Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson tested their aerial skills of a different kind by attempting to land an Emirates’ A380 at Dubai International.
“Today, we’ve got a challenge for you guys – and that’s to land an A380,” said Emirates’ Chief A380 Instructor, Warren Coles, as the players were greeted at an A380 simulator within Emirates Aviation College in Dubai.
After a short briefing on how to land the airline’s flagship aircraft, Oxlade-Chamberlain was gunning to be first in the Captain’s seat.
Focusing on an array of controls, as well as the desert approach below, the 18-year old took Captain Coles’ comments on board and eventually cruised into a remarkably smooth landing.
“I’ve got it under control boys!” said a relieved Oxlade-Chamberlain after touchdown. “We’re down in one piece.”
Next to take the joystick of the multi-million dollar simulator was Kieran Gibbs, again, closely monitored by 30-year veteran, Captain Coles. Gibbs defended his position well, although after a somewhat abrupt landing, declared “I don’t think I’ll be a pilot anytime soon!”
But it was Carl Jenkinson who brought real drama to the cockpit. The normally cool-headed defender took his eye off the ball and bounced the A380 down the runway, sending shudders through the flight deck.
“I was more excited to be honest going in there, but then, when I was actually in the seat, I was yeah quite nervous to be honest,” said Jenkinson after emerging from the hi-tech cockpit. “It was a lot more difficult than I anticipated.”
Capt Coles later said that all three footballers deserved man of the match for accepting such a daunting challenge.
“You all did really well – little bit of confusion between the controls initially, but you got it at the end and even with a bit of help – you might have blown the tyres slightly there – but overall, I was pretty impressed for a first go,” concluded Captain Coles.
During last week’s visit to Dubai, the Arsenal stars also conducted a special training session with students at Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai, based at 7he Sevens.