[article] CRAWLEY: Most passengers think our job is to only wear lipstick and serve water," a flight attendant confided to me on a recent flight to Delhi. She was only partly right. For starters, wearing a lipstick is itself not simple because airlines insist on the shade and contours. But passengers take in a little more of the vocation when they are welcomed aboard and bid farewell or when flight attendants extol the virtues their carrier, check if the seat belts are fastened and seats are upright, cajole them back to their seats and reel out safety instructions. That's not all, of course. Flight attendants actually wear many hats. They might have to turn firefighters, doctors, cops, bouncers and even child minders because well, up in the air it is difficult to summon people whose job is to douse fires or treat a passenger. Not having to witness this transformation might not be a bad thing because it can only mean that the flight was incident-free. Which is why our view of flight attendants, as the girl lamented, is limited and even, thankless. To gain a more worldly view of flight attendants, one has to come down many notches from a flight — to the ground — and make way to a training facility. The Base, an airline training facility owned by Virgin Atlantic, is ideal; it not only caters to Virgin but also a host of competitors. The Base Located in Crawley, a 10-minute drive from the Gatwick International Airport, The Base is a sprawling building that encompasses 52 hi-tech classrooms and a Rigs Hall for safety and service training, among others. The Rigs Hall occupies the pride of place, closeted in a glass atrium, and as the name suggests, comprises a line of rigs to train recruits in safety, security, medicine, and customer service.