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An innocent typo led to a giant 212-story obelisk in Microsoft Flight Simulator

An innocent typo led to a giant 212-story obelisk in Microsoft Flight Simulator

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It was only supposed to be two stories high

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Melbourne’s giant virtual obelisk.
Melbourne’s giant virtual obelisk.

Microsoft Flight Simulator players spotted a giant mountain-high obelisk in Australia this week. While Flight Simulator has done a great job at recreating the real world, this unusually huge structure doesn’t exist in real life. Players have now discovered that its existence stems from a simple typo.

University student Nathan Wright made an edit to OpenStreetMap data for part of his degree work last year, adding more than two hundred stories to a building that’s actually just two stories. Wright meant to type 2, but instead he typed 212 in the data section for floors. “I think it’s so funny as it was the first time I was using OpenStreetMap,” says Wright in an email to The Verge. “I was using it for a university task and had to add data for class. I didn’t think I would have to see it again.”

The 212-story obelisk from the ground.
The 212-story obelisk from the ground.

His university work is now internet famous, especially with the Microsoft Flight Simulator community. The typo made its way into Microsoft’s Bing Maps data, which Asobo Studio, the developers behind Microsoft Flight Simulator, uses to map out the world in the game. Flight Simulator uses Azure-powered procedural generation technology, combined with Bing Maps data, to recreate virtual buildings like this 212-story obelisk.

Another OpenStreetMap user has since corrected the data typo, but it’s already made its way into Flight Simulator and internet history. “I find it really funny that it made it into the game and that I was tracked down so quickly,” says Wright.

It’s a hilarious glitch, but it’s not the only one in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Players have also discovered Buckingham Palace turned into an office block, palm trees transformed into teeth-like structures, and trucks glued to the side of a bridge in Portland.

This particular mountain-high obelisk will likely disappear from Microsoft Flight Simulator once Bing Maps absorbs the latest OpenStreetMap data from Australia, or if Microsoft decides to remove the giant structure manually. If you’re interested in visiting the glitch before it disappears, there’s already a YouTube video tutorial that even includes a successful landing attempt on top of the obelisk.

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