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Thread: Pilot Profile: jeffvw

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Portland, Maine

    Post Pilot Profile: jeffvw

    Dateline: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, 1975. a kid turns on the fan in his room and jumps into bed imagining the blades whirring up are the propeller of tonight’s dream biplane. Come morning, he’ll switch off the fan and close his eyes to imagine the same engine ticking down after landing.

    Flying had my heart from day one, but it wasn’t until I inherited a little money after college that I could actually learn to fly. The private license happened just north of Denver, Colorado, with a high-time mountain pilot who made fun of my pre-flights (I think he found the thought of pre-flighting at all rather humorous). But taught me how to work ridge lift to nurse a tired Piper Warrior over mountain passes, handle emergencies without panic, and to land on the second half of the runway at Telluride Airport to minimize taxi time before eating waffles. (This technique also avoided the dip in the middle of the runway.)

    My instrument rating was added on in Seattle, which is a great place to boost one’s cloud-flying confidence. I was teaching science at the Pacific Science Center at the time and decided that if I so enjoyed teaching and so enjoyed flying, I’d take the bold step and teach flying. In doing so, I earned my various instructor certificates and completely missed the dot-com boom improving the affluence of my friends such that they could have actually bought airplanes.
    These were also the days when a commuter right seat was open to anyone with 200 hours of multi-time and a pulse. As the chief ground instructor of our school did just that and bestowed the title on me, he mentioned in passing that the school had a contract to develop and deliver the training program for this new airplane design by a little company over in Duluth, Minnesota.

    With the help of a few key friends at the school and my wife, we got the first Cirrus SR20 training program delivered on time, even though we had the curve ball of this completely new GPS system called the Garmin 430. Time progressed and I took an opportunity to branch out, with a deal to develop FMS training for (what was then) Boeing Flight Safety, freelance instruction specializing in instrument flight and modern avionics, and the initial training to do sightseeing flights in Seattle in Stearmans, Wacos and a Travelair.

    September 11 did far more to many other people than me, but it also vaporized virtually all my work overnight. Luckily in 2000, I had written a book on Combat Flight Simulator 2 for Microsoft Press, which was my first real foray into desktop simulation. The flying was blast. So was the research tying what was going on in the sim to its real world roots, as well as applying researched techniques to the virtual combat.

    There wasn’t another book on flight sim to do, but there were books on other tech topics. There were videos. There were custom training curricula. Some five years passed as a technical writer and trainer until an opportunity to edit IFR magazine made it my way. From there it was a slow climb back into freelance instruction, personal flying and editing IFR as well as part of Aviation Consumer and contributing to AVweb.

    During that period, Wiley Publishing contacted me with an idea for a book on the history of Flight Simulator. The idea didn’t resonate, but I pitched back that a book taking a reader through the process of real-world flight training using Flight Simulator as the vehicle. Wiley bought in. I then begged my Cirrus-training co-conspirator and long-time friend Kevin Lane-Cummings to help me out. (How many hyphens can you have in one sentence?) Microsoft Flight Simulator X for Pilots was done less than five months later.

    In 2012, I looked at the fact that I was dependent on not one, but two, dying industries (light aviation and journalism) and decided to do something about it. I couldn’t do much about journalism, but I had some ideas about aviation. Redbird Flight Simulations seemed the right partner to make that happen. Redbird Media was born, with a goal of creating content for flight simulation in real-world training as well as a community among the currently unconnected users.

    We’ve yet to see how well I do on that.

  2. #2


    Intersting story and profile. You made your personal walk through aviation field.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Between KMIA and KFLL



    Great life-story. Thanks for telling us.

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