Flying a passenger airplane on an airplane simulator is tremendous fun and has three main advantages over being the pilot of a real passenger plane:
1) There is no real risk involved. Provided you keep your calm, there is very little chance of serious injury. And, in a 'worst-case scenario' you will only fall off your chair anyway.
2) You didn't have to undergo years and years of training to get where you are. OK, you do need to know how to operate a computer and download software, but that's not quite the same as the 1,500 hours of experience needed to become an actual airline transport pilot.
3) You don't have real passengers. This is probably the biggest advantage of an airplane simulator. Why? Here are a few notable dates in the recent history of air passenger behavior:
19th December 2006. Live rats caused panic on a flight in northwest Saudi Arabia after escaping from a passengers rucksack. The plane has climbed to 25000 feet when people started to notice rats running around the cabin. Upon landing the passenger admitted that the 80 live rats in his rucksack had gone unnoticed when he boarded the flight.
13th February 2007. A well-known French TV personality, Jean-Luc Delarue, left his first-class seat on a flight back to France from Africa. Under the influence of alcohol and anxiolytic drugs he ventured into the main passenger cabin, where he came across the Algerian women's football team. At first polite, Delarue's behavior soon got worse. He took off his shirt and tried to caress intimely one of the players. He was forcfully escorted back to his seat in handcuffs, all the while insulting both passengers and crew.
24th June 2008. A resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, was charged with being intoxicated and disruptive in a public place, following an incident on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Charlotte. He had been drinking rum and coke, but, when the fight attendant decided that he had consumed more than enough, he became loud and abusive, throwing ice at other passengers and even, at one point, grabbing a stewards buttocks.
25th July 2008. A flight from the Greek island of Kos, returning to Manchester, England, was forced to divert to Frankfurt, Germany, when two female passengers became aggressive and dangerous. The flight was over Austria when it became obvious that the two women were completelt drunk. When the flight attendant refused to continue serving them, one of the women took a swing at him with an empty vodka bottle, whilst the other, apparently wanting some fresh air, tried to open an emergency door. The women were restrained with handcuffs and delivered into the hands of the German police at Frankfurt.
24th November 2009. A Buddhist monk from Myanmar is reported to have opened the emergency exit of an Air India plane which was on the runway and about to commence take-off. The monk, feeling a little claustrophic, managed to open the door by following the instructions printed on the inflight safety card. The flight was delayed for seven hours.
27th december 2009. Donald Trump's ex-wife Ivana, was forcefully removed from a Delta Airlines flight to New York after causing a disturbance and being abusive to crew members and other passengers. Apparently, irritated by a baby crying and a group of children running down the aisle of her first-class compartment, Ms trump began shouting and swearing so much that the pilot requested the assistance of police officers to forcibly remove her from the plane.
Dealing with the public on a daily base is a very demanding task, as flight attendant Steven Slater demonstrated with a certain panache in August 2010. Following a slight disagreement with with a passenger at New York's John F Kennedy Airport, Mr Slater reached his own personal breaking point. After cursing the passenger concerned on the public address system, he then announced to all on board "Those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride". He then deployed one of the emergency slide chutes and, after grabbing a few beers from the galley trolley, slid from the plane and walked off across the tarmac, towards a new, hopefully less stressful, life.
Mr Slater has since become something of an icon amoung flight staff and symbolises the difficulty strain that coping with passengers can cause. The above are just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents which occur each year, but provide, nonetheless, an excellent reason for preferring flying an empty airplane simulator rather than a full passenger plane.
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