For a long time, virtual reality looked like this:

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That’s from the Nintendo Virtual Boy, released waaaaaay back in 1995. Pretty terrible, right?

But a lot can change in twenty years, and advancements in virtual reality have come a long way. Sure, this could lead to creepy things like the sex robots that Glenn brought up  a few months ago. But new technology can also have some really, really cool applications – like getting veteran pilots back in the cockpit of their old planes.

Over the past year, Reddit user jwsimmons has been visiting retirement homes and setting up flight simulators so that former pilots can once again take the skies. He’s modified the game War Thunder with simpler controls and non-combat scenarios, allowing the veterans to feel like they are back in their old Wildcats, Hellcats, Corsairs, and Mustangs.

He’s even taken advantage of the latest virtual reality technology, Oculus Rift, to create an incredibly realistic experience (see the video below):

“They were my heroes growing up, and so much is owed to what they sacrificed. It makes me really happy to be able to give a tiny bit back,” he said.

The photo below has gotten a lot of attention on Reddit today, drawing more people to jwsimmon’s story. He wrote, “This photo is from the last trip, but I just confirmed I could share it. Jack is a pilot from WW2 who flew Wildcats, Hellcats, Corsairs, Tigercats, F80s, F9s etc and a long list of helicopters too. Hell of a pilot on the PC as well.”