Not just a plane garage! Man has flight simulator installed in his home!
A pilot has really made working from home take-off – by installing a fully professional flight simulator in his garage.
Mark Lowen can fly anywhere in the world – from the comfort of the garage of his home in Leighton Buzzard, Beds.
To make space his cars have been relegated to the driveway as the Boeing 737 simulator takes up the entire single-width garage.
But 53-year-old claims buying the simulator was the best thing he has ever done – despite complaints from his wife, Wendy.
He’s even turned his hobby into a business – charging learner pilots and thrillseekers to experience flying whatever route around the globe they wish.
He said: “I was really excited to get it. Of course the cars had to come out, but I was more than happy to reverse those out fast.
“It’s just a normal width garage, although it is long, and it took a lot of measuring to work out whether it would go.
“It just about fit in with a bit of a squeeze. I’m so happy it worked out well.
“My wife Wendy really was not sure about it when I first told her what I wanted to do.
“She still wasn’t convinced when the business started.
“But now she sees the success of it, she does think it’s a great idea”
Mark admits that it took a huge slice of luck to get his hands on a professional simulator.
The aircraft enthusiast, who has 20 years flying experience, became friends with the owner of a flight simulator company by chance, just as the company was looking to test new equipment.
And before long, he had so many of his friends begging for a go at the controls he started his own company – fly a flight – to recoup some of the cost.
Mark said: “I love all planes. I fly light aircraft myself.
“I always wanted to be a commercial airline pilot but I couldn’t as they thought I had a heart problem.
“It was pure luck that I happened to meet someone who runs a flight simulator company.
“He was looking to test a prototype. He had actually been doing a similar thing to me, allowing people to use it as an experience, but he got too busy and so passed it on to me to keep on testing.
“After the testing had finished, he allowed me to keep it. I was incredibly lucky. The software for these things is incredibly expensive, more so than the hardware.”
The simulator is the same as those used by airlines to train their pilots to fly Boeing 737 planes.
The cockpit is realistic and different scenarios can be programmed in to the simulator to allow users to take-off, fly and land in all weather, all over the world.
Although he has never flown this type of aircraft himself, Mike used his connections to receive training from a 737 instructor.
Using this knowledge and his own experience, he now gives people the chance to fly off on their holidays from the comfort of his garage.
He said: “I have made it my business and I absolutely love it.
“The vast majority of people who come to us are novices who just want to give it a go.
“It’s wonderful to see people’s reactions when they first feel like they are in control of a big plane.
“I still fly myself as a hobby and I know what a rush it is.
“To begin with we take-off from Nice, do a circuit, and then come back in to land.
“People then often want to try their holiday take-offs and landings, so I’ve taxied down runways from all over the UK and landed in Ibiza, Mallorca and New York a lot.
“People often like to finish off with a landing in Hong Kong, as it’s one of the most difficult.
“You get to do what you want to do. Some people just prefer to pilot the plane, others prefer to control the speed as well. The entire time, I’m there instructing you on what to do and talking you through it.
“Fortunately we don’t have too many crashes, although we would have needed the emergency services on one or two of the more bumping landings.”
People’s experiences in Mark’s simulator have even encouraged some of them to take up flying and begin studying for their own pilot’s licence.
He said: “The simulator often inspires people to try and get their pilot’s licence, and I always tell them to go for it! You never know what life is going to throw at you.”