Longtime readers may remember John, a reader who helped talk me out of one of my "I don't think I'll blog anymore" phases. He is now working on a military base in North Carolina and some time ago he suggested that he might be able to get me into a simulator to try my hand at flying a KC130. I of course said something along the line of "Wow, thanks, I should do that!" and then never actually did anything about it. Fortunately he's the sort of guy who writes back and says, "Hey, when are you coming down to see the simulator?"
John works in IT. When you consider that a simulated airplane has no engines to leak oil, no landing gear to swing, no wingtips to bash and very little in the way of structure to corrode, most of the maintenance is IT, so he knows one end of it from the other. Originally when we picked this week for our fun, the sim wasn't very busy, but it broke down a while ago and is only just back online so there is a backlog and the working hours are fully booked. We consider postponing, but who is to say that another month will be any better for scheduling, and they are looking at upgrading the airplanes to include classified equipment, which would make the whole simulator classified, and thus certainly off limits to a foreign civilian. But we're not out of luck. There are four hours a day that John gets the sim: it's is scheduled for maintenance from midnight to four a.m. By coming down to use the simulator overnight, I'm gambling that it doesn't actually require maintenance that night, and that I'm just 'helping' John check out all the systems.
So as soon as I've finished my usual unpack/laundry/repack sequence, I'm heading down to North Carolina. I'm going to come for two nights as insurance against it being broken one night. It's a full motion simulator with high fidelity visuals, a HUD for each pilot, and controls and avionics that closely duplicate the actual airplane.
When else would I have a chance to fly a four-engined tanker/transport, even if it all happens inside a box.