Virgin Atlantic helps young flyers get their “Wings”

By: Dave Gunner

October 19, 2018

Here at Virgin Atlantic, we love to create amazing, memorable and exciting experiences for customers going through check in, so this half term we’re helping to inspire the next generation of pilots by introducing flight simulators to London Heathrow Terminal 3. The simulators have been placed at the Virgin Atlantic check in area during one of the busiest periods of the year, so children can try their hand at flying with the help and encouragement of our crew.

Yesterday we welcomed a group of nine and ten-year-olds from London primary school, Grove Park, as part of the Virgin Atlantic Future Flyers programme – aimed at encouraging more young people to consider a career in aviation. The children took part in a question and answer session with some of our pilot cadets, then practiced flying over London and landing the plane at Heathrow – leaving with a pair of special edition Virgin Atlantic “wings”.

According to Grove Park teacher Richard Charlesworth, technological advances in the last couple of decades mean schools are now encouraging children to think about careers that might not have existed before. “That’s why initiatives like today are so good,” he said. “The children really enjoyed going on the flight simulator and it’s opened their minds to future job opportunities they might not have previously considered. I think they’ve learned a lot. They’re also a really curious bunch, so it’s been great for them to speak with the crew and have all their questions answered – not just the technical stuff, but things they wouldn’t have known about before, like the meaning of the pilots’ epaulettes.”

The kids, of course, just want to have fun, and they were certainly excited to take to the virtual skies. “When you turned the plane to the right, the chair turned to the right as well and it felt like being on a real flight,” said Sammy, aged nine. “You had to know when to accelerate and slow down, and there were also tons of buttons to remember as well so it was quite hard.”

Ten-year-old Gabi was also up for the challenge. “Flying the plane felt epic but it was very hard,” she said. “When we came in to land I could feel the sound kind of hit me and go all the way up through my belly. I actually crash landed but I loved it!”

Grove Park pupils show off their certificates and wings

“We believe it’s the duty of all of us in the airline industry to inspire young people to reach for the sky,” said David Kistruck, our president of airline operations. “By placing the flight simulators at our check in desks during one of our busiest times, we aim to provide children and young adults with a fun and informative opportunity to think about a career in aviation.

“We’re proud to welcome Grove Park Primary School, and will continue to encourage young people from all backgrounds to consider exciting future careers in aviation – utilising the wealth of raw talent Britain has to offer.”

Our pilot cadets are on hand to help you safely navigate your virtual flight

If you’re travelling through Heathrow Terminal 3 next week, pop over to the flight simulators opposite the check in desks for your chance to pilot one of our virtual planes. Young or old, all are welcome to have a try, with morning and afternoon sessions running every day until 31 October.


Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.