A lengthy article about Will Wright’s visit to the University of Central Florida’s Research Parkway is now online, and it’s a blast to read – and no, I’m not referencing Will Wright’s crash in the helicopter simulation he didn’t pull off. He was down there to show off a powerpoint presentation to military game developers and other military folks…then he went off to have fun with the various simulated training devices. It’s a whole new side of Will we get to read…oh, and something I wasn’t aware of, there is going to be a new Wright in this world coming sometime this month – his wife is 8 months pregnant! Congratulations Will and Kim!
“Welcome to the cockpit,” Stevens said. Then Wright begins the unreasonably gymnastic descent into a snug black seat bolted to the floor as he carefully avoids breaking the control stick between his legs.
For a few seconds L3 engineer Brett Newlin has the controls as he steers the Longbow helicopter across the Iraqi desert a few miles south of Abu Ghraib prison. Then his hands let go.
“It’s all yours,” Newlin says.
The roar of AC blower fans deafens the cabin to anything below a yell — almost like the wind noise just outside the rapidly spinning blades of a real Longbow. Wright steers the heavily armed attack helicopter east toward a downtown. Then a blast of wind sends the chopper sideways as he struggles to avoid broad siding a building. He saves it just in time.
“You might want to pull up a little,” Newlin says.
A few seconds later, testing the hard deck as low as he can fly, Wright sends the chopper scuttling across the desert floor. Every screen in the cockpit suddenly turns red.
“You crashed,” Newlin said.
“He’s actually very good at this,” Kim Wright says. “He has remote control helicopters.”
Another of Wright’s side hobbies he’s developed while crossing the streams between reality and VR: He loves robotics. That includes anything built to scale to mimic the real thing. Remember the show BattleBots from the mid 1990s? He built those with his daughter and won with them. He’s also put together his own tiny helicopters to show him the dynamics of flight in person, minus the risk of death.
Back in the cockpit, an engineer asks if Kim wants to drive. She laughs, though without her none of this would be possible.
“She’s my manager,” Wright said later. “She took care of all of this.”
When Wright was scheduled to headline a conference in Orlando, she insisted he be allowed to tour Research Park’s hidden corridor of military simulators first-hand.