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Grandfather spends £30k building Spitfire simulator in his tiny garden shed

A grandfather has spent years creating a perfect replica of a Spitfire from scratch - all in his tiny garden shed. Kenneth Mockford, 59, took on the challenge during the 2020 lockdown and spent more than two years constructing the front half of the fighter aircraft. The ex-airman from the South African air force spent an estimated £30,000 buying the parts for the fuselage using blueprints, making many parts individually from scratch. He then squeezed into his 3x5m shed to construct the thing. Keith, of Burwell in Cambs, who comes from a line of RAF veterans, said: "I am a nutty engineer, basically. "I have Asperger Syndrome and I always say that it is my gift. It is my superpower. In 2014, the dad-of-two quit his secure job as Head of Engineering at Baxter Healthcare UK and turned his shed into an air-hanger. This is only the latest project for the ex-mechanic, who has also built an entire F35 fighterjet by eye and rewired the front end of a Lynx helicopter and Boeing 737 aircraft into simulators. He uses his own hand-made laser cutter and a Computer Numerical Controller (CNC) to cut and shape all the parts of his simulators. He now runs a flight simulator business Sim2do, selling experiences in his simulators in Mildenhall, Suffolk, where people can buy a one-hour 'flight' from £60. The British Spitfire simulator is his latest project and is his only simulator which 'shoots' from the aircraft's gun, used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. The machine even vibrates when you pull the trigger and the pilot can fight up to 19 enemy aircraft during a 'flight'. No parts were available to build on for the single-seat aircraft so he made it from the blueprints up. It now accurately features all the internal instruments, throttle, landing gear and seat, adapted to be run in the simulator with three screens to give a realistic virtual experience. According to him, his family initially thought he had "lost it" when he set out to make his first project, the Boeing 737 in 2012. However now they get the hype. He said: "When I completed one they were like, 'wow'. "Then I completed another and they had the same reaction. Now the whole family are pretty much behind me and supports me." After the success of the 737, in which he spent most of his time giving the people in his village "flights", he thought he'd make a business out of it. His customers are now mostly people buying "gift experiences" for their partners and grandparents, as well as trainee pilots booking up four-hour slots to practice ahead of a job interview.
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