• Interview With Marc Leydecker

    Interview With Marc Leydecker

    Conducted by Dominic Smith


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

    My fascination with aviation started (like many) during my childhood. Aircraft, airports, anything connected to manned flight attracted my attention. As a boy I loved to read and I think I must have read every single Biggles book four times over. The adventures contained in those book only helped to increase my interest.


    Living as a child in Belgium, on rainy days (we had a few of those), I made super detailed dioramas from cheap Airfix models. I'm proud to say that I achieved quite a few awards for my dioramas and the key to my success was that each had to have A) super detail, B) to be weathered appropriately. Most of the other 'kits' and dioramas I saw looked as if they had just come out of a showroom. This made them look plasticky and not particularly realistic.

    When I was 16 years old I joined the Belgium Air Force. Besides attending the military school, I was never stationed in Belgium. In 1988 I left the Air Force and moved to the sunny coast of Southern Virginia (USA). At present I work for the government.

    Could you tell us a little about what you did in the air force?

    During my time in the air force, I was mostly stationed in Germany. This was due to my background in radar and electronic engineering.

    Marc, what have been your favorite X-Plane projects?

    I don't have one particular favorite project, as each one has its own unique charm. From an interest point of view, I'd have to mention W75 (I like small cluttered airports). W75 is picturesque in appearance and was a real challenge to recreate, especially in regards to the atmosphere the airport exhibits. International airports don't really interest me. In my opinion they are just big blobs of concrete and massive parking lots with people hurrying everywhere.


    What software packages and tools do you use to develop?

    The primary applications I use are: WED (World Editor), Overlay Editor, SketchUp and Photoshop. These I use on my i7 laptop which lives next to the sofa. When my wife watches TV, I sneakily create airports! As for my own flight simulation setup, well this is very much a home-brewed cockpit system.

    Most flight simmers just have the basic PC and joystick, so could you tell us a bit more about your home-brew cockpit?

    I know many people are happy to use just a joystick and keyboard as their main flight controls, but for me, I wanted added realism. A keyboard and joystick (in my opinion) just don't achieve the realism needed to simulate flight. My first home brew cockpit consisted of just a keyboard, which I disassembled and wired the keys to some Radio Shack buttons. At first I used branded yokes as my main flight controllers, but these didn't feel smooth and also didn't have the right resistance needed. They also felt plasticity which didn't help (even though they were a respected brand)!

    I then happened to stumble on a Precision Flight Instruments yoke that was made entirely of metal. After a few modifications I managed to make a yoke that felt a lot like the real thing. Like many of you reading, I enjoy flying a variety of aircraft and this is why you will notice (in the pictures), reverse thrust levers next to prop and condition controls. Also included is a weapon control panel, drag-chute and ejection switches, which I must point out, don't work when flying the Cessna 172!


    Besides the collection of OEM gear (Saitek and GoFlight) I have also made some of my own instruments. These were made from old Nokia phones and aircraft parts purchased at an aircraft graveyard. These are then interfaced with Arduino based controllers and a couple of Pokeys controllers. In total, I'm using 28 USB ports and two RS422 ports (a challenge to configure without conflicts).

    1. ricardo_NY1's Avatar
      ricardo_NY1 -
      Spectacular modeling. Takes me a brief moment to pick real vs sim apart in those comparison photos.
    1. Freddy De Pues's Avatar
      Freddy De Pues -
      My mentor. What can I say? He's the best.
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