Flight Simulator Recreates the Worst Part of Flying: Being a Passenger

When you hear the words ‘flight simulator’ you probably picture a complex setup involving giant screens and a painstakingly recreated cockpit that gives flight enthusiasts the chance to live out their pilot fantasies without leaving the ground. Alex Shakespeare’sAlternative flight simulator” provides an entirely different experience: being a passenger on a cramped commercial flight without the payoff of visiting an exotic locale upon landing.

If the name Alex Shakespeare sounds oddly familiar (aside from possibly being a distant relative of the famous playwright) it’s probably because a year ago the IT consultant shared video of another of their creations: a fake window that showed live streamed footage from around the world that was controlled by a map on which a small magnetic airplane was used to select what city video was being virtually visited.

It was a fun project designed to help stave off the cabin fever many were still experiencing as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and Shakespeare’s latest creation continues in that vein for those who still aren’t comfortable being crammed into a sealed metal tube for several hours. The Alternative flight simulator takes a more passive approach and swaps pilot controls for a tray table and scenic view.

Alternative flight simulator

Using random parts from decommissioned planes, Shakespeare recreated a small portion of a commercial airliner in their home with just three seats, a functional overhead panel, fluorescent lighting, and a window through which a flatscreen monitor displays actual out-the-window footage from real flights, selectable through a control panel powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero.

The simulated passenger’s job is to just sit back and enjoy the flight, but they can interact with their overhead panel, turning on fans, lights, and even requesting assistance from the cabin crew with a button press that plays the familiar ‘bing-bong’ sound effect that anyone who’s flown before has burned into their brain. The best feature is that pressing the call button actually triggers an assistance required message that plays through all of the Google Assistant compatible devices in Shakespeare’s home. We’re guessing that no matter how many times they actually press it, no assistance is actually coming.

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