Visiting – and Flying – with Lufthansa’s Airline Training Center


With as much flying as I’ve done people often ask me why I haven’t yet become a pilot. I can think of two reasons. First, it is expensive. Second, they don’t let you drink nearly as much champagne if you’re in the cockpit.

Still, when I was told I’d have an opportunity to fly a simulator at Lufthansa’s training facility I jumped at the opportunity.

We were greeted by the facility’s President and CEO, Matthias Kippenberg. A 30+ year pilot, Matthias explained the training philosophy and other aspects of the curriculum and the life of the students on-site. Each student pays about $80,000 for their training, though they are loaned the money by the airline at a reasonable rate and only have to pay it back after they get a job with the company, so it isn’t too much of a risk there.

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Next we were escorted out to the flight line where we got to kick the tires and climb aboard one of the training aircraft that they use, the Bonanza.

It was definitely strange seeing so many Lufthansa logos in the USA and equally strange seeing them on such small planes.

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Next up was the much anticipated trip into the simulators. I was last to go and didn’t have a ton of time to fly, but it was still an amazing experience.

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IMGP7003-1More than anything, it was humbling.

I was doing my best to follow the instructions I was given but I still managed to find myself WAY off-course. At one point the instructor actually had to “fix” my position by just clicking on the computer to put me in the right place. Still, I did manage to land the plane – with a couple bounces – and survived the trip. The instructor confessed that there was only one landing that day that would have truly worried him had we been in a real airplane, and it wasn’t mine. That’s a pretty good vote of confidence, I’d say.

I’m also more convinced than ever that I’m really quite comfortable in the cabin, not the cockpit. Seems like an awful lot of work going on up there.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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