Friday, April 13, 2012

Get in the cockpit without leaving the house

Not many people have the chance to see the cockpit of a B-25 Bomber airplane used by Allied Air Forces during WWII, but now there’s an app for that.

Cockpit360, a new application for the iPhone and soon the iPad, provides users with a panoramic view inside old aircrafts from collections such as that of the Heritage Flight Museum in Bellingham and the Museum of Flight in Tukwila. 

The creation of the Cockpit360 app has been a long time coming, said Lyle Jansma, local photographer and app inventor. He said he came up with the idea of putting 360-degree photo technology to this use in 1998. It was not until now, he said, that the evolution of technology dealt Jansma the right hand to carry out his vision.

“We were using point-and-shoot cameras which would only show a 90-degree angle. You didn’t have the ability to look up or look down,” Jansma said. “There were other problems trying to figure out how to get the 360 in a usable form, so it never became more than a hobby.”

The Heritage Flight Museum at the Bellingham International Airport invited Jansma to photograph an old P-51 Mustang from another aircraft, with Mount Baker as the backdrop, he said. 

“My photography helped people experience what it is like to be up there flying,” Jansma said. 

Visitors could come to the museum and touch the airplanes, but couldn’t climb on the wings to see the cockpit, Jansma said. The look on children’s faces standing in front of the old airplanes where they couldn’t look inside is the reason Jansma said he created the Cockpit360: to share an experience.

  “A year ago, HTML 5 came out, and a light bulb went on and I said, ‘OK, we can build this app now,’” Jansma said.

Jansma teamed up with the Museum of Flight and Bellingham digital agency Carnes Media to create the Cockpit360 app. Jansma said the goal was to give the user the ability to go places they don’t normally get to see.

More than 100 cockpits are displayed by the app, including planes from the Heritage Flight Museum and other museums in the Pacific Northwest.

The app features unique cockpits, such as the Grumman F9F Panther, one of the Navy’s first successful carrier-based fighter jets, and a full inside view of the Apollo Command Module that landed astronauts on the moon.

This $5.99 app has the ability to educate flight school students, pilots, historians, scale model builders and other airplane enthusiasts, Jansma said.

“If the app is successful, I want to start up a scholarship for photographers,” Jansma said. “We want this app to inspire.”

No comments:

Post a Comment