Another full-circle kind of moment…

As mentioned a few weeks ago here in my March 10th blog posting, some changes were possibly on the horizon for me with American virtual Airlines.  I’m excited to report that I’ve been appointed the Dallas/Ft. Worth Hub Manager for American virtual Airlines.  This was something I had wanted to happen for some time and I’m very excited and honored to accept the role.

My virtual airline (VA) experience all began in DFW with AvA almost 10 years ago.  I honestly can’t remember just how I learned about virtual airlines.  I believe it was either through Flight Simulator itself or in a magazine…but in any event, until the late summer of 2001 my experience with flight simulator was just standalone.  I had been flying computer sims since the early 80’s, but it was 2001 before I paired flight simulator with the internet.

I believe I’ve blogged about the selection process for a virtual airline.  If not, I’ll keep it brief.  Growing up in Texas and working some of my professional career in the DFW area I preferred American Airlines over any of the other carriers.  As a child I had visited DFW airport many times and always marveled at the big shiny aluminum planes.  Also, those who know me know I’m a proud Texan and with AA being headquartered in Texas….well it was just all the right reasons. 

So with the new knowledge of virtual airlines I began my search for an American Airlines version.  Unfortunately, AvA was not the first AA VA I located.  I found another group, joined and was assigned as a pilot to their DFW hub.  My career with this AA VA only lasted a few weeks as the CEO more or less vanished without a trace and the roster was no longer being updated.  So the search began again….

In the August 2001 timeframe I found AvA.  It was born just that previous June, but had already gained a few hundred members and had a half-dozen or more hubs.  Of course I requested DFW and was assigned as a pilot.  While my only real-world aviation experience is in the form of a passenger, I had been flying computer sims at this point for over 15 years and with my few weeks of experience with the other AA VA, the CEO of AvA offered me the position of Vice President of Operations, placing me essentially in the number two position of AvA.

Part of my responsibilities of VP of Ops was the day to day management of the hub managers.  If memory serves me correctly, we had hubs in DFW, ORD, LAX, JFK, MIA, BOS and SJU.  I was responsible for the hiring of new hub managers when a vacancy occurred.  Around the time of my VP of Ops appointment, the DFW hub manager position was open and since I was a pilot in that hub I assumed the manager role and planned to replace myself as soon as possible.  However, a few weeks after that we had more openings in ORD and SJU.  I began filling the positions for ORD and SJU first and basically never replaced myself in DFW. 

Back then the role of a hub manager was much, much more difficult than it is today.  In those early days we didn’t have automated PIREP systems and FSACARS functionality.  We used a web form which the pilot would fill out with all the particulars.  This web form would send the hub manager an email with the information.  The hub manager would then take the information in the email form and manually update an HTML page reflecting the pilots hours.  A good hub manager would update his hub roster page every couple of days.  One that really wanted to stay on top of things would do it daily as a big hub like DFW or ORD could easily produce 20 or more PIREPs per day. 

So much for being brief…..

Fast forward 10 years and I’m now once again the Dallas/Ft. Worth hub manager.  DFW is without a doubt my favorite airport and it is both an honor and privilege to be able to manage this wonderful hub for American virtual Airlines.  While the role of a hub manager has changed slightly since the early days, there is still a lot to do.  The automated PIREP and FSACARS systems that AvA uses do save the tedious task of manually updating a roster.  But certainly nothing has changed in the sense of what I need to do to motivate my pilots and keep everyone in line. 

aal100_dfwWhile each hub manager at AvA believes their hub is the best and the most important….I do know that the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport is the “Jewel in the Crown” of American Airlines.  Now I truly have no intention of climbing any higher in the management ranks than hub manager.  My real-world life and career keeps me way too busy to take on any more. Plus Flight Sim isn’t my only hobby.  But I’m very, very happy to be back home where it all started.  By the way, the photo to the left is my first flight as DFW HM.  Pushing back in the MD80 for a flight to KMEM.

Now I would be remiss if I failed to invite you to become a member of American virtual Airlines.  AvA will celebrate it’s 10th birthday this summer.  We are planning a huge VATSIM event to celebrate.  AvA was the very first virtual airline to be affiliated with the VATSIM network.  We are a 100% online VATSIM virtual airline.  Which simply means that all flights must be flown on the VATSIM network to count towards pilot hours and rank.  Please take a look at our website and if you are interested in joining one of the oldest virtual airlines on the VATSIM network, then please sign up.

Well I believe I’ve kept you long enough from doing whatever it is you were doing before you landed here on my blog page.  I’m glad you stopped by and I’m glad to share with you my adventures in the wonderful hobby we call flight simulation.

Until next time…..

J

It’s been a while….

Yep, I know it’s been over a month…Oh who am I kidding.  It’s been over two months since I last posted a blog update.  January was a busy month for virtual flying…but February not so much.  I believe I logged over 60 hours of virtual simming in January and only about 3-4 in February.  Bottom line is February was a busy month for me in my job and we all know that jobs come first and hobbies come last.

I’m still flying with American virtual Airlines and still managing the training hub.  It keeps me busy.  On average we have 20+ new pilots join each month and again on average about half that many are terminated for inactivity.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone would take the time to join a VA and not fly.  Sure we have a few rules that must be followed and we also conduct a very brief quiz over VATSIM and our own policies….but this quiz is not difficult at all.  Also, you must fly 5 hours as a student pilot before transferring to a mainline hub.  But we don’t require a check ride and the quiz is done on-line and we even tell you where to find the answers.  Oh well. 

There is something possibly big going to happen with me at AvA.  I won’t talk about it now, but will be certain to come back and blog about it just as soon as I can.  It’s all good.

The FSX machine is still running incredibly well.  I finally got around to installing all the FSDTsceneries I had purchased a few months back.  I purchased about a half dozen on a special deal FSDT was running.  I installed KDFW and KFLL but had never got around to installing KORD, KFJK, KLAS, PHNL.  Anyway….I had all but forgotten I had KORD and had been having issues with the terminals showing up correctly.  Basically when I would land in Chicago and taxi to the terminal area all I would see were hanging jet bridges and no buildings.  Well..I’m glad to say that the FSDT KORD scenery fixed that issue and I went ahead and installed the rest.  I’m planning on flying from KMSP to KLAS on Sunday evening for an AvA event. 

Speaking of sceneries.  I also purchased the FlyTampa scenery for St. Maarten, TNCM and for Tampa, KTPA.  I’m really impressed with FlyTampa’s quality. I know many of you own this scenery and I’m really not sure why it took so long to purchase it.  I think Boston KBOS will be my next FlyTampa scenery. 

Back to the subject of FSDT.  Have you heard about the newest product they are currently developing?  It’s called Ground Services X and is pretty darn cool looking.  I’ve provided the video showing some of the things it will do.  It’s cool.  You can learn more about GSX in this forumthread.

FSDreamTeam GSX Preview

What else?  Oh….I also purchased and have been using FS Passengers in my VA flights.  It’s pretty cool and it has made me a better pilot.  I do think the lead flight attendant is flirting with me.  She keeps popping into the cockpit asking me what I’m going to do this weekend.  Ha ha

Well…that just about does it for this update.  I promise to get back to the blog and provide an update real soon on more of my flight sim adventures. 

Until then….

Happy Flying!

Jerry

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