• The Corner #34 - The Child Within

    The Child Within

    By Chip Barber (11 January 2008)

    Serendipity reigns supreme.

    I was given, on a platter made of silicon dust and terribly small copper wire, an opportunity to see just how childish I truly am. You see, I've fallen into a terrible FSDepression of late. Were it the 1800's or so, I suppose it would be considered a case of the FSVapors. I have been {dramatic pause} less than completely interested in flight simulation of late. I know, I know, we who profess to be FS hobbyists should be immune to such things. But be that as it may, I have been seeking my entertainment elsewhere.

    I dunno, even with all the cool scenery, aircraft and various add ons, there are just times when doing a flight is kinda, just doing a flight. Lately, sighting in on an unsuspecting bad guy and pulling the trigger seemed more... satisfying somehow. Or perhaps making the correct diagnosis and performing the correct treatment of some poor schlump in my digital Emergency Room, including all kinds of nasty and icky e-injuries and stuff. You know, something different.

    Something different indeed. I think that in large part, it is the drive and determination of the freeware and payware developers out there to either make a name or make a buck that really contributes to the perpetuation of our hobby. Whether or not you're one weird sick-o with the cockpit mock-up in your basement (and you know who you are, as I've sent you all countless emails begging you to add me to your Last Will And Testament - Did you sign it yet and eat those cookies I sent?), or just a hobbyist who is into flight simulation with your rig set up on a card table in the corner, doing a routine perimeter check of our digital FSWorld will usually reveal something that is new or different and that will suit your style.

    You may not know it, certainly if you should happen to spy the butt impression that has been relentlessly compressed into my chair(s), but I used to be a hockey player. Yep. High school and college. Was a very, very good skater and that kept me competitive at the high school level. In college, my skating was only average what with the infusion of the boys from the Great North and such, and being on the smallish side, had the living hell beaten out of me. But I loved it. And after I gained a little perspective, by virtue of my umpteenth injury, and decided to put away the pads, I became a referee/linesman and actually made a few bucks. Of course, this is ancient history, and the point is, well... actually, in the literary world this is called "filler" or "fluff" I think. No, wait. I got it.

    The point is, I love hockey. If I'm not sitting in front of the computer, I'm watching some game or other, pro or college, my favorite teams or not, it doesn't matter. It is the only sport that I know really well, and can appreciate from several different perspectives, having done most everything all those guys on the TV are doing.

    And so, in my regular perimeter check, I happened upon a guy who, out of the kindness of his heart, was doing repaints for the PMDG 737 NG. Not just any repaints, mind you, but paints representing the teams of the National Hockey League. And suddenly, the child within me smiled, knocked over the milk and spilled it all over the table, and I realized I'd found something new which would re-ignite my interest in simulated flight.

    Thanks to the efforts of Andrew Beranek, there are nearly all of the teams of the NHL represented in his paints, with more coming. Do a search of Andrew's name in the FlightSim.Com file library and you'll see what has gotten me all in a dither.

    Now, I find myself the captain of an NHL team Boeing 737-700, shuttling my charges from town to town as they fight for league supremacy. My FsPassengers program has been updated with my new company, NHL Air, and is active behind the scenes as my aircraft fills not only with the players, but their families as well (it is the only way I can justify all the noises made by the kids in the background... otherwise were it only the players and their support staff, there would be nothing but loud music and filthy jokes being hurled around the cabin. A salty bunch, we players). Suddenly, I find myself looking for products that will transform KDTW from the plain vanilla scenery to one of bustling activity, ready to receive my aircraft currently full of the players from the Ottawa Senators who will attempt to pummel the daylights out of the resident Detroit Red Wings. And from there, we're off to CYYZ (anybody have a good piece of scenery for Toronto/Lester Pearson International?) for the next game. All the while, I continue to look at my bird in flight, completely enjoying the work that Andrew did on the paint. As he states, the skins are fictional, but mighty convincing! Just love your work, Andrew!

    Here we have Andrew's Ottawa Senators repaint of the PMDG 737-700 at Imagine Simulation's KDTW, with Aerosoft's AES in full bloom.

    As an aside, I sent Andrew an email asking for his permission to talk about his repaints. He was kind enough to say "sure", but the really neat part was that his work wasn't originally meant for general consumption, but for him and a couple of his flying buddies. His wife convinced him to do more than just his first repaint, and the rest is history. Kudos to Mrs. Beranek! He also wanted me to add his thanks and gratitude to all who download and enjoy his work. As he has discovered, perhaps the most joyous part of participation in this hobby of ours is the opportunity to give back to the community. Nothing beats the feeling of a simple "Thanks", or "job well done". Andrew is truly a simmer who "gets it", and is in every way the definition of a flight sim hobbyist!

    But back to my childishness. It is true I have been somewhat underwhelmed of late with all things related to flight simulation. Being the 'puter nerd that I am, my focus remains on this pile of electronics, but there have been shooters and medical type programs that have been vexing me and providing my entertainment. It seems, though, that my love of flight simulation was merely dormant, not unlike the grass in my yard that even now is being killed off one small spot at a time by my little collection of Yorkies.

    Dormant, yes. Gone? Never! I'm afraid that for one reason or another, flight simulation (or perhaps flight in general, but that begs the question as to why I'm petrified of real flight) is in my blood. As has been said by some wise FSProphet or other (OK, it was me), Flight Simulation has become a tried and true companion who never fails to deliver to me that which I seek at the moment. And you wanna know something funny? I've not yet, for all the years I've been "playing" this stupid "game", enabled the "failures" feature. There is an entire world of alternatives out there I've yet to explore. Whether the default failures, or those gleefully provided by programs such as FsPassengers or the like, and nicely accommodated by programs such as Radar Contact 4 which will permit you to declare an emergency of several types and then vector you to an alternate airport, there is a whole side of flight simulation that remains a deep dark spooky jungle-type secret to me.

    As we celebrate the arrival of yet another new year, I hope I've provided you all with one way or another of fighting your way out of the FSDoldrums. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as a repaint, provided by the likes of Andrew Beranek and hundreds of others who encompass the true spirit of our hobby by providing to us the fruit of their labor. Sometimes it may be the recognition of shortcomings in our development as sim pilots, such as my aversion to enabling failures. Sometimes it is by finding a really cool add on that takes your simming to the next level, in the process encouraging the developers to continue their quest for simming excellence and liquid cash. Regardless of the means, it is there for you to find.

    There is something within a child, the wonder and excitement brought about by new experiences, that remains in all of us. For too long, childishness has been looked upon with derision, the implication of a failure of one to develop into adulthood. Buffalo chips! Find your child within, and nurture the little booger! Allow him or her free reign as it pertains to our hobby, and see what happens. See if you don't find something really peachy keen that you may have otherwise overlooked. Small or large, freeware or payware, there are oodles of things out there for us to find, if only we'll permit ourselves to break the shackles of adulthood and let our inner kid to just go out and play.

    Besides, the way I figure it, I've invested too damn much money, time and energy in this stupid hobby of ours to simply walk away!

    Happy New Year, one and all!

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    [email protected]


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