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Can Anyone Fly the Plane?

The cabin purser comes on the PA and asks: €˜Can anyone fly a plane?’. It seems the Captain has been taken ill and the First Officer too. As they say in €˜Airplane!’: €˜The life of everyone onboard depends upon just one thing – finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane but who didn’t have fish for dinner’. There are no off-duty pilots onboard so they’re asking for civilian volunteers. You have no idea how to land a plane but you’re the only one who comes forward. This is your moment to see if you can land this commercial plane in an emergency. In aviation-speak this is what’s called a €˜talk down landing’. A non pilot-trained passenger takes control of the aircraft and with a headset on listens to instructions from the ground or a nearby aircraft to be able to start the descent make the final approach and land safely on the runway. When you get led into the cockpit to take the Captain’s seat you’re cruising at 500mph 38 000ft in the air. As the only passenger onboard to respond to the call for anyone to fly (and land) the plane it’s over to you now. You’ll need nerves of steel and you’ll need to keep calm. Get it right and you’ll be hailed a national hero get it wrong and it could well be curtains for all of you.Of course this experience takes place on a simulator but it’s pretty realistic in that flight deck which is an exact replica of a Boeing 737. At first glance it’s a dazzling area of screens levers dials and buttons which will surely make you doubt your ability to just go in there and actually fly the thing. After all you thought you were going to have a nice relaxing voyage reading the in-flight magazine as just another passenger but here you are landing the plane!Listen to the very clear and calm instructions in your headset and the theory is anyone can land a plane. Let’s see if you can be the passenger hero of this flight. Oh and if you do mess up the joy of it being simulated is that the reset button can be pressed and you can start again. We wouldn’t you coming in too fast and turning into a fireball on impact or stalling on your final approach now would we? If anyone can fly a plane it’s you – and we promise no-one will call you Shirley!

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