Tuesday 7 November 2017

The Aviator Experience at Big Boys Toys Auckland 10 - 12 November

If you are near Auckland next weekend 10 - 12 November, you should go to Big Boys Toys at the ASB Showgrounds for an amazing flying experience that I "flew" at The Aviator Experience Tauranga last month.

Early in October I was flying an L 39 Albatros jet over the French countryside at 8,000 feet enjoying the panoramic view.  It was a lovely smooth day for flying and I descended to under 1,000 feet to fly tight turns along the river for a while before effortlessly powering back up to altitude.  Then the engine flamed out so there was nothing else for it but to eject!  I looked down at the pull handle on the Martin Baker ejection seat and pulled it, then POW!  I was outside seeing my jet speeding off into the distance and the canopy fluttering away. 

It was very calm then as I descended towards the fields under my military parachute.  Looking down I can see my feet and looking up I can see the chute thankfully fully inflated.  I thought for a while I might be going to land in the river but the gentle breeze took me over to the other side to just miss some trees and land with a thump.

Fortunately for the owners of the jet it was all a marvellous 3D illusion provided by The Aviator Experience of Tauranga.  What an experience!

The Aviator Experience is the brainchild of Craig Saunders of Tauranga.  Craig is ex RNZAF and has built two replica Martin Baker ejection seats with built in motors for motion that you (and a friend or enemy if you want), are strapped into and then you put on virtual reality goggles and you are flying!  The virtual reality is amazing and it just feels so real - there is a LOT of computer grunt behind the scenes. 

You can fly in formation or in a dogfight in a selection of aircraft including a Spitfire, Mustang and a Mirage.  I managed to land the Spitfire (sort of) on a wartime airfield in France but I came to grief spectacularly when trying to land the Mirage at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

And Craig can also provide helicopter flying with a real collective, and here he is flying an Iroquois.  When you look around 180 degrees you can see the rear bench seat inside the Iroquois cabin!

There is a nice video of The Aviator Experience on Stuff, you should have a look at it by clicking HERE

Look out for Craig at Big Boys Toys this weekend.

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