Formula 1 star Jenson Button enjoyed racing through the skies this week after piloting a British Airways A380 flight simulator at London's Heathrow Airport. The former World Champion - who recently announced his retirement from the track - spent 90 minutes perfecting take-off, cruise and landing of the world’s largest commercial aircraft.
The simulator at British Airways’ state-of-the-art Flight Training Centre near London’s Heathrow Airport - where the airline’s 4,200 professional pilots are trained - uses cutting edge motion, audio and graphics technology to deliver a completely immersive experience.
Jenson was coached on the flight deck by British Airways’ Head of Technical and Training, Captain Dave Thomas and Senior First Officer; William Swinburn for his first ever sim experience.
The 37-year-old made three landings into Hong Kong International Airport in total and was thrilled to take control of the iconic double-decker four-engine aircraft, which forms the centrepiece of British Airways’ fleet along with the Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Jenson said: “It was so cool! I’ve flown all over the world but this is the first time I’ve experienced what it’s like to be at the controls and it was a pretty incredible feeling.
“It’s like you’re in a real aircraft and after a while you forget it isn’t the real thing. I think I did pretty well for a first timer - though if there had been passengers in the back we might have had a few complaints about my first landing. Let’s just say it was a bit bumpy.”
Captain Dave Thomas, Head of Technical and Training, was impressed by Jenson’s handling of the aircraft. He added: “Jenson obviously has experience travelling at high speeds and he adapted well to taking control of the A380.
“Being a pilot is all about calmness under pressure, preparing properly and getting from A to B with safety being the foremost priority at all times, so I think coming from a Formula 1 background Jenson definitely has some of the attributes required of a pilot.”
BA A380s now fly between London and Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Singapore, Washington, San Francisco, Miami and Vancouver.