‘You have exceeded the capacity of the landing gear’

“Pull up! Pull up! You’re not going to make it. ….. Uh, you have exceeded the capacity of the landing gear.”

Earns+FedEx(2).jpgThose words crackled over my headphones some years back after I failed to safely land a cargo jet at the Louisville airport.

Fortunately, I was flying a UPS flight simulator and not a real jet. One of the perks of my job is that sometimes I’ve been allowed try fun stuff in pursuit of a story. I was reminded of my flight simulator mishap today when I read that FedEx planned to invest a bunch of money in its flight-training simulator operations in Memphis.

Flying the simulator at the UPS training center was incredibly fun. The cockpit had the look and feel of a real cockpit. Lots of cool pilot stuff.  Instead of windshield there was a computer screen that offered realistic day and night views of various airports.

Technology that I don’t understand made the simulator move up and down and side to side, creating a very real sense of flying.

Pretending to fly the big jet was a rush. Thankfully, the trainer sitting next to me didn’t stick any severe weather or other emergencies into the training program.

As I gently turned the aircraft to line up for a landing I remember thinking, ‘I could do this for real.’ Then came the actual landing. That was problematic.

I don’t remember specifically what the trainer said I did wrong, but it was a long list.