Just ask eighty-eight year old Fenton Robb his reasons for using X-Plane. He says, “Like every schoolboy at the time I had the ambition to be a fighter pilot. In 1940 I was a member of the Air Training Corps, serving as the only wireless mechanic ground staff because of my poor eyesight. I was reconciled to forgetting flying for many years when I was drafted into the Royal Navy. But once I was earning enough to join a flying club in Britain I was able to earn ratings in a variety of airplanes.”
Fenton doesn’t pay much attention to time these days. He recalls discovering X-Plane by researching the web and started using it about the time version 7 became available. He upgrades his computer as needed to make sure he has what it takes for uninterrupted flying, and now has the latest version, X-Plane 10. He flies X-Plane about 4 times a week from his lovely home in Scotland, accompanied by his furry co-pilot, Charlie.
Fenton has as varied a flying background as one can image, having trained in instrument flying using a hood while manipulating a simulator contraption which swung about powered by movements of the stick. His primary training began in a Tiger Moth, then he moved up to the Chipmunk and Auster, and then a beloved Champion 7FC Tri- Traveler G ARAR before moving on to flying cross-countries in a Cessna. He shares some of his flying background, “Aerobatics, in the Chipmunk and Tiger, were a great thrill and proved invaluable when recovering from unusual attitudes. Stalls and spins in the more modern club aircraft were a bit disappointing with more of a squelch than a stall. I enjoyed quite a lot of cross country flying in the course of my work but eventually had to give up flying as both cost and eyesight made real flying dangerous to my bank account and other aviators.”
When asked what X-Plane features he uses most often he stated that he enjoys general aviation but then pauses, and adds helicopter landings on an aircraft carrier. He talks with a twinkle in his eyes when sharing his favorite memories flying X-Plane scenarios featuring a Tiger Moth flying over an aircraft carrier. He enjoys keeping the little Tiger Moth flying stationary in relation to the carrier. He said there is very little he would change in X-Plane to provide a more enjoyable experience, adding that the computer upgrades required for newer versions are always well justified because of the enhanced flying. ￼￼He enjoys his flights and gains some personal satisfaction knowing he keeps his “little gray brain cells moving” while sustaining the hand and eye coordination that X-Plane demands. In addition he says the cheerful X-Plane staff and Community Chat Rooms have changed his life forever. He says, “I cannot express enough of my thanks to the ingenious and daring authors of this marvelous flight simulator.”
Fenton continued, “I have regained much of the thrill of piloting from X-Plane and bought new Mac computers to be able to use as many of the features of each new version as possible. I am back in the ‘air’ again, whizzing all over the place, learning about GPS, glass panels, helicopters, firefighting, mid-air refueling, and landing on carriers. I have yet to land on an oil platform or the ‘carrier’ escort but hope springs eternal. I enjoy my daily flights and feel that X-Plane makes a positive contribution to my quality of life. I know this feeling is shared by other pilots. X-Plane is a life preserver!”