Community Experience in Perspective [Part 3]
Almost fifteen years ago,
after purchasing X-plane for the second time, the learning curve quickly asserted itself and it soon became obvious help would be the order of the day. So, rather than contact Laminar (which might have been easier) I took to the internet and starting looking for a resource with a decent Xp forum – and soon ran across the Flight Simulator Network. Back in those days that was a happenin’ place, with all kinds of forums (and sub-forums, even…) and you could spend hours on end chatting in real time with like-minded x-planers about anything under the sun.
Simon and I met there and over the course of a half-year-or-so we talked a lot about starting a blog dedicated to X-plane – and only X-plane – then we got down to putting it together. Thing is, I was spending most of the time on my sailboat on the US east coast, and Simon was located Down Under – with a sixteen hour time difference. Circumstances forced me ashore for a few years and suddenly I had time to commit to the endeavor – and reason to buy a real computer (vs a laptop), and so we were off to the races. Then my dad passed and suddenly I was rotating between North Carolina and Montana, relying on a friend to to let me use a spare airplane of his from time to time…so, there were times I worked on the blog from a laptop – again – but, well, somehow we got it done.
And while the whole blog thing marked a turning point in so many ways, one thought stands out in particular these days…and that’s the evolving nature of friendship. Before the internet friends were more often than not a by-product of our time in school, with kids who lived down the street coming in a close second. College might produce a few friends, and perhaps many people make a few friends at work, too.
Yet it’s funny how the internet in general, and X-plane in particular have been a focal point for developing friends – at least for me, and since Simon and I first started chatting at the FSN. There were a bunch of folks there we were in constant contact with – and several days a week, too, and we’d talk about Xp often enough, but conversations spilled out to cover all sorts of things. I’d be dishonest if I failed to mention that making pub-crawls was a hot topic, but then again one such conversation resulted in a scenery being produced for the Yorkshire Dales that involved just that…land and find the pub…take off for the next village, then land and find the pub. I think the unspoken truth of the matter was that finding the pub meant finding your way to the fridge and popping the top on another, well, you know. The hot topic was “how many landings (i.e., pubs) should we include?”
There have been more “professional” forums, I guess you could say, but – damn! – was that a fun time! My son was in school in London at the time, and one friend from the FSN recommended pubs for him to crawl to – as far away as Exeter! – and one such adventure led to his making a few friendships of his own. Rather like ripples on the surface of a pond, don’t you think? So many unforeseen interactions?
I think the point here, if I may, is that X-plane is an environment that has been remarkably conducive to forming friendships. Maybe because the FSX community is so large, or interests are so diverse, or maybe the whole friendship thing was never as big in that community…whatever the reason…it seems our little community has always been just about the opposite. Maybe because Xp was always the underdog, or perhaps even the red-headed step-child of the Sim community, we were more inclined to share stories about “why we’re here” rather than “over there” with all the people in the FsX forums. That FsX had “a flight model on rails” came up a lot – a whole lot – so much so it almost became a rallying cry – like a lot of people needed a focal point to attach their interest in X-plane to.
I still see X-plane gathering people from all around the world, and sure, we come together to share a passion for flight, but there’s more to it than that. And I think we’re seeing that again with the coming of this new entity: Threshold. People will gather here and talk. Some will share their experience, others will drop by to submit a few screenshots or to just shoot the breeze for a while. Some acquaintances will remain casual; for others real friendships will grow, yet for the life of me I think there’s a little magic going on, too.
It’s like there’s this shared passion to see things through. To see X-plane become the very best there is, and along the way to share the experience with people who know exactly where you’re coming from. You’ll find, if you’re a first timer around these parts, there’s no real need to explain your interest in X-plane to anyone. We know.
Oh, by the way, the Flight Simulator Network is still around. Then again, Threshold is a big idea, and a big place with room for all the ideas you can come up with. Even midnight pub-crawls in Cessna 150s…because we’re that kind of place, too.