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While watching a playthrough of the new game Starfield by a YouTuber, the "Pilot" of a ship brings the console toward him and swings wings around so they are closer to him.

It reminded me of a scene in a book I read a long time ago.

People are on a space craft going somewhere. The pilot becomes injured and can no longer fly the ship. A passenger (who is a pilot of another type of space craft) starts training with the injured pilot to learn to fly this craft. [i.e. The pilot is flying a 747, and the passenger flies DC-10s with different configuration of gauges, switches, and indicators]

They are far from any planets and rescue is not possible, and supplies are running out.

After awhile (weeks?/months?) of training, the passenger just cant get in the "flow/pattern/sequence" of operating the cockpit controls/indicators/gauges. While the pilot is out of the bridge, he starts tearing apart the cockpit and repositing the displays and controls and remounting them in the positions that match the controls of the space craft type he is familiar with.

When the pilot comes back and sees what the passenger is doing, he tries to attack him and is restrained by the other passengers/crew and taken to the med bay.

The passenger is now able to fly the ship due to the reconfigured layout that he has been trained on and knows.

I do have a John Brunner vibe, but that may be due to the novel "Polymath" in which a colony ship crash lands on an alien planet. But fortunately it contains a "planet-builder trainee" who can help them survive. Unfortunately his training in on a different planet type. (i.e. his training is on ice planet types, and they have landed on a jungle type planet.) So most of what he knows is not applicable, or does not cross over to the planet type he is on.

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This looks like Fast Trip (1965) by James White. There is a brief summary on the author's website.

The pilot becomes injured and can no longer fly the ship.

"The radio, food supply, fuel tank, and Captain Ramsey himself... all go phffft!"

the passenger just cant get in the "flow/pattern/sequence" of operating the cockpit controls/indicators/gauges.

"skippers are psychologically tailored to fit their ships"

Also, from this Reddit post: "But each pilot is specialized toward their own ships, the way it moves, where everything is. So the retired pilot can't move fast enough to land the ship without crashing it because the cockpit isn't "his". Once he figures that out, he started to move things around, paint it, etc..."

When the pilot comes back and sees what the passenger is doing, he tries to attack him and is restrained by the other passengers/crew and taken to the med bay.

"The original pilot, at one point, attacks him for ruining "his" ship."

From memory, the food problem was solved by another passenger, a medical doctor, who worked out how to ration what they had left to keep them all alive and the (new) pilot in good enough health to function. The doctor also suggested, at nearly the last minute, that the pilot should adapt the cockpit instead of just trying to adapt to the other pilot's preferred layout. There wasn't enough time for the glue to dry properly, so the pilot increased the cabin pressure to help it stick.

The story ends with them landing safely on Mars, all 4 of them alive but close to starvation, and using a (short-range) suit radio to call for help.

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    Ahh, Yes that's it.... Looks like it is a short story instead of a novel. I probably read it in the James White's "Futures Past" short story collection, as its cover looks familiar. isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?14924
    – NJohnny
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 5:21
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    This is not the story in question, but for lolz, it reminds me of scenes in Niven & Pournelle's novel "The Mote in God's Eye", in which future humanity finds an ancient alien civilization. They have many biologically distinct castes, some of which lack conventional intelligence, but have evolved an instinctive but advanced ability for engineering. These alien animals immediately tear apart and improve all the human machines they come across, including spacecraft, much to the alarm of the humans. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:14

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