• Op-Ed - The New Era Of Flight Simulation

    Op-Ed: The New Era of Flight Simulation

    The New Era of Flight Simulation - My Essay To The Older Generation

    By Willy Canuck

    As a 'simmer' who has been following 'serious' flight simulation for the better part of 25 years, I would count myself among those who consider themselves seasoned in the role of a flight simulation pilot. I do not claim to be any smarter or experienced than anyone else who enjoys flight simulation, regardless of age - rather, I now see that there is more to learn about this fantastic hobby than I ever realised - and that learning can come from the most unexpected or unlikely of sources. However, that opportunity will be brief and we may miss it if we don't act now.

    A bit of history about myself; I am Canadian, born-and-bred, yet I have called Scotland home for the last 16 years. My journey with flight simulation as a 'serious' hobby hails back to my tentative first steps as a novice pilot with Canadian Virtual Airlines. It was with CVA that I learned some key lessons such as 'slow flight' and fuel calculation, approach patterns and flight management. It was then, with the fantastic support of the older Members, that I took my first journey in an online controlled network and began my adventures as one of the 'Big Boys'. It was a furious decade when I first joined CVA; I became a recognized sim pilot; I met a great bunch of guys (in real life) who enjoyed plane-spotting and flying GA; I participated in two charity flight events on two different continents; and I even assisted in the founding of a new Radio Station: SkyBlueRadio.

    And then it all came to a rather abrupt halt...

    After a critical breakage on my PC and the arrival of my first child, my adventures as a flight simulator pilot were put on hold for other priorities. Little by little, I sold off all of my accessories, software and other bits and pieces (DVDs, books, etc.). I suddenly didn't have the time or the space to indulge my hobby. It's a shame as well, because I miss much of what passed on to others - especially my flight yoke and pedals - but this is what life is all about. Through the years, I've never lost complete touch and always tried to stay apprised of the flight simulation community, but my participation was extremely limited and I lost touch with many things and many great friends. However, it's fair to say that with the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, my interest returned quite spectacularly and I am writing to you now from my new Flightsim PC, sitting beside an interim Flight Stick (TM 16000) as Skyblue's newest (yet one of its oldest) Presenters.

    It's great to be back in the fold. I've reached out to so many old friends in the last two months and it's been like coming home. Getting back behind the stick has been an absolute joy as well. Now that my kids are a bit older, they are joining me in my hobby and starting their own journey in flight simulation. Since returning, however, I am both encouraged and a bit disappointed in what the community has become. I see many new, fresh faces - eager to learn. But I also see many older, seasoned vets like me who seem a bit bitter and impatient. I can understand that bitterness to some extent - age makes you grumpy. It's a shame, because the community was so fresh and welcoming when I first started out all those years ago. I'd hate to think that all of us experienced sim pilots, who benefited from the helpful disposition of our elders years ago, are unable (on the whole) to lend our own time to help out the new generation who are now reaching out to us looking for advice and assistance. This NEEDS TO CHANGE!

    This new generation has never been more different than generations before. I think of them as 'The YouTube' generation because they have grown up in a world with on-demand streaming video and real-time social media interaction. I think it's fair to say, in my humble opinion, that the way the new generation thinks, communicates and learns is completely different from those of us who first grabbed the yoke 20+ years ago. Yet here they are; Interested, willing and able. We have a fantastic opportunity to welcome this new influx of simmers yet (I think) we are blowing that opportunity in spectacular fashion.

    So many of you are thinking 'What's your point, Willy?'

    OK - I'll tell you. I would like to challenge all of your older guys (and gals) to think and act upon the following points:

    • Don't rely on the tried-and-true web forum. We need to embrace the new methods of social communication. Surprisingly, I'm not talking about Facebook (my daughter recently informed me that Facebook is 'Old') - nope, in fact I'm talking about Instagram, Youtube, Twitch and Discord. The latter is the most important because this is how most of the young generation communicate and gather nowadays. If your community/site/VA/other doesn't have a Discord channel (at the very least), get one and get a young person to show you how to use it! If you value your local community, it is vital that you stay relevant otherwise we are all at risk of fading away as the younger generation build communities around themselves using the technologies they prefer; this would be a shame - both for us and for them. There is so much knowledge we can offer if only we can adapt to the changing world to share it.
    • Lighten up! If you find yourself impatient or grouchy in the face of 'silly' questions, cast yourself back to your life as a young simmer and remember the experienced pilots that helped you. Yes, we expect a certain level of self-study, but this can only be achieved by getting our new simmers through the first set of hurdles.
    • Adapt! It's not enough to deploy new social comms, you need to learn to use it and embrace it. If nothing else, get yourself a Discord account (it's free) - you might be surprised at how great it is.
    • Listen as much as you talk. I have recently discovered that much of the younger generation are very knowledgeable. They don't want to be 'taught' - they want to engage (if you let them) - and this can only be achieved by providing them with a level playing field built on respect and bi-directional communication. You may find that you don't know everything after all! Learning can come from any source and any direction...and it's fun! There is a certain satisfaction to being schooled by a younger person for me and it is rewarding for that younger person as well to know that they add value.
    • Look for Leaders. As we get older, for some of us priorities have changed and we simply don't have the time or energy to do as much as we used to. If you come across a rising star in the ranks of your VA or local community, offer them opportunities to manage sites, events, comms and anything else that might add value. These younger stars will be the key to your ongoing recruitment and success.
    • Encourage new female members. So important!! This is a huge growth area for us and we must ensure that our community provides a safe, welcoming environment for Women that is free from harassment and misogyny. Ensure that your local community has a robust policy that is rigorously enforced.
    • Finally, Join in! If the younger guys and gals are setting up an event, be a part of it! Be open to new ideas and adventures, even if it's not the 'tried-and-true' flying events that you're used to. Don't hide in your old routines! If we are going to be a part of the community, we need to be there for the younger folks as much as we expect them to be there for us.

    I apologize in advance if some of you reading this are thinking 'I'm already doing all of this...' - that's fantastic if you are....but I know this isn't the case across the board and I'm truly eager about this brief opportunity to truly expand our precious simulation community into a new era. Forgive my enthusiasm!

    Happy to share in the discussion here but would also be excited to hear from anyone who might want to share their thoughts on my show. If you think I'm right, wrong or WAY OFF BASE! Tell me!! You can leave me a voice message at https://www.speakpipe.com/willycanuck. Any constructive and polite comments will make it to air on one of my shows and may even be debated in my upcoming Panel discussion with Dom Smith from FlightSim.Com (end of shameless self-promotion).

    Looking forward to your comments here as well.

    Kindest Regards,
    Willy Canuck
    Sky Blue Radio skyblueradio.com

    Tags: skyblueradio

    23 Comments
    1. loki's Avatar
      loki -
      Thank you for the excellent write-up! One of the worst things I see these days are the divisions between generations that aren't good for anyone.
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      Well written to some extent. I think we all could agree or disagree respectively on some of your comments.

      But where in the world did you come up with this: "welcoming environment for Women that is free from harassment and misogyny." Do you have evidence of any of this occurring? I fly on VATSIM nearly 5 times a week in our home built simulator. Often we come across women controllers whom are extremely bright, educated, and in some cases, more knowledgeable in aviation than I personally am. In fact, there is a female controller in Detroit that I would put up against any controllers I've spoken with period. And this applies to the female pilots I hear on the network flying everything from Cessna's to large commercial aircraft.

      I know my comments are focusing mostly on VATSIM but my personal opinion is, perhaps, it is you who needs to catch up in light of your admitted absence.

      In closing, your article was very refreshing and informative to include the examples where us older simmers can learn from the newer generation. All the best,

      Michael
    1. jmig's Avatar
      jmig -
      As a 73 year old "Old Guy" simmer/retired RWP, I agree with the article. Thank you for taking the time to write it and publish. I especially agree with your comments on women. I read forums much more than I post. Other than "Poppet," I see few females on the various forums.

      Look at the pilot Avatars in aircraft. How many feature female pilots? I think Bill Ortis (Lionheart) had female pilots and the Baytower Van R-7 are the only two that come to mind. Unlike, most shooter games, flight sim is something mostly non-violent that might appeal to women, if we invite them by making the game /simulation comfortable and feel at home. Having female Avatar pilots is one way to acknowledge and welcome females as part of the community.

      John
    1. guzler's Avatar
      guzler -
      Great write up. Your comments are very relevant in all walks of life, not just here in Sim world. My day job is L&D and a big learning for me was to either adapt or become irrelevant to the younger people to which my role is to serve. To provide value, I need to REALLY listen to what they want and need. It's not helped when my younger teenage son rolls his eyes at this old dinosaur, but I'm sticking at it Fortunately I know my way around the inside of a PC more than he does so I need to maintain this edge to keep any level of respect ha ha!!
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmig View Post
      As a 73 year old "Old Guy" simmer/retired RWP, I agree with the article. Thank you for taking the time to write it and publish. I especially agree with your comments on women. I read forums much more than I post. Other than "Poppet," I see few females on the various forums.

      Look at the pilot Avatars in aircraft. How many feature female pilots? I think Bill Ortis (Lionheart) had female pilots and the Baytower Van R-7 are the only two that come to mind. Unlike, most shooter games, flight sim is something mostly non-violent that might appeal to women, if we invite them by making the game /simulation comfortable and feel at home. Having female Avatar pilots is one way to acknowledge and welcome females as part of the community.

      John
      Oh for the love of God. Are you seriously comparing what the OP stated about females "real world" to that of cartoon images of females in computer generated cockpits? I honestly think you missed the point.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      Well Willy Canuck, at least you got some free advertising for your website. I had a quick look and no thanks, it's not for me.

      As far as woman in flight sims, my personal experience: I've raised two girls and one boy. The girls were never interested in flight sims despite my best efforts and encouragement, preferring role-playing games and THE SIMS instead. My boy loved shooting down planes in Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China in coop and his favorite pastime in FSX is to deliberately crash planes, but hey, at least he spends some time in it. I think men are just naturally more drawn to flight sims and we must accept it rather than forcing a change if it is not wanted.
    1. MAD1's Avatar
      MAD1 -
      Well, well, well! I found Willy Canucks article OK, but clearly it's fired up some folk. Whatever, the "free speech" attitude of FlightSim.com seems to be good so far, as they've allowed the posting of all these replies. If nothing else, it's started a "healthy" debate, which must be better than non-communication and silence. Thanks Willy for starting the flame war! Anyhow, people enjoy flight simulation, and so the world turns. Good luck to all!
    1. MAD1's Avatar
      MAD1 -
      Yes, I understand how the article might upset some people. As I'm a newbie, it doesn't mean much to me, but I do appreciate and respect the FlightSim.com community's feelings, and especially the members who have been with the site for decades. I agree, perhaps it's best to not have such discussions and limit the content to technical flight sim material only. No offence intended.
    1. TightGit's Avatar
      TightGit -
      With so many problems in the world today (climate change, Covid 19, people slaughtering each other for their beliefs), it's amazing how some of us can get so worked up over an innocent hobby like Flight Simming!
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Everyone is entitled to an opinion. That's sort of the whole point of having op-ed articles. If you wish to discuss, discuss the topics of the article. That's OK and part of civilized discourse. Attacking the person is not OK. While I know this is all too common in our modern world I expect better of people who use these forums.
    1. flapman's Avatar
      flapman -
      Then why is this person allowed to attack all of us in their Op-Ed?

      But I also see many older, seasoned vets like me who seem a bit bitter and impatient....age makes you grumpy.
      are unable (on the whole) to lend our own time to help out the new generation
      get a young person to show you how to use it! (implies that suddenly you are unable to adapt to technology unlike the last 30 years of this hobby)
      you find yourself impatient or grouchy
      Don't hide in your old routines!
      This article is a lengthy attack on people who don't deserve it, because none of this is true. When I read this I see a slap to my face. I'm probably the same age or younger than the Author. These characterizations are completely out to lunch. I won't stand for it. Not here.

      [Younger people] don't want to be 'taught' - they want to engage (if you let them)
      Imagine telling somebody this, especially the generation with the most student loan debt in the history of the United States. "You're a young person, you don't want education." How does that make them feel? Do their desires feel as valid as the author's?

      Discord. The latter is the most important because this is how most of the young generation communicate and gather nowadays.
      How is this not an attack on the motivation and abilities of young people? They can't use an internet search and can't navigate a BBS? Old people can't figure out how to use Discord? But can extremely modify their flight simulators and develop software?

      There is a certain satisfaction to being schooled by a younger person for me
      How is this not an ageist statement?

      welcoming environment for Women that is free from harassment and misogyny.
      Does harassment and misogyny exist anywhere on your site Nels? Is there any flightsim site (with any reputation) that has any barrier to access on the account of sex or gender? Is this a problem that exists anywhere in this hobby? Is it time for heavy handed moderation because Willy Canuck rode into town and declared it required?

      It's hard to have a bias on the basis of sex when 99.9% of the time don't know or care the sex of the other members? Why have we brought this here?

      The only harassment I have ever seen in the decade of my account was when I read the remarks and insinuation of the community within "Op - Ed: The New Era of Flight Simulation." from Willy Canuck. I was thinking of reporting this but couldn't see that function on the site. I actually considered PM'ing you. But OP asked for an open discussion and I was thinking of just copying my comment into the PM.

      I don't think this was an acceptable piece. The ideas of adapting to change and engaging a younger audience felt completely drowned out by the vitriol I had to read to get there. I liked it back when we were welcoming, supportive, understanding, and shared a common interest that binds us together.

      Lets not bring the silly culture war here, please.
    1. WillyCanuck's Avatar
      WillyCanuck -
      To Flapman and any others who appear to have been deeply offended by my post, may I first offer my apologies. I certainly did not expect this reaction and I absolutely did NOT intend to upset anyone. I am sorry, truly. However, I'd like to address some of the comments from Flapman in an attempt to explain my position.

      Quote Originally Posted by flapman View Post
      Then why is this person allowed to attack all of us in their Op-Ed?

      This article is a lengthy attack on people who don't deserve it, because none of this is true. When I read this I see a slap to my face. I'm probably the same age or younger than the Author. These characterizations are completely out to lunch. I won't stand for it. Not here.
      A couple things on this - the article was not directed at flightsim.com nor its members specifically. It certainly wasn't directed at any specific member. My statements are based on general observations across a multitude of flight simulation communities and channels. If you believe that this does not apply to members of flightsim.com, you could well be right...I haven't specifically seen that behaviour here although I haven't been back long enough to say one way or the other - so I surrender to your assessment.

      Quote Originally Posted by flapman View Post
      Imagine telling somebody this, especially the generation with the most student loan debt in the history of the United States. "You're a young person, you don't want education." How does that make them feel? Do their desires feel as valid as the author's?
      I believe you have completely misinterpreted my point. What I was trying to convey is simply that simmers from the younger generation have just as much to offer as they do to gain. If anything, my statement is out of respect for enthusiasts in their late teens/early twenties. It's great that you (I think) agree with that position. Unfortunately, not all do. (again this is not directed at flightsim.com but the community at large)


      How is this not an attack on the motivation and abilities of young people? They can't use an internet search and can't navigate a BBS? Old people can't figure out how to use Discord? But can extremely modify their flight simulators and develop software?

      How is this not an ageist statement?
      Again, my point was simply to identify that different generations have had different experiences with the World Wide Web. Each generation tends to favour the current trend of the technology at the time of their initial exposure. Younger people don't really interact with traditional forums or Facebook pages with the same enthusiasm as older people. There are newer communication mediums which attract the younger generation who might not think to search or even consider forums. This is not to say that one generation is more deficient than another - they're simply different. To bridge the gap, we need to come together somewhere - and that effort needs to come from all sides.

      Does harassment and misogyny exist anywhere on your site Nels? Is there any flightsim site (with any reputation) that has any barrier to access on the account of sex or gender? Is this a problem that exists anywhere in this hobby? Is it time for heavy handed moderation because Willy Canuck rode into town and declared it required?
      Again, not directed at Flightsim.com or its members BUT I will say that I have personally observed misogyny in the wider community. In the worst example, I witnessed a male user suggesting that a female pilot (who was attractive) 'have his babies'. I'm happy to say that this was dealt swiftly by the moderators of the channel - but it highlights that the issue does persist outwith Flightsim.com.



      The only harassment I have ever seen in the decade of my account was when I read the remarks and insinuation of the community within "Op - Ed: The New Era of Flight Simulation." from Willy Canuck. I was thinking of reporting this but couldn't see that function on the site. I actually considered PM'ing you. But OP asked for an open discussion and I was thinking of just copying my comment into the PM.
      Again, I apologise if you saw my editorial as harrassment. I must admit, I was quite confused and upset by that interpretation and it certainly wasn't my intent.


      I don't think this was an acceptable piece. The ideas of adapting to change and engaging a younger audience felt completely drowned out by the vitriol I had to read to get there. I liked it back when we were welcoming, supportive, understanding, and shared a common interest that binds us together.

      Lets not bring the silly culture war here, please.
      I think you and I subscribe to the same ideals. Perhaps I have not conveyed it in a way that struck the right chords with all readers. I shall consider your comments carefully and endeavour to phrase my thoughts more carefully in future. I do appreciate your feedback but may I suggest that it would be more helpful to me if you could phrase your rebuttal a bit more constructively? I believe that you are making valid points but you have come across (to me) quite angry and vicious. Was this intended? I can look past this to pull out the wisdom of what you are saying but I would rather engage in spirited debate rather than descend into adversarial statements and personal attacks. Is that too much to ask?

      If I can leave you with one primary thought (to sum up my thinking) it is this: I am encouraging everyone that fits into the 'older generation' bracket to do everything they can to welcome younger members because that strengthens us overall as a community. That's it. If there's one message I would like everyone to take away - it is that and that alone.

      Thank you for your comments. For me, it's not about being 'right' - it's about learning. I appreciate that alternative views represented regardless of how they were phrased.

      Best Wishes,
      Willy Canuck.
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      Flapman, thank you.

      As a person who has been part of the Flightsim, and Flightsim.com community for over 26 years, I was appalled by the op-ed. Bunch of liberal dribble in "my opinion". That said, I understand Nels's assessment. Doesnt mean I have to agree with it. But I do respect it.
    1. flapman's Avatar
      flapman -
      First, I accept your attempt at an apology. You appear to respond better to rhetorical questions than direct statements. Fine. I will play that game.

      you have come across (to me) quite angry and vicious. Was this intended?
      Am I not allowed to be offended when I am attacked? Is that only a tool for you? Are you the only one allowed to be angry and vicious?
      descend into adversarial statements and personal attacks.
      I am encouraging everyone that fits into the 'older generation'
      Is this what you call encouraging? To call people names and tell them what to do? Why do you have the position of authority to tell others how to behave?
      If anything, my statement is out of respect for enthusiasts in their late teens/early twenties.
      the younger generation who might not think to search or even consider forums.
      You respect them by characterizing what they can and cannot do?


      the article was not directed at flightsim.com nor its members specifically.
      I haven't specifically seen that behaviour here although I haven't been back long enough to say one way or the other - so I surrender to your assessment.
      this is not directed at flightsim.com
      the issue does persist outwith Flightsim.com.
      Why is an OpEd not directed at FlightSim.com nor it's members specifically posted on FlightSim.com????
      If you see problems in other places, has this piece not been published there? You claim to be knowledgeable on outreach, engagement, and communication. Is publishing this article here a good example of that?
      Why do you make knowledge claims about this community, then when challenged on them immediately retreat to ignorance? "I know how the flightsim community should move forward, oops I'm just a newbie please ignore me."? You have an OpEd on the front page of this website.


      Each generation tends to favour the current trend of the technology at the time of their initial exposure.
      simmers from the younger generation have just as much to offer as they do to gain.
      Are statements like this supposed to convey any truth information? "X have just as much to offer as they do to gain."
      Do you see how you can be perceived when you make statements like this? Am I not supposed to see this backpedal from "they don't want to be taught" to "they have just as much to offer as to gain?"


      This is not to say that one generation is more deficient than another - they're simply different.
      Do not backpedal on this please. You continuously assert that old people can't use new tech, and young people cannot use old tech. This is a foundation of your OpEd and you simply cannot concede this or else your narrative will collapse.


      Younger people don't really interact with traditional forums or Facebook pages with the same enthusiasm as older people.
      My statements are based on general observations across a multitude of flight simulation communities and channels.
      my point was simply to identify that different generations have had different experiences with the World Wide Web.
      How is it possible that you can claim to have such wide experience of the flight simulation community, and yet at the same time claim to have so little experience?


      Let us talk of your experience with engagement with generations, and growing the community.

      What is the Alexa ranking of FlightSim.com for global internet engagement? Is there a problem with how this site (or the entire community) runs which keeps them from engaging the younger generation? Has this site been unable to adopt new technology and change within it's 30+ year long history?

      What is the Alexa ranking of SkyBlueRadio.com (your website) for global internet engagement? Does it even have a rank (no)? I can find an article from 2015 so I know it's at least 5 years old. Does somebody who hails from this site (and is the most junior) know how to grow a community, how young people interact with technology, and what the flight simulation community should do for itself?

      Does SkyBlueRadio.com (which has Discord but no forum) justify the claim that forums are not reliable anymore? That young people don't use forums? Do young people use SkyBlueRadio? Is SkyBlueRadio supposed to be a good website, that shows how modern internet communities work? Do basic missing features and faulty design encourage growth of a community? Do young people like listening to Classic Rock and Roll?

      I think these questions are important when you have such harsh rebuke for this community, charge it to change ("This NEEDS TO CHANGE!") but do not provide any independent source of data to back up these claims. We have to trust your word on this. Does your word deserve our trust? Have your actions led us to trust you on this? Should we trust your depth of experience?

      This one doesn't really fit anywhere else, so I'll just discuss it separately.

      I witnessed a male user suggesting that a female pilot (who was attractive) 'have his babies'.
      Are attractive females not allowed to have babies? Are males not allowed to have babies? Was the manner by which this "incident" (and this was the WORST????? LOL) handled sufficiently to suggest to you that there are deep rooted issues of "harassment" and "muh soggy knees" in the entire flightsim community? Considering your vast knowledge and depth of experience in it?

      You know why that last point doesn't really fit here? Because this is a flight simulation community...
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      Bing, Bang, and Bo! Most articulated, and educated response Flapman I've read in years! Thank you again. This entire op-ed can be summed up in one sentence. This is yet another example of the PC Culture telling us how we should live our lives.

      #Fraud
    1. WillyCanuck's Avatar
      WillyCanuck -
      Thanks for the chat on Discord yesterday, Flapman.

      I thought it was quite constructive. I look forward to speaking with you again.
      The key thing is that you guys are passionate. That's a win-win for everyone.

      Even you, Grau.
      Perhaps you might appreciate my response to Larry in the OM.
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      Probably not.......... But thanks.
    1. WillyCanuck's Avatar
      WillyCanuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by grau View Post
      Probably not.......... But thanks.
      You're welcome. You seem such a nice fellow. It would be great to get to know you better.
    1. grau's Avatar
      grau -
      You as well. How bout starting over with your op-ed now that you've been educated. Food for thought........
    1. WillyCanuck's Avatar
      WillyCanuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by grau View Post
      You as well. How bout starting over with your op-ed now that you've been educated. Food for thought........
      I stand by my words, Grau - but feel free to comment on my Speakpipe page:
      speakpipe.com/willycanuck
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