I received a delightful invitation from Robert Westbrook (Trustee of the Museum) to undertake a test flight in their Spitfire simulator and discuss areas where the Society and Museum could co-operate for mutual benefit.
The Simulator is contained within a cut down Spitfire fuselage with exterior screens that are connected to a fully integrated set of controls in the cockpit. Access was relatively easy with some steps involved and the vision forwards was just the same as a tail wheel aircraft sitting on the ground, very little! Robert proved to be a calm and able instructor taking me through an introduction to the controls and guiding the course of the flight.
I took off from Biggin Hill Airport and climbed towards central London and orbited around the Shard before setting course for the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford. I was set the challenge of flying underneath the Bridge, little did they know that I had done this for real before but in a different aircraft, at another Bridge, a story for another time. Having completed this exercise, I climbed up in preparation for a touch and go landing at Rochester Airport. My approach was fairly good but yawed off the runway due to my lack of experience with the control harmonisation but managed to take off again. I undertook some aerobatic manoeuvres including a victory roll and loop. My final landing was at Manston Airport, my approach over Herne Bay was reasonable and completed a three-point landing, a considerable improvement on my previous effort.
Overall, I thought the simulator was very accurate and good value compared with a real flight that would cost several thousand pounds more and you got to undertake take offs and landings that you wouldn’t be allowed to in a real Spitfire. As with most things you would need to build up your experience of the controls and I had the benefit of prior experience of flying Chipmunks to guide me but Robert provides expert guidance for those with less flying experience. I would like to have seen the ability to undertake some aerial combat to give another dimension to the very accurate flying simulation.
The Museum has offered special discount to Society members and I would thoroughly recommend taking the opportunity up. The normal price is £30 for 30 minutes and you’ll receive a certificate which also entitles you to £200 off a Spitfire flight at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. We’ll be looking to promote the Museum to a wider audience and possibly having some joint events in 2020 to commemorate the Battle of Britain anniversary, so keep an eye on our website and social media channels for further details.
To book visit https://www.spitfiremuseum.org.uk/simulator
Log in to the member's area to get the discount code.