What gaining my PPL(A) means as a developer of FSW - Stephen Hood
Gaining my private pilot's license has enabled me to see another side of this beautiful, complex, daunting world of aviation. Through the eyes of a licensed pilot.
During early development of FSW I was spending every waking moment hoovering up every bit of information I could. There is so much to learn, perhaps too much to ever completely understand and appreciate. Making a flight simulator is nothing like a sports game. Sports have a rule-book, you can dissect them and figure out what is required in order to portray that sport. You can spend some time in the field and pick up on what's hot and what's not. In aviation it's so huge, so complex, you can't pick up a single book and figure out what's going on after a few hours study. You need to jump right into it and forget everything you thought you knew. I gave up other interests, spent less time with family and friends, stopped playing videogames and simply consumed everything flight.
Overnight I became that guy at the dinner party that turns the conversation, relentlessly, to aviation. But it wasn't enough. So I buried my fear of flying (yes, really) and signed up to pilot training at my local airfield. I studied the real material, learnt to fly an aircraft, went solo, visited other airports as part of my cross country and passed all nine of the exams ahead of the 'big day'. The skill test. I suffered countless false starts due to weather until, eventually, it went ahead and I nailed the biggest challenge I've ever faced. I'm just a normal guy that didn't know anything about aviation, let alone flying aircraft. I've always had an interest in making a flight simulator, but now I'm armed with the knowledge to understand what it takes to capture the feeling of being a pilot up there, in the sky. I mean, I am a pilot and I've got a license to prove it.
Over twenty years I've worked on a number of games. I've travelled the world under guise of 'business expense and research' and had some wonderful times. But none of that compares to what it felt like to gain my pilots license. It will always stay with me and the experience it has provided continues to be fed back into FSW. I've met so many people on this journey and can now better piece together the 'puzzle' as we continue to develop what I hope will become the go-to flight simulator for years to come. I also realise just how much more there is to develop if we're to cover all bases. I'm more determined than ever to play my part, alongside a wonderful team, in pushing ahead with realising this dream.
Gaining my PPL(A) allowed me to appreciate Air Law, Meteorology, Aircraft General Knowledge, Navigation and Radio Navigation, Human Performance, Flight Planning and Performance, Communications, Operational Procedures and Principles of Flight. It's incredibly important to have undertaken and completed this journey for it allows me to appreciate what is and isn't important if we're to replicate the experience of being a pilot. It's what drives a lot of our thinking on wanting to upgrade features like the ATC system. You don't get a sense of being in a busy sky full of aircraft. That's a big miss, in my opinion. We need to tackle more of what it means to be a pilot in today's world and we need to appreciate the point and reason of flight.
Flight Sim World benefits from our determination to learn all we can. This is our story.