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 My career with this AA VA only lasted a few weeks as the CEO more or less vanished without a trace and the roster was no longer being updated.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.
While 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…..