Flying round the world in my bed

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When I was a child, I used to gather all the neighbour’s kids and we would sit on my bed and imagine we were flying to far off lands. Imagination was always my strong suit. I was inspired by ‘Bedknobs and broomsticks’, a Disney film we saw that year. If you’ve not seen it, I probably wouldn’t bother. I would get all the younger children so convinced that we were flying, they could almost see the ground pass beneath them.

I have found imagination very useful in illness. When you spend a lot of time in bed, being able to travel in your mind is a useful skill. There is a technology that makes things even easier. Computers, they have become able to produce such realistic imagery that you can feel you are travelling without leaving your house, or in my case, bed.

I have a flight simulator and the joy of it is that many of the planes have auto pilot, and even when they don’t, I can fly them very simply. I have flown a real plane, back in the early 1980’s, but don’t expect me to fly you to New York, I only had a few lessons in a Cessna. With PC simulations I leave them set on easy and just drift along looking around at the scenery. Mind you the other day I was so intent on looking at the scenery that I crashed a Boeing 747-400 in London. You probably read about it in the news, or you would have if it was real. Flight simulators are great fun when you are limited in bed, flying anywhere in the world, slow in a hang glider, or high and fast in a jet, there is nothing quite like it when you are unable to even walk. I am so looking forward to Microsofts new flight simulator due out in 2020 it’s so realistic, it almost looks like a real plane, that’s if the demos are anything to go by. The current Microsoft simulator, FSX is no where near as good, you do need a good imagination to believe you are flying in that. There are people who buy complete artificial cockpits, controls, multiple screens and realistic seats. They go on imaginary flights all the time, although I guess they come down to earth when they look at their bank statements.

Modern PC car simulations are much more realistic. The problem is they are much more tiring to operate. I can’t use a steering wheel as they all seem to come with pedals and the alternative, which is hand controllers, are a bit twitchy and take a lot of concentration. But a quick crash around Scotland, on Forza, driving into other cars and people’s front gardens is great fun. The realism is amazing on a powerful PC. Trees, grass, shadows, water, dust, flowers, reflections on cars and sun glinting. You could believe it was real. That is apart from the fact you can crash into anything and not get hurt. It’s especially fun as in my case I can’t drive any longer in the real world.

Why am I talking about simulators? Because I believe they are a great idea for anyone who is as limited as I am. If you spend a lot of your day in bed, as I do, it’s a thing to do that is not too tiring and yet not totally inactive. Many things I do just involve watching TV or are too tiring, like puzzles or reading. Even writing this blog wears me out. As I mentioned earlier flight simulators can be really easy to fly, no effort. My favourite thing to do is choose a mission where the plane starts out flying above interesting scenery and then leave it in autopilot. There’s an option in FSX to view outside from the wing, above, side or behind, as well as in the cockpit. Plus, you can move the point of view within that. You can also skip to other planes nearby. The most realistic part of FSX is the sky, flying through the clouds is brilliant. When you are many thousands of feet above the earth the scenery below looks more realistic too. It’s a very freeing feeling.

I am fortunate because I can take myself on a similar trip in my head when I can’t use a PC. I do so often when in a “collapse”, the times when I lose muscle function for about 10-15 minutes at a time.

I would recommend a simulator on your PC if it can run one, for anyone in my situation. If you only have a tablet, like an iPad there are basic flight sims available for those. I realise that escape into your imagination doesn’t solve underlying problems. But it can give you a break and that is helpful. Often, it’s what you need most.

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Do read my other blogs, I write factual, fiction and poetry.

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