Three of Arsenal’s German players, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil, have triumphed after tackling a challenge from their English team-mates to land a double-decker Emirates A380. But don’t worry, it was all safely done in a brand new state-of-the-art flight simulator, at the Emirates Aviation Experience in London.
Earlier this summer, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson tested their A380 aerial skills in Emirates’ private flight simulators during a visit to Dubai.
But now London has its own set of public flight simulators, courtesy of one of the city’s newest visitor attractions, the Emirates Aviation Experience, allowing anyone to take off, fly and land an A380 or Boeing 777.
Laying down the gauntlet, the English players taunted their German colleagues: “Just as in the upcoming England v Germany friendly - you won’t have a chance!” citing Oxlade-Chamberlain’s near-perfect landing back in Dubai as an example of what the Germans had to contend with.
“The competition from the English players does look tough,” admitted Wilson Alves, technical supervisor and flight instructor at the Emirates Aviation Experience, after being shown a video of their landings. “But we’re looking forward to seeing some German efficiency in the air.”
After a short briefing on how to land the airline’s flagship aircraft by Wilson, Arsenal’s own giant Mertesacker was first to volunteer to be in the double decker’s captain’s seat. The defender quickly began focusing on his latest aerial challenge. After a steady flight, the player realised he was drifting to the left. With the authority of Per’s instructor, Wilson suggested he should go “slightly right”.
“Here it comes!” exclaimed Mertesacker, seeing the runway looming toward him, before quickly regaining his trademark composure to land the Airbus near-perfectly. “That landing was quality!” he said, modestly.
Next up was Podolski, who was also closely monitored by Wilson. Podolski attacked the controls as if he was bearing down on goal, with the runway perfectly centred. After an effortless landing, Podolski surprised everyone by asking: “So simple - can we go again?” before turning the plane on a sixpence in order to take off for a second go. The German forward needed little encouragement from team-mate Ozil, who encouraged him to, “Give it full throttle, put your foot down!”
“Show us Germany!” demanded Podolski and Mertesacker as the A380 roared into the sky. “You’ll need to take a U-turn to the left,” instructed Wilson before Podolski made another landing.
“Strong performance, 2-0 to Germany,” said the highly-competitive Mertesacker, full of praise for his team-mate's performance.
Last but not least was Arsenal’s super-sized summer signing, Ozil. “Now, we will have a problem!” joked Podolski, clearly more impressed by his footballing skills than potential flying wings. But Ozil got straight into the action, listening carefully to advice from Wilson before making a very well-executed landing.
“I was a bit hesitant to go last since Per and Lukas did so well with their landings, but it was great fun and I thought I did ok," he said. "I’ll probably stick to being a passenger though!”
But perhaps the most difficult challenge of the day fell to Wilson. For he had to decide not only who was the man of the match, but which team - the English players or the Germans - were the Emirates A380 winners.
“Everyone did very well,” said Wilson, "But overall, today's winner has to be Podolski!” before awarding the overall prize to the German team.
The full video of the players’ attempts to land an Emirates’ A380 can be viewed here.
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