FlightSimCon 2015 was the most successful flight simulation show in the US in recent years. Richard Benedikz travelled to the event to find out more.
Flight sim events are an important part of the flight simulation community as it gives us a chance to meet fellow enthusiasts as well as developers, and to share ideas and find out what is new in the industry. They are also a great opportunity to meet our readers and put faces to names. So when I was given the chance to attend the third FlightSimCon convention, held in the New England Museum in Connecticut, it was an opportunity I was not going to turn down.
FlightSimCon is an annual aviation and flight simulation conference that was held over the weekend of June 13 and 14 this year. It was primarily organised by Evan Reiter of Boston Virtual (BVA) who explained: “Boston Virtual ATC was a founding sponsor of FlightSimCon. We have been with the conference from the beginning and are proud to have contributed to the success of the event since 2013.”
He said the first two years were ‘pilot’ years to test out the concept in a few different locations and see what the interest from the region was like. Evan continued: “The event began as a conversation a few years ago between Chuck Wareham, a Boston Virtual Air Traffic Control (ATC) pilot and his wife Nicole Glander, the principal of Glander Associates Event Management.
Nicole said: “After a few years of being privy to Chuck’s many late nights of online flying, I began to notice the special camaraderie between Boston Virtual ATC members.
“One evening, I asked Chuck if flight simmers had an opportunity to network in-person. His answer was: ‘No, not that I know of.’ He presented the idea to Boston Virtual ATC and based on the positive reception, Glander Associates decided to embark upon the first-ever FlightSimCon.”
The convention was held in the main hall, with stands set up next to aircraft on display. More than 20 exhibitors attended the event as well as community groups and organisations like IVAO, VATSIM, Flightsim.com, and of course Boston Virtual ATC which had a large presence at the show with a complement of pilots and controllers. They are smaller compared to IVAO or VATSIM and focus primarily on general aviation traffic and smaller airports, operating in a small but busy airspace.
A2A Simulations was at the show, attended by Scott and Jake Gentile. One of the highlights was A2A demonstrating the highly anticipated Accu-Sim version of the Piper Comanche, the same aircraft Scott Gentile flies. For more information on A2A Simulations, visitwww.a2asimulations.com.
Tony Varela from GoFlight had a number of commercial products on display and Jetline Systems was showcasing the Solo Panel from Spanish company, Virtual-Fly. Monty Rimorin from Saitek had several controllers as well as a full instrument panel on display, fitted with gauges you typically find on a general aviation aircraft.
Jay LeBoff, founder of HotSeat Chassis, was also present with a flight simulator chassis to mount controllers, computer and multiple monitors. The company also builds systems for pilot training and schools for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). For more information, seewww.hotseatsim.com/.
Ray Bédard from True Course Simulations was demonstrating how flight simulation can be used to prepare students for flying lessons to reduce the cost of training. For more information visitwww.tcsims.com/
Other exhibitors included FSFX Packages, the developer of PrecipitFX – a set of realistic textures and effects for improved contrails, rain and snow textures (www.fsfxpackages.com) and iBlueYonder (www.iblueyonder.com).
Other noteworthy exhibits included Sim-Pit Flying who were demonstrating a full-size Cessna 172 cockpit and a mobile four-seat flight simulator built inside a van, made by Nathan Palmer from Nantucket.
Several well-known people in the industry attended the event including CEO of Aerosoft, Winfried Diekmann, Austin Meyer, creator of X-Plane and CEO of PMDG, Robert Randazzo. In addition, Peter Wright from Frooglesim, Greg Sanderson Jetline Systems, Bill Womack from iBlueYonder, Aimee Sanjari from Dovetail Games and D’Andre Newman Owner and Managing Editor of AirDailyX were also present.
The event also hosted several talks by experts in the simulation and aviation industry. Seminars took place throughout both days covering a wide variety of simulation and aviation topics. The show kicked off with a presentation by Peter Wright who talked about his experience with flight simulation and the future of the hobby. First Officer of Shuttle America, Jeffrey Wietholter discussed his journey from flight simming to becoming a Part 121 airline pilot and everyday life on the line.
Robert Randazzo announced the Douglas DC-6 was going into open beta, adding that the company is looking to build a PMDG Simulation Centre in Norfolk, Virginia. The company plans to run several networked versions of the PMDG 737NGX, 747 and the 777. He also said PMDG is aiming to make its products more cockpit-builder friendly, making it possible to run its aircraft on networked computers. Evan Reiter from Boston Virtual ATC ran a discussion for pilots starting out in flight simulation, focusing mostly on hardware, computers and getting the right controllers.
Austin Meyer from Laminar Research along with the X-Plane design team, Ben Supnic, Marty Arant, Chris Serio and Philipp Münzel introduced X-Plane and talked about some of the latest updates to the platform. At the end of the presentation, Austin handed out free product keys for the new download version of X-Plane 10.40.
Finally, Tony Vallillo, a retired American Airlines and US Air Force pilot, described his flying days with the Golden Argosy series back in 2004.
Panel Discussion: The Future of Flight Simulation
The highlight of the show was without doubt the panel discussion with Winfried Diekmann, Robert Randazzo, D’Andre Newman, Peter Wright, Tom Gilmore, Training Coordinator, US Division, IVAO, Nels Anderson from Flightsim.com and Justin Friedland, VP Communications & Marketing, VATSIM.
The panel discussed the future of flight simulation and the plans of the X-Plane and FSX platforms as well as how third-party developers will work in the future. The current time was described as a ‘renaissance’ in flight simulation – overall, the feeling was very positive. The panel discussion concluded with a Q&A session.
Since the inaugural show three years ago, FlightSimCon has grown from a small gathering of enthusiasts to an event with over 320 visitors, 19 exhibitors, 31 sponsors and 16 speakers attending this year. Compared to 40 visitors in 2013 and 80 in 2014, this year the show can only be described as a huge success. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a great opportunity for enthusiasts to share their interest in aviation and fight simulation and to meet with fellow flight simmers, put names to faces and catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
To help convey the atmosphere at the show, what follows are a few comments made by some of the attendees. Let’s first hear from Scott Gentile – CEO of A2A simulations: “We really enjoyed this show, in some ways, more than any other display we’ve done. Everyone there was crazy about aircraft and flight simulation, and being surrounded by some of the industry professionals just made for an outstandingly warm event with great networking contacts. The best part was that it felt like a big family event.
Aimee Sanjari, Brand Manager at Dovetail Games said: “This was Dovetail Games’ first year at FlightSimCon and I was really impressed with the calibre of the exhibition and presentations. Interacting with the flight simulation community is of the utmost importance to us, and FlightSimCon provided a fantastic opportunity to do that. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Mark Hair, ‘Airbeater’ from Eastern Hops gave me his impression of the event: “This was my first visit to the convention and I felt it was a smashing success. It was also a great opportunity to network with many other flight simmers. I also enjoyed the seminars throughout both days. They were fun, enjoyable and informative. The vendors and exhibitors who displayed their wares and services should be commended and supported, for it is they who are making our hobby more immersive and enjoyable. Evan and Nicole did an amazing job coordinating the entire event from start to finish and I am already looking forward to seeing everyone next year.” We at PC Pilot very much enjoyed the show – the atmosphere was excellent, the venue was superb and personally I can’t wait for next year. Roll on Flight SimCon 2016.
By Richard Benedikz