It's been a long COVID-driven dry spell for travel. As I write this, knowing many people have sacrificed and lost much more than us, I do quietly lament the sad reality that we've had to cancel two airplane-based vacations as a result of this pandemic. In fact, in an alternate COVID-free universe, I should be in Florida right now.
Circling the San Francisco Bay over the Golden Gate Bridge.Microsoft Flight Simulator X (2006)
No matter. And we'll make do ...and simply be grateful that a lost vacation and some boring days stuck at home are the worst we've had to suffer thus far.
Yet... boredom. And a few weeks ago I was bluntly reminded (by the deluge of YouTube videos that appeared in my feed) that Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, the latest in a long line of a beloved software gaming series dating back to my own youth, was arriving on PCs shortly. Very shortly. It is in fact being launched at midnight tonight. My internet will be busy while I sleep downloading the pre-ordered one hundred and fifty gigabyte install so that -- over the next few evenings -- I can begin enjoying this title along with every other middle-aged gamer nerd who will be diving in along side me. (Or is it suiting up? Taking off?)
In the last few weeks, in eager anticipation of launch, I've watched about 30 hours of video, read through the software specs and features lists countless times, bought a new flight stick for my computer, shared my excitement with fellow gamers (and also a friend who is/was a pilot), and doubtless driven my family crazy with my random conversations on the topic of flight sims, world-simulation, cloud computing, and more... like an eight-year old telling his mom the amazing things that his new toy can do. I even (impatiently?) installed the now-seemingly-ancient Microsoft Flight Simulator X (MFSX) the previous instalment in this series and a game released waaaaay back in 2006, fourteen years ago. I installed it, mostly, because wanted to try out my new joystick, but it had the secondary benefit of re-calibrating my expectations about how much the tech has changed in a decade and a half. It's going to be a generational leap in amazing. MFSX was fun... but it was like digging into my PS2 library and trying to pretend to enjoy some now poorly-aging retro games.
But what to do with this new game?
Sure, I could simply open it up... learn to fly... explore a virtual simulation of the actual whole flipping planet Earth like no other simulation has ever accomplished... and just enjoy some general aviation. I could call it some virtual sightseeing, and just play... or?
Or, I could build on my past experience with flight sims (having played at least half of the previous versions and have yet to crash any planes in my recently reinstalled MFSX) and maybe, just maybe jump into with both wings... be a curious, adventurous, and set out on an virtual vacation around the world. A stuck-at-home by COVID, virtual flight around the planet. As in, I could load up a profile, plane and my local airport and see how far I can get, point to point, as if I was really on a kind of trip, learning the nuances of the game as I go.
So, this is my prelude.
Tomorrow (assuming the game installs and I'm able to set myself up properly) I'm leaving on a virtual vacation, posting some (most or all?) updates on this site as I travel. Screenshots. Flight logs. A to B to C... and on until I find myself on as many continents as I have patience for... around the world, for a simulated world tour in a virtual simulation of the planet, when the last thing any of us can realistically do is get on an actual airplane. Because... why the hell not?
Stay tuned for the Pilot Project.