Reading the Metro yesterday, I noticed a short article about virtual flying using Google and this reminded me that Juliet, my wife, has told me to take-off. She bought me a flying lesson at Abbas Air in Compton Abbas as I have been an armchair pilot for the last ten years using good old Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The latest version of Flight Simulator (FSX) has just about every place you can land in the world in including Compton Abbas, a bit like virtual earth except you fly over it in a plane. I set the current airport to Copton Abbasin FSX, but unfortunately the plane I was to fly , the Piper Warrior , isn’ t included in FSX out of the box, so I bought one of the hundreds of third party add-ins, Flying Club X, with this included.
After a few weeks of practice using FSX It’s time to see how realistic the simulation is and off we go to darkest Dorset. My instructor, Simon Schwarz, introduces himself and explains the agenada for the day. He also asks Juliet to join us, as there are seats in the back, so her cunning plan to claim on the inheritance wasn’t going to work. My virtual flying paid off – Simon is impressed that I know the key instruments and basic flight theory and as soon as he takes off he tells me “You have control”, and I do, sort of.
This is where ‘real world’ is a bit of an understatement. In FSX the screen does move around a bit as you’re ‘flying’, depending on how you have configured the weather and the controls did behave exactly as I expected. However in a plane doing 90 mph in a 30mph wind under a cloud full of turbulence it is the world that doesn’t move but you certainly do!
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I suspect in future it will be Juliet who will be doing the armchair flying as she was a very odd colour when we landed.
PS for those who are serious mouse pilots sp1 of FSX came out back in May and is now available here.