By Chip Barber (July 13, 2011)
Well, the man is insane. Off his rocker. One fry short a Happy Meal.
He is a brilliant businessman who has found a niche and taken it further than was reasonably possible. One who has insidiously wormed his way into the psyche of the flight simming community and provided something that has been only a pipe dream.
I can't tell you his name. That would be indiscrete. But I can give you his initials. Larry Woodson. Go here: http://www.sim-savvy.com/index.htm
Let me tell you a story. You may be anticipating photos of scenery and airports and wow-factor screenies. Nah. Been done already. Besides, I'm lousy at taking screen shots, and I'd only end up giving you a poor representation of the stuff Larry has to offer. So instead, let me just talk a bit about The Man.
No, the dude on the home page is not Larry. That would be his son. If you flip around a bit you will likely come across a pic of what can only be described as John Denver who may have spent a little too long up on that High Rocky Mountain. That would be Larry. Having spoken with the man, I can tell you one thing. He sounds just like his picture. A good natured dude who calls it straight. Not a shred of prevarication. Truly a WYSIWYG type. What You See Is What You Get. I like him.
But anyway, I was beginning to talk about Larry. At 56, or perhaps a year or two younger, Larry was a student pilot working for La Plata County (Colorado - thus the Rocky Mountain High reference...) Office of Emergency Management in the Building Department. A dream job for any one of us (except me, who will more often than not vomit at the mere thought of leaving terra firma for real). He would go up in a motorized glider and a camera, the purpose being to grab aerial photos of schools for SWAT preparation. His pilot was a guy named Jim McCann. And, no surprise, Larry was bitten by the flight bug. So much so that he began lessons at Animus Airport (00C).
Larry wound up as a student of a man named Levi. The thing is, Levi did not survive his final landing during the time that Larry was his student (although Larry was not along for that ride). And Jim McCann, I have just learned, was taken from us just last Friday in a glider incident. Any wonder why I barf when thinking too long about actually taking flight? I've been asked, face to face, why I don't take the next logical step considering my love for simulated flight and earn my PPL. Generally thereafter I introduce their shoes to the content of my last meal, and the inquisitors pretty much leave me alone. I can't imagine why I'm not asked this question more than once by any one person. Go figure.
Now that Larry was on the way to his ticket, he realized there was a really good way to stay sharp and practice in between lessons: FSX. Yoke, rudder and the software, and another flight simmer was born. And like any good flight simmer, he found discontent with default scenery.
Searching for New Mexico scenery as any one of us would do, he found Blue Sky freebie scenery. Unlike most good flight simmers, having failed to find scenery adequate to his needs, Larry searched forums and basically taught himself how to develop scenery.
You know, each of us has a limit. A certain point at which we simply say "NFW" and walk away. Then there's Larry. Remember Larry? There's an article about Larry somewhere. So Larry reaches this line. And motors by it at flank speed without even a backward glance. What he does is sink his life savings into what he perceives as a burgeoning business. He finds a gentleman in the UK Avsim forum, Mark Turner who was good enough to take Larry under his wing. Drawing inspiration from Mark, Larry kept working and completed the West Coast and offered it to the community. This apparently sold rather briskly for a couple of weeks, and then stagnated. Not one to be discouraged, he continued work on the whole of the USA.
And then, along came Walker Grant and his FlightSim.Com review.
It's funny how sometimes a review on the world's leading flight sim web site can make things happen. Legitimacy is granted. The word is spread. And now, advertising by word of mouth from satisfied users begins to come into play.
And of course, the business acumen of Larry Woodson developed, too. You see, he sort of got the ball rolling on a trend. Larry sends out sample of his work. He may not be the first entrepreneur to offer a freebie, but I'm hard pressed to think of any other developer who does this (with the exception of Abacus, I know). And quite honestly, once having had the scenery on your system, going back to any other is, well, unfulfilling. It just doesn't cut it.
Do yourself a favor. Nose around our FSCommunity for a while, and you will find several reviews of Larry's scenery. You will not be sorry. You will not regret it. You will, however, either be opening your wallet or perhaps begging The Boss for some scenery that truly does take us on our Magic Carpet Ride. Just ask Larry and he'll tell you: Scenery doesn't get better than this!