FSWeekend 2024 - A New Era

March 22, 2024

Beyond the Radar: The relatively unknown gem

“FSWeekend? Never heard of it. It’s the largest Flightsim event in the world?” Yep. Many heard of this event for the first time this year. I must admit that I was one of them. I got the feeling that I “have to be there” after the third contact in our niche industry asked me if I would attend, and I embarrassingly said I had not heard of it before, it became clear to me that I had to go. And boy, would I have regretted it if I didn’t!

FSweekend is held at the Lelystad Aircraft Museum “Luchtvaartmuseum Aviodrome” (EHLE), 12 feet below sea level. The Museum is impressive and worth a visit on its own. I have deliberately not added any significant images from the museum itself. This location is a must if you’re even remotely interested in aviation.

Lelystad Aircraft Museum “Luchtvaartmuseum Aviodrome" is spectacular in itself. If you are even remotely interested in aviation you have to give it visit.

We arrived at the event venue early Friday, stepping into a space bustling with activity as exhibitors meticulously assembled their booths. Set against the unique backdrop of a museum housing a plethora of veteran aircraft and aviation history. The atmosphere was enthusiastic, and the exhibitors were eager to start the weekend showcasing their latest projects or products. Each participant added their unique touch to the sprawling event landscape under the watchful wings of historical giants like the iconic Constellation as a centrepiece in the main hall. This impressive aircraft, among others, provided a stunning setting for the exhibits, with booths strategically placed under and beside these antique aviators.

Visitors to the event came early. At the opening hours the line was already long. (Photo by: Ryan Hoogweg)
The entrance hall to the Museum was constantly busy. Almost 5000 visitors entered the doors over the two days of the event. (Photo by: Ryan Hoogweg)

The event was thoughtfully spread across the main hangar, neighbouring rooms and buildings, with a cafeteria and playground for children close to the main entrance. Hardware exhibitors were placed in the main hangar, while flight sim shops and developers had dedicated rooms to showcase their latest innovations. The virtual airlines (VA's) and enthusiast groups, such as HCC Flightsimulator—a Dutch flight simulation group boasting over 900 members (and about 34000 for the entire hcc club, spanning the Netherlands and Flanders) —and the 31st Virtual Fighter Squadron, were given unique spaces in the old Schiphol terminal building. This variety of exhibitors underscored the diversity within our community, providing a platform for historical appreciation and exploring future technological advancements. The thoughtful layout ensured that each segment of the flight simulation community could find their niche within the event's vast expanse. It was not an easy task, but it was well executed, in my opinion. 

(Jamie, aka London Pilot showing how it's done. Photo by: Ryan Hoogweg)
At times the theatre was packed and many did not get in to the most popular talks. There will probably need to be seat reservations for next events. (Photo by: Ryan Hoogweg)
HCC Flightsimulator community in the old Schiphol terminal building.
Overlooking the main hall with hardware exhibitors among the museum collections.
Some images are from before the doors opened. I took too few pictures of the booths. But it was packed once they did open and getting good images on a tight schedule was not easy. (Some images are provided by Haithun from our DIscord Community, who joined me for the event.)

Notably, the FSElite team had established a significant presence, branding the Theatre with their name and creating an engaging space for their activities, dubbed the 'FSElite Theatre.' I connected with Jannes and Niels, the event's organisers, who were instrumental in navigating the venue's rich offerings. I was thoroughly impressed by the events in the theatre as well. Except for some audio challenges for the stream that resulted from networking issues, I did not have the impression that this was Jannes and Niels's first year at the venue's helm. The organisers and the FSElite team served attendees and remote viewers a magnificent event from the Theatre.

This experience at FSWeekend underscored the vibrant dynamics of flight simulation events. Beyond the competitive landscape, a profound sense of unity and shared enthusiasm binds us all. The event was not just a showcase of technologies or achievements; it was a celebration of a community coming together, sharing knowledge, and fostering connections that extend beyond the confines of the event, all under the grandeur of aviation history.

I am honored to have been invited to this panel on Sunday. From the left: Calum (FSElite), Magnus (me), Andreas (CruiseLevel), Jamie (London Controller) and Jordan (FSElite) - (Photo

A Brief History of FSWeekend

Disclaimer: I am aware that there is a lot more to the history of Flight simulation. I am merely scratching the surface of a rabbit hole that has a plethora of connections, groups and happenings all over the world since the 1980s. This section will only cover some of the main events that relate to FSWeekend. Some of the information might be translated or interpreted falsely. So please bear with me, and if you have more information or corrections, you are welcome to comment in the comment section.

FSWeekend is one of the most significant get-togethers in the flight simulation community. And its origin history is fascinating. In 1991 a dedicated group of flight simmers gathered under the name “Interstate” as a local community gathering. The dedicated simmers brought their computers and setups and flew together. They held an old classic LAN party for flight simmers where they wrote their own LAN software to fly in competition challenges against each other. In a sense, they pioneered online flying, and perhaps the best-known name today, Mathijs Kok from PMDG, was a very central part of these early years and has since been Flight Simulation history. 

A young Mathjis Kok can be seen central left. (Photo from fshistory.simflight.com)

“Interstate 1” occurred on August 28, 1991, in Mathijs Kok's living room in Amsterdam. The event was organised as a race between the participants, where they were instructed to fly in stages along the east coast of the US from N.E. Philadelphia to Congo Town in the Bahamas using subLOGIC's USA East scenery. While only the default Cessna 182GR was at their disposal, the organisers introduced challenges like bad weather along the way. There was no fixed route, and the stages lasted a maximum of 1.5 hours with breaks of at least 5 minutes. The total duration was approximately 12 hours. There were two teams of 8 pilots each, who all had to fly one leg each based on a flight plan the sim pilots submitted in advance. The team captains flew the final leg. The event was hosted and organised by Mathijs Kok and Hans Hoekstra, who delivered their ATC by walking around to the different pilots.

(Image taken from fshistory.simflight.com)

These Interstate events became a tradition, and throughout the 1990s, events were held at different locations, both in the Netherlands and Europe. The events became more organised as they grew, and different Flightsim groups attended and hosted them. Lectures were held on everything aviation-related, and at one point, they started engaging event designers to create intricate and custom “adventure races” and challenges for the participants. 1995 marked the first year of the “full weekend” events. It was organised with participants from Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the USA. This event had approximately 1500 attendees and was most likely the largest of this era.

In 1996 and 1997, however, there were no large FS meetings or Interstate races in the Netherlands. Instead, there were local races and international FSFAN Interstate races abroad. But in 1998, the “Friends of the Aviodrome” foundation revived the Flight Simulator Days in the Netherlands. Together with DFSO (Dutch Flight Sim Organisation), they recreated what would continue as FSWeekend from 1999 until now. The philosophy behind the event in 1999 differentiated a lot from that of the previous events since there were no lectures or races. At this time, the entire Flight Simulator world had changed. With the Internet, home computers, peripherals, and the all-around accessibility to simulation in general, not to mention the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, many new and more casual simmers entered the hobby. For hardcore enthusiasts, online ATC and Virtual Airlines have emerged over the Internet. So, there became less of a need for traditional gatherings.

If you speak Dutch (or don’t mind using Google translator) you can find a full flight simulation history and event descriptions here: LINK
For a broader history of flight simulation you can visit this site.

Both seems to be stuck in 1995 design expression, so don't expect a design buffet, but they are functional and give a good overview of our hobby's history.


This year's event marked the 19th consecutive event in a row, which was only interrupted two times: by the move of the Museum from Schiphol to Lelystad in 2003 and the closure during the pandemic. Twenty years later, and after 17 years of organising the event, Frans Broekhuijsen retired in 2023. Up until this point, the event had focused on the Dutch community. Simmers worldwide attended, but invitations and all information were in Dutch. This changed under the new leadership of Niels Voogd and Jannes van Gestel this year, and it attracted a much larger audience as a result. Also, in the absence of Cosford as the best-known European event, the hunger for a new and pure flightsim convention contributed to a massive surge of attendees. Still, FSWeekend has historically attracted over 3,000 visitors annually, which shows how large the flight simulation community is central Europe and the Netherlands in particular. This year, however, the event has had close to 5000 visitors over the weekend, around 1500 more than usual. On Saturday, the restaurant was all out of Hamburgers in the early afternoon and for Sunday they had to change the menu completely to serve what they were able to get a hold of. And it was delicious. I don't think anybody noticed any struggle from the event and museum crew. Impressive work.

I sadly don't remember when this simulator is from. I remember being surprised. (1978?) It has been "patch upgraded" here and there through out the years but works perfectly. Today it runs a 737 in P3D with a 747 Throttle Quadrant and an DC9 overhead Panel (If I recall correctly). This is a permanent installation at the museum and we were invited in for a test run.

The new generation

Niels Voogd (28) and Jannes van Gestel (30) were volunteers at the past events of FSWeekend that were led by Frans Broekhuijsen. One of their most significant and impacting changes to this year's event might have been the change to the English language on information and invitations. They also created a brand new website and a new Discord server to bring the event to 2024 community reach standards. 

I managed to grab them both for an interview on Sunday when the Theatre had cleared out, and the Museum was calmer. I awkwardly recorded it all with the intention of only using the audio, but looking at the footage, I sorely regret not making it a proper video from the patio surrounded by the museum’s space collection, overviewing the spectacular backdrop of the veteran aircraft on the main floor. You would then also get to see the dynamic these two have together and the incredible warmth they both extrude. 

The organisers: Jannes on the left and Niels on the right.

Questions for FSWeekend Organisers:

What was your favourite part about the weekend? 

Jannes took the word and said that, for him, the answer has two parts: “Running the technical side of the theatre was super fun and a great experience, but most importantly; All the companies, communities and visitors came together, and you got to meet all of these interesting people”. “And also,” Niels remarks, “not just meeting people yourself but observing others make that connection as well was really rewarding. Being able to introduce people to each other and being that connection between different people gave a special meaning to the event for us.”

“You also find out a lot that you didn’t know about certain companies.” Jannes continues, “Like ToLiss, I hadn’t realised that he was just one guy. I thought it was a larger team developing that plane. While other companies, you never really knew how big they are. Navigraph, for instance, shows up with a huge group, and you get a better understanding of how the companies in this industry work. That was a very valuable experience.”

What is one of the more challenging things in planning an event of this scale?

They both look at each other and Niels clearly knows what was his top item on that list. “For me, this year, the logistics. We introduced a new system for the logistics to have everything in the right place at the right time. The careful planning of the event is especially important when you have to keep in mind that this is a museum with a collection of items of very high value. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of communication with the museum curators to make sure that nothing gets damaged. We managed to streamline the process so everyone involved was happy. It’s a very boring part of organising, but such a huge task. Other than that, it was a challenge to get a good representation among the exhibitors of what flight simulation is in 2024. To make sure we have the right people here, the right companies and clubs and I believe we came a lot closer to that goal this year.” Jannes adds: “I really hope that they all agree so they choose to come back next year.” (As an outside observer, I sure believe they do.)

Any other challenges that come to mind?

Jannes takes a breath and explains: “There are things that aren’t really possible at a location like this, like a good internet connection is something that comes up every year. It gets better, but it’s something that we know that we just have to deal with. Many of the exhibitors want wired Internet and that’s just not possible here since the museum doesn’t want cables going through their collections. So we need to provide Wifi which gets saturated quickly and becomes slow. Some exhibitors can connect to the mobile network, but others have equipment that is challenging or outright impossible to route well enough to work. The museum is working on this topic, but it’s not an easy one.”

Niels contributes another thought: “The sheer volume of people this weekend was insane. We had about 1500 more people this weekend compared to last. And that brings with it a whole set of new problems. Parking became a problem and had to be solved and food in the cafeteria got sold out. But those are problems that are handled by the museum, so this isn’t really our feat. But the feeling that we are all a team that works together is strong. If they are in trouble, we are in trouble and vice versa. For the visitors, there is no difference. We can’t praise the museum staff and volunteers enough."

The location here at the museum is kind of a given since it has been held here for so many years. But if FSWeekend were to grow out of it. Let's say 10.000 people came. Would you move to a new location? And if so: what location would come to mind?

Both look at each other and shake their heads, and Niels explains: “No, no, no, no, we are so proud of and appreciate the cooperation with the museum. I see a lot of potential for growth here, and we’ll do our utmost to make it happen at this location.” Jannes bounces in: “If we really were to grow to that much, we will have to rely much more, or even solely on presales so that we can plan on a fixed amount of people, and then it’s just a matter of organising it all. This time around, we sold somewhere between one-third to half of our tickets online. So the more that we sell online, the better we can prepare. There is still a lot of unused space that we can use as well. While we spread the exhibitors out much more this year, there is room for many more.” (I am happy to hear them say this. The museum makes for a unique part of the event. And historically there is no equal as far as I know.)

Looking to the future, are there any new features or expansions planned for FSWeekend?

“We’ve not really planned the next event yet. We have ideas, and there will be some changes and additions but nothing is solidified yet. All we know for sure is that we will probably arrange the next event in exactly one year.” This was confirmed a couple of days after the event as they published this announcement: 

“After an extremely successful FSWeekend with almost 5000 visitors, the FSWeekend team is very excited and happy to announce that we will be back at the Aviodrome Aviation Museum in Lelystad, The Netherlands, next year on 15 & 16 March 2025 for the next edition of FSWeekend! Mark your calendars now and we hope to see you there in 2025! FSWeekend 2025 Dates Saturday, March 15, 2025 - Venue open from 10:00 till 17:00 Sunday, March 16, 2025 - Venue open from 10:00 till 17:00”

Are you excited about anything regarding the flight sim world this year?

(And here, my video of the interview is cut off. The following answers from Jannes and Niels are from recollection and notes only. Next year I will be much better prepared. This trip to Lelystad was very hastily planned, and my preparations, as I was also travelling alone, were minimal.)

Both mention Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 as something they really look forward to. 

What advice would you give to someone attending FSWeekend for the first time?

Make it a full weekend. There is so much to see that one day might not be enough. If it is your first time here, there is the museum in itself and with all the exhibitors, you might have a hard time getting through it all. You’ll also have the chance to put yourself up on the list to test one of the simulators and motion platforms to get that experience. 

Closing comments

All in all, this was a huge success for everyone. Many of the exhibitors sold out their stock. We saw Marius from Aerosoft hauling boxes from their transporter and he'll probably bring a larger one next year. Or two. As mentioned, the museum restaurant was out of burgers relatively early on Saturday and the museum was filled with a huge amount of children and young aspiring pilots who will remember this weekend for the rest of their lives. Friendships have been created and solidified among everyone, from exhibitors to visitors and across the community. The atmosphere and engagement among everyone is something you need to experience at least once in your lifetime. (If you've come this far in this article then you know this applies to you tenfold). And once you have experienced an event like this, you will want to come back. It is here you get a wake-up call and meet the silent majority that avoids the online banter. For someone who works in this niche hobby and mainly online, I certainly needed this.

I believe this marks the start of a new era for the incredible history of flight simulation that FSWeekend represents. Just as this event evolved from being a LAN party in a living room, to a huge racing event and to a major Dutch exhibition event, this might be the next step in the evolution of flight simulation conventions. Some might not like the new direction FSWeekend is taking, but as long as the history and communities that contributed to this event won’t be forgotten, I can’t think of a better venue to pioneer the next generation of events than FSWeekend. Honour the past. Build for the future. 

Almost one week later I am still buzzing from the event. I met old and sorely missed faces, and I made a bunch of new friends. I am in awe of the Dutch community, and I am proud to have the largest flight sim event to date right here in Europe. Next up is the well-known and established household name; FSExpo in Las Vegas in June and I firmly believe that there is room for at least two more events of this size as long as they are well spaced out in the year. FSWeekend is now one of them. Evan Reiter, one of the organisers of FSExpo (FSA - Flight Simulation Association), visited FSWeekend, and I am sure he is just as impressed as I am with it all. See you in Las Vegas, buddy! =)


Again: Ryan Hoogweg - thank you for the many photos (visit his Instagram: @rhighway20) and Jannes and Niels Of course| Evan from FSA | Calum from FSElite - always good to see you again | Hervè and the crew at MotionXP - thanx for the ride! | Sebastian from Mobiflight | Magnus from Navigraph | Winfried and Marius from Aerosoft | Delanie, Thompson and Philipp from Laminar Research | All the on site crew, both for the event and the museum | and many many more!

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