• Interview With Paul Clawson Aircraft Developer

    Interview With Paul Clawson FSX Aircraft Developer


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

    I have been an aviation enthusiast all my life. I learned how to fly when I was 16 and got my PPL on my 17th birthday (took my Mother for her first ride that day.) I graduated from college with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1954 and went to work at Boeing in Seattle. I saw the Boeing 367-80 (707 prototype) make its first flight. I later moved to Southern California and worked at North American Aviation and Hughes Aircraft Company. I continued to fly privately but had to give it up due to real life and the increasing costs to rent an airplane.

    I retired in 1998 and bought my first computer. I soon discovered FlightSim.Com and the world of flight simulation. A couple of days later I purchased Flight Simulator 98 and I was hooked. I flew the default airplanes to death and then started installing add-on aircraft. This really increased my enjoyment of the simulator. The retired engineer in me came out and said, gee, wouldn't it be nice to design and fly your own airplanes? I discovered most of the add-ons available were created with a program called Flight Shop. It was no longer available. Fortunately, Abacus had just started marketing a program called Aircraft Factory 99. It was based on Flight Shop and did offer a few improvements such as allowing a greater number of parts or components before hiccuping all over the monitor. I purchased this program and went to work. In my opinion, this was a very difficult program to use (more about that is written below). However, it was the only program that would compile into FS98. I managed to muddle through with it and produced five projects I considered worthy of releasing to the public. My first release (here at FlightSim.com) was an Aeronca 7A Champion dated Feb. 6, 2000. I am now 81 and it is still a thrill to see one of my creations take to flight.


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

    I tend to focus on vintage aircraft. My creations range from the early 1920's to around 1960. I have seen a lot of them in real life. I also am a fan of carrier ops. You will see many vintage carrier planes in my files.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    I would say my model of the Martin MB-2 bomber and the Sauders Roe SR-45 "Princess" flying boat are the best I've done. The MB-2 was the most zit-free project I remember and the SR-45 strained FSDS to the limit. I had to create several new entries to the modeldef.xml list to get all ten of those props spinning together and rotating the right way.

    I am always in awe of the fact Gen. Billy Mitchell loaded a 2000 lb bomb on a MB-2 and flew it out to sea and dropped it accurately enough to sink a WW1 German battleship in the early '20's... That was the true start of Naval Aviation.


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

    A real challenge is finding reference material, especially drawings for a lot of the vintage projects I do. The upside to this, is that I find many fellow flight sim enthusiasts are willing to help. I have made life long friends in Australia, South Africa, Russia, and several countries in Europe. I also enjoy doing things that "can't be done". I was the first to develop a method of catapulting a sea plane off the deck of a battleship. For example, my FSX version of the USS New Jersey has an accurate model of the Navy P-6 catapult. It is set up for single float seaplanes like the Curtiss SOC-3 Sea Gull which are equipped with Rob Barendregt's rcbco-30 catapult gauge. I also developed a true VTOL plane in my FS2004 model of the Convair XFY-1 Pogo. Rob Barendregt also created the VTOL xml gauge that makes this model work. Please note this model does not work in FSX.

    Modelling virtual cockpits is still a trial for me. There is something about the perspective that gives me fits! I do add them to my aircraft but my VC's will possibly always be a little less perfect.

    What have been your favorite projects?

    On any given day my current project is always my favorite. I fly my current project a lot so the real test is to see which past models have the staying power. My all time favorite is my Cessna 120. I learned how to fly at a Cessna dealership in 1948-49 and all my time was in 120's and 140's. My logbook (the real one) shows over half my time was in a Cessna 120 N2098V. My FSX Acceleration native model is here at FlightSim.Com. The planes that I tend to load up first in FSX are the 120, the Waco Model E, Berliner Joyce OJ-2 and the Handley Page HP-42 depending on what type of flight I desire.


    Tags: paul clawson

    1. malcolmest's Avatar
      malcolmest -
      Very interesting interview. Thanks very much, Paul, for your quality aircraft and especially the models covered. I hope that you'll be mentally and physically able for some time to come.

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Wonderful work Paul, thank you so much for all your hard work!!

      To have been present for the very first flight of the Boeing 367-80 is something I would have paid for


    1. casey jones's Avatar
      casey jones -
      Paul I remmenber flying a B-25 in FS98 it was great fun it looked like a B-25B or C model. I hope you
      will make one for FS9.

      Thank You

    1. sundog's Avatar
      sundog -
      Paul has introduced me to a lot of great planes from the interwar period I never would have considered if wasn't for his work. Thanks for all of your hard work Paul.

      Ken aka Sundog
    1. betelgeuse's Avatar
      betelgeuse -
      It's thanks to folks like Paul that we have a vibrant flightsim community. It takes brains and endless patience to learn those design programs. I've tried and failed, and I'm only 67 years!

      Thanks, Paul, keep up the good work!
    1. airausquin's Avatar
      airausquin -
      Thanks Paul, I have see you grow in the hobby and I praise and thank your work!
    1. Avechelice's Avatar
      Avechelice -

      "Paul Clawson (PutPut) has passed away last october (19th) 2014 at the age of 82.
      As far as I understand from a sudden heartattack, in his home in Longbeach, California."


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