Q & A with Austin Meyer, X-Plane’s Creator

Jennifer Roberts

Question: What was your first experience that got you into aviation?

Austin: Ironically… flying MSFS on an Apple-II!

Q: What type of computer set up do you use? How does it affect how you work or use X-Plane?

A: I am always coding X-Plane on my MacPro, always flying just long enough to test whatever I am coding at the moment. I use a MacPro, but an iMac is really just as good for a fraction of the cost.

Q: What’s the most exciting part of working on X-Plane for you?

A: Ironically, DELETING code and making things SIMPLER.

The ultimate goal is to make the app both simpler and more powerful at once, and make the CODE both shorter (thus less likely to have bugs, typically) and more powerful at the same time. This is tricky to do, but certainly my favorite part…and we have a long ways still to go in this area!

Q: Do you have a favorite aircraft to fly, or a favorite location?

A: Oh, I like the Lancair Evolution that I have in X-Plane (N844X, the one I am currently building in reality). I wrote a blog post outlining a few interesting things about the way the airplane flies.


Q: We have a bit of your bio in the manual, but it stops at the re-naming of X-Plane. Anything exciting been going on since then?

A: So there is so much going on that is exciting that it is just ridiculous… from Steam and Aerosoft distribution to Xavion to a new iPad-based IOS I am writing for X-Plane right now, the new stuff going on is just crazy.

OK, a few details:

-Aerosoft. Aerosoft is widely known as one of the leading producers of add-ons for MSFS. They now distribute X-Plane, both on retail shelves and on Steam. This is great because their support for X-Plane, complete with the add-ons they are making for it, continue to bring X-Plane into the mainstream. As well, the distribution numbers are really good: X-Plane is penetrating the marketplace widely. So, Aerosoft’s add-ons and distribution are really good for X-Plane, and happening now.

-Steam. Handled by Aerosoft, Steam distribution of X-Plane gets the X-Plane in front of a LOT of people, and the digital-download nature of Steam lefts people get the App they want right away… no annoying wait for DVDs to show up by UPS.

-X-Plane IOS for iPad. This is a new App I am just finishing up for iPad (to be released in a few weeks or so) that lets you control weather, location, failures, etc on your desktop copy of X-Plane. This also let you review your flights, etc etc. It is really nice and quick to be able to quickly control X-Plane with an iPad, with its very very quick, user-friendly interface.

-Xavion: Check out www.Xavion.com. This is an App I wrote for iPad and iPhone that guides a (REAL!) airplane down safely to an airport after an engine failure. Xavion has a tiny flight simulator inside of it that constantly imagines the best glide you could make to the best airport you could glide to if the engine were to quit at that exact moment… it does this constantly for the entire flight! Then, if the engine ever DOES fail, the pilot just hits the red button on his iPad and Xavion shows him the best approach it has found so far (as a series of 3-D hoops on a synthetic vision display), and he then follows those hoops down to a safe landing, power off, just as fun and easy as flying through hoops on a video game, but you wind up on the runway, power-off! I have tested it countless times, and it really is amazing. And, now, as I write this, myself and iLevill and TruTrak autopilot are testing a system that lets you log your iPad with Xavion on it into a WIFI hot-spot built into your airplane, and control the autopilot by WIFI on your iPad! That way, Xavion actually FLIES YOUR AIRPLANE DOWN TO THE RUNWAY FOR YOU after engine failure to within just a few moments of touch-down. We will make this update to Xavion publicly available shortly. It is in the final stages of flight test now. So, we live in a day now where our iPhone can bring our airplane down to the best runway after an engine failure… amazing stuff.

Q: Do you have a favorite plug in or add on?

A: Nah… I leave that to each individual.

(This article has been edited for space & clarity.)

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