Air traffic controller and pilot James Price has taken home flight simulators to a new level. His project? The construction of a Boeing 737 simulator out of the nose section of a retired airliner.
A long-time flight sim enthusiast, Price purchased a retired Continental Airlines Boeing 737-130 nose shell more than 10 years ago for $1,500 from an airplane graveyard in Oklahoma. After hauling the 2,500-pound nose back to Livermore Municipal Airport in California, Price and a team of dedicated helpers went to work to bring the inert bird back to life.
A decade later, what initially emerged from the Great Plains bone yard as just a shell contains a fully functional instrument panel, dual controls, lights, seats and panoramic projection screens.
Thanks to the use of genuine Boeing parts collected over the years, in conjunction with a massive ongoing effort to tweak the sim’s software for accuracy, Price says his sim feels like the real deal, with approximately 90 percent of the cockpit’s systems fully functional.
Price, who owns a Piper Arrow but has never flown a jet, now enjoys flying the 737 to airports throughout the world in real-time weather scenarios. He does so from the interior of his home’s three-car garage in California, where the revamped 1968 Boeing nose now resides.
Price recently told the San Jose Mercury News that he has spent more than $150,000 on the project to date. And that tab will likely grow, as he plans to continue to update the sim for years to come.
“There is always some new technology coming along that is too irresistible not to add to my project,” he told the newspaper. “This is pretty fulfilling.”