Once in a while you do something silly and this was one of my unusual highlights: spending several hours undisturbed in a Boeing 747-400 full flight simulator at Lufthansa, Frankfurt. My late good friend Jörg Löhnig happened to be in the maintenance engineering crew of the Lufthansa sim base, so we went out on quiet nights to make good use of the sometimes idle equipment. These things tend to be used pretty much 24/24, 7/7, but open slots do happen.
You see me here recovering from a full hit of a cloud of volcanic ash. Engine #2 is dead, all pitot tubes are clogged up (look at the KIAS standby indicator), the air data computer is going berzerk in panic, all automation has gone offline and I am by myself getting the fully loaded 744 back to Singapore for an overweight emergency landing. Which was my best ever... adrenaline really helps!
We had to pull several circuit breakers to make the electronics shut up as most of it was thinking we were crashing, due to the zero air speed indication. Stick shakers are irritating when you try to fly a for the rest perfectly good airplane!
The 747-400 of course needs two pilots for normal operations, but you can fly the Queen all by yourself. I don't claim I am a pilot, but I know a bit of the airplane. Compare it to knowing how to drive a Formula-1 car. All but safe, but you can get it around the circuit. As a boy I wanted to become a flight engineer, not a pilot, so the plane itself I am pretty good at. Being a pilot, though, is only 1% plane systems knowledge.
But yes, I still wait for that moment when the flight attendant asks whether there is a pilot aboard, as all crew members have had the fish...
who also has made up his mind on accepting a backseat ride in an F16 even while this means two weeks in bed