Matthew Sheil has built what could easily be one of the most elaborate big boy's toys in the world, and his efforts have earned him a Guinness world record. Sheil is the top gun in the surreal world of flight simulator enthusiasts, where virtual pilots join virtual airlines, fly virtual routes and are assisted by virtual air traffic controllers.
For most, a joystick and Microsoft's Flight Simulator PC software is sufficient, but, over the past 10 years, Sheil has built what Guinness describes as the "world's most expensive home flight simulator".
A homebrew version of the $60 million simulators used to train pilots, Sheil's contraption is almost identical to the cockpit of a 747-400. Thanks to 45 different software programs running on 14 different computers, the simulator allows Sheil to fly to and from 27,000 different airports around the world with breathtaking realism.
By day, Sheil runs a trucking parts company but at night he takes to the skies with other enthusiasts from around the globe. The simulator is stored at his warehouse in Chipping Norton. It is able to mimic real-world weather conditions in any country with startling accuracy, and the hydraulics system means Sheil can feel every bump.
The simulator cost him $300,000 to build - a far cry from the $60 million price tag on the professional simulators - but many of the parts were donated to him because of his charity work. Sheil is a veteran real-world pilot and owns a Beechcraft Baron B58. He said he preferred flying a real plane but enjoyed the simulator because there were no limitations.
"The [real] plane I fly you take off and you point it in the direction of Melbourne and you press a button and away it goes until you come into land, whereas a simulator you can do whatever you want - if you want to fly upside down, fly upside down," he said.
"If we hit a mountain or the ground the simulator just freezes in its current state and everything goes red - and then we just hit reset." [via smh.com.au]
Click here to check out his homepage, just go to the photo's and be amazed what this guy achieved.