How High Can We Go?
According to FSElite, Laminar Research is "Launching in Full" X-Plane 12. In August of 2020, Microsoft released their latest flight simulation software, MSFS2020. Although Prepare3D has not launched a new piece of software as of late, there are rumors of an update coming in 2023 - I guess we will soon find out.
All of that being said, we thought it might be nostalgic to take a short look back at flight
simulation on both Apple and PC products. As many of you know, I am a child of the 1970s. I grew up and found myself in a world caught between the analog past of transistor radios, black and white televisions and a time before cable, satellite, VCRs, streaming and other
technology of the like. The most "complicated" tech that was in our home as a child was a citizen's band radio (CB for those of you that want to Google it).
Then one day, something all changed. As a matter of fact, it was a day, that turned into a week, that turned into two months and then a lifetime of simming. Back in the early days of computers, we had a "computer lab" in the library of my elementary school. It was often a small, cramped area. Maybe two or three Apple II computers were stacked in there. No one really went in the lab. Then one day, someone said they had some games in the computer lab. Excited as I was, it was really more of a reading exercise, rather than a game. But then, something incredible happened. There was a flight simulation game. Nothing had ever been experienced like this before. I know many of you younger than I have a very difficult time believing this, but a clack, clack, clack from a back computer speaker with a huge lag and a television as a monitor turned a small little broom closet into an aircraft cockpit. This was about 1980 or so, and I watched and waited as new versions were released.
My excitement to go back to the computer lab was gaining steady space within my little fifth grade mind. Then one day, about a month after my first experience, my dad brought home a "portable computer" from work. Now, portable by those standards was a suitcase at best. But, it had two games I loved playing, Oregon Trail and Flight Simulator. We could play for hours we he got home! I probably finished my homework faster that year than ever before.
I could go on and on about all of my fun times, but here is the most incredible part of this
story. The technology which created the first line-based limited world, is not able to craft complex, global features, real world weather, animated aircraft, online ATC, custom plug-ins and add-ons and so much more. What is the next step for the flight simulation hobby. How can we get better at flying, crafting, sharing and being part of a growing community. The fact is, many of the digital pilots flying today, were some of the first young men and women to experience the thrill of taking off, navigating to and landing at a planned destination.
Moreover, the comparison between products is natural. All of us who fly flight simulators want "the best" experience possible. We also want to be able to control that experience in a manner by which we feel comfortable and accomplished. Now, those who have steered clear of building full cockpits can purchase VR goggles and enjoy an immersive experience unseen before. Taking-off from your local airport has become increasing real with real weather, real traffic and interactive ATC. How high will our hobby soar? I can not wait to see! The release of all of the aforementioned pieces of software are the next exciting step for those who want to experience a synthetic flight experience. Whether you were a geeky kid like me in the 1970s and 80s or a gamer in the 2000s, it is clear that flight simulation is a lifelong trip and all of us can take the left seat to chart our own destinations.
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