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8 Nov

Dakar rally racing drivers try pilots’ seats

Have you ever been wondering if there are more professions similar to that of a pilot? BAA Training has given an opportunity for Dakar rally participant Antanas Juknevicius and his co-pilot Darius Vaiciulis to try pilots’ seats in a full-flight simulator. The racing drivers tried piloting a Boeing 737 aircraft (in this case a full-flight simulator) and compared this experience to that of driving a rally car.

The toughest part in piloting an aircraft appeared to be the take-off as, contrary to the car, speed is controlled in a different way – with hands. An interesting fact is that the co-pilot D. Vaiciulis had been training on a single-engine aircraft in the past. However, this type of an aircraft is totally different from a giant Boeing with a much more difficult control and complex instruments.

“The strangest thing was the connected system between the yoke and pedals of both the pilot and the co-pilot meaning that we were struggling against each other at first. Everything went smoothly after we had shared the functions. We even managed to take off and land without the instructor’s intervention,” D. Vaiciulis shares his impressions.

At the first glance, a giant Boeing – the most popular passenger aircraft – and a Dakar rally car, specially constructed for the desert marathon, have nothing in common. The power differs more than 100 times – 36 thousand versus 330 horsepower. The maximum speed of an aircraft is more than 4 times higher. Nonetheless, a cockpit of the Boeing 737 actually looks quite similar to that of a rally car. First, many buttons and screens that are used by pilots during a flight can be found in a Dakar rally car as well. Also, information on these screens is quite the same: fuel and oil levels, liquids’ temperature, engine’s rotational speed, navigation etc. Second, procedures and working environment seem to be quite familiar, comments A. Juknevicius after trying the captain’s seat.

“An ordinary person would be amazed by our ‘Overdrive Hilux’ dashboard but a cockpit of an aircraft looks even more impressive with so many instruments. Before each Dakar rally stage our checklist is not so long – check tyre pressure, put on the full set of clothing, put a seatbelt on, turn the communication system on and then start the engine by hitting a few buttons. It is a totally different story in a Boeing, where pilots have a long checklist before each flight,” explains A. Juknevicius after his experience in a full-flight simulator at BAA Training Aviation Academy.

The feelings in the South American desert and inside an aircraft cockpit at an altitude of 12 kilometres differ, but not as much as expected. According to the racing drivers, speed can be felt much more intensively in a rally car than in an aircraft flying at 780 km/h. The main reason is the space in the sky without any other objects that allows us understand our speed better.