A San Diego teenager’s invention, made in the face of adversity, has now captured the attention of a Silicon Valley billionaire.
Aidan Fay always knew he wanted to be a pilot, and earlier this year, the 17-year-old asked his parents about flying lessons. They agreed and Aidan went for his first lesson, which also included a routine aviation medical exam.
After just his first lesson Fay received a letter in the mail officially denying him because of a pre-existing medical condition.
"He was so at home in an airplane it just didn't make sense, but it is what it is," his parents explained.
Aidan’s devastation soon turned to genius when he decided to build a Cessna Flight Simulator in his bedroom.
"You don't grow in your life when things are easy; you grow in your life when things are tough. Those are the opportunities, " Aidan's mother, Melissa Fay told NBC7.
From the real airplane rudder pedals from eBay to the circuit board, he built it all from scratch.
The controls are perfectly calibrated through the system so what he sees in his goggles and touches in reality match up almost perfectly. With the help of Oculus Rift virtual reality googles, Aidan can fly anywhere in the world in his room.
"When I fly in the simulator, I take it seriously,” Aidan said. “I actually plan out flights; I plan from this point to that point."
The goggles will be released to the public next spring. His piloting software program can be found online.
By combining the goggles with a homemade Cessna 172 replica cockpit, Aidan found a magical combination.
"To buy an actual simulator is incredibly expensive. This wasn't free, but it was significantly cheaper," he explained.
The simulator now has the attention of big players - Oculus inventor Palmer Luckey, who sold his company to Facebook for $2 billion, wants a meeting with Aidan. Although he still hopes to fly, he knows his idea could really take off.
He is a teenager flying solo with his head in the clouds and feet still firmly planted on the ground.