2:51 PM

But wait, it gets better…

I’ve recently upgraded to the latest, greatest X-plane, which has a plug-in you can download and install that lets you fly online with other X-plane flyers. Everyone can see all the planes in real-time, but wait, it gets better.

When you login, you have to claim an N number (I am N758 Gulf Bravo, just like the 172 XP I really fly) and there are actually guys out there who are playing Air Traffic Control...and “talk” to the X-plane pilots via text messaging on screen.

On my first simulated flight a few nights ago, it was only me and “Los Angeles Center”. He assigned me a frequency, and we “talked” while he helped me learn by assigning me vectors and altitudes around the LA basin. Pretty awesome stuff.

But wait, it gets better still. These X-plane flyers actually organize “fly-ins” and post the info about them in the X-plane.org forums. So then a bunch of guys go and “stage” their plane on the ramp at that airport, and one by one, ATC clears them for takeoff and they fly with the others to a different airport and then they set up in the pattern and land…all the while “talking” to ATC.

Un freakin’ believable.

Anyway, I ended my first session with LA Center by completely blowing the runway end at KBUR (Burbank) while landing in my King Air 350. The police, fire and press all showed up (not really) because I squished a Volkswagen beetle full of nuns (not really).

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