Young visitors can enjoy a simulated space elevator ride

Young visitors can enjoy a simulated space elevator ride, and a challenge to design and test a supersonic fighter jet in a virtual high-speed flying competition.

Fancy designing a supersonic flight and hitching a ride to space? How about building a drone that can fly into the eye of a storm or pollinate a berry crop for a Mars colony of the future?

Amazing virtual experiences like these and more await little space enthusiasts in town at Children’s City in Dubai’s Creek Park, which opened its doors for a first-of-its-kind interactive flight exhibition on Thursday.

The exhibition Above and Beyond, is produced by Evergreen Exhibitions in collaboration with Nasa and is presented by Boeing as part of the company’s centennial in 2016. The interactive experiences are made possible using flight simulation, augmented reality, touch-tables, design and skill challenges, virtual reality and more.

Young visitors can enjoy a simulated space elevator ride, and a challenge to design and test a supersonic fighter jet in a virtual high-speed flying competition.

In the Marathon to Mars section, they can try firsthand what happens to the human body during an ultra-long-haul flight through augmented-reality technology.

An avatar-based motion-capture group experience that demonstrates flight like a bird is another attraction. President of Boeing Middle East Bernard J. Dunn told Khaleej Times it is the first international venue for the exhibition which made its worldwide debut in Washington DC in August.

“This is the first stop of about a two-year-road show for this exhibition … in our desire to emphasise STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning … and develop the skills among youth that are required to sustain the aviation business for another 100 years, not only for us in Boeing, but for our customer countries such as the UAE.”

“The UAE and the Middle East in general is an extremely important market for us. The UAE was probably the most accommodating place and with the most impact,” he said of choosing Dubai as the inaugural international location for the exhibition.

Khalid Ali bin Zayed, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality for Communication and Society, said: “It is an exceptional feat for Dubai to be the first international destination for Above and Beyond – another indication of the emirate’s growing global relevance.”

“This landmark exhibition will also contribute to the city’s goals of supporting youth and keeping them informed of the latest developments in these sectors.”

Naila Rashid Al Mansoory, head of Children’s City said: “By inspiring children with unique experiences in the fundamental concepts of aerospace, we hope to inspire and help create the aviation and space innovators of tomorrow.”

That is exactly what one could see among the schoolboys invited to be the first guests at the exhibition. Dressed in aviator and air force pilot costumes, they were excited to explore the virtual world of flights and space.

“I want to be an astronaut, and I want to go to Mars,” said Thani Saeed bin Abood, a fifth grader from Al Nokhba Model School.

The exhibition will be officially open from Saturday till December 12. It will then shift to Abu Dhabi before moving out to London.

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