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Ray Proudfoot

Visit to Concorde Simulator, Brooklands, England

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On Thursday Pete Dowson and I visited the Concorde simulator at the Brooklands Museum located around 10 miles south of London Heathrow aiport, England. There are various packages available to the public. We chose the Gold package which includes lunch with two former Concorde pilots and 30 minutes each in the simulator.
 
Pete and I travelled down the previous day and stayed 30 miles outside London to ensure we were fresh for the day. We arrived at the museum around 10.15am intending to spend some time looking around but less than an hour is nowhere near enough time. As well as the Concorde simulator there is a motor and bus museum as well as several aircraft available to visit. To do it justice you need to spend the whole day there.
 
As well as the simulator Brooklands is home to the pre-production Alpha Golf which was the first Concorde to carry 100 passengers at Mach 2.
 
The first shot is a close-up of Concorde Delta Golf's landing gear information panel. This is followed by a shot of Pete by the main landing gear.
 
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 The next shot shows the underneath of the fuselage with the Brooklands sign in the background. This is followed by a head-on shot with landing lights on and another showing the sleek lines of the aircraft. This was gifted to Brooklands by BA but had to be cut up for transportation and was reassembled by many enthusiasts paid and unpaid.
 
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The next shot shows one of the museum's cars dating back to the 1930s and the surroundings gives it a really authentic feel.
 
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The surrounding area including three classic MGs with a Harrier behind.
 
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The next shot shows one of the buckets on Concorde used for reverse thrust.
 
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This shot shows the reheat system where fuel was squirted into the exhaust providing the extra thrust for take-off and transonic climb.
 
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The last of these shots shows the starboard engines with the inboard configured for reverse thrust.
 
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At 11:00hrs we met at the Sunbeam Cafe for the start of the day's events. The organisers introduced themselves and the two ex-Concorde pilots who coincidentally shared the same name - Ian Smith. They both started flying Concorde in the mid-70s and retired on reaching 55, the mandatory retirement age in those days for BA pilots.
 
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This shot shows one of the pilots chatting with the other two members of our group with Pete in the foreground.
 
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We watched a very interesting video which describes how DG was transported to Brooklands and reassembled. We then moved to the forward cabin where we took our seats and a video recorded by Mike Bannister described how the take-off procedure worked. We were encouraged not to look out of the windows as it would destroy the illusion! There were some big speakers located in the cabin which gave a good feelings for how the engines would have sounded.
 
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After that we were invited to the flight deck and I somehow managed to squeeze myself into the right seat whilst Pete took the left.
 
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We concluded that part of the tour with some group photos. The gentleman on the right of the steps is a Captain with Emirates and flew his 777 into Heathrow before travelling to Brooklands for the tour. His colleague (not pictured) took the photo and is a retired pilot.
 
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Time for lunch! We had a lovely meal which was one provided on a Concorde flight plus choices of wine. Not too much of course because a clear head was needed for later!
 
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The painting in the dining room is the gentleman who designed the racing track at Brooklands in the early 1900s.
 
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On the way to the simulator after lunch we passed a very interesting exhibit. This is a 12,000lb 'Tallboy' bomb several of which were dropped by the RAF on the German battleship 'Tirpitz'. The bomb was designed by Sir Barnes Wallis, the designer of the 'bouncing bomb' used in the Dambuster raids in 1943.
 
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Lauren - the current head presenter of the Concorde Package tours - then welcomed us into the simulator. Once inside the history of the simulator was described. This was gifted by British Airways once operations ceased in 2003. It took a great deal of work to get it set-up and work continues to this day on the Flight Engineer's panel.
 
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We each had two 15 minutes sessions in the simulator and could decide from four scenarios - London, New York, Sydney and Kai Tak. I went first and chose London. The photos are a little out of sequence and the first shows Pete flying over London towards Tower Bridge. With the guidance of the pilot I managed to fly through the bridge successfully much to my surprise! We then engaged full thrust briefly to climb for the approach and landing at Heathrow 27L.
 
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My second flight departed 31L at Kennedy turning right towards La Guardia before a big left turn down the Hudson. We then descended and passed to the right of the Statue of Liberty before descending to under 100ft and flew under one of New York's many bridges. That was real fun!
 
We then climbed and turned to the right for a landing on 13L. The time flew by unfortunately but it was so interesting to experience how it was to fly as close as possible to the real thing. Although it wasn't a full-motion simulator you still felt some movement when banking 30 degrees. The brain being tricked I guess.
 
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This shot shows me going through the before take-off checklist with Ian Smith in the right-hand seat.
 
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And this is after I landed at Heathrow. Reverse thrust still engaged...
 
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The last of the cockpit shots shows the Emirates pilot hand flying the approach to Rwy 13 at Kai Tak. Very difficult but he did a really good job as you would expect.
 
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Once we had all flown our two sessions we were presented with signed certificates and that concluded the tour. It was something I was very much looking forward to and it didn't disappoint. Everyone involved in the tour was really friendly and made it a special day.
 
I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has some experience of flying - either real-world or just a sim pilot like me.
I took these shots as we exited the simulator showing the technical details. Note the version of Concorde used was the SSTSIM version created by Andrew Wilson of FS Labs.
 
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I hope you find this report interesting and that you can perhaps visit Brooklands yourselves and enjoy the world's only Concorde simulator.

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Thank you for this great report. I visited the Concorde on display at Manchester airport and this was already very impressive. The simulator must be awesome. 

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Pete and I also visited Alpha Charlie at Manchester when it was in the open back in 2007. But the simulator is a whole new experience with all those analogue gauges working. The aircraft is a pleasure to fly. Can't recommend it highly enough.

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Thanks for the write-up Ray. My father and I took the technical tour of Alpha Charlie last year (Manchester isn't far away from Longridge in Lancs) and it was rather enjoyable, especially seeing as she's in a purpose built hangar. You get that smell...of aircraft! I think people know what I mean.

 

Concorde's just a real beauty - no other civilian airliner screams "SPEED" at you, with the possible exception of the Tu-144 Charger.

 

Mark.

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That was a wonderful read Ray. It was like being there at first hand. So glad you enjoyed the day.

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Thanks a lot for this detailed report. I will read it now calmly!

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Ray, I sure enjoyed your write up and pictures of your Concorde visit.  I felt that I was right there with you guys, except for the meal. (lol)  Thanks for taking the time to share on something I will never be to see in real life.

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Thanks gents for all your comments and nice words. The digital age allows us to take and share photos very easily.

 

I keep reminding myself how fortunate I am that I live so close to a unique facility and that I can afford to enjoy it to the maximum.

 

Brooklands is very close to Heathrow so if you ever find yourselves flying into that airport try to find the time to visit a wonderful museum.

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That was an amazing read, thank you Ray, very interesting.

 

Cheers,

-E

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Great post Ray. I live very close to Brooklands and have visited the museum and the Concorde experience a number of times. Am still saving up for the simulator !

 

If you are visiting again would love to meet up.

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Hi Peter,

 

I suppose it's possible I'll visit again but it's not a high priority as you'll appreciate.

 

Pity we don't have the annual flight sim shows because I used to meet many simmers at those events. Group photos outside the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham back in the 90s when we all met on CompuServe!

 

I will be at Cosford in October. Maybe we can meet there?

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Wow!!!!!!!!!!

 

Remarkable!!!

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Hi Ray

Thanks for sharing. Did the simulator run P3d or FSX?

Jay

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Jay,

 

The technical details in the last photo above don't say but as they were using the sstsim version of Concorde my guess is that it is FS9.

 

The scenery has been enhanced with buildings such as the Shard and Freedom Tower.

 

Here's some info on the opening of the facility...

 

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/mediacentre/press/2009/4304_the_original_concorde_pilottraining_simulator_is_recommissioned_at_brooklands_museum.htm

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Thanks Ray for an excellent post :-)

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The technical details in the last photo above don't say but as they were using the sstsim version of Concorde my guess is that it is FS9.

 

Yes, it is FS9, with FSUIPC + WideFS + WidevieW. The forward view is provided by 3 projectors via mirrors, to give a better illusion of depth to the image. There is another PC linked via WidevieW to give a different view, and a 4th screen on the main PC which is a copy of the centre projection, via a DVI splitter.

 

WideFS is used to link two other clients providing "Instructor Panel" type facilities, mostly operated by a custom lit push button panel.  One or two screens are used with FS Commander in order to show the position on a map, though I must admit the map resolution was pretty poor. Just a series of straight lines.

 

To run the same number of screens with FSX or P3D with, say, FSLabs Concorde X, would probably need a much more powerful PC. Also the links to and from all the instrumentation (MIP, and centre console are pretty much completely working, the overhead and engineers panel only partly, at present). The software for all this was custom made by an external consultancy, and I would guess converting to Concorde X would be a large job, and maybe not even possible unless FSLabs would provide assistance or at least an SDK (like PMDG do for their 737NGX and 777X).

 

Pete

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Great report Ray. Sounds like that was a fantastic day. I bet you two wished you had another day just to talk simulators with the staff.

 

Ted

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Thanks Ted. With all due respect to the staff I'd swap the talking for another 30 mins flying Ted! :smile:

 

A full EGLL-JFK flight would be my dream but that will have to wait until I win the lottery!

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Thanks Ray, Much appreciated and the photos weren't half bad either :>)

 

Regards Brian

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I can imagine the 30 minutes felt like 30 seconds. Years ago AVsim had a FlightSim conference in Denver and we had access to the United full motion simulators for $150/hr. I don't know if it was Tom Allensworth or someone else who arranged it but it was the deal of the century and I am forever grateful. I took an hour in a 737 and an hour in a 747. Each hour seemed like 10 minutes.

 

Ted

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Thanks Brian. I used a Nikon D7100 and my trusty 18-200 lens which covers just about every situation. Photos reduced from 6000*4000 to 1280*850 for space reasons.

 

Ted, I thought we had another two sessions so was a big gutted I'd used up my 30 mins so quickly. I should have arranged for the other two gents to be kidnapped so Pete and I could have their minutes! :Big Grin:

 

These simulators are great but as you say, the time flashes by. I imagine you loved your two sessions.

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Very nice. I didn't realize they had this as I thought their was just a few static displays left. What an awesome simulator.

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Thanks for posting Ray. Very informative and thanks for taking the time to write about your day and also posts images etc.

Looks like you and Pete had a great day out.

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Very nice. Probably the greatest plane ever made.. 

Thanks for sharing the review :)

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