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I try out the BA 2119 virtual reality flying experience at the Saatchi Gallery

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On Tuesday, Rob and I went to the media opening of BA 2119: Flight of the Future, the exhibition that British Airways is putting on at the Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road as part of its BA100 birthday celebrations.

It is a relatively small exhibition of work from graduate students at the Royal College of Arts which proposes a variety of technologies that might shape air travel in one hundred years’ time.

Whilst it was great to talk to the students and discuss their proposals, don’t expect any of these concepts to appear on your next British Airways flight.  Many are as futuristic as flying cars were in the 1950s – highly conceptual and futuristic to the extent that they may literally never fly.

Trying out the BA2119 Virtual Reality experience

Let’s get to the fun stuff though!

At the centre of the exhibition is a virtual reality experience.  It takes you on a journey through the history of human flight, from Leonardo Da Vinci’s failed flying experiments to the windy beaches of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, the first flights at what became Heathrow, Concorde and the new British Airways A350.

The experience puts you in the pilot’s chair – literally – on many of these aircraft, allowing you to soar (briefly) through various landscapes. It is enhanced by smell-o-vision, wind simulators and a moving platform in the style of a simulator.  The photo above shows me giving it a go.

This is how it looks from the outside:

Whilst the exhibition is free, the VR experience is £20.  You may find this too steep for what is an 11 minute experience (ignore the 8 mins figure on the ticketing page) and it’s a shame it doesn’t go on longer.  It is genuinely quite fun to ‘fly’ through the different landscapes.

You can book it online at the BA 2119 website here, picking a specific time slot.  The exhibition runs until the 26th August.

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Comments (8)

  • Caroline says:

    I’ve booked a couple of these. Couldn’t get two Together so assume it’s because only one at a time?

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Surely not a good use of an Amex 241 in any case?

    • Rhys says:

      Correct, one at a time

      • Frankie says:

        Is that you on the VR experience Rhys? Do you sit on that seat as well as stand for the eight minute experience? And does the stand swivel around and move you about? Do other people stare at you while you’re on it? Thanks in advance for answering these questions 🙂

        • Rhys says:

          It is me! You start off leaning into the support and then halfway through you sit down. Yes, the platform moves a little, it’s quite fun. People can’t really see you unless they go to the back where you get in – it’s hidden by the giant egg otherwise.

  • youngtraveller says:

    I wonder if the 20 pounds count as spend for the 1,000 bonus Avios with Amex

  • tony says:

    I visited this at the weekend, so 4 days after public opening. The exhibit was already looking quite tired with things not working properly, letters missing etc. It’s also very ‘out there’ in terms of future thinking. We’re not talking about a 2.0 lumbar support or a 30″ TV screen here, more eating 3d printed jelly and living in a small flexible pod for the entire flight.

    What ‘we'(?) might think of more important/realistic – a 4hr flight at 100k ft from London to Australia where you were decanted on a plinth directly from lounge to plane – got a little airtime, but perhaps I’m just not cultural enough to get the most out of this exhibition.

    My kids both enjoyed the VR experience, but I didn’t partake. Presumably the review above was on a press day as conversation about the concepts from the futurologists was non-existent, simply because none of them were there. If you do head down to the Kings Road, manage your expectations accordingly.