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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Race Car Drivers Take Flight

Alvaro Parente and Marco Bonanomi

 “If our racing careers don't take off, 
we're already training to fly the A330!”

At Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir, Marco Bonanomi  and Alvaro Parente, the two drivers for QI MeritusMahara have been given the opportunity to fly and land a A330 Airbus at Bahrain Airport.

This is as a result of an invitation from Gulf Air, the title sponsor of the Grand Prix. The flights were carried out in the simulator at the Gulf Air Flight Simulator Center, located at Gulf Air's headquarters in Muharraq on Wednesday  April 22, 2009—“a state-of-the-art facility, incorporating the latest technologies, modern infrastructure and a unique design, the first of its kind in the Gulf region.”

Simulator Flight:


Captain John O'Loughlin, one of Gulf Air's simulator instructors said: "The drivers will get to check the speed down the BIC pit straight before landing the Airbus A330, the largest member of the twin engine A300 series, having a maximum takeoff weight of 275 metric tons. It is a large capacity, wide body, twin-engine, medium to long-range commercial passenger airliner."

What do Race Car drivers think about flying the A330?


Alvaro Parente: "The flight training was a great experience. We simulated a take off and followed a flight path over the BIC. It was really fun to race down the pit straight at over 400kph. Afterward we lined up for the final approach into Bahrain International Airport. I did not realize a pilot had so much to deal with. He has so many responsibilities compared to a racing a car.  

When I was in command,  I had to correct the pitch, maintain correct heading, mind the air speed to prevent stalling, keep the ball on the horizon. So much work and so much concentration, but there is always the computer advising you and preventing errors. For example, when I was low on final the computer told me to drop the landing gear. It looks easy compared to a racing car because a plane is heavier and reacts slower to each command input, but in emergency or technical situations it's the experience of the captain that counts. However, we should leave it to well-trained professionals."

Marco Bonanomi: "I landed twice in day time and night time conditions. What a feeling! We also had some difficulties and one time the front tires blew out when landing and on takeoff we lost an engine but the captain was focused and acted with natural moves and I never felt in danger."

Enjoy the Journey!

XO Karlene 


  1. These guys look pretty darned happy to sit in those seats with all those controls! Can't blame them. Good points about the importance of pilot training and experience.

    1. They do look happy. I think they have a lust for speed and the plane might be just the thing.

  2. Looks like a good day in the simulator! Must have been a lot of fun!

  3. Check out one of the greatest F1 drivers...Nikki Lauder - he not only flies airbus but owns them...and an odd 767 too (Lauda Air). And don't forget Kalleta Air-drag racer to B 747F's.

    Tim (TDY MT)


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!