“How I got started? That’s a tough one!” Bruce Erwin cogitates thoughtfully. He adds, “I probably Googled flight simulators looking for one that ran on my Macintosh computer.
Bruce has been a “Mac person”, as he describes it, since 1989. He was using one of the first non-Intel, flat screen, all in one G-5 iMac’s and said it simply was not enough computer to meet the demands of X-Plane. He says, “I became discontented with Apple’s planned obsolescence each year so I bought a Mac Mini and a 27 inch Samsung Monitor figuring to later add a hot PC for X-Plane. The Intel dual-core Mini with 8 Gigs aboard solved some operational issues. I had to keep the Settings low to facilitate extra input, such as smoothly tuning radios. The X-Plane team was amazed at the performance I managed to wring out of that Mini!”
Retiring after 40 years in the graphic arts industry, he now enjoys sharing his talents several days a week providing multimedia and graphics support for his church. He builds the programs from scratch, not using “the canned stuff most churches use.” For the Sunday Services he uses the Mac Mini or the Saitek flight simulator equipment on the same 27 inch monitor as he uses for X-Plane.
When asked how often he flies X-Plane he said, “I pledged not to make my better half an X-Plane widow, although tempting at times, I know better! I do most of my flying during afternoons, leaving the evenings to enjoy with my wife. Exceptions might be on a Sunday afternoon after church or after church in the evenings for a night flight, with the now darkened room adding to the realism.
He claims to not be a computer gamer, only an X-Plane advocate, further explaining that the deeper a person goes into learning X-Plane the more educational demands are placed on the user, especially the novice fliers.
Bruce noted, “I had to learn the new avionics systems as compared to the VOR navigation systems of my early flying days. X-Plane, used at its limits, will keep private pilots fresh during the winter months when their own aircraft are mostly in the hangar. X-Plane is even good enough for professional pilots to maintain FAA levels of proficiency, plus the user will survive every crash.”
Bruce often beta tests the latest versions for X-Plane Tech Support. He reports “warts and all” immediately back to Randy or Jack, whichever of the two are manning the Support helm, day or night. He can’t say enough kind remarks about these two helpful and patient X-Plane staff members. He adds, “They’re fantastic! I realize it can be a real chore dealing with both flying and computer novices out there in Cyber land. Randy and Jack earn their keep.”
He now runs X-Plane on Windows 8 with a gaming level computer dedicated solely to X-Plane. His system includes an Intel quad-core i7-3770K, 16 GB Ram, HD and SDD, EVGA 2GB, 256 Bit GTX-670 graphics accelerator, and a Corsair 650W power supply upgrade. The base computer is an iBuyPower with a built-in ASRock gaming motherboard. Bruce’s’ immediate goal is to add two more 27-inch monitors.
Bruce “flies”’ mostly private or smaller corporate aircraft. Out of curiosity, he enjoys the ERJ’s and Boeing 777 Pro. He has purchased simulations from among the available corporate and airline aircraft, wrestling with the programming and pre-flight of the 777 Worldliner-Pro. Having a can do attitude, he has recruited a retired 777 pilot’s help. He says the built-in YouTube videos move too fast for his liking.
Carenado’s Baron in 32 Bit, the Bonanza in 64 Bit, and X-Plane’s King Air in 64 Bit are his favorite aircraft for take-offs and landings at numerous airports. He clarifies, “My full ILS non-auto-landing technique still needs lots of work!”
He enjoys any mission or flight theme that can provide a more real-life experience. He recently imagines and prepares for flights into various regional airports as far as 300 miles away, picking up friends for a weekend golf outing or other recreational activity. Bruce adds, “I repeatedly do requisite touch and go practice on difficult runways.” “In real life I once was a Bonanza co-pilot for a corpse over the Smokey Mountains. At least one of us didn’t have to worry about losing an engine over those forests! I also co-piloted a 600 mile night flight in a De Havilland Dove into Chicago’s Meigs Field. What a sight, low over the lighted Windy City. What great memories!”
When asked about his favorite flight, without hesitation he stated, “They’re all good. When flying X-Plane our other world disappears. I’m lost within a virtual dream, not having realized in real life the ambition to be a licensed pilot.” Bruce did solo and has considerable unlogged cross-country. In his early twenties he experienced a near-death illness. That coupled to raising a family, he couldn’t afford to continue flying but he never lost interest in aviation. “Thanks to Austin, Randy, and Jack for everything! They’ve made this old Experimental Aircraft Association and American Bonanza Association member and dreamer of flying as happy as a clam.” He concludes with, “Heck, my EAA and ABA memberships are well worth the outstanding, educational magazines!”