show in Johannesburg, South Africa, with stars in my eyes and an eagerness to learn. I spoke to those in the field, collected pamphlets and even got to sit in the cockpit of one of the planes. It was a dream come true.

Unfortunately, my career in aviation never did quite take off, but I take comfort in the fact that I can head to Yas Mall and “fly” a plane there – albeit in the form of a simulator. DreamAero is a full-motion simulator, similar to what trainee pilots use. The cockpit is fully enclosed and has four seats: two for the pilots and two for observers who want to experience flying from the front. Mietesh Suru, one of the pilots on site, says trainees and amateurs alike can enjoy the facility. “This one actually reciprocates all the inputs that you do for a real aircraft. So you are able to feel what it’s like to actually fly a 737NG.”

Suru, like me, first had visions of becoming a pilot as a youngster. He recalls how at 15, he and his cousin were discussing their future. His cousin whipped out a clipping from a magazine with a picture of a pilot and a caption that said: “Being a pilot is like touching the sky with glory”. It was at that point that he knew what he wanted to do. After finishing school and investing much of his time in learning about the field, Suru left Kenya for South Africa, where he enrolled to obtain his pilot’s license.

He says those who are nervous about flying or have OCD tendencies should definitely experience a flight simulator. “If you have any fears or a phobia about flying, you can get rid of those here. We’re able to emulate the conditions as close to the real experience you’ll have up at 30,000 feet,” he says. “If you’re looking for a change in career, or your children have an interest in flying commercial jets, this would be good too.” Suru says visitors can read, research and watch clips on YouTube and once they are ready, they can head to the simulator in Yas Mall to put their newfound knowledge into practice.

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When they say this is full motion, they mean it. If you’re a thrill-seeker and would like to experience some severe turbulence, a bird strike, a thunderstorm or heavy clouds, look no further. Be warned, though – if you’ve been on board a plane that has flown into conditions like these before, you’ll come pretty close to that here, only now you are the one in control. Suru, or one of the other pilots, can guide you through the situations to ensure you know how to handle them. If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might feel a little queasy afterwards.

At Dream Aero, you’ll get the opportunity to put on your pilot’s uniform, film your experience and, upon completion, get a certificate. Don’t get too excited, though. If flying a jet is your dream, you might want to clock up a few more hours before approaching any major airlines for a seat upfront.

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