• Milton Shupe Developer Interview

    Milton Shupe Developer Interview

    Conducted By Dominic Smith


    Milton, when did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I started developing for flight simulators after flying FS98 and FS2000 for three years. This involved learning instrument navigation, flying props, turboprops, and also jets, in all weather conditions (I also did a lot of nightly flying in multiplayer).

    Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe

    A friend of mine, Scott Thomas, shared my interest in aircraft, and was proficient in panel and gauge designs. At the time, we were both a bit taken back by the lack of model and flight model quality (FDE) in many of the freeware aircraft available, and so decided to start building/modeling ourselves.

    At the time, FS2002 had just been released and Gmax was free, so I jumped in at the deep end and started modeling and developing the flight models. Our first project was the de Havilland Dash 7, which began in January 2002 and was released in August later that year. It was received well, with 10,000 downloads in the first month!

    Milton, could you tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    My focus has always been on prop-based aircraft. The approach was to find a balance between quality and detail and to create aircraft which had a nice looking model, a balanced panel/gauge setup, good sounds, the best textures we could muster together, and most importantly of all, a nice hand-flyable, easily trimmable flight model! As computers were rather slow at the time (compared to today), we tried not to use all available computing power for the package, but reserve some for weather and scenery loads.

    Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    I think that's a question only a flight simmer can answer, and that would vary based on their aircraft preferences. In terms of downloads, the Dash 7 had the overwhelming counts, as in the first year (from multiple sites), over 100,000 downloads had transpired. But times were different then and there was a hunger of sorts for good quality freeware.

    The Beechcraft D18S was/is a very popular aircraft and continues to be in demand. However, for myself, it comes down to a well-balanced package of technology where the model, panel and gauges, sounds, textures, and good hand-flying flight model just seem to fit together seamlessly.

    Milton, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    Personally, I would say that this is something which has changed over the years. Project management has never been an issue, as my career has been about managing large projects. In the earlier days when the internet wasn't as established, finding good reference materials for design was an issue. Today, projects are much more complicated and involved, more technical, and require more hours of expertise and dedication across a host of technologies. Doing freeware projects for FSX and P3D are intense, time-consuming ventures. With the variety of technologies, tools, and expertise required, freeware has become more challenging. So, the challenges for me are two-fold: 1) finding willing and talented FS2004 freeware contributors for the team effort (almost impossible now), and 2) finding that same talent on the FSX/P3D side who have the time to dedicate for a one-year project. The hours required are such that it's almost impossible to get the project out in that time as the hours required exceed the real world hours available.

    Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe

    Out of all the aircraft you have developed over the years, what have been your favorites?

    Frankly, the 50+ aircraft models and variants developed over the last 16 years were aircraft I love, otherwise I could not invest the time required to complete the projects. I think the most interesting and challenging "diversion" project was the "HMS Bounty" effort. Getting a square rigged ship to function properly in flight sim brought a lot of interesting challenges. The results exceeded my expectations thanks to Rob Barendregt's major contributions to the project. The project had tons of custom XML and gauge programming. It is completely driven by the wind, and speeds are determined by settings off the sails, number of sails, position of the sails in relation to the wind direction, and wind speed. To complete it all, Nigel Richards created the textures for the "Bounty", and these just blew me away!

    Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe     Milton Shupe

    Milton, when creating your models, what software packages and tools do you use?

    I use Gmax for model development, QuakeIII and LithUnwrap for exporting and mapping texture templates, FSPanel Studio for panel/gauge set up, Airwrench for the initial flight model set up, AirEd for tweaking the flight models, and then AFSD for testing. I rely on team members for sounds and texture development.

    During your extensive flight simming career, who would you consider to be your mentors or inspiration?

    There were quite a few talented individuals who inspired me during my FS2002 period - Fred Banting, Yannich Lavigne, Jan Visser and Barry Blaisdale. I must also mention, Ron Freimuth and Herve Sors, who were instrumental in my FDE skills development (Ron and I communicated frequently during the Aero Commander series development).

    Tags: milton shupe

    1. macflyCYUL's Avatar
      macflyCYUL -
      A very talented designer ; I appreciate a lot flying with his Dash 7
      thanks for this interview
    1. leonardosanchez's Avatar
      leonardosanchez -
      Thanks Milton.
    1. svpst's Avatar
      svpst -
      I enjoy the Aero Commanders which I recently discovered. Thank you, Mr. Shupe, I enjoy them a lot.
    1. Crazyclown's Avatar
      Crazyclown -
      I still like that AVIO 3 wheel job with the pointy nose that Milton released back in like 2012/2013 or something,,, some are wheeled , some are floats !
    1. antonbar's Avatar
      antonbar -
      Milton is very important for Flight Simulation Thanks.
    1. vflight2's Avatar
      vflight2 -
      I have some of Shupe's 2003 and FSX aircraft and for me they are the best! Many, many thanks Captain Shupe!
    1. pilotposer's Avatar
      pilotposer -
      Thank you Milton.
    1. N222TT's Avatar
      N222TT -
      Great article! I use to fly online with Milton and Scott Thomas. He always does first class work and so did Scott with panels.
    1. howlak's Avatar
      howlak -
      Thanks Milton for your planes, I started with FS9 and today with your native FSX I use them in P3DV4
    1. KCD's Avatar
      KCD -
      Sorry to see you exit the development game. You have been a real friend of Flight Simulator in its many iterations, and you've done more than most to promote it by providing some of the finest freeware aircraft ever produced. I have them all, fly them regularly, and enjoy my time in each. Thank you for making my years with the sim so much fun!
    1. dootje's Avatar
      dootje -
      Milton has been a great mentor to many of us who started modeling in the FS2002/2004 days when Gmax was introduced. I still am a huge fan of his Dash 7 model, a plane which still today has not been surpassed. Thank you for everything Milton.

      Take care,
    1. MacKuen's Avatar
      MacKuen -
      Thanks so very much for all that you have done and inspired. You have set the standard for a Flight Simulator Hall of Fame.
      Let us all raise a cup to salute your contributions!
    1. toftedal's Avatar
      toftedal -
      Indeed ... Hall of Fame ... one of the very very best! Thank you.
    1. kalizzi's Avatar
      kalizzi -
      Lovely models that you develop, payware grade, thank you ever so much for all of this.
    1. gippslandblanik1's Avatar
      gippslandblanik1 -
      Milton established the "gold standard" with his Dash 7 for freeware aircraft and quite a few of the payware aircraft in the early years especially. All his aircraft are of the highest standard both visually and in performance providing many hours of fun flying airplanes that are not available to most of us in the real world. Thank you Mr. Shupe for all your creations which appear as if by "magic" on our monitors.
    1. darrenvox's Avatar
      darrenvox -
      so nice to see such a woderful maker of fs2004 aircraft get aprrciated
    1. scottm's Avatar
      scottm -
      Milton, you are a giant in our hobby, and we appreciate all the great planes you've given and how you've trained up a whole new troop of talented freeware developers. Thank you so much for all your time and contributions.
    1. welker's Avatar
      welker -
      What I specially love on Miltons work is the lovely detailed interior. Starting in the cockpit and back to the cabin. And of course the perfect combination of the exterior model, Nigel Richards textures, the fully functioning FDEs, the sounds and everything. Thanks to Milton and to his whole cooperating team.

      Erwin Welker
    1. steveh01's Avatar
      steveh01 -
      Dear Milton Shupe,

      I concur with all the previous comments. I have enjoyed your version of the wonderful Spartan Executive. Please forgive us for not thanking you sooner and more often. You have been very passionate in your work for us. We will not forget you.
    1. archtx's Avatar
      archtx -
      Milton is one of the main reasons I have enjoyed MSFS for so many years. His skill and generosity is unmatched. I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I have in the Howard 500 but, if they were real, I would have worn out a fleet. (Actually wrecked one or two!)
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