I have been an aviation buff since before I could walk. It never did turn out as a career (I’ll keep my day job, thank you) but it is still one of my passions. So imagine the huge grin on my face as I shoved the throttles forward to release the power of the UPS DC-8’s four turbofan engines and began racing down runway 35L at the Louisville International Airport. It was exhilarating — what a rush! At 135 knots, I pulled back on the yoke and gently climbed as downtown Louisville disappeared beneath my windscreen. As I leveled off at 3000 feet I gazed out the side window as downtown slipped below me. Puffy clouds all around and a beautiful horizon before me.

Then the instructor hit the pause button and asked if I would like to try a landing from three miles out. “You betcha” I said, securely strapped to the captain’s chair by a five point harness inside one of several $13 million dollar flight simulators at the UPS main air hub in Louisville. This was the ultimate video game. So real, in fact, that the FAA considers any time a pilot spends here as actual flight time. My landing was a bit rough (my excuse was I was testing the realism of the hydraulic motion controls) but I kept it on the runway which is more than I can say about the rest of my work compadres who had joined me on the tour. It was my favorite part of the tour which is saying a lot because the whole time I spent there was extremely interesting. Even though it was from 10p to 2:30a, I was awake and alert soaking it all up.

Thank you to my UPS reps for giving me the opportunity to join you in sharing your facilities and operations. More on the tour in following posts including the most important thing I learned that evening.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net