• Atul Prasad

I Believe I Can Fly

The concept of humans flying through the air seemed impossible 120 years ago. The invention of a plane by The Wright Brothers has revolutionised air travel and trade to an unimaginable extent. It is easier than ever to fly all over the world, to visit family, for work, to explore faraway places but there are also those who fly simply to fly for the love of the thrill of aviation. Meet Gul Panag. A Pilot, Entrepreneur, Actor, Wife, Mother, Activist etc. Her love for machines has been growing strong since the age of 13, when her cousin started flying. When time came for her to go to college, she wanted to enroll herself in the same flying school, the same one my cousin went to every day. But she had to put this dream aside as we all hail from a society, where you are not really encouraged to have interests which don’t convert into something commercial.

Soon after she came out as Miss India and took up acting as a career, this opened up possibilities for her to pursue the dreams she always had. One of these dreams was to fly, be there up in the sky. So she went ahead and trained really hard to gain the private pilot license where her goal was to fly every alternate weekend. She has inspired millions to a great extent. Now that we are all in a lockdown and aren’t allowed to stir out, you must be wondering, “How is she pursuing her hobby of flying?”. Well, as a lot of activities are kept alive is by practising it on a regular basis. Flying, as a hobby, in the times of COVID-19, can be kept alive by flying your plane on a simulator. 

Gul and her husband Rishi Attari, have a simulator at home, to keep their passion for flying alive and healthy. A simulator is a small set up that allows you to simulate (obviously) the flying experience that a pilot would have. The setup is quite simple its a Mac mini, its monitor, a sound bar, flight control yoke and rudder pedals. The software installed is the X-Plane. The software has various aircrafts preloaded on it and Guls aircraft the Cessna 172 is loaded on it as well. 

The simulator keeps Guls flying skills sharp and helps her practice emergencies and new flights the she wants to do. The sim ensures you're safe when you're in a real plane and the experience of real flight becomes much more fruitful. Flying a real plane can be expensive and a simulator offers a viable and affordable solution for the intermediate time. 

Simulator flying as a hobby is also very popular. There are Sim pilots who have never flown a plane but are very content in the world of simulated flying. There are lots of clubs and activities based around Simulator flying. An example of the same is the Xplane flight forum https://forums.x-plane.org .

All in all flying is a wonderful hobby and it allows tremendous satisfaction with personal growth. If one has the will there are no boundaries as flight as a hobby is available at very affordable costs as well. 

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” 

Leonardo da Vinci