On Tuesday, Rob and I went to the media opening of BA 2119: Flight of the Future, the exhibition that British Airways is putting on at the Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road as part of its BA100 birthday celebrations.
It is a relatively small exhibition of work from graduate students at the Royal College of Arts which proposes a variety of technologies that might shape air travel in one hundred years’ time.
Whilst it was great to talk to the students and discuss their proposals, don’t expect any of these concepts to appear on your next British Airways flight. Many are as futuristic as flying cars were in the 1950s – highly conceptual and futuristic to the extent that they may literally never fly.
Let’s get to the fun stuff though!
At the centre of the exhibition is a virtual reality experience. It takes you on a journey through the history of human flight, from Leonardo Da Vinci’s failed flying experiments to the windy beaches of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, the first flights at what became Heathrow, Concorde and the new British Airways A350.
The experience puts you in the pilot’s chair – literally – on many of these aircraft, allowing you to soar (briefly) through various landscapes. It is enhanced by smell-o-vision, wind simulators and a moving platform in the style of a simulator. The photo above shows me giving it a go.
This is how it looks from the outside:
Whilst the exhibition is free, the VR experience is £20. You may find this too steep for what is an 11 minute experience (ignore the 8 mins figure on the ticketing page) and it’s a shame it doesn’t go on longer. It is genuinely quite fun to ‘fly’ through the different landscapes.
You can book it online at the BA 2119 website here, picking a specific time slot. The exhibition runs until the 26th August.