Air traffic controller and private pilot James Price has never flown a jet, but he has logged plenty of time in the cockpit of an actual 737 that he converted into a flight simulator and keeps in his garage. Price had already been working on earlier versions of his simulator when a life change and similarly motivated friend led him to pursue his pastime with renewed vigor. Price told the Mercury News that on the advice of friend Matt Ford (who had already hauled home his own 737 cockpit), he visited a boneyard in Ardmore, Okla. There, Price found and purchased a 2,500-pound 737 cockpit shell of his own for $1,500. He then brought it to a hangar at Livermore Municipal Airport, in California, where he got to work. It's come a long way since then. Price now estimates his total dollar investment at close to $150,000.
Price incorporated into the shell the many genuine parts he'd accumulated since starting down this road in 1994. And then he purchased additional authentic parts. His simulator now includes the seats, controls, instruments and lights from an actual Boeing 737. The project came home from the hangar on the back of a hired semi-truck in 2009. Price took four feet off of the nose and removed some portion of the garage door to fit it inside. The internal realism is augmented with external visuals provided by three projection screens that pull down to surround the cockpit. The projectors incorporate terrain scenery for the entire world and can adjust to present near real-time weather gathered from the internet. His system allows him to fly simulated engine failures and fires or land with blown tires all while bathing in the tactile feel and even the smell of real cockpit components. Price sees the simulator as an ongoing project and expects to continue to improve on it as he's able.