I’m not a real pilot…
And I don’t play one on TV, nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. You may need to be familiar with American TV to fully understand those comments.
I’m often asked why do I want to sit behind a computer for hours at a time and pretend to fly an airplane from one destination to another. No, it’s not the wife that asks this question. She is actually very supportive of my hobbies. I personally think this question is a relatively new one in the scheme of things. Computer flight simulation dates back to the mid to late 70’s but really didn’t gain mainstream attention until versions were released for the Commodore 64, Apple II and the TRS-80 (or Trash 80 as my friends referred to it). Computer flight simulation was just in its infancy and certainly just in its game stages. While I did spend hours at a time flying around Meig’s Field on the Commodore 64, I was after all in my teens (late teens) and what else did teenagers do back then?
As I have described in this blog many times, for me the game of flight simulation grew into a hobby about a decade ago. While I believe I may have had a SATCO account, I never used it until VATSIM was born in July 2001. I’ve also described in detail my getting started with virtual airlines etc. It was these elements which turned a game into a hobby for me.
I know it may sound weird to hear someone who is so passionate about the hobby of flight simulation to say that he has no interests to learn to fly in real life. I simply don’t. However, I do love, love, love flying commercially. I consider myself a pro at it. I know when to take off my shoes, my belt and empty my pockets and I pride myself for being able to pass through security without anything beeping at me. By the way, my wife and I will soon travel to Europe to visit her family in Belgium and I’m looking forward to the trip.
Everyone who will read this blog has his or her own reasons for participating in the flight simulation hobby. Many of you hold a real world private pilots license and even some of you are professional commercial pilots. Some of you are like me and either don’t want to become a real world pilot or can’t. The reasons are many and none of those really matter. Some of you are young, some of you are old and some of you are in between. This also doesn’t matter. But this does lead me to an interesting statistic I’ve been pondering.
When I started flying online and flying for virtual airlines ( a decade ago), the impression I certainly got was the age demographics were slightly skewed to the younger side. Keep in mind I was in my mid-30’s at this time and most of the pilots I encountered on VATSIM and who flew in the VA were squeaky voiced teenagers. Please note, I’m not speaking bad about young people (then or now) and I owe the fun I have today on VATSIM to one of those squeaky voiced teenagers who today works as ATC.
But today, I rarely encounter a young person on VATSIM (or at least the squeaky voiced kind) and it somewhat concerns me. Like any hobby, the hobby survives and is renewed with new products and such by younger people coming into it. Now the good news is most of the teens from a decade ago are still in the hobby…they are just 10 years older and of course so am I.
Back on subject. While I have no desire to take my computer pilot skills to the next level, I do really enjoy making my experiences on the computer “As Real As It Gets”. Meaning, I’m really enjoying adding different hardware elements to my home setup which mimic those of real world instruments. Just as I recently blogged about my entering the payware market with the iFly 737NGX, I’m really loving the experience of flying with an FMS/CDU setup. So much so I purchased a hardware CDU which provides the look and feel of a real Boeing 737 CDU. This adds to my growing collection of external hardware including the CH Products Yoke and Peds and many GoFlight modules including the MCP Pro.
Before I wrap up, I just want to give a shout out to Moshe who has started his own Flight Sim Blog and kicking off an around the world adventure of his very own. Please visit and bookmark his blog website by clicking this link. Alternatively, you can look to the right side of my blog page under blogroll. Just look for FSX Scenic Adventure Around the World. This is one adventure I plan to follow very closely.
Well…this wraps up another edition to the blog. I know my blog posting schedule is somewhat sporadic. I struggled with posting anything earlier in the year and in May I posted several. I hope to share with you my cross the pond flight which will simulate the real world British Airways flight I plan to take in real life in a few weeks. It’ll be a BA 777 flight from Denver to London Heathrow then a VLM flight in the Fokker 50 from London City over to Antwerp, Belgium. I plan to fly the round-trip the week before I fly it for real. Both will be extremely fun.
Oh…before I fly off into the sunset (or in the case of the pic to the left, away from the sunset). I also wanted to mention I recently added the LevelD 767 to my virtual hangar. The LevelD 767-300 also easily supports and works with the GoFlight MCP Pro. I’ve only taken her on one round trip, but plan to put more hours on her in the very near future. The photo to the left is the LevelD 767 in the American OneWorld Livery. I’m sure you’ll hear about it here.
Until next time,