Last Updated on December 7, 2021
The Dream that Started it all
As a kid around 4 years old I used to have some severe allergies. The only thing that would clear them up would be my dad taking me for a drive in the car. At the time we lived near LaGuardia Airport in New York and he’d often take me to the end of the runway (which was allowed at the time) and we’d park and watch the planes taking off and landing. It always made me feel better, and sparked my love of airplanes.
We later moved to Hong Kong and as I was growing up my school bus would pass by Kai Tak airport and I would always climb over everyone to get a clear view of the runway. If I was lucky, a Cathay Pacific 747 would pass just over us at just the right time on final. That made me want to know everything about the 747, and luckily there were a couple of Cathay 747 pilots who were our neighbors so I picked their brains every chance I could.
As I grew up, we moved back to New York and with LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark in the area there were always all types of aircraft flying over our house. But the extra occasional treat was the weekend flight of the Concorde out of JFK which you could tell was flying over by sound alone. Looking up, it always passed over with the grace of a swan. It was a sad day indeed when they stopped flying.
All these things made we want to become a pilot and so…
Real World Flying
At age 15 I started flying lessons in a Cessna 152, and later a Cesnna 172, out of Long Island McArthur Airport (KISP) in the busy New York airspace. My dad would drive me to the airport because I couldn’t yet legally drive a car. Then, a few days after I turned 16 I soloed. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face that day.
At 17 I got my Private Pilot’s License (PPL) and spent the next year flying around the New York area, out to Montauk Point lighthouse at the end of Long Island, New York, or spending the day at Block Island beach. Those were great memories.
When I graduated High School, I was off to a military Academy where I had hoped to eventually fly for the military. It gave me a chance to fly gliders, and a opportunity to ride in a T-37 trainer jet, a highlight of my Academy time. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out due to some medical issues that grounded me permanently from military fligh, so sadly I never did make it further.
Flying was all I ever wanted to do, and the primary reason I went to the Academy, so I suddenly had to find something else to do. After serving my commitment in the military I decided to move on to a career in Information Technology.
Sadly, I never did get back to pursuing my real world flying as my computer career and a side business took off leaving little time for anything else. It has now been over 20 years since I last flew a real aircraft. Maybe someday I’ll get back to it.
My Start with Simulators
High School was when my passion for flight simulation started. From the early days when my friend’s dad would let me use his Sublogic Flight Sim with wireframe graphics for hours on end , tohrough FS 4 which was amazing at the time, all the way up through today’s Prepar3d, I have followed the simulator world closely.
Over the last 15-20 years building a full sized simulator at home has started to become a real possibility. Replica sim parts vendors are now producing ready-made plug-and-play parts that make it much easier to start, and powerful computing hardware is pushing the envelope in terms of visuals. Suddenly visions can become reality.
During this time the Boeing 737 became such a popular sim for people to build because of the availability of parts and smaller size, but also the aircraft’s versatility getting in and out of small and large fields alike. There’s still some old-school components but it has modern avionics. It’s still being produced in large numbers today, and continuously being updated. And it’s arguably the most popular jet of all time. Certainly one that is, and will continue to be, a workhorse of the industry. So naturally I gravitated toward that air-frame and it quickly became my favorite aircraft.
The Long, Slow Build Progress
I started out like most with just a desktop yoke and cheap rudder pedals for a little while. As my affinity for the Boeing 737 grew, I wanted to start feeling more immersed. So I bought a replica instrument panel from FlightDeck Solutions in Canada, and added a Precision Flight Controls Saab yoke with some decent rudder pedals from the now defunct FlightLink. Over the next 12 years I continued adding little by little to that realism…a cockpit shell, the throttle, the overhead, the center console, real seats, and on and on.
It has been and will continue to be a long, slow road. There’s ALWAYS something more to do, to try, to redo when something better comes out, to remake into something better, and so on. This is definitely one of those “the journey is more important than the destination” things and that’s ok. It’ll be done when it’s done. In the meantime it’s a serious labor of love.
If you’re looking for advice, I’ll try to impart what I have learned during my process throughout this site. Other builders are far more advanced than I. I’m not an expert at wiring, nor wood building, nor aircraft systems, etc. But I do have some engineering skill and the ability to think through designs. That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes (I make plenty) and wish I had done things differently in hindsight. That comes with the territory. There is always a better, more efficient way to do things. Sometimes you just have to do it once to learn what you didn’t know so you can do it better next time.
Remember, this is a HUGE time investment, I mean HUGE. There are so many aspects to this hobby that take time to learn, design, build, and implement that it will take time AND MONEY. You can do it “cheap” and you can go all out and spend a fortune. It just depends on how realistic you want to be and balance that with your budget.
Also remember, depending on how obsessive you are about it, this hobby WILL strain relationships. Significant others rarely understand the commitment and time needed to build something like this so make sure they understand what you are trying to do and what it will take, and that they are comfortable with it before you start or you may regret it later. Don’t forget to stick your head out of the sim room regularly. You’ll be amazed how fast time flies when you are engaged in this hobby.
By the way, if you’re wondering where my handle “MistyBlue” comes from, that was the name I gave to my old Harley Davidson which was a beautiful deep blue.