• Interview With Christopher Leipelt

    Interview With Christopher Leipelt

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt

    Chris could you tell us when you first started developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I first started developing custom scenery for X-Plane in October of 2014, but I didn't publish the airport I was working on until November of the same year. At the time I had just turned 13 and I was told that I would be the youngest scenery publisher for X-Plane! Not only did this inspire me to make custom scenery for X-Plane, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet lots of pilots and aviation enthusiasts along the way.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work so far?

    In my opinion, I believe that the best airport I've designed is Ponderosa Sky Ranch, a small little bush airport located in the foothills of Northern California. Although it isn't my most popular airport, adding all the grasses, bushes and weeds took days to represent (to the best of my ability) what the airstrip looks like. In the end, it looked amazing (and almost deserted!).

    Chris, what do you find the most challenging aspect of a project?

    One of the most challenging aspects of a project is to resist the urge to give up. Even if you've done something as simple as placing a single hangar at your airport, that's still time you've spent committed to a project (designing and having fun). I've learned this lesson in the past. I started to design an airport, spent a few hours on it, then decided to give up on it because I either didn't have enough information on the airport or I got sidetracked and never came back.

    Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt

    Who would you consider to be your inspiration and why?

    Out of all the amazing and inspirational people I've met throughout my life, one person stands out. So much in fact, that I never really had to think twice about who this very special person was.

    This gentleman, US veteran and in my opinion 'hero' helped guide me through the scenery designing process. He taught me everything I needed to know about custom scenery, everything there is to know about orthophoto images and how they work, and has shared lots of inspiring stories of his life. This person is none other than Rik Nilsson.

    The first time I ever talked to Rik was when I was 12. I was messing around with the scenery designing program for X-Plane (WED) and I was very confused and almost (dare I say it) angry. I couldn't figure out what any of the symbols meant, what the buttons did and what that big grey line was in the middle of the screen (it was the runway!).

    At first I was hesitant to ask Rik questions about creating scenery since he had no idea who I was and I didn't know much about him. We started chatting to each other here and there and after a while I decided to ask him how he created his scenery. That was when I was 13.

    Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt

    If you've ever seen any of Rik's amazing work, you'll understand why I wanted to learn his techniques, his unique way of blending orthophotos and what his process was in creating his sceneries. Rik explained to me that a friend from FlightSim.Com had asked him those very questions and so he wrote a tutorial based around them. He advised me to have a look at the tutorial and to give scenery designing a try!

    Rik knew I was still just a kid, but he had hope in me and lots of it! Never once did Rik say, "You're too young for this!" Rik had so much enthusiasm and energy that he answered every question I threw at him. Rik has taught me so much and I am super grateful to have someone like him guiding me through the scenery designing process. Thanks Rik!

    Chris, do you have any tips for other youngsters thinking of starting their first project?

    Designing your first airport, like anything done for the first time, can be a little overwhelming and takes a little bit of getting used to. I use a free program called WED or World Editor to make my scenery. It is one of the easiest programs to use and is great for beginners and experts alike. There are quite a few tutorials out there on how to use WED, but most (I find) are irrelevant. The best way to figure out how to use any sort of scenery program is to try and figure most of it out for yourself (play around with the buttons, check out the different features, etc.).

    Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt     Christopher Leipelt

    However, nobody can figure out everything on their own, so, like myself, don't be afraid to ask a member of your flight simulator community for help. Also, it's better to start off on a small non towered airport, rather than designing some huge international. Lastly, never give up and above all else, have fun doing it.


    6 Comments
    1. RatRace's Avatar
      RatRace -
      Never would have guessed this scenery designer to be so young.
      Best of luck in scenery design, and in real world aviation !
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Only 13 years old and creating scenery! This is what this hobby needs.

      Great interview from a remarkable young man. Keep up the good work!

      W33
    1. Bamboo Cougar's Avatar
      Bamboo Cougar -
      Way to go Chris. Rock on, you scenery monster

      Joel (-bc-)
    1. BayAreaAviation's Avatar
      BayAreaAviation -
      Since this interview was uploaded a lot has actually gone on in my aviation life.

      1. I bummed a ride at Reid Hillview and went on a flight in a Mitsubishi MU-2 (which is very rare at KRHV).
      2. Took a day trip in a Baron testing failing avionics for 3 hours.
      3. Took a flight lesson in a Beechcraft King Air E90, the same one of me washing it in the picture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAXwm9EDmm4
      Almost hit birds on the takeoff from KRHV in the King Air, which is why we went up, straight down, then up again. You can hear the stall horn as we're doing it.

      Such fun.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Fantastic Chris, great video!

      I think I would have left my lunch somewhere if it were me

      Thanks for the update.

      Dom
    1. tobyrice01's Avatar
      tobyrice01 -
      Good article Chris! See ya on the scopes.


      Toby Rice
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