Ex-pilot starts business in Mildenhall with DIY flight simulators
A retired airman has turned flight simulators he and his dad built in his garden shed into a business.
Fifty-three-year-old Ken Mockford, a veteran of the South African Air Force, has spent years re-creating the two Boeing 737 and Lynx helicopter cockpits piece-by-piece using parts he bought from around the world.
He and his father Ray had decided to turn the hobby into a business but 77-year-old Ray died only 10 days before he was due to move to open Sim2do in Gregory Road, Mildenhall.
Ken comes from a line of fliers – Ray, Ken’s uncle Stanley Mockford, grand-father Arthur, and great-uncle Derf Mockford, who invented the internationally recognised distress call ‘May Day’, all served in RAF.
“My dad mainly inspired me when I first got involved in cockpits many many years ago. We first started mucking about with flight sims then and we tried to make little cockpits and over the years it progressed.
“We started out with a little box and eventually it got bigger and bigger and I said I’m going the whole hog and making a full Boeing 737.”
Ken even quit his job as head of engineering at Baxter Healthcare UK after they decided to turn their shed hobby into a flight simulator business in 2014. Father and son built more than a dozen simulators in the large shed in Burwell.
Ken, who opened the UK’s only Lynx helicopter simulator available to the public earlier this month, said the work on recreating cockpits had brought father and son closer together.
“We only really started to know each other when he came to the UK,” he said. “He was planning moving up here and starting the business with me in Mildenhall.”