BUDDING pilots hoping to experience taking the controls of a commercial jet airliner need look no further than Barnsley and a new business which is just taking off.

Inside the former front room of a house in Wombwell sits a perfect working replica of the cockpit of a Boeing 737, built by flight simulator enthusiast David Naylor.

And David is now giving people the chance to experience taking off and flying through picture-perfect virtual skies thanks to his venture, Britannia Flight Simulator Experience.

David said: “It has really started taking off. A lot of people enjoy flight simulators. We’ve had parents who have bought bookings for their kids. I even had a couple of trainee pilots in practising their moves.

“But it’s mostly for fun.”

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David, 41, built the £15,000 simulator over a 16 month period, working ‘four or five days a week’ to construct it from scratch.

Initially a passion project, David hadn’t even considered opening the simulator up to the public but then a switch flipped and he realised more people might be interested in climbing into the cockpit.

“I had some pleasure out of it and then I thought, why not make a website and show people how to fly a 737,” he says.

“I had just started seeing people around the world building their own simulators from scratch, so one bank holiday in 2017 I decided to take the plunge and go for it.

“It was a hobby away from work, but in October 2017 I was made redundant and I didn’t have to look for another job straight away.

“There are others around the country, but most of those have been purchased, they haven’t been made from scratch like mine.”

David started sourcing components, installing ultra-high definition ‘4k’ screens that show a detailed view from the cockpit, down to traffic on the roads, surround sound to depict the boom of the engines, and accurate LED displays, wiring and switches and even internet access that allows pilots to speak to other ‘simmers’ around the world as well as overlaying the virtual world with live weather conditions.

He put these together into a true-to-life representation of a Boeing 737 cockpit, which sits inside an 80ft square plastic shell mounted on a fixed wooden frame in a sectioned-off part of his own home formerly the front room in Great Stubbing, Wombwell.

“It’s very realistic,” David says. “It’s got up-to-date graphics cards and software and is linked to Google Maps, so when you are flying over Leeds or Sheffield you can see all the landmarks where they should be.

“When you sit in it, you wouldn’t know the difference. Even if you aren’t into planes, you are in awe.”

While anyone can book a solo session in the simulator, budding virtual pilots can also have David sit in with them and provide tuition, advice and pre and post-flight briefings.

David, who has clocked up countless hours in simulators through a lifelong fascination, is now something of an expert.

While not a qualified pilot, he is currently preparing for his private pilot licence for single engine aircraft carrying on an ambition that started when he was younger.

David says: “I’ve always been interested in planes and been in flight simulators since I was a kid. That’s continued as I’ve got older.

“You definitely get a buzz out of it. Now I’ve built this I’m on it every day, if I haven’t got customers in.

“If you want, you can start from scratch with no power on, and go through the routine of switching all the lights on and powering up before you take off.

“You can set your own flight plan and go wherever you want in the world. It’s unique, there’s nothing else like it.”

See britanniaflightsimulator.co.uk for more information.