RETIRED military flyers experienced the thrills of controlling a jet airliner and a modern light aircraft – without leaving the ground.

Members of Woking Aircrew Association were able to “pilot” a Boeing 737 and propellor-driven planes in a visit to Fairoaks Airport in Chobham.

The group met for its first meeting since the easing of pandemic restrictions on , to try out the Airline Experience and Semet Aviation flight simulators.

Several members tried their hand in replica cockpits complete with all the controls found in the airliner and a light aircraft and the sky and ground moving in front of them on a large video screen.

“It was our first face to face get-together in 18 months, and a very interesting one,” said association publicity officer Bill Bawden, a former navigator. “The pilots who tried the simulators really enjoyed the occasion and were impressed by the technology.”

Artur Bildziuk, chairman of the Polish Airmen’s Association and an associate member of Woking ACA, was one of those who “flew” and aircraft. “It was a most memorable experience and highly recommended,” he said.

Member David Jackson said: “It was so good to tickle the memories and I had a very enjoyable time ‘in the air'.”

Airline Experience, which runs the 373 simulator, and Semet which has the light aircraft cockpit were set up at Fairoaks by a group of young commercial pilots.

One of the owners, Nick Shaw, said: “The day was a success for everyone who joined us. We are immensely proud to be able to offer our experiences to a group of individuals who had so much to share in terms of experience, stories and memories.”

Woking Aircrew Association members have been keeping in touch online via Zoom and hope to soon resume their monthly lunch meetings at the White Hart pub in Chobham.