RETIRED Port Macquarie resident Brian Birmingham has an adoration of flight that few people can match.
Over the years, the former bricklayer from England has filled his home with paintings, prints and models of aircraft to showcase his incredible passion for all things aerospace.
Despite never being employed as a pilot his most extensive project brings together the simulated cockpit of a commercial aircraft, timed flight plans and memorised routines to get the plane in the air.
"Flying has a special way of drawing you in. There's a lot you have got to remember when you're flying such as what you're doing, what you need to do and what sequence to do it in," the 78-year-old said.
"In a typical flight plan you can choose the location anywhere in the world. You put your flight plan in and off you go.
"For me it keeps my mind working, gives me something to do and think about. Originally it was quite difficult but you get used to it after a bit."
Large passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 737 airliner and the British Spitfire warplane are personal favourites, he said.
Mr Birmingham said he is seizing some of the opportunities that were overlooked in his youth.
"In hindsight if I had been 20 years younger and had the money, I would have gone to the training school to see if I could get a pilot's licence," he said.
"But looking back in time I'm sure I was always working away at something else.
"When you're at the right age to become a pilot you're trying to have family, then you get trying to get your house together and so on.
"In reality we don't always have the time and money to do these sorts of things at the correct moment."
Mr Birmingham has also been involved with the Johns River Radio Control Club and built several airborne electric model aircraft while living in Port Macquarie.
"When I found out about the model aircraft clubs in the area I thought I'd have a go and get myself a small plane, which I did when I joined the club at Johns River," he said.
"The people there were really nice and at that time they had a deal where we were allowed to use part of the airfield, so the hobby grew from there."
Mr Birmingham has an extensive set up but he's not alone in taking his real life passion into the virtual world.
Two-thirds of Australians play video games, 91 per cent of households own a video game device and more than 21 per cent of households have a virtual reality headset, according to a 2020 report by Digital Australia (DA20).
Seventy-eight per cent of Australian video game players are aged 18 or over, while 42 per cent of people aged 65 and over play video games, according to the report which surveyed 1210 households and 3228 people.
"When you're older I think you have a bit more time to do things like this. For me personally, I just can't sit watching television all day and find this far more enjoyable," Mr Birmingham said.
"It's not like a game that you see children playing these days where they are shooting at each other and all that.
"This is totally relaxing, learning, concentrating and probably more engaging memory wise."
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