July 01, 2013

Inside the Cockpit: An Indescribable Experience

We all have a secret wishlist that includes the things we hope to experience at least once in our lives. Seeing the inside of a cockpit is one of the things on my list and I finally got the chance to experience it… On board MEA I was luckily invited into the captain’s world… Something out of this world… I surely am not a pilot and would never be able to describe my experience from a technical point of view, but believe me; all I can say is that you should all enter the cockpit at least once in your lifetime. Standing at the tip of the plane, you have a panoramic view of the open skies and the world underneath. Here, the expression "king of the skies" applies.

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Leaving for Europe, I had the chance to enter the cockpit for several hours. I entered at a time when we were just above Istanbul on a sunny day; the view was clear and breathtaking especially if you already know its Bosphorus canal and airport. I felt like a child in a toy store. I wanted to touch everything, know everything and of course if you know a little by now, I couldn't but satisfy my curiosity by asking a million and one questions: What do you see? How do you do it? How do you maneuver the plane on the ground with not steering wheel and many other intriguing questions nobody can answer, but a pilot himself. It's rare to have the chance to enter the cockpit for security reasons obviously. But it's something... Inside is another dimension, something extraordinary. Large windows with a wide and vast view on the whole world. You can clearly see landmarks as well as passing planes. This is when you realize how fast  the plane travels… You don’t feel it usually when you’re sitting in the cabin…Looking at the ground below, you feel like you are moving at a speed of a car, but when you see a plane passing over you or next to you, your perception of things changes immediately.

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I learned great things today:

  • How do you contact Beirut? Since the distance is too far for radio communication, a direct satellite connection links between Beirut and the plane is always open. The co-pilot can send any message back home asking for inquiries or informing about rerouting
  • When the plane taxis on ground how do you maneuver? As you have noticed, there is no steering wheel on a plane, but a joystick on the sides of the pilot and co-pilot so they can turn the wheels and move the plane around the tarmac
  • How do you inform passengers of the meteorological report? A meteorological report is sent to the plane's computer then printed on a piece of paper like a credit card slip. Reading it is not too obvious. Codes and abbreviations are written and not made for everyone to understand
  • During the cruise, the plane needs to get in contact with the country it is flying over by informing it of its passage. Two frequencies are prepared on the radio, the current one speaking with the country below and the other that follows with the aerospace passing through in the upcoming hour
  • Why don't we travel faster? The plane travels on an optimal speed for consumption and speed efficiency and that is Mach 0.79

And much more...

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As I already mentioned several times before, MEA is unfortunately not my favorite company for the bad service they offer, but I reconfirm my appreciation for its unique pilots and co-pilots who cannot be matched.  Travel MEA if you want to be sure to always arrive safe and sound.

Enjoy the pictures, even though they don't describe the real unmatched feeling.

Categories: Airlines Travel

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