2000’sWhat if...
I created a glass cockpit

One final hands on, what if... project was the glass cockpit. I was contacted by Dr. McFarlane in 2001 and asked me to be in his office at 0800 hours the following day. The question he said, “Can you build a glass cockpit to manage an RUV.

It must seat 3 people: pilot, engineer and owner, be portable and fit through ship gangways into an 11’ length x 6’ wide x 8’ high, life-vest locker room on board a ship being constructed in Bremen Germany. The equipment had to stand alone attached only to the deck.” It had to be designed, built, tested and shipped in 6 months. I asked who it was for but couldn’t tell me. I asked why his staff of over 100 engineers, some with NASA experience couldn’t do the job. He said they told him the hardware would not fit in the space nor on time. So of course I agreed to the project, too stupid to know I could not do it

First I did drawings, then built a prototype room with wooden assemblies and finally the tig welding of the aluminum structures finished and powder coated. Everything assembled, 4 hard drives, 7 monitors, 3 keyboards and 3 joysticks installed.

The only thing missing in the photos are the seats and the owner’s 54 inch monitor. The pilot and engineers seats were a thing of beauty. I was cautioned that the operators would be sitting for hours so the seats had to be adjustable with serious shock absorbent qualities. After searching online around the world from Australia to France for the perfect farm combine chair, I found 2 new ones a mile down the road.

After the cockpit was shipped off, I learned that the owner was Paul Allen of Microsoft. The name of the 225’ ship is the Octapussy and it has on board a 10 man submarine that comes out of the side of the ship on davits. The question was asked “What If... the President of the United States was onboard the sub and it has difficulties on the bottom? How will you retrieve them. They had 6 months before launch. Enter Alm.