Take flight without leaving the ground

By Charlotte Schroeter

Virtual Flight Centre in Coolham, just outside of Horsham, offer virtual flight experiences via a simulator.

When I went along to Virtual Flight, I was greeted by Daren Knightsbridge and Victoria Asquith who took me to my flight briefing.

They are situated in a massive outbuilding, which houses the simulator.

The centre is used for a variety of exercises, Daren told me that they started with training pilots for their interviews, then they started the experience days. They now host a variety of activities such as training courses, corporate events and team building.

Daren said: “After we started the experience days the business just took off! If you pardon the pun! We have been certified by the CAA so we can carry out official training for future pilots. Our simulator is in a real retired plane, not like a plastic one you’ll find elsewhere, or a game in an arcade, ours is so accurate.”

Everyone can give it a go, regardless of experience, you don’t even have to have stepped foot on a plane before.

The instructors talk to the flyer to see what level they are at and tailor the time for them. You start off with a briefing and learn why simulators are used, how planes work and what different parts of the plane do.

The simulator is situated in the first 25 feet of a retired 737 complete with cockpit and some of the cabin and galley. When I entered the cockpit I was amazed at how small the space was for two people. .

 Daren loaded up the simulator and there I was sat at an airport ready to take off! The simulator was very realistic as there is a 3-projector visual system with a 120 degree surround view, and a powerful sound system.

During the simulator experience, I got to take off, fly for a while, and then land. There are different landings you can try which range in difficulty, with different weather conditions, and you can experience landing at night and in the day.

There are a total of 9000 airports to take off from and land at. When you are on the ground, you steer the plane via pedals, you only use the steering wheel controls when you are in the air, which can be confusing if you are used to driving a car.

You can book slots from 30 minutes up to 240 minutes. They have teamed up with the local pub and B&B, The Selsey Arms, to offer a combined overnight package.

It was an amazing experience and it is carried out in a very relaxed and friendly environment. Whether you are a nervous flyer and want to experience flying from the safety of the ground, or whether you want to treat a loved one such as dad this Father’s Day, there will be a package for you.

See the website for more info at

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