One of the first projects we did when we starting designing our airplane was to make a mockup of our cockpit. Of course it quickly became known as the “mockpit”, but it was no laughing matter! We realized early on that the mockpit was an essential tool in designing a comfortable and functional cockpit. We tested out ideas and dimensions as the design evolved. In this way we knew what the inside of the cockpit would look like and feel like long before we invested time and money into the real thing.

The mockpit began in early 2006 and was modified over the years. Here is a picture of the mockpit with a mockup of the wing alongside it.


We were able to see how easy it was to get into the cockpit by standing on the “wing step”. We also measured where the rudder pedals needed to go, as well as how comfortable the seat and backrest were.

Here is a sequence showing Renee getting in and out of the mockpit:

  
1. Step onto wing                                          2. Sit on sill

 
3.  Swing leg into cockpit                             4.  Lower body into seat

 
5.  Ready to go!                                           6.  Getting out, sit on sill


 
7.  One leg out                                             8.  Swinging other leg over sill



Ready to get off the wing.

I should mention that this might not be the best way in and out of the cockpit. As it turns out, the canopy might make it difficult to sit on the sill and swing our legs into the cockpit.  With the canopy in it’s upright position, we may just get in by stepping onto the seat cushion and then using the center and side consoles to lower ourselves onto the seat. But the pictures of Renee demonstrate how the mockpit helped us work through “ergonomic issues”.


In June of 2007 we added a canopy mockup to the mockpit. We used wire and wood to check out the shape and head room. We were able to determine that a commercially available canopy manufactured by Aircraft Windshield Company of Los Alamitos for the Dragonfly aircraft would work nicely for our project.


The wires helped us see that we would have plenty of head room yet we would have good visibility over the instrument panel. And no, the mockpit is not powered by propane!

Here is what a Dragonfly aircraft looks like:


The canopy that we eventually ordered was an untrimmed version which will give us a slightly taller and bigger canopy than is used on the Dragonfly.


Now that we can sit in the real cockpit, we no longer need to use the mockpit. Since we have had to move it out of the hangar whenever we are working and put it back each day when we are done, we decided it was time to dismantle it.

  
1.Final mockpit configuration  2. Starting to dismantle     3. going….
 
  
4. going….                 &
nbsp;          5. going……                         6. Gone!

While we won’t miss pulling it out and putting it back into the hangar every day, because it played such a important roll, and was our first “tangible” interaction with our future airplane, it will be missed.

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