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!