Editorial: FlightSimCon 2015
For me, it all started with an email: Jan 12, 2015, at 8:24 AM - "Hey D'Andre we should meet up at this event coming up in June. http://flightsimcon.com/
Greg Sanderson | Jetline Systems Corp
It took all of an hour for me to decide. I responded promptly: "I'll be there!" The thing is, I had heard of FlightSimCon just like I had heard of all the other random FS Conventions and meetup's over the years. I guess I felt it all just wasn't for me. I really don't know why and I never felt like I was a part of Avsim to ever self justify attending one of their events. And as for FSCon, it's way over there in Connecticut on the edge of the US East Coast which is about as far I could possibly travel and still be in the country. But for some reason, when Greg discussed meeting up there, the light bulbs in my head started flickering. Absolutely! It would be really awesome to hang out with the Jetline Systems guys. But as for the Con, I had never been there before and I really wasn't sure what to expect or what I would do there. Nevertheless, I was committed. So, I spoke to the wife, we rearranged all our existing summer vacation plans around this event and I set out to help promote the event as much as I possibly could.
As time went by more and more members of the development community began sponsoring the event. As more time went by, a rather large number of vendors had signed up to attend. As we approached April, it began to get clear, this thing was going to be huge. And finally, I knew what I had to do. I set out to get in touch with as many members of the FS development community as I could. After all, an event like this really strives on their support. I reached out to my friends at VirtualFly in Barcelona about possibly attending. Sadly, they would not be able to make it over. But they decided they would send over their Solo panel for us to show off. Meanwhile, I was chatting up Greg over at Jetline about what we should set up at our booth. Greg is so funny. He had no clue and no plan. He simply wanted to show up and have fun. "Greg you guys must be planning to bring some Jetline computers to display and perhaps some of those awesome sim-rigs Calvin is always building right?" "Yeah, maybe. That's a good idea actually." Greg responded. The thing about Greg and Ken is, these guys are so in love with FS, they had no real plans of showing off their products and advertising their brand. They simply wanted to support the event and show up as fans. But we had a booth! We needed something to show off! A quick swap of emails between VirtualFly and Jetline and suddenly a plan was formulating.
As more devs started to sign up for the Con the more I realized this was not going to some leisure event for me. I was going to have to get to work. If the developers were putting up the cash to attend and travel, I had to do my part to ensure they got as much exposure as possible. I told my wife, we are going to need a camera, mic, and all that fancy CNN stuff and she didn't bat an eye. This event was going to be a very big deal. But the New England Air Museum is not exactly an easy airport to get into. At least not from LA. We decided to fly into JFK and drive over. The entire time waiting for this event was excitement almost to the point of anxiety. I just cant remember the last time in my life I had been this excited. This was truly going to be a trip to Disneyland for a 6-year-old. And the first roller-coaster ride was a B767-300 Canarise approach into JFK followed by a 3 hour drive. Finally, the convention was about to begin!
"Should we stop by the hotel first?" My wife asked as the first signs of Hartford came into view. I had driven the first leg of the journey and it was now her turn. My first thought was to go directly to the Museum to set up. I had been so excited the last 24 hours, I hardly slept. Even as the strong thermals forced our plane up and down, I still had barely slept and usually turbulence puts me right to sleep. The heavier the better. "Yeah, I had better catch a nap first." I responded. Smart choice as no doubt Greg&Ken were likely going to keep me up all night. I met the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby at 4pm and we made our way over to the Museum to set up. It's amazing with all the screwing around that we actually got any work done. Besides this, how can anyone function with all these airplanes around just begging to be touched? This is a freaking awesome museum! How I wished this place was my bedroom! I took heaps of pictures but in my haste, stupid me totally forgot there was another hangar to get shots of!! Below shows the calm before the storm.
That evening we all headed out to Bobby V's Sports Bar where a combination of flight simulation talk, sliders, and beer ruled the night. Tomorrow would be a big day. Bigger than any of us could have imagined.
The Main Hangar Fully Set For FlightSimCon 2015
Saturday, FlightSimCon Day 1:
0500. With my newly found insomnia by way of my excitement, at 5am my eyes had bolted open. Please eyes! Let me sleep!! I am not ready! I had stayed up till 12am the previous night and I needed rest! Today was going to be a very busy day and I had a very tight schedule to hold to. But sadly, my body refused. By 0530 I stopped fighting it. It was no use. The sun was already doing it's work so I guess I had better prepare to do mine. I took a shower dressed and headed down to the lobby to meet with the guys. Our meet time was 0730. What do I do now? Might as well go to work on the ADX news page. The previous afternoon has been a bit hot and that hangar has no air conditioning. I decided against the jeans and opted for shorts. But when the boys rolled on down, I wasn't sure they are preparing for a sim convention or a seminar. These guys are so professional. We all stood stating at each other trying to decide who wore the correct attire. On Sunday, they brought out the shorts. Guess I won that round.
Now about my schedule for the day. We arrived at the hangar at about 0745 and I must have totally lost track of time because I looked up and there were hundreds of people swarming the hangar! Damn! Is it 10 already? I had a game plan to hit all the booths and interview certain people for Saturday and certain people for Sunday. Then there were the seminar's I needed to attend for my own benefit as an enthusiast including a panel I was a part of. But what I had not considered was the people. And once they got there I was in a frenzy of handshakes and conversations that spanned hours. The readers of AirDailyX.net had arrived! This was soooo cool. Finally meeting the people behind the numbers that flock to the site every day. This totally threw me off my schedule and yet, this was by far the best part I did not plan for.
I really want to apologize to all the vendors I did not get the opportunity to get to. I will make a better effort next year to facilitate exposure for all of you.
The people. To this day, I am far more wealthy in new friends than before I attended the convention. A quick shout-out to Timothy B, Phil C, David G, Robbie, and Jeff B who all made quite an impact on me. By the time I looked up, it was just passing lunch and almost time to join my panel discussion. Ahh yes, the panel discussion. As we got closer to the convention, Zac Ploch (Boston ATC) had asked if I would be interested in joining a panel discussion about the future of flight simulation. Shortly thereafter, Ron Randazzo, Winfried Diekmann, Nels Anderson, and Peter Wright were announced. Suddenly the pressure was on as was the nervousness. I tried my best to prepare myself for this panel but by mindset was totally off and now after chatting with the attendees for over 2 hours, it was time. I had joked that the event promoters might put me next to the PMDG and Aerosoft CEO's and sure enough, they did! These are legends of flight simulation and who the hell am I? It was an extraordinary experience hands down. Below is the video of our panel. I really wish we had time for more time for questions from the audience.
Panel Discussion: The Future of at-home flight simulation.
The panel discussion was jam packed with what I would have to guess was about 120 people with very little standing room. But when I finally walked out, the hangar was still packed! Above was the calm before the storm and now here is the storm in full swing!
PMDG Seminar With Robert Randazzo
Robert Randazzo, CEO of the Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG), discussed some exciting news and updates from the company. As many flight simulation enthusiasts know, PMDG is a leading flight simulation developer, and the creator of extremely popular airliner add-ons including the NGX and 777. many were begging me for information as I can clearly be seen entering a bit late in the above video. Well here you go! Video courtesy of Steve McNitt.
The biggest thing I took away from this seminar was the fact that PMDG is opening a training center with bull blown 747-8 simulators which are nearly complete. How awesome is that?! This was the only seminar I personally had time to attend on Saturday. This conference was just far too short! Check out all things PMDG at: http://www.pmdgsimulations.com/
Interview: Aerosoft CEO Winfried Diekmann
Talk about an honor. I must say, our booth was a frenzy of people checking out the VirtualFly SOLO Panel setup. And one of them was Aerosoft co-founder and CEO Winfried Diekmann. How awesome was this that Winfried came all the way out from Germany to take part in this convention. First of all, Winfried is not usually on the forefront of Aerosoft. He is the behind the scenes man. Mathijs Kok is typically the face we know and love and have grown accustomed to conversing with over the years. But the statement Winfried makes by not only attending but also participating in the convention says how much Aerosoft honors their American base. Besides this, he is just such an all around good and fun person to talk to. After 10 minutes of chatting, I was able to get him in front of the camera for a brief interview. Can you tell I was nervous? Because I sure as shit was!! Thanks so much again Winfried for bringing your expertise, insight, knowledge, and wonderful personality to this years convention. It means the world to all of us that you came. Visit Aerosoft at: http://www.aerosoft.com/
Interview With iBlueYonder's Bill Womak and I.D.S. Studios
First of all, Bill Womack is a legend within the flight simulation community. I have every product he has ever developed with the Orbx Cushman Meadows being my absolute favorite. Being at the convention, it was so difficult to try not to be a fan boy because I truly was and chocking back my enthusiasm was the ultimate challenge. I mean, how many times did I tell the guy how much I liked Cushman? Bill was accompanied by I.D.S. CEO Kenan Ӧzϋn and developer Creswell formally of FlyBeyond Studios. The three were at the convention to give a seminar on flight simulation development.
Bill also had some exclusives of his Heron's Nest scenery along with Nantucket. The guys also had some development updates (my eyes only) of Sacramento, Manchester, and Nassau. Some really awesome stuff! I have provided some of the screens Bill had to show off at the convention. I got together with the three for an interview and whatever it is the three of them are cooking up it must be very big! Thanks so much for Bill, Kenan, and Creswell for coming out to the event and showing your support! It was truly amazing to meet the three of them in person. Sadly the guys were not attending on day 2 and I was far behind my schedule so I was able to grab them just before closing time. Apologies for the audio. And remember! Don't forget to sign up to the mailing list at http://iblueyonder.com/
FroogleSim Seminar | Peter Wright FSX Personality
In this session, Peter talks about his experiences with flight simulator before and after his YouTube fame, including how he has made a name for himself within the FSX add-on community. He also discusses his views on the future of the platform and new add-ons that we may see from simulator and real-world technologies in the future.
Sunday, FlightSimCon Day 2:
What an amazing day Saturday was. Just on Saturday alone outnumbered the previous years events by number of attendees by far and Sunday was no exception. After the conference, many developers and attendees headed back to the hotel for beer and chats and this is where I really had the opportunity to meet the community. How cool is it to share beers with strangers who love and invest in this hobby as much as me. With each conversation I had, strangers quickly became friends. It seemed here, everyone was one gigantic family. Afterwards, a few of us headed back out to Bobby V's where we ate, drank, and chatted flight simulation all night. Oh how I wish a Groundhog Day effect would have taken place so I could have lived the moments over and over.
The Con for 2016 simply cant come for me fast enough.
Interview With FSFX Packages
So on Friday afternoon as I was getting things set to with the guys from Jetline, there were a couple of handsome fellas and a very attractive french girl who had come over and introduced themselves to us. We exchanged names and chatted a brief bit. Afterwards I thought, what a nice group of people and went on with the rigors of setting things up. It wasn't till Saturday after they had installed their big ass banner did I realize my mistake! These were the guys from FSFX Packages! The ones who created PreceptFX! After slapping myself I quickly made my way over to them to apologies. You see, I had been in communication with these guys several times over the last year but I just didn't place the names in my dumb brain. Saturday was quite a booked day for me and them as their booth was very busy with fans but we arranged a date for Sunday to get together before the doors opened we were all in for another busy day. These guys are really awesome and I am so truly glad they drove all the way down from Montreal to attend the Con. For more information check out https://fsfxpackages.com/en/
Interview With True Course Simulations
An airplane is a difficult learning environment. It is a noisy, sometimes very hot and sometimes a very cold and uncomfortable place to learn. It moves a lot and sometimes provokes air sickness. Talking to air traffic controllers is stressful. Watching for other traffic is stressful. Coming in for a landing is stressful. Maintaining situation awareness is stressful. And it is very expensive!
True Course Simulations came up with the idea of using flight simulation to better prepare students for their daily flight lessons, increase the enjoyment of flight training, and reduce the cost of training flight time. By increasing the pre-flight interactivity on the ground, we can greatly increase the learning experience in the airplane. In this interview I chat with founder Ray Bédard who traveled all the way from Arizona to introduce his amazing concept of flight simulation training. For more information please visit http://www.tcsims.com/
Interview With A2A Simulations
Talk about a family business any flight simulation enthusiast could dream to grow up into. A2A Simulations was represented at FlightSimCon 2015 by Scott and his son & daughter Jake and Ali. Together, they ran one of the most popular booths and debuted the A2A Accu-sim Comanche 250. I got to take a look at the upcoming addon firsthand and it clearly represents the A2A Accu-Sim product line perfectly. Speaking to Scott the day prior, he confessed his concern that the Comanche 250 may not be popular among A2A fans given the fact that it's not anywhere near as popular as aircraft like the C172 and C182. I assured him that not only is the Comanche 250 a fantastic aircraft in it's won right, the fact that it's an Accu-sim Comanche 250 will ensure sales. Why? Because the masses will buy a flying brick if it's an Accu-Sim addon.
A2A and Accu-Sim has established such a reputation within the FS Community, it's only a frustration that every aircraft ever developed is not Accu-sim enhanced.
For more info about A2A and their vast selections of products check out: http://www.a2asimulations.com/
Seminar / Interview Ed Valdez President, Skyroamers
FUNDAMENTALS OF FLIGHT CONTROL: Of all the people I had the opportunity to meet at this year's convention, Ed Valdez made by far the biggest impact on me and when you see his complete seminar posted here on the left, you will quickly. Former pilot with United Airlines, Champion Air, Skywest Airlines, and a corporate chief pilot, Ed now teaches at Cypress College as an adjunct professor in the Aviation and Travel Careers department. It doesn't matter how new you are at flying or how much of a veteran you are, I believe everyone has something they can learn from his vast expertise. Ed's seminar at FlightSimCon 2015 is designed to help simulator pilots build and maintain a strong foundation of flying skills in their simulators for real airplane flying. Proper simulator training increases a pilot’s experience and reduces costs to attain and maintain a pilot’s license. Every aspiring pilot can become more proficient and confident using Skyroamers’ proven methods, refined during 45 years of pilot training. For more information please visit: http://skyroamers.com/
Seminar | Austin Meyer X-Plane Creator
The creator of X-Plane and founder of Laminar Research, Austin Meyer, provides an introduction to the X-Plane simulator platform. In addition, he will discuss some of the latest updates to X-Plane, and other developments on the horizon for the platform. Austin Meyer is the creator of Laminar Research’s X-Plane, a flight simulation platform. In addition to his involvement with X-Plane, Austin is building a Lancair Evolution (N844X).
Video courtesy of Steve McNitt. For more information about the X-Plane flight simulation platform, check out their website: http://www.x-plane.com/desktop/home/
Interview With Saitek / Mad Catz
Saitek and I go all the way back to the year 2002 when I finally got my first simulation PC. The great thing about Saitek is and has always been affordable and easy to get. This is a terrific thing for those on a budget or new to flight simulation. Saitek attending this years event shows their enthusiasm for the flight simulation market and I really hope to see them attend next year and every year after that. Some great tools from Saitek check them out at: http://www.saitek.com/
Interview With Jetline Systems
My boys! Greg & Ken for without them I most likely would not have attended this years event. Greg and Ken are also largely responsible for AirDailyX being able to operate in it's current capacity as all things AirDailyX are powered by Jetline Systems. I took a moment to chat with the guys about Jetline, their product offerings, and newly founded relationship with VirtualFly. It's odd interviewing them because I know everything about them already. It's sort of like interviewing my brothers. It looks like Jetline is fully committed to FlightSimCon for years to come and if you are looking for the world's best rig to support your flight simulation needs, look no further: http://jetlinesystems.com/
Nathan Palmer Is Living Every Man's Dream
Comfort zone. That's exactly what I would call my relationship with my simulator. I have gotten so comfortable with my own personal setup, that the moment I tried to tackle Nathan's dream machine, I realized just how rusty I was. Hands down what I would give to own something like this. Truly awesome! Thanks heaps to Nathan Palmer & Casey Hamilton for the Adventure!
The People Responsible For This Event
After so much fun... as we all know, all good things must come to an end. And I am so sad. Because I didn't want it all to end! I want it go on forever! I had so, so, so much fun! There was just too little time to do everything I wanted to do and meet & interview everyone I had set out to meet. This was an event that has completely refined the way I perceive the flight simulation and the people behind it. Obviously I was not able to get around to everyone but this page would not be complete without chatting with the people being this awesome and truly amazing event. 3 names you all need to remember: Nicole Glander, Zac Ploch, and Evan Ritter thanks so much for putting in all the work to make this happen and very well done!
Evan & Zac: http://www.bostonvirtualatc.com/
For more information about FlightSimCon and next year's event please visit: http://flightsimcon.com/