50, 40, 30, 20 … it seemed like it was never going to get there, but finally there was that familiar thump, touchdown. I was a little right of the centerline, so I applied a little left rudder as I pulled back on the reverse levers to hear the roar of the two V2500 engines as they slowed our pace. 80 Knots, feet on the brakes, back now towards the centerline and the Airbus A320 came to a stop about 7,500 feet down the 12,000-foot runway at Orlando International Airport. I had just landed an aircraft roughly 123 feet long, almost 40 feet high, with a wingspan of 111 feet, capable of carrying 180 paying passengers, 3,300 Miles. It was not actually the airplane but was as close as you can get, an A320 Level D spanking new flight simulator at JetBlue University in Orlando, Florida. I was there for a two-day training course to see if I could learn to fly this very sweet airplane.
Some of you know I have been a pilot for a long time. Although it was never my career, I have stayed close to the industry taking a special interest in commercial aircraft over the years. In fact, before the A320 training, I took a similar course a few years back to learn to fly the Boeing 737. These are both iconic machines within the airline industry, and no doubt, if you have flown commercially over the last 25 years, you have travelled on these aircraft. One might wonder, why would I do this? Partly because I love it but more so because I never want to stop learning. In my mind, learning is the key to growth. And I am not going to lie, it is pretty cool too.
JetBlue University is an amazing facility specifically designed for training and learning. As I entered the facility at six am, it was already hustling and bustling with activity. Pilots from all over the country were there to train, whether it be new Hire training for pilots, recurrency training for existing pilots, or conversion training for pilots switching aircraft types. In each case, there was a professional instructor there to greet the pilot and take them through their paces. All of these trainings involve briefings, class time, and simulator time. Now you can imagine that new hire pilots and those switching aircraft would need training the most, but the largest number coming through the facility are existing pilots for recurrency training. At this carrier, every 12 months, each pilot essentially goes back to learn and practice it all again. As a passenger, that makes me extremely happy knowing that so much effort goes into the training of the pilots I fly with often.