Archive for May, 2009

Flying, Simulators and Airplanes

Monday, May 25th, 2009

When I was a kid in 1885…I mean 1985, my dad got our family a new computer. The computer my dad got us was called the “Amiga 1000″.

Shortly after that we got the “Flight Simulator 2.0″ from Electronic Arts game company. This was the program I used to learn how to fly in the computer simulator. I loved this simulator, there wasn’t much else I could do in those days because this was the very best technology that was available at the time. So I would fly in the simulator ALL the time! In fact I loved it so much that I would setup chairs in my bedroom so the neighbor kids could come over and become passengers in my simulated airline.

My bedroom was in the basement of my parents house and that’s where they kept the computer. So we had lots of space down there and when all the neighbor kids came over then my sister would dress up as a stewardess and cater to them with hors doeuvres.

Yes I was a super geek even then!

A few years later a new game came out called “F-18 Interceptor”. Wikipedia lists the release date as 1888…I mean 1988. I got my first volenteer job at Shawnee Mission Medical Center around 1991 because the summer of 1992 I went to Bakersfield California to work with my uncle for his masonry company, and the summer of 1993 I got my first real job working for Taco Bell near my house.

So between 1988 and 1991 I spent a lot of time flying F-18 Interceptor, esspecially the carrier landings. This video game had a system to log your flight hours, and 1991 I would have been in 7th grade. So by 7th grade I had already logged well over 7,000 hours of flight simulator time.

Just a few weeks ago my friend Craig Russell of Americans In Orbit-50 Years decided to take me up flying with him from the local airport here in Huntsville Alabama. After we were in the air, he told me to take the controls, so I did and it was the coolest feeling I ever had! Craig could tell immediately that I had a lot of experience because I had such an easy hand on the controls. That’s because I had already trained my mind and muscels how to fly an airplane as early as 7th grade and even before then! Craig has a long and distinguished flying career because he used to fly for commercial airlines, so Craig has something in the ball-park of 9,000 hours of actual flying time. He was very surprised to learn that I had 7,000+ hours in flight simulators even before 7th grade! Now everyone laughs at me because they find it funny to imagine a little kid sitting at a computer flying a simulator all hours of the day and night! So much as even starting a simulated airline in the basement!

I will admit this is a little amusing, now that I think about it.

Some of you may ask, why didn’t you go into avation for a career in the first place?

Well this is a good question, I loved the idea of flying, being free above the world without a care. But I also recognized that it would get boring really quick as a job, because the cockpit would become my office and I would just be sitting behind the controls all the time flying from point A, to point B and back again. This didn’t appeal to me at all, I would have prefered to be in a fighter jet, or testing new airplanes. It was impossible to get into testing new planes unless you had some flight time in a higher performance fighter jet of some kind, and the only real way that a kid could get into that would be to join the airforce, and I wasn’t about to do that! Likewise it was mostly impossible to get into really flying fighter jets if you had eye problems like me. So I knew this was not an option for me. I decided to get into Electrical Engineering and become as smart as I could and educate myself on everything that I possibly could about science and physics. This was also an area that interested me. So that was the direction my career took.

I would like to thank Craig for giving me my first experience flying a real airplane! The other day I helped Craig upload a new video for AIO50 that was aired on a local TV station here in Huntsville for the Americans In Orbit-50 Years event at the Davidson Space Center, US Space Camp. Get a load of these kids in the video!…Awesome!! I love it!