x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arsenal players spread their wings to land Emirates' A380 at Dubai airport

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was joined by defenders Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson as they attempted to land an Airbus A380 at Emirates' state-of-the-art flight simulator.

DUBAI // They are more used to the roar from the crowd at Emirates Stadium than the roar of jet engines but three Arsenal players have taken to the cockpit of an Airbus A380 to feel what it is like to land the aircraft.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was joined by defenders Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson as they attempted to land the jet.

However, the delicate manoeuvre did not take place above the skies of the real Dubai International Airport but in a virtual replica.

The players were invited by Emirates Airline to test their skills inside its state-of-the-art flight simulator.

"Today, we've got a challenge for you guys - and that's to land an A380," said Emirates' chief A380 instructor Warren Coles, as the players arrived at the airline's Aviation College in Dubai.

Similar to a pre-match team talk, the trio were give a short briefing on how to land the jet, with England international Oxlade-Chamberlain being the first to take to the captain's seat.

The 19-year-old focused on the array of controls in front of him and took a desert approach to the airport before cruising to a smooth landing.

"I've got it under control boys," he said after the wheels touched down. "We're down in one piece."

The next to take control of the multimillion dollar simulator was Kieran Gibbs, who despite being under the watchful gaze of Captain Coles, who has 30 years of experience, made somewhat of a more bumpy landing.

"I don't think I'll be a pilot anytime soon," admitted Gibbs, 23.

But the real drama occurred when Jenkinson, 21, took charge of the plane as a loss of concentration resulted in the jet bouncing down the runway, causing the simulator to send violent shudders through the flight deck.

"I was more excited to be honest going in there but, then, when I was actually in the seat, I was quite nervous," he said after emerging from the cockpit.

"It was a lot more difficult than I anticipated."

Captain Coles praised the three footballers for their efforts and for accepting the challenge.

"You all did really well ... there was a little bit of confusion between the controls initially but you got it in the end," he said.

"You might have blown the tyres slightly there but, overall, I was pretty impressed for a first go."

The visit took place last week when the players were in Dubai to conduct special training sessions with students at Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai.

nhanif@thenational.ae