Something quite exciting came across my desk at work the other day.
I work in an industry which features `technical` products – products which service a green and environmental need.
Products which, on the face of it, have absolutely no correlation with a hobby where `green` refers only to the arguably-best hue for our vintage virtual warbird, and `environmental` considerations extend about as far as which weather engine best represents England in the Spring (think `Silent Hunter` at periscope depth, as I right this and you’d be on the right track).
So you can imagine my surprise when one of my product development specialists came into my office to discuss a presentation on a new product given by one of our suppliers, whips out a ram stick (that’s not a euphemistic expression!) – and promptly shows me a virtual reality presentation of a new concept – illustrated within Flight Sim!
It was, quite simply, the first and only time that I have seen FS presented in such an existentialist manner, with a crossover element into the real world (in this case the business world) and in a way that challenged my perceptions of what this hobby is about.
And it got me thinking. Again. (I know, I know, it makes my head hurt and my ears feel funny, but I can’t help it – I LIKE thinking for myself…)
We as a hobby think we’re butting up against a World that doesn’t think as we do, a World that can’t grasp a concept as ethereally uninteresting as: “Take off. Fly around a bit. Land…” A World where forum discussions about the correct level of dihedral can last for months and start virtual wars.
Perhaps – just perhaps – we are guilty of thinking `narrow` when others can step back from it and see the wider view: FS as a practical tool.
I’m shrewd enough to recognise that’s exactly what the Prepar3d concept is all about – the engine as a platform, not as the end-all. But Lockheed Martin still want this as a multi-faceted simulator.
Instead, here we have someone who, by his own admission knows nothing (and cares less) about flight simulation, but spotted the opportunity to make a virtual world presentation about something that has no relationship with that world.
Flight Sim as a tool, not the result of the use of that tool.
Looking at the fine art that some produce from screenshots and the very occasional videos one finds online where one watches for the craft in their construction, not the aircraft and the contraptions, and perhaps there is still much we have to discover.
Not so much about where we are, but rather where we might be.
I have used FSX to prepare for a real world flight on many occasions – I know of several airline pilots who now practice ILS approaches into unfamiliar airports before flying it `for real` and we’ve all read about racers who learned tracks on the X-Box prior to driving or riding the circuit for the first time and in so doing massively shortened the leaning curve, but have any of us really every thought `outside the box` where FS, X-Plane, Rise of Flight or Farm Simulator is concerned?
Could hey be used in our daily lives – our business or personal lives – where we could apply any or all of the elements of the hobby or the skills we have acquired to better ourselves or our colleagues?
Daft innit, when we’ve probably all used Google Maps street view to identify the landmarks, analytical software to predict what business will do, or even animated weather forecasting maps online to help decide whether we’re going to the airshow, or the hairdresser…?
So what might be a positive use of a tool such as Flight Simulator if we could free our minds of the limitations of closeness and familiarity?
Eye/Hand co-ordination for recovering stroke victims?
Map orientation and indirect routing for scouts?
Outdoor travel for the agoraphobic?
Me, I’ve already come up with an idea.
Perhaps you can too?
We all thought that FSX was nearing the end of its useful life, but there’s no time limit on art imitating life, imitating art.
Seems there’s life in the old dog yet…
Happy Desktop Flying!
Simon Evans (`Irev`)
May 2nd, 2012