When I was 12 I realized how much I liked flying. Ever since I was a small child I couldn’t wait to go to the airport to travel. The thrill of looking out the window and seeing the tops of clouds was amazing. I had many toy planes in all shapes and sizes, and I enjoyed pretending to fly them too. I had an airport playset where I would spend hours organizing my toy planes at the gates, having them take off and head towards far off destinations in the other side of my bedroom. But as I got older, I started to lose interest. I no longer wanted to be a little kid who played with toys. This went on until I heard of flight simulator. When I first saw it in the store all of my memories from being a kid came back. The same thrill and excitement I had felt at the airport hit me again. I bought Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and immediately began playing on my computer. Now I was able to relive the feeling of pretending to fly planes, except now as a big kid playing video games.
So I spent a good amount of time playing flight simulator, and by doing so I learned a lot about airplanes. When I was 14, my friend and I decided that we should take our interest in virtual flying to the next level by building a “cockpit.” We wanted this cockpit to be as realistic as we could make it. The plan was to add parts to my computer so that instead of just virtually flying with a joystick, we would be able to virtually fly with real controls. Not too long after the idea was conceived, we began saving money to buy parts for our simulator which we decided would be known as “The Shack.”
The Shack grew in popularity as my friends began noticing something resembling a cockpit in my room. Eventually, due to our desire to buy more parts, Wallace and I decided to have a fundraiser. So we asked a few of our friends if they would be interested in buying tickets for a virtual flight from New York to Hong Kong. Surprisingly, people said yes. On June 5th 2009, Cathay Pacific 841 departed. We attempted to follow the real flight as close as we could. That meant that in the cockpit we followed many of the realistic procedures, and for the passengers that meant eTickets, boarding passes, meals at meal time, complementary blankets, and movies. The flight went smoothly and was a very memorable experience.
Since then we have created a website (www.theshackflights.com), printed business cards, and learned a lot, including many things unrelated to flying. Also in my spare time I’ve been taking real flying lessons and am enjoying it very much. In the end, I am not really sure where this will take me exactly, but it has been a wonderfully fun learning experience so far.