If you want to fly, gliders are the cheapest way to get in the air. The average cost to solo is around $2000, which is quite inexpensive compared to the cost of flying powered aircraft. Access to a simulator can help to bring these costs down as less time is spent learning basic control of the aircraft and can help to improve flight safety by allowing training for emergency situations in a zero-risk environment.

However, the cost of a flight simulator is prohibitively high for many students. For example, the relatively inexpensive MACH 0.1 simulator setup costs $1899 not including a monitor and computer. Even if you want to build the simulator setup yourself from commercially available controllers, you'll easily end up spending hundreds. While the Condor soaring software is relatively inexpensive, it uses DirectX, which requires Windows running outside of a VM. For me, I would've needed a Windows license key and another hard drive to get the partitioning right.

These costs stopped me from ever owning my own simulator system. That changed when I found an old set of pedals for a PlayStation and a Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback 2 in the trash. Using those to start, I've gradually been adding parts to my DIY simulator.

I originally intended to submit this for the Hackaday Prize, but the submission date coincided with my flight test and I didn't have time. The good news is I have a pilot's license now.