A TV on the Flight Deck
By Chip Barber (21 April 2007)
So, as a practical matter, this means that my lovingly constructed sim flight deck (which is nothing other than a computer desk, two monitors and peripherals, so don't be impressed - it is a flight deck in mind only) has been moved from a room dedicated to all things computer to the bedroom. Now, at first blush, this may not seem like too bad a thing. Rather handy, I don't have to walk downstairs in the middle of the night whilst fighting insomnia, just to get in some cockpit time or to check email. But the problem is our spiffy High Definition TV happens to reside in said bedroom. Thus the dilemma.
Permit me to give you a 'for instance'. I've installed the wonderful AES airport enhancer, and have been hopping all around the many places they offer. Last night I was gleefully embroiled in a turn around out of Munich, when the Super Bowl began. Had this been a couple of weeks ago, I would have had to make a decision: watch football or complete my flight. One or the other, giving each my complete and undivided attention. But now, the rules have changed.
You see, I've got a TV on my flight deck now. HD TV, too. Surround sound. Big screen. A guaranteed spud pleaser if ever there was one. And, all I have to do is take the feet off the rudder pedals, swivel the captain's chair and I'm in spud heaven! Lean back, put the much maligned and ornery feet up on the bed, maybe if I'm lucky convince anyone within earshot to grab a cold one from the fridge for me, put on the ball game, hockey game or anything else that catches my fancy and WHEN IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S HOLY DID I BEGIN THIS DESCENT!?! Were it not for the passengers expressing their dismay (thank you, FsPassengers), I would have likely given some e-resident the beginnings of a new in-ground pool in their yard.
I don't know, maybe I take this flying stuff too seriously. I may be -gasp- a serious flight simmer! Whatever. I like my hobby. No, I love my hobby. I pretty well better love it, considering the amount of cash I've invested in the damn thing. But, what does it mean, when I'm knee deep in a flight, and find my attention so easily diverted?
Well, I'll tell you. Any hobby worth pursuing is worth taking seriously. Now, there's serious, and then there's serious. Personally, I have little tolerance for those who truly believe themselves to be pilots, and derogate any who fail to fly as they do: to the letter, by the book, by the numbers yadda yadda yadda. I have found as a general rule that those who happen to be a pilot and are also into flight simulation, tend to be genuinely great people who love spending time in the forums handing out advice on how the Big Boys do it. It's the annoying, whiney, bombastic pilot wannabees that really frost one's buttocks.
But I digress. Diversion. Not for weather, but for something that happens to catch my fancy beyond my current flight. It's been happening more frequently of late. I don't know, perhaps I'm becoming jaded. It's almost routine, now that I've become comfortable with most (but not nearly all by a long shot) of my SuperSims. The damn ATR still vexes me, and believe me; it's on the list of things to do. But as much fun as flying the sim is, there are times when the call of the wild, or the phone, or some game on TV will break the spell. As much as our hobby permits us to not quite but somewhat "be there", we're not. And this is driven home when my team goes up by a goal, or takes a bonehead penalty, or there's an off-the-wall news story, etc.
Anybody else find this? I'm not quite certain, but perhaps some new add-ons are in order. I'll tell you, I like the AES Airport Enhancer I mentioned earlier, but once off the ground, it offers nothing. Sure, I've got music galore. I've got enhanced ATC to guide me, a virtual copilot to berate me for my lousy piloting skills. I've got passengers in the back that at the drop of a hat applaud or vomit, depending on how much I bounce them around. Whilst eye candy on the ground pales somewhat at FL370, it's still mighty pretty out there (dont'cha just love contrails?), especially now that I'm flying all over the world. And yet, despite all that, my attention has become all too easily diverted by the boob tube.
And, to make matters worse, it's not even quality programming that catches my eye! I nearly had a close encounter with a stationary object during a taxi to the active because of a beer commercial! Man, that's gotta say something.
Fortunately, it would appear that most if not all developers have come to the conclusion that it is to their benefit, and thereby ours, to continue offering products for FS2004. I think we're all pretty much on the same page regarding FSX: lovely product, where's the patch?
So once again, I'm doing my perimeter checks of the FS products world, searching for that certain something that will entice me to type the dreaded sixteen numbers. Something that will keep my attention, rather than a rerun of Hogan's Heroes or the advertiser's latest efforts at trying to convince me to buy feminine personal lubrication (I kid you not... that one nearly caused me to fly into a mountain during climb out).
Funny thing, though. My flight deck TV has not yet diverted my attention during my quest for fresh and exciting add-ons. I think that's an important piece to my quandary. Now all I've gotta do is figure out which part of my flight I'll devote to contemplating it!