There’s a soft fog ahead as you lift off the runway and leave the airport behind. Hills on the horizon grow sharper as you approach, then fade into the haze as you continue your ascent. You fly straight on toward the horizon as it darkens with the sunset, through all types of weather and over every kind of terrain. You bank back and suddenly it’s night. The lights of Rio de Janeiro twinkle far below. Then it’s day again and you’re flying over Christ the Redeemer, one of the seven wonders of the New World.

This isn’t a dream – it’s far too detailed and real. No, you’re in a FlightSafety International full flight simulator with one of the training leader’s hundreds of highly skilled, patient, knowledgeable instructors. You find yourself leaning with the banks, growing anxious with the approach of Sugar Loaf Mountain. And our instructor is taking it easy on us. You understand how even veteran pilots might build up a little adrenaline when an instructor unloads a cascade of problems in quick succession, requiring quick, calm, certain responses.

Taking the Tour

A flock of Greteman Groupers took advantage of recent open houses at FlightSafety’s two Hawker Beechcraft Learning Centers in Wichita. (You can check out our photos here.) The all-new 1-acre maintenance center still sparkles, which might lead one to believe that it isn’t being used yet. In fact, Manager Bill Magyar and crew just run a tight ship – they’ve been training technicians since Fall 2009. The pilot center, similarly spic-and-span, has been around for years, but is newly expanded and remodeled.

Bringing the World to Wichita

Professionals from 154 countries train with FlightSafety, and currently the Hawker Beechcraft centers’ customer base runs at about 70 percent foreign nationals. At one level, these centers showcase highly technical, cutting-edge sophisticated training technology, yet they also are set up to accommodate the widest imaginable diversity of languages and cultures.

Congratulations, FlightSafety

Our sincere thanks to our gracious hosts and hostesses for a fun and insightful tour, and our warmest congratulations to FlightSafety for its investment in safety. The folks who work at these centers display such dedication and a clear love of what they do. These heroes make the skies safer for all of us. When we board a flight with a FlightSafety-trained crew, we know we’re in the very best possible hands.

Check out all of our photos from the event here.