Interview: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 Team: 'Real World' Connections.
'Real World' Connections
The line between simulation and reality blurs as real-world talent is included to introduce simmers to the actual world of aviation. Arrangements with AOPA, Jeppesen, Cessna and others provide special incentive to get the real feeling of 'air under the seat'.
Bruce: Most of the basic information about the product is up on our web site now. New features; what’s new about this product, what the differences are between the professional edition and what’s in 2000. You're familiar with the new airplanes we put in. We’ve talked about what we think are the most important new features that people will find most interesting.
Both versions have extensive printed manuals which are 200-250 pages – A large chunk of the manual was written by Rod Machado who is a well known instructor and Aviation speaker. He has written several books about learning to fly. He has the best selling basic pilot textbook out there right now. I use it with all students. It's his "The Private Pilot Handbook". It's a very thorough, comprehensive book. He is very well known on the aviation circuit, and does a lot of talks to experienced instructors. So he wrote all of the "How to fly" stuff in the book. He also is the instructor in Flight Sim. He created the new interactive lessons and it’s his voice you hear when you hear the voice of the instructor. When you do those lessons, you’re flying with Rod.
We are also announcing something with AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association). There will be more on that as we get closer to the product release. But, essentially they provided a lot of information to us from their archives and their magazine. They have extensive databases and archives of information about airplanes and how to fly, and a lot of techniques. So we have incorporated some of that into our help and our book. There will also be some links from our Web Site to the AOPA. People who are interested in joining AOPA will be able to do that. You will be able to get flight training magazines, and have access to some of the technical aviation resources. For people that really want to expand their hobby and learn more about aviation, learning to fly, flying techniques, they can have up to date current information on everything from aircraft flying regulations, and how to get a license, etc. They’ll be able to go right to AOPA for that.
We are also working with Cessna. They are offering a pre-solo discount on flying lessons at Cessna flying centers.
John & Martha King are doing a video for us that will be on the CD that is an intro to Flight Sim video. They are also going to offer some of their special packages for their training programs and products for Flight Sim customers. For example: more than half of the people in the U.S. that have taken F.A.A. knowledge tests use John and Martha Kings videos and study prep courses in order to prepare for that test. But they also produce a lot of additional training materials on focus subjects like – "How to Navigate using VOR’s" or "Basic flying techniques" so all those things are going to be available to Flight Sim customers to order from the Kings.
There are a lot of things happening with what I call 'the real world'. All our partners are very interested in Flight Sim as a way of reaching people who have already showed some interest in flying. It's a great way for the Flight Sim community to get really good, solid, authoritative, up to date information. So when people are asking "well, you know I am confused about holding patterns", or "I don’t know about cross country navigation" or you name the subject, it’s no longer going to be somebody giving their opinion. Your able to go to a source like Rod Machado, Flight Training Magazine, Cessna, John & Martha King and you get the real, up to date scoop on the people who are very experienced at actually teaching this stuff. We think that is pretty exciting! The people who are really into Flight Sim as a hobby or people who contemplate going out and learning how to fly or get back into aviation will find this very useful.
Scot: We are not presenting ourselves as a substitute for flight training. What we are doing is trying to give you the most precise up to date information we can about the right things to do.
Bruce: And to help you get connected to the people that do. If you do decide to go forward then you will be able to use the most up to date information. Cessna has created a new CD ROM based interactive multi-media training program that they use at all the Cessna pilot centers. If you want to go learn to fly at a Cessna pilot center you’ll bring home this kit with all the CD ROMs in it. They show you videos, have quizzes and brief you on each flight you're going to take before you take it so it's a great opportunity.
Scot: Well, the great thing about something like Flight Simulator is that when you do that, all of those things are now familiar to you. This is exactly what happen when we were placing Dan from Corpus Christi. By the time he had got into primary flight training he had already been through this stuff and knew exactly what to do. This does not mean that it replaces the primary flight training but it certainly is a good intro.
Peter Parsons: Supporting the FlightSim community is something that takes a daily role in our lives. We think about it all the time, it's very, very important to us. Flight Sim's success is due in part to this strong community of people who support us and build add-on products.