I’ve been flying my desk for around 30 years. (Just typing that caused a few more gray hairs to form!) However, it’s true. I’ve been fascinated by it my entire life. I remember being in my bedroom trying to get a feel for Flight Simulator 2 on my Amiga, using my joystick and working with a frame rate of maybe 6. Inserting floppy discs to change scenery areas. Good times!
As the technology improved I followed along and even joined a virtual airlines based out of the Bahamas and flew flight with them for many years. (Yes, they have these. Type in “Virtual Airline” in Google if you need to know more.) I was always interested in the small, private bush planes and never got the jazz for the heavy iron. My last foray into flight simming came with Flight Simulator X. I flew off and on and played around with the new amphibian planes. Then, I got distracted by Life, kids and other games. I got the news Microsoft was ending it’s run of Flight sim games and disgruntled by the announcement and a joystick that decided to stop working, I shelved it.
At the end of last year and being a big fan of Steam, I saw that Dovetail games had resurrected FSX and it would now be available through Steam! Bonus of that announcement was it was on sale for $5. So, for my birthday last year, I started flying again.
This time around I decided I would have some fun doing bush flights and, possibly, do the ever present but never attained Flight Around the World. While investigating a way to monitor things like cost of fuel and prices of bush flights I stumbled onto FSEconomy which is a wonderful little “mod” / community. In short, it’s a virtual “real time” world where fellow flight sim pilots make virtual money flying assignments in a digital world. Everything is tracked, money, fuel, ownership of FBO’s and airports and planes are a limited commodity. Matter of fact, you have to start out renting your plane and work up to buying one to have in the virtual world. You also can, if you’re able, to fly in real time weather.
Yeah, guess what I was doing for most of January?
During my initial flights I decided I would revisit my old haunts in Florida and the Bahamas. The weather in the Midwest this time of year was gray and cold enough in real life and I thought a break to the sunny south was in order. A rule I would follow is that I would only be able to leave the last airport where I landed. No jumping around, renting planes and flying wherever I wished. I set out from my hometown airport with a rented Lake Renegade amphibian plane and took jobs along the way heading southward. I loved it.
In Georgia as I searched assignments and flew from airport to airfield to airstrip, I stumbled on a little gem. A DeHavilland Turbo Beaver sitting on a deserted grass airstrip in the middle of nowhere. It had no air time on it’s engine and was sitting there in perfect condition. (FSEconomy tracks airtime and engine maintenance) In fact, it was not owned by another player and was owned by “the system.” It just seemed “stuck” there and unfound. It was a good plane and with it’s 9 passenger capacity a good money maker!
Things move quick in this little virtual world and I was scared someone else might beat me to it. I fired up the Lake Renegade and flew the fifteen minutes to find the airstrip. After landing I realized that as awesome of a bush plane the Beaver can be the airstrip where it sat was VERY short. I had a good time trying to get it out of there without banging it up against a tree!
Yet, I was successful and was now flying southward with a plane I really enjoyed. I pushed further southward.
Near Panama City as I was flying some soldiers into the military base there and fired by the cool random chance of finding the Dehavilland Beaver, the solo gaming/creativity bug hit me. Fueled by too many episodes of Agents of Shield with the family I came up with an idea. “What if,” it whispered, “your pilot gets talked about by the soldiers, gets recommended as a good bush pilot and is contacted by ‘thuper theekrit agency that needs good low-altitude, land anywhere pilots?” Then, what if he gets assignments that require him/me to fly and land in some pretty tricky spots?”
And the final What if?, what if it’s just a ‘thuper ‘threekit group that has ties to the government but is, in fact, international and, of course, they fight crime?
All kinds of crime.
Boom. Done. I’m there!
Using an old technique I had designed to find random spots on Google Earth, I went to work. A few die rolls later and some map consulting and I had my first assignment. I needed to get down to the Bahamas with my rental plane, taking jobs along the way of course, and pick up a team of three people. They would be at a small out of the way Cay and wanted a quiet extraction away from any airports. I was to land, pick them up, and take off all within a fifteen minute window. This forced all sorts of “fun” on me like flight planning, navigation and timing things out so I landed and extracted at the exact time of the assignment. I really didn’t come up with much about the agents I was picking up. Not my job, right? However, the seeds had been planted. I was ready to combine some Solo gaming ideas with Flight Simulator!
A few days later I created another assignment and it turned out to be pretty vanilla. I found my random spot, rolled some dice on a few random tables and built another assignment. I was to pick up some archeologists who needed to get a few “finds” back to a “safe facility” to be researched. My job? Pick them up at a small, nearly deserted island where they had been hiding out/digging for a few weeks and get them back to Nassua. Once there they would grab a larger plane back home. Piece of cake kind of run.
While landed at Nassau, I rolled up another assignment and this one was going to be a challenge. I was headed to Cuba for a quick (and I mean QUICK) pickup at a secluded lake. Afterwards, I would have to fly at 500 feet or below to avoid radar, get out of Cuban airspace and make for the Florida Keys with my agent tucked away safely in the plane.
Not a problem… not a problem at all!
(To Be Continued!)