As a pitiable member of that great unwashed class of low beasts who will never have the opportunity to strap on a high-performance jet fighter, I will confess that during weak moments I have been known to seek the assistance of certain…artificial aids, for the purpose of experiencing some small fraction of that godly endeavor. Strictly for recreational purposes, of course. Personal use only, I have a prescription.
I speak, of course, of computer flight simulation. Several folks in our community have mentioned in another venue that they too have tried on the 3D-accelerated wings of Icarus. (Indeed, I believe that Lex himself was something of an aficionado of X-Plane, during that purgatorial period when he was forced to wallow with the unwinged.) Since we’re all friends here, I thought I would share my sordid tale as a cautionary note.
It all started, innocently enough, as an effort to clean my office. I wanted to separate my “work” computer station (a Mac laptop) from my “gaming” computer station (a PC). In years past I tried various keyboard/monitor switch arrangements that would allow me to flip from work to play, but the result was a hideous tangle of cables around my desk. I wasn’t gaming much, so I was getting twice the mess for none of the benefit. I resolved to unplug my PC and stick it in the closet.
Then I saw something on a hobbyist site one day — a separate computer seat/gaming station, originally designed for auto racing games, but also well-suited for flight simulations. It was basically a car seat bolted to a heavy metal frame that served as a monitor mount, with configurable extensions for a flight stick, throttle, rudder pedals, keyboard, and mouse. “This is exactly what I need,” I reasoned. “I have a PC I never use that is in the closet along with a lot of other flight-simulation equipment that I also never use. The precise thing that this situation requires is a home cockpit.”
Very unexpectedly, one thing led to another. I have had many entertaining tool-filled hours bolting parts to other parts, tying cable-filled hoses to metal frames, and searching eBay for discarded ejection seat parts. I still am not doing much flight simulation but I do have a rather unique conversation piece in my home office, the exclamatory responses to which vary pretty consistently by gender.
Some photos below (still a work in progress). For those fellow lunatics inclined to do something like this, it takes less space than you’d think. The components are all reconfigurable for different gaming/computing tasks (including, um, work, right). And the chair is actually very comfortable and excellent for napping.