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Thread: From Virtual to Real and back again

  1. #1

    Default From Virtual to Real and back again

    As a youngster I had the opportunity to be a passenger in an airplanes a number of times... I think the most memorable of them was when a friend of my Grandfather took me up in a Cessna 182. I couldn't see much at all, but the feeling lasted a lifetime and from that moment on I had the dream to become a pilot.

    I was introduced to desktop flight simulation as a teen. A friend has a Commodore with an early version of BAO flight simulator. I cannot remember if it was 1.0 or II but it was the first time I got a chance to put my hands on at least virtual controls and attempt to fly. If was over almost as quick as it started, my friend considered it a "crappy game" and preferred something two player. After that I saved my money until I could afford a computer of my own. A TRS-80 II was the right price and I was able to get a very basic version of BAO flight simulator for the "trash-80."

    It was many years later when I finally got the chance to exchange my virtual wings for a real set. I became an Aviation major at Northwestern and my first flight was in an old red and white Cessna 152 II Aerobat, tail N4715B. I can't remember much about my first CFI except he was a very poor example. He could not teach very well at all and spent most of the time ridding the controls. Thus after 10 hours when I took my first stage check (required under Part 141) I failed miserably. I spun the stall and ungracefully slammed the airplane back to earth. There was a conversation with the Designated Examiner and the Chief Flight Instructor after which my first CFI was fired by the school. To me what was happened was a mystery, today I realize that idiot cost me $500 in 1989 money.

    I was moved to a one of the school's advanced instructors, a guy named John who picked up my training and I soon finished Private, Commercial, Instrument and Multi ratings. Graduation from college brought a commission in the armed forces and I soon reentered flight training as a Second Lieutenant.

    I don't know what was more thrilling, walking around in a flight-suit for the first time, trying on my flight helmet, or getting my hands on my first turbine powered aircraft. While many would think flight school would have been easy they traded my propeller in front for a big fan up top. My first military aircraft was a Bell 206B Jet Ranger. I made the jump from airplanes to whirrly birds.

    Flight school in the military followed the same path as the 141 school in college. Basic Visual aircraft control, although solo was not the same feeling for me as I already had many hours alone in an aircraft. Then came instrument in which I found the rules to be fairly the same. Basic Combat skills was followed by NVGs and then graduation and my first set of silver wings. I still have my first pair of basic pilot wings on a plaque.

    I entered Graduate Flight training and picked up the UH-60 as my first tactical aircraft. (I guess the UH-1H would technically be a tactical aircraft, but by the time I got into the old pig boat they were being retired at a quick rate.) I spent a very short time flying helicopters and my first assignment was a Squadron whose aircraft were dislocated. Nearly a year went by before the aircraft arrived and when they did the maintenance was so bad the unit was grounded from flying for another six months. Not a good start to a career of military flying. In the end I got maybe six months of flying before I was transferred to HQ and a desk job.

    As soon as I pinned on the railroad tracks of Captain I called my personnel manager and asked about a transfer to fixed-wing. The one thing I learned about rotor-wing was I did not enjoy them. Sure it was cool to fly choppers when the ugly beasts actually flew. The military maintainers were enlisted and most were good at their job, but often it was more important to paint rocks, stand on a parade field, or fix an HMMWV then repair aircraft.

    Fixed-wing was an easy transition for me as I leaned on the flight training I had at Northwestern. My tactical aircraft was the U-21 (a King Air 90A) and quickly then to the C-12 (a King Air 200.) The King Airs were a dream to fly and nothing like the Cessna 310 then was my ride at Northwestern for multi training. The King Air could actually loose and engine and keep flying! I ended up flying these airplanes in the U.S., Korea, Europe and the Middle East. Then I got the call of a lifetime. How would you like to become a Diplomat and the Director of Flight Operations of the King Air at an Embassy. What do you think I said, YES!

    Flying the Embassy bird meant flying for a different branch of the military and becoming an Instructor Pilot. Flight training had become ho hum to me up to this point as I had so much experience there was not much that would be thrown at me in the simulator that rattled me. But, an Instructor was a new pool to enter and for the first time in years I was behind the power curve. A dose of humility was in store for the man with a gold oak leaf.

    Flying at the Embassy is the best flying of my military career and my knowledge of international procedures grew ten fold. Sure I had moved C-12s both across the Pacific and Atlantic but this was a new type of flying. No pick up the book someone else prepared, now I was preparing the book. I enjoyed the job so much I went back a second time after another promotion.

    By this time I realized that my kids were getting ready to graduate high school soon and I had a decade overseas, so it was time to retire from the military. I was fortunate to be able to exchange my IP for a CFI and CFII and take a job with the worlds largest flight training corporation. I currently training B200, B300 and B1900 pilots.

    During my decades of military and now back to civilian flying I remained involved with flight simulation. FS 1.0 made room for version 4, 5, then 98, 2000, 2004 and version 10. At the end of my military career I went back to a training base and had the opportunity to view a new simulation product by a company called Lockheed-Martian. Since I was under an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) for what LM showed the military that week I cannot comment other then they showed us a new tool for simulation. I believe my recommendation back to DoD was while the simulation did have impressive graphics the fidelity of flight modeling was sub-par to current solutions. I was not involved in acquisitions so I do not know if any of the branches purchased LM's simulation tool.

    For my home system I choose to run FSX:Steam based on the number of add-ons I have that will require me to repurchase or not work 100% correctly in P3D. I have also tried X-Plane a number of times and found it too much of a change in how things operate. Besides the big level D sims I use are based on look-up tables so there is nothing wrong with that type of simulation. Blade theory is great, but just not my cup of tea.

    Although I have mentored people in the past I have chosen not to do that anymore. Mel Ott was a good friend and often provided encouragement and I felt I owed the community. However, too many acidic comments, disrespect for real world pilots and trolls have led me to disassociate with most of the community. Seems everyone is an expert these days and all they need is Google. Who cares about those of use who have decades of experience.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Westminster, CO
    Posts
    7,493

    Default

    Nice writeup/intro. Thanks for posting this. And I agree, instructing is a whole different animal.

    However, too many acidic comments, disrespect for real world pilots and trolls have led me to disassociate with most of the community. Seems everyone is an expert these days and all they need is Google. Who cares about those of use who have decades of experience.
    It's a shame, but there's a lot of that going around.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    5,228

    Default

    goodpaster, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!

    It sounds as though you had a very interesting career. As I'm sure you've noticed there are a lot of prior and current RW people who "fly" their computers.

    I started flying my computer on the advice of the V.A. It allows me to do what I can't physically qualify to do anymore. I just wish I could wish I could write-off the cost of all my gear and software to the V.A.!!

    Sadly many of us, including me at least once or twice, let our personal opinions overcome our courtesy for others. I sincerely hope you will continue to enjoy all of our shared hobby! And perhaps, hang around and give advice from time to time on this site.

    My hope is we can all enjoy what we agree on, and allow others to do what they choose to do as well. Computer Flying isn't exactly life and death as we do it on a sim!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Klammath Falls, OR
    Posts
    4,149

    Default

    goodpaster, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!
    A huge +1 from me on that little comment, sir! Thank you very much indeed!
    Who cares about those of use who have decades of experience.
    I sure as heck do, sir! I'd rather listen to 1 sentence from from someone who's "been there, done that" than a book by some idjit that can use google to find his butt with both hands.

    A big WELCOME ABOARD from me, and any advice you want to give, including the famous War Story, is more than welcome
    Pat☺

    Had a thought...then there was the smell of something burning, and sparks, and then a big fire, and then the lights went out! I guess I better not do that again!
    Sgt, USMC, 10 years proud service, Inactive reserve now

  5. #5

    Default

    Thank you for the comments and I like many who served do it because we enjoy military duty. No thanks is required.

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