Retired Navy pilot and airline pilot James (JJ) Brennan was asked how long he has been flying X-Plane. His answer? “A LONG time!” JJ added that he was one of the original X-Plane users. He recalls hearing that X-Plane would be a great resource for his son to practice his instrument currency. His son, now an Airbus pilot, and JJ then became hooked on X-Plane!

Navy Pilot, JJ
(circa) 1958, Navy Pilot, JJ El Centro Ca, Fleet Air Gunnery
Unit known as the ‘FAGU’ later as the well known ‘Top Gun’ outfit

JJ’s aviation career began in 1955 flying in the Navy’s NAVCAD Program, starting in the SNJ, T28 and TV2 series before moving onto the F-9 series, Grumman Panther, and then the Cougar. Later, as a Navy reservist, he decided to attend CAL Poly, earning his business degree. This is when he married his flight attendant girlfriend and now bride of 50 years, Carol. He decided that pursuing a career as an airline pilot instead of a law degree would earn a better income so he interviewed with United. JJ enjoyed flying the DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, 737, and 747. His favorite route to fly while with United was called the ‘Valley Queen Route,’ up and down the west coast. He retired from United after almost 30 years when he was diagnosed with Benign Positional Vertigo, which can cause a spinning sensation.

JJ began his X-Plane flying activities on a PS1 Aerowinx Lenox simulator while his son continued using X-Plane in an Elite simulator in order to maintain proficiency. JJ said they had every X-Plane iteration starting from at least V2. He now uses X-Plane versions 9 and 10, flying every day. When his Airbus pilot son Mike and his two grandkids visit they all enjoy flying X-Plane. Tara, his entrepreneur daughter, has worked for the music recording industry, lived in Ireland, taught for ‘Project Ride’ working with physically challenged students through horseback riding, and is now pursuing her journalistic talents. She also joins with the family in flying X-Plane. JJ exclaimed, “I enjoy sharing X-Plane with anyone and everyone!”

As with his son, JJ believes the biggest benefit to flying X-Plane, other than its entertainment value, would be in maintaining an acceptable level of instrument proficiency. JJ’s favorite X-Plane mission involves flying on autopilot for coupled approaches. He delights in knowing he can still fly the KAITAK approach at the now closed Hong Kong airport (VHHX). This approach requires the pilot to fly along a line of mountains to the island while pointed at another mountain that has a large painted checkerboard sign for reference. The offset localizer requires a 120° turn down between buildings to make the runway. Adding to the challenge – it’s a single runway. JJ said he didn’t like actually flying this approach in the real airplane but sure enjoys flying it in X-Plane.

Critiquing the newest version, 10.20, JJ gives a thumbs up, stating that it is much faster than the virtual 10 release. He also shared his admiration for Austin’s fighting a lawsuit challenging X-Plane’s technology, and says he’s a remarkable person for bringing X-Plane to the world.

JJ concludes: “X-Plane is a wonderful simulator program doing anything you want. It’s amazing how technically faithful the operation of the 747 simulator is to that of the real aircraft. But don’t tell United that anyone can now fly the 747 by using X-Plane! It’s remarkable!”

JJ and Carol
JJ and his bride of 50 years, Carol