Yesterday, I took Boeing’s new flagship airplane out for a spin.
I hopped in the cockpit of a 787, took off from SeaTac, flew down to Olympia, cut back over Vashon Island, and came in low over Downtown Seattle before sticking a VFR landing at Boeing Field.
Now I know what you’re thinking … Rex is on another meth bender, but you’re wrong. That shit wore off hours ago, and when it did, I downloaded X-Plane’s new 787 model from the Android Market (technically “Google Play”, ick), and I spent a couple of hours putting the aircraft to the test in a marginally authentic way.
You see, X-Plane by Laminar Research is the real deal. Their sim engine actually powers many of the commercial flight simulators in use today, and it’s widely held in that if you can fly X-Plane on complete realism settings, you can fly the actual airplane. I know a 777 pilot who insists than X-Plane is actually more difficult than flying the aircraft itself. The lack of inertial feedback tends to disorient him, and he even crashed the 777 simulator once.
Remember that on your next business flight.
X-Plane on Android does not use maxed out realism settings, of course, but it’s still the closest you’re going to get to actual flight on a mobile device, and the models are also incredibly accurate.
So, how does the 787 handle?
Like a bus. Like a goddamn bus.
It takes forever to turn the plane, and it’s so stable that flying it is just kind of … boring. Even cranking the wind up to near hurricane force induced little excitement. From a passenger perspective, it should be a great ride, though.
If you ever find yourself on a 787, and you learn that both the pilot and co-pilot have suffered simultaneous heart attacks (a not-completely-unlikely scenario since many commercial pilots cannot afford healthcare) … pray to God that I am on the plane.
I performed three landings without computer assistance of any kind, all of them survivable.