Become a living room fighter pilot with life-sized cardboard cockpit

Ever wanted your own jet fighter? Perhaps a life-sized cardboard cockpit with enough space for your gaming chair and rig is the next best thing.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

Lukas Homola

We don't all have dads who build us spacecraft simulators, but if you've ever envisioned yourself in the cockpit while playing Digital Combat Simulator, you may soon have an easy way of building your own. Jet fighter enthusiast and games developer Lukas Homola, based in the Czech Republic, has designed a full-scale cockpit replica that anyone can easily build -- out of cardboard.

The project, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, will allow you to print out high-resolution images on any material of your choice, or receive a flat-pack version of the cockpit that you can assemble yourself -- all you need is a sharp knife.

"Having a cockpit at home was always a dream of mine, but I never had the money to buy one or the time to make my own. Then I had an idea. What if I made a full-scale papercraft-like cockpit out of cardboard? As a child I made many papercraft models, and as a game developer (character animator and 3D modeller), I had the skills. I took some F-22 blueprints and modelled the cockpit section, simplified it a little, created ribs for strength, and divided it into pieces that could be easily cut," Homola wrote.

"Then I sent it to a printing company. They cut the first prototype for me, and I started tweaking the second. Through them I found out I could print textures on my model, and that gave my idea a whole new dimension. My colleague Jan and I shot tons of photos of planes in the Vyskov Museum and from them we've created 20K resolution amazing textures."

Lukas Homola

The cockpit itself is created with multiple cross-sections for structural integrity and durability, and is constructed in a U-shape to allow you to wheel in any standard office chair. It also has space to install a 22in monitor, joystick, pedals, throttle, PC or console, or iPad -- according to Homola, it is easy to customise to your favourite setup.

And the plans for the cockpit don't end there: as well as adding modifications to the existing design such as a projection canopy for players who want to use projectors or VR goggles, the team has other cockpit concepts up their sleeves -- including Formula 1 vehicles, trains, other fighter jets, even an X-Wing cockpit.

You can reserve a cockpit for a minimum pledge of £299 ($495) on Kickstarter, or a printable PDFs for an adult-sized cockpit for £49 ($81.20). You can also get PDFs for a child-sized version for £29 ($48). The money will go towards finishing the current cockpit and developing the new ones.

Head on over to the Kickstarter campaign for more info, and watch the video below to see Homola walk through the cockpit's layout and durability.