We recently heard about a truly unique experience that you won’t find in many other places in Greater Manchester: the opportunity to jump on board a 747 flight simulator.
Located just down the road in the Salford suburb of Barton-upon-Irwell is The Deck 747, a fully-fledged flight simulator where you can not only get a little taste of what business class on the upper deck of the legendary Boeing aircraft but even hop in the cockpit and feel what it’s like to fly one for yourself.
Now, when we say fully-fledged, we mean it. This thing isn’t just like the game you see aviation enthusiasts playing on their computer with a few extra bells and whistles, you’re actually sitting in a real-life aeroplane — or a decommissioned one, at least, courtesy of operators Doors2Manual.
That’s right, situated within an otherwise unassuming old hangar at Barton Aerodrome (formerly known as City Airport), this lot got their hands on an old 747, literally sawed off the front half of the top deck and plonked right in the middle of the popular tourist destination for your enjoyment. And boy did we enjoy it.
Upon walking in the front door, we almost had to take a step back when we saw a genuine quarter of a plane just sitting there right in front of us, with the entrance ramp lit up like we were about to go on holiday.
Walking into the plane itself, we might as well have been because we were immediately transported to that place of excitement and anticipation you feel when you’re about to go on your jollies and all we were essentially doing was standing in a big tin can. Then we walked into the cockpit…
We don’t know about you but this is not something we’ve ever experienced before and it genuinely rendered us wide-eyed little kids.
It isn’t just like you’re getting to glimpse behind the curtain into an already immensely cool and exclusive club, but with all the lights, dials and controls and so on, we felt like we had just stepped into the Millenium Falcon or something, it was that surreal.
Not only are you using all of the real-life instruments that professional pilots spend years learning how to master, but you’re also getting a real insight into what it feels like incredible engineering that goes into building aircraft, and making use of a giant curved screen specially constructed by the team, they really do get as close to a pilot’s full field of vision as you can get without actually doing it yourself.
We did two flights, one short little trip from Manchester Airport to Liverpool and then a longer haul journey from Manchester to San Francisco. We can’t lie, we weren’t exactly naturals but, thankfully, our instructor Rod, a recently retired pilot with decades of experience was both helpful and fun throughout.
He even let us try and fly under the Golden Gate Bridge because, again, we’re children and why the hell not? We did it by the way, it was just the landing part we weren’t so great at. In fact, we were so immersed that we were genuinely sweating when it came to bringing the bird back down.
It was beyond fascinating to try and learn all of the stuff pilots have to think about whilst flying these things and if there’s one thing The Deck 747 flight simulator does do is nail the details, right down to showing you where co-pilots would have a kip.
But as you can see, they do plenty more than that too, from selling some real historic gems and pieces of memorabilia from the gift shop to hosting birthday parties and even weddings.
Yes, some people love planes so much they’ve even get married here and more power to them.
The entire place is kitted out with authentic plane parts to the point that even the seats in the lobby area and the reception desk are built out of repurposed chunks of fuselage.
Obviously, having a flight simulator right here in Manchester is the main selling point here but there’s still plenty more to be enjoyed for when you’re not being coached in the cockpit and it shows in the overwhelmingly positive reviews — virtually all of which are five-star. Well deserved.
Once you’ve completed your full flight sim experience and touched back down into reality, you can then pop just around the corner to watch some planes taking off and landing at the active City Airport, as well as people flying helicopters as other fanatics and more casual tourists enjoy the free entertainment.
There’s even the VG Bar & Grill right next to the runway, so you can sit and have a drink and something to eat as you watch the action or decompress after your taxing day pretending to be a proper pilot. Not quite as delicious as that first airport pint before a getaway but a very close second.
We honestly can’t speak highly enough of the couple hours we spent at The Deck 747 flight simulator over at Barton Aerodrome — the time literally and figuratively flew by (had to be done) and we wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try.
Whether it’s getting a voucher for a friend or a loved one, booking something fun with work or for a special event, it’s a great way to spend a day. You can find out more information about the whole experience, pricing and how to get in touch HERE.
Whether you can believe it or not, it’s actually been two whole decades since the 2003 Christmas cult classic that is Elf was released to the world, and with December literally just a few days away now, there’s no better way to celebrate this special anniversary than seeing the film return to the big screen for a limited time only.
From this week, you can head on down to Vue cinemas in both Manchester Printworks and inside Quayside MediaCity, as well as others throughout the region, to watch the beloved festive flick.
Going on to become a much-loved festive favourite that’s watched by families all over the world every time December rolls around, Elf is a Christmas comedy film that tells the story of a human raised by Santa’s elves.
As Buddy grows older, he eventually learns about his origins, and heads to New York City on a mission to meet his biological father.
Directed by on Favreau and written by David Berenbaum Elf has been hailed by many as a modern classic, and it’s often listed as one of the best Christmas films of all time.
It stars legendary comic actor Will Ferrell as the title character Buddy the Elf, alongside a talented ensemble cast of famous faces such as Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Jon Favreau, Peter Dinklage, and more in supporting roles.
Ferrell’s performance as Buddy was also praised by critics and audiences alike at the time of the film’s release, and many have even called it one of the best performances of his career.
Speaking ahead of Elf’s return to cinemas this Christmas, Mike Anton, who is the General Manager of Vue Manchester Printworks, said: “Christmas is all about spending quality time with friends and family, and creating treasured moments to last a lifetime.
“So we’re glad to be marking the merry occasion with a lineup of some of the most iconic and beloved Christmas classics.”
Tickets to see Elf at Vue Manchester Printworks and Vue Manchester Quayside are now available to get your hands on from just £4.99 when booked online here.
If you also find yourself at a loose end in Manchester city centre over the next couple of weeks, there’s another a little hidden cinema tucked away inside popular hotel King Street Townhouse that’s screening a jam-packed lineup of classic Christmas films throughout December too – including Love Actually, Home Alone, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
You can also sip on festive cocktails, and snack on popcorn and pick n mix while you watch all the festive flicks too.
Featured Image – Warner Bros.
Things To Do
Alport Castles – The incredible Peak District lakeside walk with a jaw-dropping spectacle on the route
But there’s one particular hike in the Peak District that’s so impressive it will take your breath away (and we don’t just mean from the effort of walking uphill).
The Alport Castles walk takes in everything from geological formations to massive lakes to manmade structures.
One of which is the Derwent Dam, a massive structure that towers 34m overhead and is flanked by twin Victorian-Gothic towers at either end.
If you catch it when the water cascades over it, you’ll witness a spectacle like no other.
Building the dam in the early 1900s was such an intense and laborious process that an entire town was built here to house the 1000-odd workers involved in its construction.
A specially created railway was also built to bring the enormous stones it’s made from to the valley from the Bole Hill quarries.
But as well as being a mighty sight to behold, the Derwent Dam holds historical significance from the purpose it served during World War Two.
The 617 Squadron used the dam to practice their low-level flying, in preparation for the Dam Busters raid against the Germans. The dam has a lot of similarity to the German dams and is now adorned with a commemorative plaque.
Occasionally, legendary planes like the Lancaster Bomber will still fly overhead to mark the work of the 617 Squadron.
The dam stands at one end of the Derwent Reservoir and was constructed to keep up with the huge demand for water from the booming industries in Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester.
There’s so much water in this part of the Peak District, it’s been referred to as the Lake District of the Peaks.
If you’re eager to get out for some brisk winter fresh air, our pal GetLostMCR has pulled together the most perfect walk, which takes in lakes, views, woodland, and that iconic dam.
The nine mile route is named after Alport Castles, another feature you’ll pass on your way round.
It’s not actually a castle, but rather a tumble of boulders caused by what’s said to be the largest landslip in Britain – it doesn’t take much imagination to see how this geological feature resembles a castle.
GetLostMCR’s circular route starts at Fairholmes Car Park and Visitor Centre and you’ll get to visit the best of Derwent Reservoir, Derwent Valley Woodlands, Rowlee Pasture and Alport Castles.
The route starts at Fairholmes Car Park. The car park does fill up quickly on weekends, so advice is to visit off-peak where possible.
Start: Fairholmes Car Park, Bamford, Hope Valley, S33 0AQ
Toilet facilities at Fairholmes Visitor Centre
Bicycle Hire – Derwent Valley is a great place to explore cycling trails
There’s a refreshment kiosk at the car park, which is open everyday 8am until 6pm (later if there is demand), selling takeaway drinks, snacks and hot food.
Ladybower Inn (7 min drive from visitor centre)
Yorkshire Bridge Inn (8 min drive from visitor centre)