Pilatus Aircraft provided a PC-12 and pilot Gareth Pool spent hours showing interested visitors the cockpit of this executive turboprop. The brave chaps from Cirrus UK also battled the elements to bring an SR22 across from Turweston to demonstrate the glass cockpit avionics to interested enthusiasts and fellow pilots alike. Sadly the conditions were too bad for Maurice Hammond to bring his two P-51 Mustangs across from their Norfolk base though but later in the day Justyn Gorman stopped everybody in their tracks when he displayed the Extra 300 to best effect.
The turn-out of visitors was as eclectic as the aircraft they watched. Flight Sim enthusiasts rubbed shoulders with PPLs, airline pilots, ATPL students, instructors and casual visitors to the airport. Everyone got a goody bag from the Flight1 girls and everybody got the opportunity to try out the latest software and hardware on hand.
Flight1 demonstrated its Avidyne training software, its PC12 and Fokker 100 simulations along with giving people a sneak preview of their upcoming P-51D Mustang sim (developed with Maurice Hammond's help). Visitors also got the chance to try RealAir's Beech B60 Duke and Spitfire software - the latter being run with a set of replica spitfire controls.
Cockpitsonic, who build replica cockpits from 737s to Cessna 172s, brought their latest offering... a full size Messerschmitt Bf109 cockpit, complete with flying controls and instruments! RC Simulations demonstrated their motion platform and control systems with an awesome three screen display and RAFSIM showed their multiplayer online flying of various military types.
VATSIM demonstrated the online virtual ATC world and guided people in to the virtual fly-in. In fact, the chaps in the real Shoreham Tower were rather jealous of the radar available to their virtual counterparts!
During the day a lot of emphasis was placed on the similarities between simulated and 'real' flying. There was little live flying on the day due to weather but people did take advantage of the PA28 simulator run by the Flying Time flying school at the airport and got some great tips from their instructors. There were also a series of lectures provided on SIDs/STARs, Weather, Props vs. Jets and airfield approaches, with each session being packed. The instructors remarked how well informed and knowledgeable their audience was with plenty of questions and discussions ensuing.
Will there be another event like this? Over to Flight1 Managing Director Mungo Amyatt-Leir... "Judging from the positive feedback we received we'll certainly be holding another Open Day. People have said how much they liked being at a live airfield - even though very quiet on that particular Saturday - and pilots and simmers alike enjoyed learning from one another. We'll announce the dates as soon as we've recovered from this first event!"