It's fair to say that X-Plane made me a pilot. I'm a latecomer to flying. My father was a private pilot, but it never caught. I was always too busy with other things, and a couple of flights in light planes showed a distressing proneness to motion sickness. Then in 1996 I finally bought a computer with a color display, and the kids and I started acquiring games. First flight sim was Out of the Sun - a warbirds sim with hokey missions and an absolutely dreadful flight model. Then I found X-Plane.
Fast forward 15 years. X-Plane and its user community taught me a lot about aerodynamics, aircraft design, and flying. I've been on a never-ending quest for "is this how real airplanes behave?" and "why does it work this way?" A few years ago I signed up for private pilot ground school, just because it looked interesting. I quickly decided the instructor was a good guy, and, in the absence of threats of divorce from my wife, signed up for lessons in a 172. (Meanwhile, the motion sickness problem had also cured itself.) I got my ticket 2 years ago and now have a bit over 300 hours total. Along the way I've picked up taildragger and complex endorsements; the instrument rating is next.
I now share a Cherokee 180 at Minute Man Airfield (6B6).
My wife refers to it as Andy's expensive pull toy.
Here I am in my favorite seat (Plymouth Harbor in the background).
And this is the approach into Minute Man, Nels's and my home base. Nice friendly airport, outstanding restaurant, cheapest gas in the area, and an outstanding location for crosswind practice. (Yes, that's runway 3, and you can guess where the wind usually comes from. The trees on the left add to the entertainment.)
Aside from flying, I also run the local Young Eagles program, consult on X-Plane, and hang out with the boys in the local EAA chapter and the shop helping to keep things running.