How to fly a 747

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'Why',you might ask,'should I want to learn to fly a 747? I've paid my airfare and expect the airline to provide at least a couple of reasonably competent pilots to do the job for me.'

If that is how you feel, then you have obviously not seen any of the Airport movies. It is a matter of certainty that at some time on some plane somewhere both pilots are going to be stricken with a fast-acting virus that will incapacitate them and if you are on that plane it would be a good idea to know the basics.

In view of the above, I have written a short guide that will give you the skills that airline pilots take several years to master and it will only take a few minutes of your valuable time.

Basic Rules

There are three basic sets of rules for flying - VFR, IFR and the Eastern Bloc method - and I propose to deal with them in order.
VFR:- This is the simplest method of navigation. You fly low enough to see the roads and rivers below you and simply follow them to your destination. Unfortunately, the weather isn't always good enough to see where you're going so this method is generally not used by the airlines because it would put all their schedules out.
IFR:- Air Traffic Controllers have invented a system of 'Airways', which they have given colours and numbers to. This allows pilots, who everyone knows are illiterate, to plan their flights by saying something like 'I'll go up the blue one then along the red one and then come down the green one.' This makes it easy for all concerned. However (there's always one of those), under VFR there's so much sky and comparatively so few aircraft that the chances of hitting anything is so remote as to be mathematically negligible. Under IFR, all the planes have been put much closer together thus justifying the job of the ATC in keeping them from banging into one another.
Finally, the Eastern Bloc method:- At the start of your flight you are given a course, a height and a speed. Deviate from any one of these and a MiG 25 appears on each wing, you land at the nearest airfield, the passengers continue their journey by bus and the crew are never heard from again. They don't get repetitive mistakes!

Pre-Flight and Taxiing

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