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Guest Padesatka

Mission Tournaments

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OK I'm so brash and new here, that I haven't even read a thread yet.I've just been discovering some of the potential of mission building and sharing. Would anyone be interested in participating in some mission challenges, where you're flying along all fat dumb and happy, and there's gyro/engine/fill-in-the-blank failure, and you must deal with it, and with a lot of other pilots watching/kibbitzing/critiquing/making you a better pilot?Well I'm interested. What do we have to do to make this happen???

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I've noticed some virtual aviators seem to be playing happily together in private corners of cyberspace- There are virtual airlines, virtual acrobatic teams, and all sorts of mutants congregating. I've also noticed that some are evolving some shockingly-impressive skills. I've even noticed that military establishments have noticed. But I haven't yet encountered servers where where scenarios such as Cactus 1549 could be experienced and experimented with in a live and lively setting, where a congenial group shares a virtual sky and gathering-place for collective explorations into the ever-expanding art of flight. I've sometimes regretted that there was hardly the space nor networking for a pool of classmates to follow along at my successive flight-school flight-sim haunts. I've trained at some great places, but they never had the room, nor the networking for energetic briefings, observations, and debriefings about simulator sessions. For a long time, I know surgeons have been training in operatory arenas. But not many pilots. I've never been, but I understand that some Top-Gun style military programs use multimedia mission replays in a group-debriefing setting. In the civilian world I've worked in, things are structured in ways incompatible with free-form group discussions surrounding simulations. I think that's been an immense institutional waste of opportunity. But our hobby is different from commercial flight schools in many ways- we don't have the same limitations running our personal simulators and interactions online. There aren't so many rules here- we're just "gamers", right? I'm wondering out loud (in a crippled, monologue sort of way, so far) if there may be an interesting potential for elevating both the entertainment and skill-development aspects of personal flight simulation, by simultaneously making the experience more interpersonal and bringing it more to life.As an instructor, I've often had inexpensive, even free access to simulators and FTDs after hours. I used to travel around the country with an ATC-610 in tow. I've killed a lot of hours shooting approaches, and adding all the usual challenges like covering another guage, having another beer, and shooting more approaches. I've flown approaches on my back; approaches in my sleep, etc. I've learned and taught flying for a few thousand hours, and while practice does make more perfect, I don't think I've ever really taught myself much of anything right. That "solitary" Jonathan Livingston Seagull knows what I mean. Even the Lone Eagle wrote of "We" (not "me"). I've worked around various PCATDs, Frascas, and attended Part-135 courses involving full-motion sims. But no matter how nice the equipment; no matter how earnest my effort, I discovered again and again that I can only learn so much alone- that is, before I find myself in a protracted learning/interest plateau. Just messing around by your lonesome, even in a very fancy simulator- well, it's like drinking alone- it just gets distinctly uninspiring after a short while. Through the sessions when I was not alone, and with the good intentions of fellow flying students (good instructors included) learning plateaus fast receded far below, and far behind us. While free sim time for clients (like beer) is frowned upon in most outfits, the best organizations (IMO) encourage instructors to collaborate in advancing their skills at little or no cost. Through such learning experiences, I not only noticeably advanced my flying skills. Something interesting about learning also became apparent: There is a very real limitation to how much we learn in solo experience- and it doesn't take very long to get there. But with all the dimensions of human interaction added in- a great deal more learning cascades through. It's not just a matter of having someone at the instructor console, springing surprises. Deep in our psychology, and distant in our evolution, there are established structures of role-play in learning mundane and vital tasks. We (that is all social animals) learn best when when other actors and an audience is involved. It's as powerful as it is deep and ancient. Productive play is learning; productive learning is play- and the most productive play and learning in any species (especially intelligent ones) is certainly not solitary. For these reasons, I believe that if we can open up personal flight simulation into a web-enabled group activity, it will be transformed, and so will aviation.When observed and challenged by other aviators, successive barriers to interest and learning are easily broken- barriers to learning that I suspect few of us can easily get through alone. I am convinced that when we mostly sim alone (even if we chat or blog on endlessly about it later) our progress is severely stunted- whether we are aware of the interpersonal-interaction deficiency or not. It isn't customary to consider quality flight simulation as a social activity- but maybe it should be. I'd like to learn much more about that potential and obviously, I can't do it alone. Please share any of your thoughts here about what practical means for virtual classrooms, collaboration, and instruction you imagine may be feasible using the hardware, software, and bandwidth that we have available right now and in the near future.

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