Mea Culpa Of Sorts
By Chip Barber (17 October 2007)
For this small piece of esoterica, I must thank my fellow wordsmith, Mike McCarthy. As I spoke with him the other day, I was lamenting on how I felt I'd let down a portion of our FS community. Sort of left them behind as I grew as an FS pilot. "Sounds like that's the subject of your next article". This Molson is for you, Mike!
The more I think about, the more I see how perhaps I have left behind all of those who continue to fly default aircraft. You intrepid souls who spurn the siren's song of spectacular software of the variety "payware", instead remaining satisfied with that which has been provided to you. Usually, you all may be identified by the shiny new cars/homes purchased with what otherwise would have gone to the likes of Flight1 and the Flightsim.com Pilot Shop.
See, when I started this little sojourn of mine, I was all about the default birds. Sure, I'd tinker with them, new skins, a tweak of the flight performance and maybe when I was feeling particularly frisky, new panels and such. But I was a default guy all the way, and wasn't ashamed to stand up and say so.
But, like many who are enamored with any hobby, I wanted to grow. I'd purchased several advanced programs, mostly of the Boeing 73x series, and sat there frustrated for months, unable to wrap my head around even the simplest of tasks required to make these beasts respond to my commands. I believe it was actually a matter of nearly two years that my PMDG birds sat collecting dust, along with the reams of paper devoted to their operation. Then, I availed myself of the services of Mike Ray, in the form of his "How To" publications and the rest is history.
Thanks to Mike's style and approach, it was not long until my eyes and mind opened to an entire new world of FS possibilities. I found myself in the wonderful position of being able to fly almost anything, and without spending the hours that would have otherwise been spent in fruitless study, frustration zits and the continuing enrichment of my local Molson distributor (he's got a shiny new car too, I've noticed. I think I'm in the wrong business).
And as this process continued, I kept on pecking away on the keyboard (in between flights, and Molson's, naturally). And eventually, it dawned upon me that I was no longer talking about much other than the SuperSims. And I can't help but wonder if in fact having done so, I've done a disservice to those who are not only beginning their journey towards becoming a virtual pilot, but also to those who have already achieved that lofty goal and for whatever the reason(s), continue to fly with only default birds. After all, not everyone has the means, desire and/or time to devote to progressing in this hobby of ours. And there's not a darn thing wrong with that!
I've taken a walk through several of The Corner articles. I think it was around the time of The Click Spot that I was really gearing up and getting going on the SuperSims. And not just the iron, either. What with a couple of people checking out the stuff I was writing, I found there were a few who'd be interested in speaking and working with me. I thought this was just dandy, believing in my heart of hearts they wanted only to enrich my understanding and enjoyment of flight simulation, and of course having nothing to do with a quick mention in an article. Heaven forbid!
But, being the pragmatist that I am, well, I guess I sort of sold my soul to the FSDevil, and a couple of products and services happened to cross my desk. But that's OK. I assuaged my guilt figuring it's really for the benefit of you all. After all, if I came across something way cool and liked it, I figured you'd rather like to hear about it, too.
So off I went, and here we are. Flightsim Pilot Shop has my account, as do many others who shall remain nameless. Particularly favoring the iron and anything that will pretty up my FSWorld, I am in no uncertain terms an FSJunkie. But what about all you guys who've been here since a couple of years ago? I'm hoping you're all growing with me, in experience if not debt.
I think we've gone over this before. Our knowledge is esoteric, specific and pretty much useless in most every situation you can imagine. Quick, the dog is puking on the baby! Oh man, I'd better set flaps 10! Oh no, Sharon is on her way out to the prom, and she's managed to get bubblegum in her hair! Yikes! I'll throttle back and raise the speedbrakes so we'll make our crossing speed! Catch my drift? Just how often can one stop bleeding by reciting a pre-start checklist, or help a child study for an exam by remembering to turn off the landing lights at ten thousand feet? This is the stuff we sim pilots experience every day (the crossing speeds, not the bleeding thing. That was just for an example not to be taken seriously - blood still makes me barf). Knowing when to enable the reversers ain't gonna cut it when we have a flat in the pouring rain on some dark and stormy night.
Where was I? Oh yes, bubble gum in a diaper. No, that wasn't it. OK, I got it. I can't believe that I'm the only one out here who remains thrilled when I complete a flight for the first time with a SuperSim that I've heretofore eschewed because the complicated panel scared the hell out of me. That's growth. Anyone else?
Default birds. If there is one thing I cannot tolerate, it's anyone derogating someone over their continued use of these. How many times have you rolled your eyes reading the forums, reading posts by these pilot wannabees who are terribly self-important and oh so holier than thou, who look down their noses at we who cling to what is really the milk of our hobby? Being proud of our growth is one thing. Rubbing a noob's nose in it is quite a different story.
So sorry, guys. I have not nor will I ever forget my FSRoots. The months/years I've spent in not only flying but manipulating to my will the default birds are not forgotten. They are the basis, the very foundation of my love for flight simulation. They taught me how to taxi, how to fly and how to land. They taught me how to rework cfg files, how to switch panels and how to add new skins. Heck, they even taught me how to repaint. I may not get back to them as often as I used to, as I'm finding greater challenge from the more complex software that is available in both free and payware. But every flight I make has its roots in default aircraft.
As for all you fellow default pilots, whether you are rookies or experienced, keep doing what you're doing. I've not forgotten about you all. You are the foundation of our hobby, and the next generation of all simpilots. Should you ever get the inclination to try something a little more complex, grab at it! Even if it takes you months or years to master, it is always worth the effort.
Whew! Think I need a cold one while I check the paper to see how my software stocks are doing...