Pittsburgh International Airport sponsors National Aviary virtual reality machine

Birdly, a new full-body virtual reality experience that gives the sensation of flying, will open April 20 at the National Aviary as part of a permanent exhibit in partnership with Pittsburgh International Airport, the two entities said.

Pittsburgh International Airport is the exhibit´s presenting sponsor and Birdly will travel to the airport from May 22-25. The exhibit will travel to both Pittsburgh International and Allegheny County Airport several more times this year.

Birdly riders lie on the simulator chest down. Riders flap their arms using hinged wings, controlling direction and speed of their travel. A fan simulates headwinds and flying speed. Motors and actuators tilt and dip the flyer´s body in response. An HTC Vive headset provides visuals and head-tracking, taking flyers over a virtual New York City.

Birdly was invented by Swiss startup SOMNIACS. An early prototype debuted in 2015. The National Aviary´s Birdly, an enhanced version, will be offered daily in timed increments for USD 8 per flight.

The National Aviary, located in West Park on Pittsburgh´s historic North Side, is an independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Its collection comprises 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild.

Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport, is committed to increasing air service, improving customer service, and inspiring growth in the Pittsburgh region.

Pittsburgh International Airport serves more than 8 million passengers annually on 16 carriers. During the past two years, the airport has increased its nonstop destinations more than 80 percent to include 68 airports.