• A Night In Elf Hill

    Project 727

    By Tony Vallillo (16 February 2005)

    The legends are as old as mankind. A mortal somehow stumbles upon a tribe of partying elves, or trolls, or leprechauns, and gets invited into their sanctum sanctorum for a long, long night of supernatural partying and general Cain-raising. In the Hall of the Mountain King. Rip Van Winkle. Darby O’Gill and the Little People. A Night in Elf Hill.

    Project 727

    In the stories, there is often a price to be paid for sampling the elves’ largesse, a metaphysical hangover, as it were! I am hoping fervently that this is not to be my fate; for I did, the other day, spend a fantastic evening in Elf Hill. Flight Simulator Elf Hill, that is!

    Personal flight simulation has come a long way since its introduction some twenty-plus years ago. These days certain aspects of MSFS, for example, rival and even surpass the same aspects of the Level D simulators now used in the world of real professional aviation. What truly amazes me, however, is the length to which a few enterprising people will go to close the circle – to make the experience truly “as real as it gets”.

    The cockpit - is it live or is it Memorex?

    There is small but growing number of enthusiasts who have built, or are in the process of building, ultra realistic cockpit simulators at home. The most ambitious of these projects are using actual aircraft nose sections, purchased from the aeronautical bone yards of the world, shipped home, and stuffed with computers, screens, controls, and as much of the original cockpit paraphernalia as eBay and the checking account can provide. The level of realism achievable is apparently limited only by the size of the latter!

    The historical time line of N52310.
    Certainly one of the best of these endeavors is Project 727, which is the culmination of the dreams of one man – cardiologist Joe Maldonado, of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Joe has had two love affairs in his life – his lovely wife Debbie, and flying! His father was a pilot, and so Joe was bitten by the bug whilst still a child. Like so many, he set his sights on being an Air Force pilot; but, again like so many, he lacked the perfect Chuck Yeager vision that the services required back then. He then turned his not inconsiderable talents to medicine, and after surviving the usual grind of medical school, internship, residency, and whatever other denigrating forms of servitude the AMA considers part of the mandatory apprenticeship, he accepted the caduceus and started a thriving medical practice in paradise.

    The love of flying, however, never left him, and when Microsoft Flight Simulator entered its mature phase, in the 1990’s, Joe took to flight simulation like a tropical fish to the azure waters of his home island! MSFS would become, in time, a viable sublimation of the urge to fly a real airplane. I know this feeling well – for almost 6 years I, too, sublimated the desire to sink a considerable amount of money down the aeronautical sinkhole of airplane ownership by flying the latest versions of FS. In my case the urge-to-own eventually became too powerful and I succumbed. Joe, too, would ultimately succumb, but to an entirely different temptation.

    Like so many of you, Joe has always been under the spell of the Big Iron! Airliners, not Cessnas, fire his blood; and thus it was that he began to create cockpit environments suitable for the virtual Captain he was fast becoming. His first efforts, like the efforts of many of you, involved homemade consoles and radio stacks sitting in his “office” at home. But Joe kept dreaming; and for him, to dream is to act!

    The Arecibo "Air Museum", headquarters of Project 727.
    The first and second generations of jetliners were, by now, finding their way to the bone yards in increasing numbers – most to become beverage cans in the due course of time. But the combination of certain big dreamers in the flight sim community and some enterprising scrap dealers led to the availability of early airliner nose sections, for a price. Add a little containerization, some transoceanic shipping, and a final truck ride across the length of paradise, shake well, and voila – a 727 nose section in the backyard!

    Now at this point Joe might have been content to merely stick a computer, monitor, and a CH yoke in the cockpit of his 727 and go flying! I’m sure at first he did just that, but his goal was always to fully restore the cockpit to its original operational appearance (the cockpit, when he received it, was completely gutted, as they all are – everything that can be removed usually has already been removed to be recycled as spare parts) and integrate the controls of the 727 itself into a full functioning flight simulator setup. And he has succeeded. Wow, has he ever succeeded!

    Joe and I have been corresponding via email for months now, after I discovered his excellent website (www.xsn.net/project727/). To me, the concept of a homebuilt private airliner simulator was intriguing, to say the least. I flew the 727 in all three crew positions for a total of 14 years with my airline, and it was the first airliner I qualified on as a Captain, so it holds a special place in both my logbook and my affections. Add to that the fact that hardly a month goes by that I do not have the opportunity to fly to San Juan and you have the makings of a visit! Joe dotted the “i” by graciously extending an invitation, and so it was that I found myself commanding flight 1635 from JFK to SJU the other day; a trip that features a nice long layover in San Juan, only an hour from Project 727!

    Ship passing, albeit in the daytime, on Amber 300.
    The flight down Amber 300 went exceptionally smoothly, and with a modest tailwind we arrived at the gate at SJU a bit early. (A little sidebar: many air routes throughout the world, outside of the USA, use an alphanumeric identifier like A300. In the old days, these were verbally identified by the name of a color matching the letter – so, for example A300 would be Amber 300, R736 would be Red 736, B was blue and G was green, and so on. This terminology has more recently yielded to the monochromatic Alpha 300, Romeo 736 and the suchlike. More’s the pity, because the colors lent a certain romantic tinge to the aeronautical vocabulary. You can always tell an old timer these days [such as your humble author!] by his stubborn usage of the color names!) A limo ride downtown to the Caribe Hilton, our layover hotel on the beach, was followed by a quick shower and change of uniform. Then it was off to the rental car agency for a set of wheels. Within minutes, I was zipping down the highway to Arecibo, taking in the delightful mountain scenery of the Karst country and being treated to an exhibition of some of the world’s most amazing daredevil driving – driving that would make the Roman motorists look like high school driver-ed instructors! Having survived the derby, I arrived at the agreed-to rendezvous point, and was met by Joe and his son Thomas, a handsome teenager with, I would discover, a penchant for basketball. Taking up the position of wingman, I followed them to their home, the very site of Elf Hill itself.

    Elf Hill itself, in twilight.
    “Elf Hill” (no, that’s not what Joe calls it!) is actually a large steel Quonset-hut style hangar in the middle of what will be Joe’s backyard when his new house is finished. (And no, the family is not living in the 727 nose section, but rather in a nice house on the property that belonged to Joe’s father, the other pilot in the family!) Shortly after N52310 (the N number formerly assigned to this ex-TWA Boeing 727-200) arrived, Joe built this hangar to house the project. We’ll get a glimpse inside the hangar shortly.

    The “Tour” started in the house, where Joe first pointed me in the direction of another sort of Elf Hill – his collection of scale model airplanes. (I’ve been an airplane modeler for years, having whiled away the many hours I spent as a new-hire on reserve building models of the 727’s and 707’s I was waiting to fly.) Joe’s collection is extensive and includes at least one of just about every plastic scale model airliner kit ever produced! The examples that he has built and painted demonstrate a painstaking attention to detail and an outstanding artistic technique – both traits that have served him well in the restoration of N52310.

    Captain Joe at the controls of his original simulator setup. Note homemade console to his right.
    From plastic models to virtual models, we next entered Joe’s flight simulation “office”, where he demonstrated the original console that started this whole project in motion. On the desk above are three flat panel monitors displaying a high-resolution emulation of a 727 cluster of instruments. In due course, these monitors will reside behind a new main instrument panel that Joe has been building, the display carefully configured so that the “instruments” will appear precisely in the appropriate holes in the panel. This panel, which Joe brought out and proudly displayed, is a work of art in itself, indistinguishable from the real article. It will take the place of the actual main instrument panel, which now, fully restored, sits in its’ honored place on the flight deck of N52310.

    The new panel, which will serve as a mask for the computer generated 727 instruments.
    Joe has a number of state-of-the-art computers in both the office and the hangar, and I thus availed myself of the opportunity to have a close-up look at two commercial Boeing 727 add-ons – the Captain Sim 727 and the just-released DreamFleet 727. Both of these require more computer muscle than a mere airline captain can afford these days, and so I have had to pass on actually acquiring either of them. Both appear to be outstanding products; although I, as a mainly 2D pilot, am a bit more impressed by the DreamFleet product, in large part due to its outstanding 2D FE panel. I spent 10 years qualified as a 727 FE (although I did not actually fly that position for anywhere near that long – I was a check engineer/FO for quite a bit of that time) and I still have fond memories of flying sideways!

    Having thus whetted my appetite for the Boeing 727, Joe then led me over to Elf Hill itself. Upon entering the hangar, the first impression I had was that I had entered a museum. Joe has arranged his considerable collection of 727 artifacts, manuals, pictures and models in glass cases and tabletop displays that would do an air museum proud. While I was perusing this large body of memorabilia, Joe bustled about, powering up the simulator and its various computers, visual systems and lights. This took a few minutes, but I hardly noticed, so absorbed was I in stepping back about 20 years to the Pleistocene era of my own airline career, browsing once again through performance charts that I used to consult on the fly!

    Inevitably, however, I turned my attention to N52310 herself. She now consists of roughly the first 30 feet of the fuselage; her wings, tail and mid-section having vanished long ago, no doubt to become beer cans. But this part of her will live on – a treasured artifact that will even “fly” again, in its own way. What 727 could wish for a better fate? She sits on a specially designed trailer-base, her skin (pocked here and there by repair plates and doublers, campaign ribbons of a long and distinguished career) polished to a shine by Joe and his son Thomas. I can empathize with the polishing – my own airplane, N112T (photo, right), is a symphony of polished aluminum that demands, every year, more hours of polishing than I get hours of flying in it! Been there! Done that! Got the T-shirt!

    The galley -- good to the last drop!
    Just at this juncture, as though animated by telepathy, Joe presents me with my real uniform of the night – the official Project 727 shirt and cap! These I immediately don, and thus properly attired I mount the steps to the right hand galley door and enter the inner sanctum.

    Inside, I am in a different world. The galley has been restored to a fare-thee-well, and the only thing missing is the distinctive aroma of airline coffee! Someday, perhaps, Joe will close the circle and hook up the coffee makers for that last drop of realism. Not a problem tonight, though, for I am not a big coffee drinker. For me, coffee is an emergency procedure, and the flight attendants on my trips know that if I ring for some, my caffeine level as well as my alertness is about to sink to an alarming low!

    I meet Cindy, the number of Flight Attendant for tonight's flight.
    Speaking of flight attendants, I immediately make the acquaintance of Cindy, our Number One for tonight’s trip. Cindy is tall and statuesque, and straight out of central casting in her neat airline uniform, which happens to be the current uniform of my own airline! Didn’t I date you once, long ago, before I met and married She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed?

    In this roughly 15-foot long area behind the cockpit, Joe has faithfully recreated an airliner cabin, complete with a section of coach seats (apparently eBay has yet to offer the leather first class variety!) and a fully restored Blue Room. The Blue Room, known to groundlings as the lav, lacks only that unmistakable scent. I suspect that Eau-de-Blue Fluide is not one of the offerings at Perfumes-R-Us, so this aspect of realism may have to be forgone! The lack of any remaining trace of the lav aroma suggests that N52310 spent a long time waiting in the bone yard before Joe rescued her, and/or that Joe and company spent many the hour and many the calorie scrubbing the now-tidy bowl!

    The windows in this passenger cabin are intact and original, and outside there is a screen. Joe has experimented with using the side view of MSFS to provide a passenger view out the window, and the experiment was a success. This will soon be a permanent part of the visual system, and will allow for a simulated passenger experience as well as the flying. If he can get the ovens in the galley working, Joe can even simulate airline food! (Just how to do that will, no doubt, be the subject of considerable debate in the MSFS community! TV dinners perhaps? Just remember – steak or chicken!)

    The Hall of the Mountain King himself lies just beyond this door...
    On the forward bulkhead there is an attraction that most 727’s did not have in their airline careers – a CRT screen showing a movie. This will be useful when there are “passengers” along for the ride, maybe even allowing them a view into the cockpit, not unlike the cockpit camera that was once on our DC-10 fleet.

    Notwithstanding the realism and charm of the cabin, I do not linger long, for beyond the cockpit door I see a realm that brings back memories over 28 years old. Forward of the door is a complete - and I do mean complete - 727 cockpit. Not a mock-up or a facsimile, but the real thing, and looking for all the world like all it needs is the engines started to go for a real flight! As I said, I spent 14 years flying these things and training others to fly them, and you can take it from me – every piece is here. There is absolutely nothing homemade looking about this.

    The flight engineer’s seat and panel are the first things you encounter when entering a 727 flight deck, and I cannot resist sitting down and enjoying deja vu all over again! All of the lights and switches on the panel work, although the switches are not hooked up to anything, and the lights are all either on or off – they do not serve as indicators of anything specific at this point. Joe is not ready to say whether the FE panel will ever be fully functional, and a lot would depend upon whether any MSFS product would offer full FE functionality at this level. But that really doesn’t matter now, for if we had an engineer tonight, he could flip the switches to his heart’s content! All I can say is I wish we had something like this to practice on when I was in new-hire school as an FE!

    Deju vu all over again - my return to the flight engineer's panel.
    In due course, after the wave of nostalgia breaks over me, I turn my attention to the pilots’ stations. There is very little room in a 727 cockpit, and I immediately notice, somewhat to my chagrin, that I have forgotten and will have to quickly relearn the 727 shuffle, the unique series of leg and foot contortions needed to move gracefully into and out of the pilot seats. As a real pilot (and as a virtual pilot too, no doubt) appearances are of tremendous significance, and a good pilot is a suave-looking, coordinated pilot! It takes only a minute or so to get back into the swing of the dance, and I am able to demonstrate the steps to Joe, so that he, too, will look like a real Captain!

    Gracefully seated, I survey the realm around me. It all comes back quickly. Here is the narrow cockpit, with the side windows seemingly crowding your shoulder. There is the narrow center console, with the three narrow throttles – nothing at all like the wide-topped throttles on a 767. There, also, is the trim wheel, which clattered like an old trolley car when it was activated. (This one is not hooked up to FS, although it does turn with the manual handles. Once again, Joe may look into hooking it up to the yoke switches later on, if it is feasible.) Facing you is the distinctive instrument panel, with the Collins flight directors and the dozens of steam-gauge instruments. This panel is a real blue-ribbon restoration achievement; it will, no doubt, occupy an honored place in the museum outside when the working FS panel is eventually installed.

    Right outside of the front windows is a large screen, made of a sheet of white material stretched on a frame. This is the visual system, and it is a work in progress. Currently, Joe is using a rear projection set-up with one of those computer projectors that you usually see running Power Point presentations at meetings. Here the projector is aimed squarely in your face, and the image is conveniently reversed so that it appears correct when viewed from the cockpit. Right away, I see confirmation of something that I have long alleged: in every respect, with the sole exception of screen resolution, FS2004 visuals are more realistic than all but the absolutely latest big-simulator visuals. In deference to our location, the visual is displaying

    The visual system from outside, just alongside the cockpit.
    John Young’s SJU scenery; which, I can confirm, is quite realistic, having just landed there and parked at this very gate earlier today!

    Joe is still deciding how to finalize the visual set-up, and we spend some time discussing various options, including details of how the early front-projection screen systems worked at my airline. For now only the front view is displayed, but he intends to have screens at both side windows as well, displaying the 45-degree front views on each side. This will provide a great many peripheral vision cues, which are valuable in the landing phase. Indeed, it was the provisioning of side views some years back that allowed the airlines to secure approval from the FAA for the logging of currency landings in the simulator.

    But enough of all this talking – now it’s time to go flying! Operation of the simulator is, at the moment, in a state of transition. The yokes, properly connected together, do in fact function as “joy sticks”, and control the pitch and roll axes of motion. The three throttles are also functional, and thrust is controlled directly with them. Everything else up front moves as it should, but nothing is “hooked up” to FS; so, for example, raising the gear lever or working the flap handle is, for now, simply an exercise in prototypical behavior. All of the other functions of FS are controlled by a keyboard and mouse, which now make their appearance from a storage space on the left side of the Captain’s seat.

    The "Admiral's Club", complete with comestibles.
    Since Joe is the founder of this feast, so to speak, I defer to him and take the right seat to serve as his copilot. Joe taxis us over to runway 08 for our first takeoff. After takeoff, I’ll give him “vectors” around for a Lagoon Visual Approach back to runway 08. The steering tiller is not connected to FS, nor the rudder pedals, but the aileron axis of the yoke provides ground steering. We set flaps to 15 degrees with the keyboard, and also move the flap handle for some verisimilitude. Joe knows the V speeds by heart, so we’re ready to go. “Clearance” having been obtained from the tower, Joe advances the throttles and N52310 starts to “roll”! Now remember that the instruments on the panel merely return our stares – they are non functional. We are using the alphanumeric readout on top of the visual screen for airspeed and altitude. This will all change, of course, when the new “instruments” are installed and operating. We could, if we wished, display the actual 2D cockpit on the visual in front of us, and I will, in fact, do that occasionally when it is my turn, to set power or fly precisely for a moment or two. On takeoff, though, it is more appealing to see the runway rush toward us, although, since this is a 727, and a heavy one at that, it is treating us to a rather lethargic “rush” indeed. This is all completely realistic, however, and I’m sure that if I were to pilot a heavy three-holer today I would be appalled at the slower acceleration on takeoff (compared to a 757 or 767). The reasons for this were discussed in

    Joe's workshop in the hangar
    part two of the “Golden Argosy”, to which I now refer you if you wish to know more.

    V1 and rotate, and Joe smoothly raises the nose and gets N52310 into the “air”. Right away I can tell that he’s been doing his homework – he flies this simulator as though he had built it himself! Duhhhh! Seriously, though, it never ceases to amaze me how well some people can fly MSFS when they have never touched the controls of a real airplane in flight, and especially a real 727. Joe has, admittedly, flown once or twice in an airline simulator, but his flying tonight is obviously the product of much more than that. Here is a man who has logged a lot of stick time on good old MSFS, and has the chops to prove it.

    After we clean N52310 up I have Joe level off at 3000 feet and start vectoring him back around for the ILS to runway 10 with the little jog over to runway 08 at around 500 feet on final. This is known as the Lagoon Visual approach, and is the preferred arrival into SJU, especially for my airline, which occupies the entire north side of the terminal. Joe swings us smoothly onto final, just like a real

    A small part of Joe's extensive collection of model airplanes. The ones sitting on their landing gear are scale models built and painted by Joe.
    Captain would, and I get some time to enjoy the outstanding Puerto Rico scenery. At this point on the real approach, you would be flying past cruise ships the size of supertankers docked in the San Juan harbor, and a goodly number of the people who have been following you around since New York will be leaving San Juan on one of these ships. For now, we have only Cindy following us around in the cabin, and we haven’t heard a peep out of her!

    Joe gets us all configured with gear and flaps and we slide down the glide slope to runway 10. Around 500 feet altitude he banks left and lines up with runway 08. Easing the “bird” down over the threshold, Joe executes a smooth landing right on centerline, which is no easy task in any simulator, and is made just a bit tougher in here because of the way the visual system is set up. I have already suggested to Joe that he orient the visual to the left seat, which will involve aiming the projector directly at the left seat occupant, not at the windshield center post, as it is now. With things as they are, the visual scene seems to be a bit offset to the center, from either seat. No matter, for Joe is used to this system, and he nails it on the first try! After we stop, I debrief him, which consists mostly of compliments on his flying! We then swap seats and reset to the takeoff position to give me a chance to do a little flying.

    As I push the power up for takeoff, the years fade away, and I’m back in the left seat of my first command, in 1987. Steering with the yoke, while novel, is not difficult, and we stick to the center of the runway like glue. At V1 I ease back on the yoke. Joe has a centering spring connected right now, to center the yoke in both axes and give a certain amount of “feel”. This actually works well in practice. N52310 is a 727-200, most of which were actually very light on the controls, so the feeling of rotating a 727 is very much present. After we get airborne, the nose wants to come up a bit too

    high, and I determine that the pitch trim setting Joe has been using is too nose-up. We change that on subsequent takeoffs and all is well. The roll axis is very smooth and light, just like the real thing. The 727 was, in fact, probably the nicest large jet transport airplane in terms of handling qualities. It pitched and rolled smoothly, like a BMW or a Mercedes drives, with light control forces and great responsiveness. What a difference it must have been from the 707, which had no hydraulic boost except for the rudder. The 707 was a real truck in the roll axis particularly – the pitch axis was no picnic either, but most pilots simply flew it with trim. Roll, though, was entirely a matter of muscle.

    As we clean up I begin to get a feel for the flight dynamics. We are using the new DreamFleet 727 in here tonight, and if tonight’s performance is any indication, which it very well should be, DF has hit a home run! This thing flies more like a real 727 than anything I have ever seen outside of an airline simulator. And I’ll tell you a little secret – at the airline we once had at least one really old 727 simulator that did not fly as well as this! N52310 lacks motion, of course, but that is not as much of a problem as you might think, with a visual this large staring you in the face. I remember going into the Comanche helicopter simulator at Sikorsky some years back. This was a full six-degree motion job inside a dome visual, the kind that surrounds you top, bottom, front and rear, and even a bit below. The motion was off, and I was not even in the cockpit itself, but standing next to it inside the dome. When the test pilot put it through its paces, which, in a Comanche are considerable, I found myself getting a bit queasy just from the surround visual – no motion at all!

    Project 727 headquarters.

    For my first act, I simply repeat Joe’s performance on the Lagoon visual. My approach and landing were as good as his, which is only fair since I have several thousand more hours in the 727 than he does! The approach and landing are very well simulated, with realistic pitch attitudes and power settings. Again, this is a product of both the reality of the cockpit itself and the quality of the DreamFleet flight models. Also, let’s not forget the MSFS visuals, which play a huge role in a project of this type. Control with the real yoke is smooth and accurate, and the throttles are also exceptionally accurate in the sense that the angular settings versus power produced are very close to what I remember them to be in the airplane. The lack of visuals on the side windows makes circling approaches and traffic patterns a bit difficult, but this was precisely the case with the airline simulators, back when there were no side views. It’s a moot point, because N52310 is going to have side views in the future.

    N52310 and the main who saved her from oblivion.

    After landing in SJU, I offered to show Joe some of the more “interesting” approaches I’ve flown over the years. First, we simulated, from start to finish, the shortest 727 flight I ever made. This would be the ferry flight one night back around 1978 or so from LGA to JFK. I was the engineer that night, and I knew, the moment we were cleared to taxi to runway 22 for takeoff, that it was going to be a short trip! The Friday night ferry was a weekly event in those days, and the normal routing was halfway to Montauk Point prior to turning back toward JFK. On the night in question, though, the winds favored 22 strongly enough that the usual embargo on takeoffs from this runway was suspended. Fortunately, I had over a year of line FE experience under my belt, and I decided to check the ATIS at JFK to see what was up over there. Suspicions confirmed – they were using runway 13L for landing. In those days, the FE calculated the takeoff and landing data manually, handing up a completed card for the pilots to reference. I decided to fill out both the takeoff and the landing portions right away, and well it was that I did so, for the flaps were never fully retracted and the total off-to-on time was only around 4 minutes, no doubt something of a record in a three engine transport airplane! It was certainly the shortest flight I ever made!

    Powering up the simulator and visual.

    We reproduce it flawlessly in N52310. The entire experience is here – the takeoff, Manhattan passing off the right side (we are doing this by day, the better to enjoy the NY scenery!), and the slight left turn to line up with the 13’s at JFK. I manage to overshoot the left side, courtesy of the lack of a side view (that’s my story, judge, and I’m sticking to it!) so I recover by landing on 13R. What the heck, it’s longer, anyway.

    Last turn of the Canarsie approach to runway 13L JFK.
    Next is the Canarsie approach into JFK, followed by the River Visual into DCA. I wanted to show Joe the Checkerboard approach into Kai Tak, but we couldn’t find that flight in FS2004, so that will have to wait for next time. I suggested to Joe that he look into the Flightsoft Hong Kong scenery – it should be utterly spectacular on this platform! After all, a real cockpit, with real controls, and what can only be a super computer running the show all combine to leave little to be desired!

    Pilot that he (virtually) is, Joe had to have a go at the approaches I demonstrated, and he did a great job with very little prompting! So much so that I conferred upon him, by the powers vested in me as a former chief pilot and check airman on the 727, the honorific “Captain of Virtual Boeing 727’s”. This will allow him to command flights in N52310 to all corners of the known world, with passengers! Throw in a dime, and you can get a cup of coffee. Ah, but it is the achievement that counts! And the achievement is not only being able to fly N52310 so well, but also the much greater accomplishment of preserving and restoring her in this unique way. After all, old Dash 80, in its proud retirement at the Smithsonian, is only a static display. N52310 flies again, even if only virtually. If I were an airplane, that’s how I’d want to retire!

    "Captain" Joe congratulated after receiving his virtual type rating.
    So what, you all ask, is the bottom line of all this? Simply this: here is the closest thing there is to a full-blown professional flight simulator. It is 100% realistic in appearance, and very realistic in operation, certainly enough so that any flight simulation enthusiast, or real pilot for that matter, could have a total immersion experience flying this. And in one respect, it may even surpass the airline simulators – after all, there are no provisions for passengers in the big sims. Joe, on the other hand, can bring along 8 or 10 people for the ride, and feed them, entertain them, and practice PA’s on them! That is something we cannot do even with Level D!

    So thanks, Joe, for the memories! I haven’t had this much fun in years, and certainly never in a simulator. After all, when we go into the simulator, it is a check ride, and they’re keeping score. It’s nowhere near as much fun, I’m sure you’d agree! As I drove back to the hotel I couldn’t help but wonder – is there indeed no limit to what imagination and hard work can do? I certainly hope not! Happy landings, Captain Maldonado!

    Anthony Vallillo
    [email protected]

    Visit the Project 727 web site

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