When I first flew X-Plane not that long ago – (10.20), what a revelation. I had occasionally worked with supplying data for professional flight simulators over the years (including the SAAB Gripen) and so I had some exposure to some of the dedicated systems. Suffice to say I was blown away by the performance (on my MacBook Pro!), the flight model, and the beautiful scenery engine.
The realism of X-Plane reawakened a fascination with aviation that I have had since childhood. My father was a navigator in the USAF and my uncle was a Navy pilot and then a commercial pilot for many years.
On top of the family connection, a neighbor of a family friend worked at Lockheed (responsible for the A-12 – SR-71 radar cross-section) and was also an accomplished aerobatics pilot. Thanks to a laid-back mom and those pre-litigious times (this was LA in the early 1970s!), I had the good fortune to experience just about every positive and negative g maneuver that a Cessna 150 Aerobat could handle. I remember we even flew out to San Miguel Island and landed on the beach for a picnic.
While getting my PPL was near the top of my list for a long time, other interests and twists and turns put that on indefinite hold.
One of these other interests, which became my career, was remote sensing (together with digital terrain modelling).
So X-Plane brings together two great interests of mine. I get to recreate some really interesting places in the world. And then fly really low and fast over them. It’s a lot of fun.