• Interview With Colonel Billy Bargagliotti

    Interview With Colonel Billy Bargagliotti

    Conducted By Dominic Smith


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

    I began my X-Plane adventure around 2001, and I remember having great fun (prior to September of that year) flying a C150 off the World Trader Center in New York. I also tried to land a Learjet at the base of the Statue of Liberty. You might say that sounds impossible, but in X-Plane you can easily set a 99 mph headwind and then attempt what would normally be impossible!

    In September 2007 I joined X-Plane.org; just one of many fantastic X-Plane sites now available on the internet. X-Plane wasn't as popular back then as it is today, so I found the Org the best place to find aircraft, which I quickly dissected so as to see their inner workings. I've always had fun flying in X-Plane, but in 2008 I came up with a rule (which some of you might find hard to do) where, if I happened to crash an aircraft (in the simulator), then I couldn't use the sim until the following day! Why did I do this? I wanted to add a degree of reality to my virtual flights. Being dead for a day isn't so bad when you look at the real life alternative, so it's a rule I adopted (for a year)!


    So the question was, when did I start developing for X-Plane? Well, I've always loved the B-52 Stratofortress, which, for those of you not familiar with this aircraft, is an eight engined (each with 8,000 lbs) American strategic bomber, which first flew in 1952. The total output of those eight engines amounts to 64,000 lbs, which got me thinking; would it be possible to swap those eight engines for two GE-90 series engines, which have a thrust range of between 75,000 to 135,000 lbs?

    On a trip to the USAF Museum in Dayton Ohio, I asked that very question to a retired GE engineer. He said yes, you could do it. He then continued, not only would it be easy, but it would weigh less and fly further, but he had found that in his experience, manufacturers would rather rebuild the original aircraft. As we continued to talk I asked him what caused the wrinkles normally found on the skin of B-52s. He said that it was caused by multiple pressurizations over the life of the aircraft. Just one of those things. It was great talking to him, and by the time I'd finished my trip, my head was buzzing with possible X-Plane ideas. To eliminate the wrinkles, why don't I just gut the cockpit, and make the B-52, one big UAV!

    A few weeks later I saw a report that a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan had come under attack by the Taliban. Unfortunately, all of the soldiers had been killed because they lacked close air support (which was needed quickly). And so it dawned on me, I could equip the B-52 UAV I had been working on, with suitable weaponry (GPS or laser designated controlled bombs), and with the added ability to loiter in its designated area for eight plus hours. And so the B52-2 UAV, which was a modification of the default X-Plane B-52 (adopted with permission), became my first X-Plane design.


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

    My drawing skills are nowhere near what the great X-Plane designers are empowered with, but I am getting better, so each design is a learning curve for me.

    I do however have the following criteria for what I build:

    1) The aircraft must never have been in X-Plane before.

    2) It looks good but they cancelled it by a committee rule, but it looked like it was worthy of being completed.

    3) It was built, then crashed on the first flight, killing the pilot, cancelled and never to be seen again.

    4) What were they thinking when they built this one? And, could I make it fly anyway, with some modern improvements.

    If any of those conditions are met, then I go ahead and build. As with any prospective design, it's always useful if there is imagery (preferably three dimensional drawings) and technical specifications to go with it. On a good day, it's possible to get all that, but on a bad day, sometimes all I get is an old photograph with a man standing alongside the aircraft. If that is the case, all is not lost, as I can quickly find the average height of a man (of that particular year) and then get out my two needle divider and start revealing the dimensions of the aircraft.

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