Watch what it's like to fly a BAE fighter jet on a virtual reality headset

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 1 Mar 2019

If you’ve ever experienced virtual reality, and you’re anything like me, you will know all coordination goes out of the window the moment the headset goes on.

Lefts become rights, ups become down, and you lose all ability to follow simple instructions.

As I put on BAE’s virtual reality headset, about to be dropped into the cockpit of a Hawk jet, I wondered whether this time things might be different.

Unfortunately, they weren’t.

The VR fighter jet experience was incredible. My skills, less so.

Sitting in the cockpit, you are able to look around at the world beneath you, as well as all the buttons, levers and weapons at your command.

When you hold our arms out in front of you, a pair of virtual reality arms appear. Moving them around however, is harder than it looks.

Lefts and rights go out of the window the moment the headset goes on (Peter Harbour)

You take for granted how easy it is to push a button in real life. You know how far away it is, and how it feel when you press it.

In virtual reality however, you get none of this.

Read more: BAE boss agrees to Brough meeting to discuss future of East Yorkshire factory

Actually sitting in the comfort of BAE’s facility at Brough, which today employs more than 750 people, I was given a glimpse of what it would feel like to be flying a Hawk jet in a combat situation.

As I flew across the landscape, I was given warning of surface-to-air missiles which, if not taken care of, would have ended in tears.

Getting a glimpse of life in the cockpit of a Hawk jet (Peter Harbour)

Using my pair of virtual hands, I was able to use my own weapons to lock onto targets and remove them before any danger was created.

I also had to listen to instructions from a flight commander over radio, which in itself is a strange sensation.

Read more: BAE is looking for apprentices to join its East Yorkshire site

I probably spent about 10 minutes inside the virtual reality flight.

Just as I had got my artificial arms under control, and learnt how to interact with the cockpit around me, it was time to move on to pastures new.

Business editor Phil Winter gets a look around BAE Systems' site Brough (Peter Harbour)

Despite this, I felt like I had been given a very real glimpse into what life is back inside a fighter jet.

As I removed the headset though, and returned to East Yorkshire, one thing was certain.

The life of a fighter pilot was not for me. I can’t even get my lefts and rights sorted out!

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