• Interview With Patrick McFadden / Iris Dynamics

    About You

    When did you first get interested in aviation and why?

    My grandfather flew a Spitfire during World War II. As a kid, his stories of flying fascinated me. I have always been a technical "hands on" person and as much as the aviation enthralled me, so too did all the technical/mechanical aspects of aviation. Eventually I decided to pursue my passion for aviation formally and so enrolled in a flight school as a full time student.

    What do you do now for a living and do you work at flight simulation full time?

    I currently work for an aviation technology company (Iris Dynamics) that has developed a new style of control loading simulator yoke. So yes I do work full time in the flight sim industry.

    What types of hobbies do you enjoy?

    Other than aviation, electronics, and computers I've always found peace in nature, traveling, the ocean, and photography.

    Flight Simulation

    Tell us about your involvement in flight simulation and the things you've done.

    Much like everyone who is probably reading this I've been "playing" with home use flight simulation programs since as far back as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to combine this passion with my work in real world aviation and training.

    My first exposure to commercial simulation systems was during my private and commercial training in an aging ELITE PCATD. When I went on to do my multi IFR I had the opportunity to use some of the last certified ATC810s that were still in use during the early 2000s.

    Through the years I used a number of commercial FTD (Flight Training Devices) as both a student and eventually as an instructor.

    I eventually went on to design and build a 6 channel cylindrically projected level 2 FTD from scratch. After finishing that project and starting Iris Dynamics we developed the control loading system which we're currently running a Kickstarter for, along with a few other interesting projects, such as an Oculus Rift enabled portable chair for ab-initio rotary wing training.

    Have you had experience with X-Plane, FSX and Prepar3D and what are you thoughts on each?

    The bulk of my experience has been with X-Plane, starting with V3 or 4 in the late 90s. I began using X-Plane more seriously when I started teaching, as it was a convenient way to demonstrate what's going on to the aircraft and surrounding air currents during certain maneuvers. Currently I believe X-Plane to be the most promising platform as it has a very vibrant development community and Laminar doesn't have its hands tied with only being able to offer "commercial" solutions.

    FSX was/is a fantastic example of how a user community can drive development. The 3rd party developers have done an amazing job with keeping it updated and relevant but for better or worse it is a dying platform. I believe that the decision to try and split the "entertainment" and "serious" sides of this platform has done the simulation community a disservice.

    As for Prepar3D I think it's great to see something positive come out of the FSX/ESP/MS Flight debacle. Having a project, which is in active development will do nothing but increase the quality of all simulation packages as a whole. I am also very excited to see stereoscopic 3D and Oculus integration reach mainstream usability.

    Have you used the Redbird Simulators and what do you think of them?

    Yes I have! I've operated an FMX and an XWIND. Redbird has obviously become the de facto name in FTDs over the past few years. They are relatively inexpensive and have much less stringent space, power, and cooling requirements, which make them an awesome fit for many of the few remaining "Mom and Pop" operators. That being said I do have a few gripes with these units. The FMXs I used had just a little too much motion latency/delay. So for example you would perform an input on the controls, and the horizon would change, but movement would be delayed by just enough time that realism was lost. I suspect this issue was the result of the marketing departments insistence on using a 15 amp plug which probably forced their engineers to use underpowered actuators. Also I do have a bit of a problem with using flat (planar) screens on a machine meant for VFR and IFR training. The perspective shift encountered when moving from one screen to the next (especially in an IFR circling procedure) leaves much to be desired. All that being said in the $50,000-$100,000 price range Redbird is an awesome budget option.


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