For as long as he can remember, Kjetil Mathisen has been fascinated with flying machines. As a kid he spent most of his time playing with model airplanes, helicopters and virtual flight simulators, but as an adult he has taken his passion to a whole new level by building his very own scale replica of a Boeing 737 cockpit.
32-year-old Kjetil, from Norway, had been talking with his buddy Stian Alexander Hoddevik about building an airplane cockpit for a long time, until one day, about two years ago, when they finally decided to go through with it. At first they wanted to build a McDonnell Douglas MD88 but quickly gave up on their plan after realizing the necessary parts were hard to come by and they would have had to build most of them from scratch. The Boeing 737, on the other hand, was much more popular and they could easily get their hands on all kinds of hardware, for the right price. They worked in Kjetil’s home for a few hours every day, building the cockpit from scratch and later installing all the necessary equipment, but as their creation took shape, it became clear they needed more room. The day Mathisen had to move his wife’s coffee table out of the living room to work on his project was the day they were forced to set up shop somewhere else. Luckily, the two airplane enthusiasts found an empty space close to Norway’s main airport that proved to be the perfect home for their “baby”.
This homemade Boeing 737 cockpit has been in the works for over two years now, but it is finally nearing completion, with just a handful of details left to work out. Kjetil and Stian tried their best to replicate the look and feel of a real Boeing 737 cockpit, right down to the finest details. The size is exactly the same, the placement of the fight instruments is identical, everything has been copied to perfection, except the pilot seats, which come from a different aircraft. They’ve managed to hook up their DIY cockpit to a tweaked version of the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator software, using a projector to display their virtual flights on a screen in front of the cockpit. Takeoff procedures are the same as the ones used by Norwegian airlines, and they have even included an audio recording of flight attendants welcoming passengers aboard and detailing the safety protocol. During their virtual flights, Mathisen and Hoddevik are connected with hundreds of like-minded flight enthusiasts from all around the world, through the internet. They act as air traffic controllers, guiding the two pilots whenever they cross the border into their national airspace. Kjetil goes over the flight plan with someone from Norway, as he takes off, but as soon as he crosses the border into Sweden, he is hailed by an amateur air traffic controller from that country. These details make the experience that more realistic, the two DIY masters say.
Kjetil Mathisen works as a truck driver, but hopes to one day fulfill his dream of becoming a professional pilot. During the years he spent living in Florida, USA, he got his piloting license, but in order to work in his home country, he needs to convert his licenses to European. In the meantime, he will be managing Northern Europe’s largest virtual plane event – Flightsim Lan Gardermoen, this September, where he plans to show off his own simulator. He already had an airplane captain who works with Boeing equipment on a daily basis test it, and he confirmed it is very realistic. Kjetil hopes other airplane enthusiasts will be just as impressed and that they’ll be able to rent it out.
Kjetil says he doesn’t like to put a price on his obsession, but he would have probably been able to buy a used Porsche sports car with the money he and Stian have put into the project so far.
Photos: Norwegian 737 Project/Facebook