When I rediscovered my love for civilian flight simulators, I was pretty torn between two products that ran on all the platforms I use (Mac, Windows, and Linux): FlightGear and X-Plane. FlightGear has the advantage of being free and open source. X-Plane was known for being an excellent commercial product, albeit somewhat pricey at $80 (at a time). Now, in general, I love open source software but I'm not an open source bigot -- I use what works best for me within my budget. If that happens to be open source, then great. If it's a commercial package that fits within my budget, I'll go that way. However, what made things much more interesting in this situation is that X-Plane 9 is currently available for $30. While $80 was a little hard for me to justify, being the cheap bastard that I am, $30 was something I was willing to consider.
Anyway, after struggling to use the keyboard and mouse to fly a plane in FlightGear and X-Plane (whose free demo I've been playing around with, but more on that in another post), I finally felt like I needed something better. I was originally looking at a $150 or so yoke with rudder paddles (kind of like the paddle shifters in some sports cars) as getting proper rudder pedals alone would cost around $150 on top of whatever yoke/joystick/etc., I purchase. However, I couldn't justify the cost at my current level of simming, so I did some shopping around and settled on the Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X which I was able to purchase for about $33 from Amazon.com.
Ever since my first flight on an airplane at age 6 (actually, even before, but I think it really hit after flying for the first time), I've been utterly fascinated with flying. Right around the same time (not sure if it was before or after), I also discovered the existence of flight simulator software for personal computers. Between my love of planes and computers, I pretty much promised myself that if/when I finally got a computer I would make sure that one of the first things I got for it was a flight simulator.
It's funny that I'm considering the possibility of being a luddite, given how I work in tech and generally love gadgets. However, as I've gotten more "mature," I've become somewhat more skeptical about the latest and greatest technologies. It's not like when I was just a "dumb kid" and fell for anything that I thought looked awesome in the store or in a magazine (mostly with regards to video games). I mean, when I first saw demo units set up for the Phillips CD-I (geeze, I was dumb) or 3DO (okay, less dumb here, but that machine really didn't go anywhere either), I for some unfathomable reason wanted those consoles (using the term very loosely with respect to the CD-I). This probably culmonated in my purchasing of a Sega CD, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast (I was a huge Sega fanboy back in the day and probably still would be, to a much more reasonable extent, if they still made consoles). Hey, at least I didn't buy a 32X! Anyway, being somewhat burned by these purchases (although all of them gave me some of my all time favorite gaming experiences, so it wasn't all bad) left me of the opinion that should probably wait a bit before purchasing new technologies just to make sure they aren't half baked and won't be abandoned by their makers (which admittedly I haven't always followed — I did buy a generation 1 iPhone, but only after the price drop).
Wow… This is my first real blog post on my new, real blog. Bear with me here.