This past weekend saw me hop on a regional jet from Amsterdam to Munich in Germany, to attend the Aerosoft Conference held in the city's wonderful aviation museum, the Flugtwerft. Aerosoft is one of the world's foremost developers and distributors of flight simulation (add-on) software and organizes this conference every year, now for the 10th time already. Although it is not as big and famous as the 'Dutch FS Weekend', it is surely worth visiting. If not for finding out news about the 'hobby' then at least to meet with some of the major companies in the industry and meet with developers and other enthusiasts face to face.
And as I have explained many times before, aviation and flightsimming IS the same for many people. The passion is the same, the goal is pretty much the same too.
But BOTH groups (and quite a few people are in both groups) usually share the goal of getting MORE people to 'get into flying', or at the very minimum get a 'feel' for aviation.
What better place to garner such enthusiasm than in a crowd of aviation lovers, in one way or other, in the hangars of a museum based on an old - and still active - airfield and looking at what is possible on PC's as well as in the real world!
Actually, we are still sad that so far it has proven NOT to be possible to organize similar events in the US..... but that doesn't mean we haven't given up on the idea!
One problem in the world of flightsimming is that Microsoft has given up on 'us' flightsimmers, after having supported us for 25 years with their on-going MS Fight Simulator series. After they fired the entire remaining team back in 2009 things just haven't been the same. No more chance of a new version, no more MS supported marketing and lots of smaller programs trying to step in and, so far, failing to do so. Microsoft's own new entry in the market, MS Flight game, is aimed at getting more people into flying, for sure. However most specialists in the industry and most existing flightsimmers have severe doubts about the success of it.
So that leaves the add-on industry and the existing global flight simulation enthusiasts community to continue the 'quest for new blood' in both the hobby and interest in real flying. And of course we need help. Help from organizations such as AOPA, who have the same interest in many ways, from EAA, from museums, flying clubs, aircraft manufacturers, flightsim add-on producers, from publications on the subject and from other flightsim developers.
The conference in Germany is largely paid for by Aerosoft, who of course have a vested interest in the hobby continuing, but who also still have a passion for the hobby of flightsimming AND for real aviation. It is co-sponsored by some of their competitors and colleagues, and by the magazine I work for now, the German Flight! Magazin.
The good news, related to the last, is that Flight! Magazin has recently bought the #1 magazine on flight simulation in the US; Computer Pilot Magazine.
And the good news (for me at least - grinning) is that they asked me to take on the job of Chief Editor of it. And that not only allows me to further my passion for aviation without losing money for once, but also gets me in touch with even more people in the business and write about it ! Sure, in 'my' magazine, but also on AOPA and other places.
So expect to see a few more blog posts on flightsimming and its connection to real aviation again in future. And if you ever have a chance, check out one of the European fligtsim events that take place throughout the year. Some of them really resemble Oskosh on a miniature scale !
We'll be adding some more about the day itself AND some photos (cannot seem to get them posted here, so have a look at our website later on today for that!
Francois A. 'Navman' Dumas
Computer Pilot Magazine