There are companies such as this that offer one day full simulator experiences where you take several attempts at landing a 747 or something similar. Some people report success after a couple of attempts.

In this question, asked recently here on ASE, it was generally agreed upon that no-one could land such an aircraft without many hundreds of hours of training.

So how do these day-courses/experiences work? Do they somehow 'dumb down' the simulator, automating most or all of the process'?

Side-note: I am asking, because I am interested in learning the basics of flying, but could only afford simulator training, the actual school in my real country offers block bookings for a reasonable price.

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    $\begingroup$ I know that this will sound a bit paranoid but why would you want to learn to land a 747? Why would you be planning to fly one? After all, C172 simulators exist. frasca.com/products/cessna-172 You are probably asking from a place of pure curiosity but people wanting to skip basic flight training and go straight to multis and jets is a red flag in the US. $\endgroup$
    – user28387
    Feb 20, 2018 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ Some people consider it fun to play in a simulator for a few hours. They may not intend to ever get a pilot's license. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Feb 20, 2018 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ You really ought to take a nervous flyer course (for example, fearlessflyer.easyjet.com). You'll learn what goes on in the cockpit, but focused at what a passenger would experience. Any other preparation like this is a waste of time and money, unless you're an enthusiast who enjoys to try out a simulator. $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Feb 20, 2018 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ Not really an answer to the question but if you really want to learn the basics of flying, IMHO your best bet is a couple of online courses in aerodynamics and plenty of time listening to recorded conversations with ATC. A good pilot knows what all the buttons and dials are for but what a good pilot does is on-the-fly physics and communication. $\endgroup$
    – user28387
    Feb 20, 2018 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ You should look into buying a game like FSX or X-Plane. The payware addons have realistic autopilots which will help you with your fantasy $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Feb 21, 2018 at 1:33

3 Answers 3


I’ve done one of these before (not with that company). It literally used the Microsoft FSX game engine but with an A320 cockpit. You have an instructor guiding you and I got to fly around my local airport, land at Kai Tak at night (nailed my first attempt), and because I was in real-world training at the time I shot an ILS approach in zero visibility (definitely did not nail that one).

These simulators are usually aimed at people with little to no piloting experience who want some fun (and they are, I enjoyed mine and my dad has done it 3 or 4 times). If you’ve used FSX you know that you can adjust the realism settings to make it easier to fly so, with help from the instructor a novice can probably land it. At the very least you will learn about basic procedures, flaps etc, and what the cockpit looks like.

It will definitely not make you ready to land the real thing though. These things are designed for fun, not realism.


The simulators you are talking about simulate real life scenarios which can help you practice real life scenarios ... in a simulator. For an hour, they can teach you to land an airliner in nearly perfect weather conditions ... in a simulator. So, after spending some time there, you may be able to land the airplane ... in a simulator. Hence, none of this happens in real life.

Since your motives are very well known here, and asking an extremely hypothetical scenario in different words will not get you an answer of "yes Cloud, you can land an airplane", I'll be honest and sympathetic.

If you really want to be useful in an emergency which has only happened in your imagination, here is the plan of action for you:

  • get a private pilot license
  • get an instrument rating
  • get a commercial license
  • get an airline transport pilot license
  • have at least 2000 hours of general flying experience
  • get the rating for the type of aircraft for which you booked your next flight
  • hope that the situation of your imagination will actually happen
  • and lastly, hope that you will not be incapacitated before the pilots
  • $\begingroup$ So how much money would that checklist cost? And if one was to go through all of that effort... they might as well get a job as a commercial pilot while they're at it! :D $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Feb 21, 2018 at 8:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Cloud - I think that's sort of the point! $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Feb 21, 2018 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ You can get a type rating with just Private Pilot, IR and MEL. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Kuo
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:05

So how do these day-courses/experiences work? Do they somehow 'dumb down' the simulator, automating most or all of the process'?

Yes. They 'dumb down' your experience in two ways:

  1. In the rear of the simulator there is a seat and a console, in real life an examiner sits there when evaluating pilots. But during your experience, there will be someone less senior sitting there. He/she will "dial-in" various parameters to make your life simple (e.g. choose an "easy" airfield, make the weather conditions "perfect" etc.).

  2. Typically they will roll out an off-duty pilot who will sit next to you in the right hand seat. You will not notice it because you will be too busy with everything else that will be going on, but they will be sitting there acting as your second pair of hands. They will have a hand on the stick "guiding" you, they will have feet on the rudder pedals so you don't need to worry about that, they willl have hand on the throttle so you don't need to worry about that. Same goes for flaps and other knobs and switches ... they will either do it for you or they will give you orders (tell you exactly what to at the point when it needs to be done).

All in all, its a fun experience. But don't kid yourself that you could be like in a movie and land a plane after only 40 minutes in the sim !

You can try asking for favours, but typically they will be reluctant to waste time dialing in trickier conditions or going hands-off if you have not demonstrated to them in the first five minutes that you can do a good job on your first attempt of landing in perfect conditions with zero hand-holding from the person in the right hand seat.

There is an old saying. Any monkey can fly a plane, but only a pilot can land one.


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