Like a river crashing through the universe, time is an uncontrollable and can’t be contained. We are stuck moving forward through it and can only peer back at the past history through our memories of it. That history is important, it shows us where we came from and gives us hints at where we are going, but it is often forgotten or the memories fade away. Efforts to preserve those memories often center on the preservation of artifacts that can stand the test of time. In the word of aviation, obtaining artifacts comes relatively easy because as technology progresses with time, obsolete aircraft are often discarded for scrap. Since an integral facet of preserving history is passing the collect knowledge of the past onto the current generation, the display of aircraft is popular and given a large enough space, easy. But, not all aircraft are accessible to everyone, and many can only be enjoyed from the outside or from a safe distance.
One day, photographer Lyle Jansma was volunteering at Heritage Flight Museum in Bellingham, Washington. He was approached by a man in a wheelchair who was curious to see what the inside of the Museum’s P-51 Mustang Val-Halla looked like. Being wheelchair bound, there was no feasible or safe way to allow a glimpse inside. Jansma, a real-estate photographer by trade, thought about this situation and realized he had the tools and knowledge to solve this problem. For more than a decade he has been creating virtual tours by creating 360 degree photographic panoramas. All he had to do was figure out how to make it work in the close confines of a P-51 cockpit. After a little bit of trial and error, success was found and he was able to share what it was like to sit at the controls. The ACI Cockpit360º App makes history a little more accessible to everyone.
Another aspect of preserving history is to document everything through recordings, writing, photographing, digitizing and other means. The ACI Cockpit360º App is able to do this in ways not normally seen and in places not usually thought of. Time has a way of destroying artifacts and making memories weak. In this way, history fades away and becomes lost. The case for documenting the cockpit and interiors of every historically significant airplane has already been made and settled. On June 13th of 2011, the B-17 Liberty Belle had an in-flight fire and was forced to land in a field where it burned. The aircraft was a total loss, but it won’t be erased from history. Mere weeks earlier while visiting Seattle it was documented for the ACI Cockpit360º App and will forever be available in high resolution interactive 360 degree photographs. The same is true of the F2G Super Corsair flown by the late Bob Odegaard. Sadly, both were lost in a tragic crash. But the Corsair has been preserved for the next generation by ACI Cockpit360º and in a way so does Mr. Odegaard.
History can be hard to preserve especially since it is intrinsically linked to the passage of time. When you add aircraft to the mix it becomes increasingly difficult to preserve, especially if you include historic aircraft that are still actively flying as accidents to occasionally happen. People interacting with aircraft also have a tendency to sometimes break things which can hamper the efforts to preserve aircraft. One solution is to keep people away from the artifacts and lessen the amount of interaction, but this also dulls the experience. Cockpit360º is a good solution to this problem as it allows you to both preserve the airplane and interactively share the experience. Currently, the only way to truly enjoy the interior of the Museum of Flight’s B-29 T-Square 54 is through the 360 degree photographs as it sits inaccessible and wrapped in plastic awaiting final restoration.This is why we created the ACI Cockpit360º App and why bringing 360 degree photography to historic aircraft is a passion of ours. It’s the only way to allow for the preservation, documentation and display of the interiors of historic aircraft while still remaining accessible and interactive. This is important to keeping history alive and is an often forgotten yet critical aspect of airplanes. Afterall, the seats and controls is where men and women made the history we hope to remember and the ACI Cockpit360º App allows you to put yourself in those seats and at those controls.
Thank You for your support of the ACI Cockpit360º Project.
Please click here to visit the Cockpit360º website, learn more and download the app on your mobile device.
Or, visit the Smithsonian’s website at www.airspacemag.com/panorama to view their online gallery!