Inspiring the next generation of pilots
Here at Virgin Atlantic, we love to create amazing, memorable and exciting experiences for customers going through check in, so this half term we’re helping to inspire the next generation of pilots by introducing flight simulators to London Heathrow Terminal 3. The simulators have been placed at the Virgin Atlantic check in area during one of the busiest periods of the year, so children can try their hand at flying with the help and encouragement of our crew.
Yesterday we welcomed a group of nine and ten-year-olds from London primary school, Grove Park, as part of the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers programme – aimed at encouraging more young people to consider a career in aviation. The children took part in a question and answer session with some of our pilot cadets, then practiced flying over London and landing the plane at Heathrow – leaving with a pair of special edition Virgin Atlantic “wings”.
Children from Grove Park primary school collect their special edition “wings”
According to Grove Park teacher Richard Charlesworth, technological advances in the last couple of decades mean schools are now encouraging children to think about careers that might not have existed before. “That’s why initiatives like today are so good,” he said. “The children really enjoyed going on the flight simulator and it’s opened their minds to future job opportunities they might not have previously considered. I think they’ve learned a lot. They’re also a really curious bunch, so it’s been great for them to speak with the crew and have all their questions answered – not just the technical stuff, but things they wouldn’t have known about before, like the meaning of the pilots’ epaulettes.”
Children travelling during October half term can try their hand at being a pilot
The kids, of course, just want to have fun, and they were certainly excited to take to the virtual skies. “When you turned the plane to the right, the chair turned to the right as well and it felt like being on a real flight,” said Sammy, aged nine. “You had to know when to accelerate and slow down, and there were also tons of buttons to remember as well so it was quite hard.”
Ten-year-old Gabi was also up for the challenge. “Flying the plane felt epic but it was very hard,” she said. “When we came in to land I could feel the sound kind of hit me and go all the way up through my belly. I actually crash landed but I loved it!”
Grove Park pupils show off their certificates and wings
“We believe it’s the duty of all of us in the airline industry to inspire young people to reach for the sky,” said David Kistruck, our president of airline operations. “By placing the flight simulators at our check in desks during one of our busiest times, we aim to provide children and young adults with a fun and informative opportunity to