• Interview With David Rowberry

    Interview With David Rowberry

    Microsoft Flight Simulator Aircraft Developer

    Conducted by Dominic Smith


    David Rowberry

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

    Aviation has always been an interest of mine. Beginning with assembling plastic Airfix kits, and balsa Keil Kraft flying models as a child, I graduated onto the real thing when I joined the RAF as an Engine Technician.

    After twenty two years of service I left and set myself up as an antiques restorer, retaining my contact with aviation through hang gliding, but my passion for making things also saw me as a longbow and arrow maker, model maker and miniature artist.

    In 1998/99 a series of retinal detachments and only partially successful operations left me with depleted eye sight. With no depth perception and unable to work with the required precision I was used to, it meant I had plenty of time on my hands, so I swapped my motorbike for a computer (literally), and began to see what I might achieve with it.

    A program included free with a magazine - TrueSpace - got me interested in 3D graphics, and on their forum I was inspired by a letter from a chap who had created a glider and flown it in FS8. This was quite involved as it was first drawn in TrueSpace and then imported to Gmax using the MDL converter! The first hang glider I created finally emerged as the Wills Wing Sport. I have to admit I initially chose a hang glider not least because I didn't know how to animate controls. The thrill I got though from seeing something I had created actually flying in the sim was fantastic. Anyway I soon had to learn about animation because I decided I just HAD to have the pilot run to takeoff and land, and so I graduated to using Gmax for all the modelling (I still use it now).


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

    Well you might have noticed I like flying wings! This love affair probably started as a boy when I saw a photo in Aeromodeler of some enormous free flight flying wing gliders. I remember thinking how elegant they looked. Because of my enthusiasm and experience of real life hang gliders, I have tried to represent the various types known; flex wing (Airborne), semi-rigid (A.I.R. Atos), and rigid (Aeriane/Brightstar).

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    I'm learning all the time, so to me each model is better than the previous one. As for popularity, I would say the Mitchell Wing UL has developed the most interest. However, the Aeriane I created for FS was so successful that the manufacturers of the real glider actually received enquires from people who had flown my model!

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

    Initial research (for me) is the most challenging aspect of a project. There are projects that I have started, that have become dead in the water, purely because I just couldn't find enough information on that given project. Research though, is a part of the project that I enjoy enormously. Another challenge is in creating the code so as to get all the custom animations working. I'm not a natural coder, so there is generally lots of trial and error involved before I get it right, but it's so satisfying when I finally do!


    What have been your favorite projects?

    Of the gliders I have created, the Horten is my favorite, as she was so ahead of her time in both appearance and engineering. She was just beautiful. I was able to find lots of information on her construction, so I was very happy with the final result and also the models accuracy.

    However the aircraft that is closest to my heart has to be the EE (English Electric) Lightning (having spent half a lifetime working on it), and I'm still in touch with the Lightning Preservation Group.


    All the research I have been doing to create the model has brought back a lot of old memories, so that is my latest and best project. Not a flying wing I know, but I hope you'll forgive me for that.

    1. LowTransition's Avatar
      LowTransition -
      very interesting interview! Those are some beautiful aircraft models. Folks like David Rowberry are to be commended for the hours of dedication they pour into freeware projects!
    1. Captain Vodka's Avatar
      Captain Vodka -
      absolutely second that . .I came form the falcon 4.0 world, e falcon, red viper, free falcon BMS etc etc a.. the freeware that was worked on by a world wide array of folks does goes unheralded sometimes. The last 18months I've been into FSX. Though the vast majority 80% is all paid for software the freeware I have, duxford scenery etc is just wonderful . Even more so that people give up so much of their free time . FREE. . !!! to enable us to enjoy our shared hobby even more! hats off to all!
    1. jskinner's Avatar
      jskinner -
      I want to echo the comments of LowTransition and Captain Vodka.
      FSX , following on from early fs has been my main hoby/sport/brain food for many years.
      Thank, all of you guys out there, for the beautiful aircraft/ scenery you've placed in the public domain.
      And thank you Flightsim.Com, for making it available to guys like me. God bless....
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