Manchester Evening News

Fly a Jumbo without leaving the ground...


- By JAMES HOLT @MENnewsdes­k

YOU can fly a plane and land at any airport in the world ... without leaving Manchester – or the ground.

I tried it out for myself at The Deck 747, at Barton Aerodrome, which offers the unique – if not slightly nerve-racking – experience of controllin­g a real former Boeing 747-400 from the cockpit.

The 180-degree simulator display wraps around the front of the aircraft, giving you the view of a pilot as you soar through the skies. Even though I was firmly on the ground beside the M62, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of great responsibi­lity, as though we would have a catastroph­ic crash landing if I took my eye away from the controls.

As you step on board the former British Airways plane, you could be mistaken for thinking you were 35,000 feet above ground. You are welcomed into a business class cabin, with all the original fixtures still intact, including the safety cards and even the in-flight menus.

It is the perfect spot for selfie taking, snapping a couple of myself lounging in the comfy seats, and even trying my hand at being a member of cabin crew, opening and closing the heavy safety doors that were once in use.

I was guided through the history of the aircraft and given an in-depth tour of the top deck, including walking through the cabin, seeing the crew rest rooms and of course the impressive cockpit. That is where the magic happens.

I was greeted with a fully panoramic HD display of the runway at Manchester Airport and told that within our relatively short 20-minute session we were still able to take off, fly, and attempt to land in Liverpool. The best part of the experience being a complete simulation meant that when I was struggling to turn or land the plane, which I did with difficulty, we were able to hit restart and have another go.

My instructor Craig explained simply the science and technicali­ties behind how planes achieve take off. He talked me through the process, pushing the throttle as I pulled the control yoke and steered us through the sky. I was astounded by just how real the experience felt.

The huge aircraft, originally registered G-BGYA, first flew in 1998 and consisted of 14 first class, 86 business class, 30 premium economy and 145 economy seats. In 2009, the crew battled a ‘low altitude stall’ in South Africa. It was stabilised and an emergency landing was made.

The plane was retired in March 2020 and was stored in Cardiff before it was moved to Cotswold Airport to be broken up. The top deck was saved from scrap by the team behind The Deck and it was transporte­d by road to its new home at City Airport in Barton in August 2022.

The inspiratio­n for the experience was first born when the owners set up doors2manu­al during the Covid19 pandemic. It started out as a hobby, selling parts of aeroplanes and memorabili­a to enthusiast­s online. That love of aviation quickly grew, as business partners Drew Hanna and Craig decided to bid for the enormous top deck. Within weeks, it was transporte­d up to Manchester and opened for experience­s shortly thereafter.

Based at Barton Aerodrome, near the Trafford Centre, The Deck also offers cockpit workshops, on-board tours and one-to-one fear of flying sessions with a former British Airways 747 captain. It is now a fully licensed venue for wedding or event hire.

● Prices start from £74.95 for a 20 minute simulator package. Additional people can be added to share the flying time or spectate in the cockpit, starting at £10 each. Details are available online.

 ?? ?? The simulator cockpit uses the 747’s real fixtures and fittings
The simulator cockpit uses the 747’s real fixtures and fittings
 ?? ?? G-BGYA’s upper deck arrives at Barton in 2022
G-BGYA’s upper deck arrives at Barton in 2022
 ?? ?? A BA Jumbo comes in to land
A BA Jumbo comes in to land

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