How to end the year on a high

Two ways to end the year on a high: explore outer space and learn to fly a plane. Now, who says the sky’s the limit?

1. How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
1. How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
21 Dec 2016

1. How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!

In a galaxy not so far away — at the ArtScience Museum, to be specific — you get to go on an out-of-this-world jaunt to the NASA – A Human Adventure exhibition. Mosey through the 1,300 m² exhibition and scrutinise over 200 space artifacts (some of which have flown to space and back!) to find out how astronauts lived, breathed and, er, pooped in space the past 60 years. Jukka Nurminen, 37, producer and curator of the exhibition about “the greatest adventure of humankind” that has travelled to cities such as Stockholm, Madrid and Seoul since 2011, gives us some factoids you should know about the exhibition.

How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
21 Dec 2016

How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!

Get up close to spacecraft... that you’d only see in movies, including the Apollo 13, though these are replicas. “The real things are in museums in the US and they don’t travel easily, even in the US, and cannot be moved abroad. But these are as close to the real thing as possible. Out of all of these, I’d pick the Gemini and the Apollo [as the highlights], but they’re all fantastic and it’s difficult to choose the best one,” Jukka explains.

Fly like A G-force: During your 90-minute jaunt (that’s how long Jukka estimates you should set aside for the exhibition), hop on the G-Force Astronaut Trainer Simulator Ride ($6 per ride) for an exhilarating taste of what it feels like to hurtle out of the Earth’s atmosphere in a space shuttle. It simulates the second of a series of successful US manned suborbital flights in 1961, and you’ll experience forces of up to 2G (astronauts experience up to 6G). Yes, prepare to feel slightly dizzy after the two-minute mini-expedition.

How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!
21 Dec 2016

How to feel like you’re flying: Explore outer space!

Zero in on the suits: “[The display of space suits is] one of the most unique collections in the world, even in the US. You have the one from the first flight [in the 1950s] and the actual suits that were space-flown, from Gemini to Apollo. So we’re covering the 1960s all the way to the mid-1970s to part of the 1980s,” says Jukka.

Rocket science: No matter what Frank Sinatra (or Michael Buble) will have you believe, this is the only rocket that can take you to the moon and back. The Saturn V Moon Rocket is the biggest, most powerful launcher ever successfully used in an operation. Of course, what you see is a replica — the real thing measures about 110m and weighs 2,950 metric tons when it’s fully fueled.

NASA - A Human Adventure is at the ArtScience Museum until Mar 19. For tix and info, go to www.marinabaysands.com/ArtScienceMuseum.

2. How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!
2. How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!
21 Dec 2016

2. How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!

Anyone can learn to fly a plane at Singapore’s first private flight school… without stepping into a real aircraft.

What it is: Can you learn to fly a plane without setting foot in a real plane? Yes and no. The month-old FlightSchool.Sg offers lessons in a full-motion flight simulator that looks and feels just like the real thing, so we’re told. The controls in the swanky $200,000 Redbird MCX flight simulator replicate those in aircraft used in flight training, like the Cessna 172-S. At the end of the course ($4,995 for a 12-week programme) comprising theory lessons and 25 hours of flight time in the simulator, you don’t immediately earn a Private Pilot License (PPL). But it puts you in good stead to attain your PPL in the US under the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Think of it as a preparatory course to put you on the fast track. Flightschool.sg co-founder Fabian Lim is confident that his students can ace flight tests in the US in just 25 days after completing his programme. “By the time you get into a real cockpit, you’ll be familiar with the layout and controls,” says Fabian, a certified private pilot who once flew to 25 destinations in one single road, we mean, air trip. “By removing the need to practice in a real plane, it’s possible for a learner pilot to prepare for the FAA Private Pilot test [in the US] at a fraction of the time and cost of going the traditional route.” If you’re not about to go the whole nine yards to get a PPL, the school also offers a host of programmes if all you’re after is a sampling of what it feels like to be a pilot ($150 for 60 minutes on the simulator; a two-day introductory course is $795). 

How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!
How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!
21 Dec 2016

How to feel like you’re flying: Fly a plane!

What it feels like: Because of my fear of heights and a morbid obsession with plane crash stories, I knew I’d never cut it as a real pilot. Which is why I was more than happy to have a go at a trial sesh in the Redbird flight simulator. Pfft, it looks like the Daytona ride at the arcade, I think to myself when I first set eyes on it. I was terribly mistaken. The controls are about 10 times more complex than any arcade machine. My co-pilot and instructor for the day, Captain Sara, tells me that the controls in the simulator can be switched up to any commercial airport in the world, in any weather condition and to any time of the day. “Let’s do a night flight out of Changi airport,” he chirps. He flips a few buttons, the view ‘outside’ turns dark, and we’re off. All I have to do is steer the plane when he tells me to, and to pull a lever when we’re landing. Easy…right? Not exactly. Take-off is rather smooth, though it’s hard not to get distracted by the glistening night view of the island ‘below’ me (Is that Pasir Ris? Where’s Orchard?). Captain Sara stabs at some buttons and we glide around Pulau Ubin and the neighbouring islands, and instructs me to turn back and land. This is where it gets tricky. “There’s the runway! Make a right turn,” he says, with a tinge of urgency in his voice. I do a sharp turn, and instantly feel a little dizzy like I would on a real plane. Uh oh. After circling a few times around the runway, I tug at the lever, but it’s not hard enough. We almost whiz past the runway when Captain Sara reaches over to yank the lever. We nearly miss the entire runway, coming to a stop right at the edge. Phew, at least this ain’t the real thing.

Flightschool.sg is at WingsOverAsia Hangar 66 (next to Seletar Airport Control Tower), 66 Seletar Aerospace View. For more info, go to http://flightschool.sg

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