Question: What’s your title with X-Plane?
Tyler Young: As a small company, everyone around here wears lots of hats. I’m primarily a software developer working on X-Plane Desktop, but I’m also the resident web developer (for both X-Plane.com and the Scenery Gateway) and one of the handful of people that keep our marketing on track.
Q: Can you provide a little background on yourself?
TY: I’ve been writing X-Plane code for a little over 2 years now. Before that, I was a freelance web developer, and I still do a bit of that on the side. As a college student, I swore to myself I would never get a programming job (a funny thing for a Computer Science major to do!), because debugging drove me crazy. These days, though, I feel like the creative side of programming is enough of a positive to offset the pain of debugging for me. 🙂
Q: What was your first experience that got you into aviation or X-Plane?
I grew up in a family of pilots. My great grandpa was an airline captain with TWA for 30+ years, my grandpa is a CFI, and my dad is a private pilot, so it was kind of inevitable that I would get involved in aviation in some form.
I remember flying X-Plane as a kid with my dad—it must have been X-Plane 5 or something—and my dad being so frustrated that all I wanted to do was crash the planes. (I would have just lost my mind back then if I’d had X-Plane Mobile’s crash sequences!) At some point, that fiendish interest in crashing planes turned into wanting to actually fly them well.
Q: What type of computer set up do you use? Any hardware or accessories you couldn’t live without?
TY: I develop primarily on my 27-inch iMac or my 15-inch Macbook Pro.
Here’s what my “office” looks like today:
Left to right, those are: Macbook Pro, my second 27-inch monitor, my iPad, my iMac, and my Saitek Pro Flight yoke.
Things I couldn’t live without? My second monitor, for starters. It’s wonderful to be able to edit code on one monitor and run X-Plane on the other. My keyboard & mouse are big ones, too. As a guy who types 8+ hours a day, I could never go back from my mechanical keyboard (an old model Das Keyboard)—it just feels great to type on, and the USB ports on the side are a big plus. I also couldn’t get by without my mouse—I love my Logitech Performance MX, although I’ve heard the new MX Master is a nice improvement on the one I have.
Q: Does this differ greatly when using X-Plane for work vs. fun?
TY: Oh, right, you wanted to know about flight controls! 😀
Well, the keyboard and mouse still apply, but past that, I’m really happy with my Saitek Pro Flight yoke. For the $150 or so I paid, it’s really solid, and the throttle quadrant is a nice bonus. I’d love to get my hands on one of the new HOTAS systems… the Saitek X-55 looks like it’d be a lot of fun for flying carrier ops.
Q: What’s the most exciting part of working on X-Plane for you?
TY: Far and away, it’s the joy of hearing from people who use the systems I’ve worked on. It’s an amazing feeling to go into work and know I’m going to make somebody’s day with the feature I’m developing.
Q: Do you have a favorite aircraft to fly, or a favorite location?
TY: I love bush flying in the sim—give me a little Piper Cub and a tiny mountain ridge, and I’ll fly touch-and-goes all day. The area around Juneau, Alaska is great for this.
I also really like the challenge of a short runway. The airport at Lukla, Nepal (VNLK, near the base of Everest) is a great example of this—high in the mountains, only 1700 feet long, with a 10 degree slope to it. You land on the uphill direction, then have to turn around to take off on the downhill!
Q: Do you have a favorite plug in or add on?
TY: I don’t get to try out as many add-ons as I’d like to these days. (It’s killing me that I still haven’t gotten the IXEG 737!) I’ve been flying Carenado’s V35 Bonanza for a long time now, though, and as somebody who’s always loved the V-tail Bonanza, it’s fantastic.
Q: Anything else you’d like people to know?
TY: Coffee! X-Plane wouldn’t get written without coffee! 😀
Lately, I’ve been making cold brew almost exclusively. It’s totally different from brewing hot coffee and icing it, but I like it a lot. (If you’ve got a French press and 12 hours, you already have everything you need to try it yourself.)