Friday, 23 November 2012

Get yourself off to a flying start

Anyone who has ever watched Top Gun will have imagined (at least in their heads) that the planet will never be safe until their flying skills have been put to the test. 

Let’s face it, the Red Arrows would have nothing on us if we were to get behind the control yoke of a plane. I mean, our driving skills are already the envy of the roads, so just think what would happen if the cockpit was under our command…

If these thoughts have ever entered your mind, I have just the thing for you. British Airways (BA) is now offering flight training sessions in its multi-million pound, full motion Boeing or Airbus flight simulators. These simulators aren't like the ones you get a funfairs (although those can be fun too); these capsules are normally used to train professional pilots before they get to do the real thing.

It’s a bit dearer that a driving lesson, but imagine the rush you’ll get as you learn the skills that would make Maverick, Goose and the rest of the Top Gun crew stand to attention. You can take part in the training alone, take a friend along, or even arrange a corporate session for you and your workmates. The best part is, absolutely no experience is required. All you need is a passport to get through security and a reasonably clear bill of health, and the sky’s the limit.

Step one is a 30-minute pre-flight briefing in the Ground School, which will give you a detailed overview of the flight deck instruments, controls and systems. Once that’s over you actually get to press the buttons for yourself! In fact, you will be at the controls throughout the whole process, from take-off to touchdown, and all of the action takes place under the instruction of a fully trained BA pilot. The stunning visual effects, surround sound and advanced hydraulic motion systems will work together to convince you that you’re actually flying the plane.

If it’s a corporate session you’re after, various packages are available, with the potential for up to 24 colleagues to get involved. BA offers flight simulators and cabin simulators as well as conference and banqueting facilities for small or large groups. You may have been to team-building sessions with the work crew in the past, but this will blow all your other bonding experiences out of the… sky.

Corporate prices range from around £1,400 to £6,600, with flight times ranging from 30 to 60 minutes per guest. For this fair sum you get hands on experience, guidance from a proper BA pilot, refreshments and private room hire and, in some cases, additional cabin safety training. Providing your pilot agrees, you can even take pictures of the action to post on the work noticeboard.

Personal flight prices range from £399 for an hour’s session to £1,347 for a three-hour. If you’re stuck for gift ideas for the dad, brother or best mate who seems to have it all, nothing says Happy Birthday like an hour flying a Boeing 737. It could even win you a few brownie points with the father-in-law; especially if you go along for the ride. That way you get to fulfil your own flying dreams and make him a happy man at the same time. Heck, you could even hire the uniform and really get into character. Female flight attendants beware!

Read more from Joy in the upcoming edition of Sorted magazine, out soon.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Nick Vujicic goes out on a limb

Imagine being born without any arms… that would make simple things like cleaning your teeth pretty tricky. I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago and was amazed how difficult everything was with just my right arm out of action.

Now imagine being born without any arms or legs… Well that’s what happened to Nick Vujicic, who was born with a rare condition called tetra-amelia syndrome.

In place of his legs was a small foot with two toes, which allowed him to learn a number of key skills as he grew up, but early life was extremely tough for the young Australian.

Struggling to perform the mundane tasks most people do without a second thought, Nick was bullied mercilessly and became very depressed. In fact, he tells me in an interview for Sorted that he was so down as a child he became suicidal, and if it hadn't been for his parents’ deep love for him and his for them, he would have taken his own life at the age of ten.

How would he ever get a job? Or have a family? What was the point in going on?

But life certainly wasn't over for Nick; it turns out there were lots of reasons to keep going. Ever done a skydive? Nick has. Ever travelled to 44 countries to share your story with millions of people? Nick has. Ever set up your own company or written a series of books? The list of what Nick has achieved just goes on and on.

I first saw this guy on Russell Howard’s Good News. He appeared in the end section, when Russ picks his favourite good news story of the week and shares it with his viewers. In the clip he showed, Nick was speaking to a group of school kids. They were captivated and visibly moved by his courage and by his humour; it was pretty hard not to be.

What the Youtube clip (well worth a watch) didn't explain, though, was that it was Nick’s relationship with God that changed his early outlook and the way he lives his life. At the age of 13, he sprained his foot playing football and had to stay in bed for several weeks. It was at this point that he decided to focus on the things he had rather than the things he didn't have. He started to see life differently.

His parents were Christians, but Nick had always found it difficult to believe that a loving God could allow this to happen to him. He blamed God for his physical and emotional pain and couldn't accept that He could possibly have a plan for his life; everything was such a challenge.

It wasn't until he turned 15 that his heart towards God changed. He found himself saying: “Here I am God, use me. If you want to give me arms and legs, great. If not, use me anyway.” He felt God had lifted away the fear, sin and shame that had hung over him all his life and that he suddenly had fresh hope.

He discovered that he had a gift for motivational speaking and, while his physical condition is still problematic, he refuses to stop him doing the things he loves doing. “God is not the author of pain, but what the enemy tried to use for evil, God has used for good,” Nick explains.

He is now enjoying a fantastic career, feels he is living out the plan God has for him, and is about to have a baby with his beautiful wife. Thank goodness he didn't end his life as a child!

That’s not to say life has been a piece of cake for Nick.

He shared with me that he had been through a time of depression between 2007 and 2010 after a business venture fell through and he experienced a burnout. It reminded him that he can’t do everything in his own strength; that it is God’s strength that keeps him going. “We need to be carried by God,” he explains. “It’s about knowing Him.”

I ask him what he would say to people who make excuses in their own lives about the things they can and can’t do.

“Life is meant to be enjoyed; a lot of people rob themselves because of fear,” he concludes. 

“You don’t know what you can achieve until you try it. Fear disables people more than having no arms and no legs.”

Read the full interview in the next issue of Sorted magazine.