John Davis spent eight years and Â£15,000 building a Boeing 747 flight simulator in a room in his house. And now the 47-year-old's hobby has turned into such a full-time occupation that he has jacked in his job as a graphic designer to run a full-time flight simulation business from his home in Coventry, UK. We interviewed John about his setup, including how much it costs to fly his sim:Addy Dugdale: Hi John. We've seen the pictures of your simulator, but can you tell us a bit more about the gear you use, please? John Davis: Well, the software I use is a Microsoft Flight Simulator for the visuals, as well as the Aerowinx PS1, which has about 30 different programs.
AD: And what about the hardware? JD: The main screen measures 12 ft x 9 ft, and I made it myself, and there is a 19-inch flat screen on each side. Other stuff (like the autopilot system, throttles and weather radar) was sourced from the internet. The cockpit I made myself from wood.
AD: How's the flight simulation business going? JD: I've been running it since June, but it's a bit quiet at the moment—although hopefully that will change, as I've done four radio interviews today as well as speaking to the newspapers.
AD: Are you expensive? JD: It costs between Â£65 ($130) for one hour and Â£420 ($850) for six hours.
AD: And finally, what else do you keep in your spare bedroom? JD: "There's no room for anything else—that's why my wife had to go!" AD: Thanks John—and good luck!
Although he holds a glider pilot's license, John, who has clocked up around 2,500 hours on the simulator, claims he wasn't good enough at math to fly proper planes. "This is the next best thing," he says of the 747-400 he has assembled in his spare bedroom, which has a pair of car seats for the captain and first officer to park their butts on.
Next month, John and a bunch of his mates are simulating a round-the-world trip to raise funds for his local Air Ambulance. As well as a virtual air-traffic control team, there will be an In-flight entertainment provided by a Scottish Elvis impersonator, and the wife of one of the crew members, a chef, will be on food duty. [747 Simulator, with additional info from Express via Spluch]