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Up, up & away! Flight simulation session at Ellington Field leaves novice on a real high

flight simulation, Ellington Field
Photo by Annie Banerjee

My motto in life is to always try something new, so when I saw an Amazon Local deal for a simulated flight lesson at Ellington Field, I decided to give it a try. I had never flown a plane before — or even played video games — but after all , I figured the worse that could happen if I "crash" in a simulation is a bruised ego. 

So on a hot fall morning I found myself in flight school at the airport about 15 miles southeast of downtown Houston.

Kevin Gabriel, director of operations for AV Flight Simulation, was extremely friendly and immediately put me at ease. With him as the co-pilot, we took off and "flew" over Houston.

 The simulator can be used to train advanced pilots or complete novices like me. It feels like being in an airplane and you soon forget that you are indoors. 

The simulator is approved by the FAA as an advanced training device and can be used to train advanced pilots or complete novices like me. It feels like being in an airplane and you soon forget that you are indoors.

I got a little nervous when I saw downtown buildings approaching and reflexively tried to shoot up. But we were already climbing at a very rapid speed and Kevin guided me to turn left or right to avoid them.  

I relaxed a bit when I averted a simulated 9/11. Even for a novice like me, one has to simultaneously be aware of controlling the elevator, the rudder, the throttle and the Aileron while looking into the horizon. And there are tons more buttons to control for the experienced flyer. 

We finally landed on an airstrip in Galveston — and that was the hardest thing. Although I managed to steer the plane onto the runway, I nosedived into the ground. 

But it was better than my husband’s landing.  He managed to nosedive and lift up sharply again only to land so hard that the plane became stuck in the ground. Thank goodness this was a simulation, and all Kevin had to do was restart the computer. 

The price for the hour was $120 (but my Amazon deal was only $59 and my husband and I split the time). It was money well spent because of the novel experience. I can put a check mark next to "flying a plane" on the list of adventures I've had in my life. And I discovered that I quite like flying. I will certainly go back again.

My hats off to Amelia Earhart.

For more information, visit or call Kevin Gabriel at 281-464-3530.

Annie Banerjee is a Houston attorney who always likes to try new things.

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