An Inventor's Aviation Alchemy
Mike Pohl, of St. Louis Park, Minn. -- living the small-business-owner's version of the American Dream -- recently took his little flight-simulator company from a strip-mall storefront, where he sells $39.95 gift certificates for an hour of dogfights, to a six-figure contract with aerospace heavyweight Lockheed Martin. Pohl's customers line up to "fly" in the AeroDome simulator he designed -- an enclosed cockpit built of wood and fiberglass, with motion, a 180-degree projection screen, and off-the-shelf computer technology. Earlier this year, he sold two of the simulators to Lockheed, and delivered them to the defense giant's simulation training facility in Orlando, Fla., where they are being evaluated. Pohl built his simulators in 82 days, for a fraction of the cost of what Lockheed usually pays. Pohl told AVweb on Tuesday that he'd be happy to build more for the defense industry, if they'll buy them. Meanwhile, business is booming at the A.C.E.S. store. "Last year was our best ever," Pohl told AVweb, "and this year it looks like we'll beat that."