Fanboy Friday Gets Real

As real as it gets… that’s the simmer’s nirvana. We all have our varying ideas on what constitutes “real”, and often it’s hard to articulate what draws us into a simulated environment to the point where we forget that we’re watching a screen. All we know is, when that rare magic strikes, it puts a grin on our faces that lasts for days. Well, I’m still grinning from an experience I had last weekend that was just the opposite of that.

February in Oregon is notorious. Slate-gray skies, rain, bone-chilling cold, that’s a description of your typical winter day here. Definitely not flying weather. So when I awoke last Sunday to crystal blue skies, one of my first thoughts was dang, I wish I could go flying today. That was followed by hey, if I had my license, I’d definitely be up there. I’ll be Twin Oaks will be buzzing! My wife was teaching a class all day, so I grabbed my video camera, loaded up the dogs, and headed out for the 25-minute drive to my favorite small airport.

My friends, it was perfect. The clear, balmy weather with light winds really brought out the weekend pilots. Such a tremendous variety of cool aircraft, too! That gorgeous red and white Beaver amphib, a slick Sport Cub, a brace of shiny 172s, RV’s galore. Everyone was out polishing, gassing ’em up, and buzzing around the pattern. There was no shortage of spectators, either, who’d made a day of picnicking on the grounds and plane-spotting, or taking turns going up for a joyride.

Bob and Betty Stark, who’ve been so enthusiastic about me making an FSX rendition of their field, gave me the green light to wander all around the field, making videos of whatever I pleased. And this is where the weird feeling set in; that creeping deja-vu that’s particular to scenery designers who’ve spent as much time as I have staring at the simulated version of a place, and then find themselves walking around the real thing. It’s like stepping through the looking glass – or at least the monitor. Everything you see is familiar as an old shoe, but suddenly you’ve got a new angle on it.

When I started working on the Twin Oaks project, the most important thing to me was to capture the intangible “feel” of the place. Having revisited the real deal now that I’m done making the sim version, I feel satisfied that I pretty much nailed it. In fact, during the drive out, I was consistently struck by how well the FTX NA Blue scenery replicates the look of the whole area. In a couple of days, you can see for yourself. For now, believe me, this is the closest thing to real we’ve seen in FS yet.

But enough of my blathering. How about I show you instead? Without further ado, here’s “A Break in the Weather”:

I’ve also posted the vid in HD on Vimeo. Check it out!

Happy flying!

15 responses to “Fanboy Friday Gets Real

  1. SWEEEEEET! Love the vid. Really gives me the feel of a small and fun airport. I didn’t realize that was such a busy little place! Tons of traffic, it seemed.

    I had to LOL when I saw the guys chillin’ in their hangar. That was hilarious.

    And for those thinking of getting this scenery, don’t hesitate. It is totally incredible. Your best yet, Bill. name

  2. Great video, indeed, Bill! — You really captured that feeling I remember oh so well from growing up; heading out to the local small town airport on a clear day, sun warming your face, and the sound of Lycoming and Continental pistons buzzing in your ears! Ahh, nothing better! 🙂 Well done!

  3. Quoting — “It’s like stepping through the looking glass – or at least the monitor. Everything you see is familiar as an old shoe, but suddenly you’ve got a new angle on it.”

    That’s an interesting point Bill, and it is one that sometimes gives me pause.

    When terrain mesh and weather reached their highpoints in FS2004, together with the masterpieces of Vancouver and Misty, I started pre-flying my west coast real world flights in MSFS.

    I’ve continued in FSX and I have noticed times when I have been working my way along the VFR routes of the real British Columbia when for a split second of two I have been overcome by a real inability to decide whether I really am in the sky or in the simulator. The immersion aspect of FS is so strong that I really do think I’ve been some place when I haven’t.

    This is only going to become more frequent with PNW and if I ever get my Alaska tour together then TongassX will be causing the same phenomena.

    All well and good except for an aviation safety issue. I do not want any of my poor FS flight habits to slop over to the real world.

    For example: in FS I never use a checklist, I don’t clear my turns, and I never check for traffic. Sure, I could go through the motions, even do a pretend exterior pre-flight but — there just doesn’t seem to be any point.

    However, if I fail to do any of those things in a real aircraft because of a lapse in where I think reality is, even for a short time, I put lives at risk.

    I doubt that this is a real issue that others would agree with. It is probably very much a part of the normal and aviation-healthy paranoia that makes for safe airmanship but it does speak to your point — “As real as it gets.”

    Rick Grant

    • Interresting you should meantion “preflights” and how they “make it so that you feel like you already know the place when you have never actually been there” sensation.

      I am not a pilot yet. All FSX experience but fly as real as I can. Free groundsschool and the like. I do mainly VFR in the southern part of BC. I use UTX Canada and I am now downloading PNW as I write.

      Because of UTX Canada and an airport someone had made for Chilliwack, I had an interresting experience. I had never been to these areas EVER in my life. Hardly even a google earth look at them. In the SIM I have flown from Hope to Chilliwack and over the area know as Harrison Hotsprings alot. It looks great in the sim and the airports make sense for my little VFR flights.

      Last week my wife and I drove from Calgary to Clliwack and Harrison and I drove it like I had been there a thousand times. Comming West from Hope on the way to Chilliwack…

      “Hey. There will be big water on our right and the airstrip is right beneath that hill right there. We are litterally 2 minutes from the exit to turn to the airport and I would like to stop in there”.

      Lo and behold I called it like I had lived there all my life yet had never been there once. Hardly looked at a map actually.

      FSX with accurate add ons, if anything, makes pre-navigation familiarization a snap! It was downright spooky to experience it like that and that was from a car. I can imagine that is only hightened from a plane. No pun intended.


      • That familiarity is true for aircraft as well. The first time I ever got behind the yoke of a real 172, my instructor was impressed that I already knew where everything was, and had a pretty good idea of what it did, too. I’ve heard people deride FS for creating bad habits in pilots, but I found just the opposite; I was comfortable in the cockpit in a way that non-simmers would take a while to learn.

  4. Bill, it’s sorta like C.S.Lewis, you know the wardrobe thing. I guesse that tomorrow is the day that I get the PNW stuff and since monday is a new month, I can add your stuff and Darrington. Exciting times for FSX!

  5. You know you’re kill’in us right Bill????? OMG can the excitment level and anticipation get any higher for this release???!!! lol!! fantastic!!

    Hey which Cessna 172 is yours in the vid? Or are you a twin engine guy? You probably kept your B60 Duke in the hanger until you were finished with the vid!! haha!!

    I can’t wait for the release of Stark’s and PNW,I think my first flight will be a chopper and just hover above ground and admire the detail!!
    Thanks for the great video! It does look like you really captured the look and feel to the tee!!!

  6. Aidan "acezboy561"

    Bill, just about to pre-order 7S3. I KNOW it will be my favourite addon to date.

  7. Reminds me of the airport where a young kid would be and a pilot asking ya wanna go up for a flight get your parents to give an ok and I’ll take ya for a ride. Of course back in the good ole days without signing a waiver, not worried bout lawsuit, etc, etc. Kind of a place I wuld hang around at. I washed seaplanes when I was a puppy, never got a ride lol, nor paid, I still thank the teachers at Aviation High in New York City for giving me the interest in flying and being a role model for me to become a teacher myself years later down the road. I thank all the Lufthansa pilots who when I was a kid allowed me to fly jump seat and let me in the cockpit to visit. I guess thats what the NA Blue is gonna bring back and Stark Airport on it. Thanks Bill for all the work you do to keep us flying!

  8. Orbx PNW is downloading…. slowly…. lol

    • I know what you mean, Dave. I was trying to d/l it earlier tonight, but it was so slow I decided to wait until you paying customers had got it. Good luck! Hopefully it’ll be in your hands soon.

  9. Last night I downloaded and used GetRight download manager. It may a HUGE difference in the download. There is an option to use multple servers (or something like that, I’m going from memory here) and it increased my download from 240kbs to 550kbs to 1.2mps. Plus, it can resume downloading where you left off versus starting all over again if something happens.

    So…. I flew for about an hour last night on PNW and it more than lives up to the hype. In my opinion, it has re-defined add on scenery. I have been flying sims for a hobby since 1988 and have been working on and flying commercial Level D simulators since 1998 and this, by far, is the best. It really created a completely immersive experience. It probably helps that I live here in the PNW, recognizing the outlines of puget sound shore lines, roads etc…. but I knew after downloading the free demo of Tasmania that I was buying the PNW scenery from Orbx.

    Bill, you and the rest of the team have done an amazing job. I can’t wait to download Twin Oaks and Darrington. I have to work today until 4:00PM, but this evening…. more exploring!! I have apologized to my wife in advance for the hours I will spend on the sim….lol

    Great job guys…. amazing.

    • Yep, I’m seeing excellent throughput on the downloads now, so they must have finally gotten that pipe pried open. I just downloaded the whole package in about an hour.

      I hope you guys all enjoy exploring the PNW! I get to do some of that too, as I haven’t even seen most of the scenery myself. Too busy working on Twin Oaks.

  10. Pingback: Introducing Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark for FSX! « iBlueYonder

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