• Interview With Pedro van Leeuwen


    When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    Well, personally, rather than calling it 'developing' I would call it 'rolling my own stuff'. It's not like I'm developing models for the greater public but more like I build to satisfy my own curiosity, interest or taste and afterwards share the results.


    My first computer experience and education was on the Apple / Mac and as such, that's still what I use today; that will also give away which simulator I use, no?

    I remember a loooong time ago I had a quick peek at something called Flight Simulator II on a friend's color Mac (I was still on black & white SE) which looked like great fun! You could actually pretend you were flying... that is, when you weren't crashing the simulated plane or the whole computer.

    Anyway, my first flying experience came a bit later with 'games' like Hellcats and Hornet, until one cloudless night, many, many moons ago, must have been in the early nineties, a friend supplied me with an old version of X-Plane. I think it was something like v3.5 Classic... Is that ancient history? Not only could you fly aircraft in this simulator, but you could also modify or even create aircraft models! Pretty soon after that I found myself running the then current version, which at the time was v4.7. That was when I started to delve into aircraft design; first adjusting, then modifying and repainting other author's models, until very soon I was building my very own.


    Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    I would say that my designs are the 'simple stuff'; though it depends on what you consider 'simple' to your taste. I mean, I can fly perfectly fine without a full 3D exterior object or a 3D cockpit; personally I'm quite happy with a decent looking 'PlaneMaker only' model, a fitting panel and maybe a set of 360 cockpit views.

    You see, most of my interest/curiosity is about performance and handling or the general feeling of flying that certain type of aircraft. This could explain my soft spot for STOL aircraft, a mild preference for twins and a certain liking for the older (even vintage) designs. That said, I'm not a real pilot so I'm just flying by the seat of my pants. My models are based solely on my intuition and my interpretation of the data that I was able to gather.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    I think that would be the Twin Otter, Fokker F27, DC-4, BN Islander and Do228; not necessarily in that order.


    What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    That can be quite different from one project to another. Sometimes it's the lack of available data or information on a particular model. Other times it can be the difficulty in matching/reaching the given data with the model which has been created. There are also parts or systems which are either impossible or difficult to simulate (without extensive plug-ins) so the challenge is finding a reasonable or good enough alternative.

    What have been your favorite projects?

    I'd say every project is a favorite; it's the turnout or final result that makes one project more rewarding than the other. They're all great and fun when you start them; otherwise I wouldn't do this as a hobby, right?

    What software packages and tools do you use to develop?

    The short answer? That would be PlaneMaker and Photoshop. If you want that thing to fly, drive, sail or whatever in X-Plane you'll need to build it in PlaneMaker first. Once the shape and size is there, I create the texture files in my usual paint program, which is Photoshop.


    The exception would be when I need to rearrange or modify an object (.obj file), that I exported earlier from PlaneMaker or was supplied by someone else. In that case I would then use AC3D or Blender. I rarely do this as I have very little experience with these applications.

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