Nick Crate submitted this essay in our 15th anniversary contest; "What Does AVSIM Mean to Me". Nick's, like all the others submitted, an excellent effort, and we hope you enjoy it. Here's Nick's submission:
What AVSIM Means to Me
By Nick Crate
Ever since I began flying in Microsoft Flight Simulator, back when I would load the default Air Creation Trike at Friday Harbor, fly in free flight, and full throttle it, I began to seek a place to expand my hobby and introduce the social aspect of the community. As I searched through various sources for ideas for freeware downloads, forums, and reviews, I realized how many websites were out there. But then, there came Avsim.
After browsing through various lists of communities, there was one that always stuck out and seemed to almost always be at the top of the list: Avsim. So I headed over to Avsim.net and started to explore. A huge download library, a giant community forum, plenty of links to other flight simulator resources, and much more was what I discovered. At this point in my simulator hobby, I had not yet experienced any professional aircraft or add-ons, so Avsim quickly became my new best friend. Let’s just say that I downloaded so many additions to my simulator that I could probably still be here and have something new to fly every day to some new scenery location if I hadn’t cleaned out some stuff as I grew older.
Through the years since then, I have learned and been influenced by a lot of things from Avsim and its community. One of the things I always do when I am trying to decide what new add-on to purchase is visit the Avsim reviews section. The professional quality reviews that are published from Avsim are some of the best I have seen, and are probably worthy of being in magazines and publications if the opportunity ever presents itself. Kudos to the review staff of Avsim- you have some of the best ones out there!
Now, let’s fast forward to today. Avsim hosts quite a few different developers’ forums on their own forum. I have been able to answer pretty much every question about Flight Simulator or real world operating procedures from these forums. The vast expanse of knowledge that has been shared by developers, real world professional, and the everyday people is just amazing.
One significant aircraft that I presently have is the Precision Manuals (PMDG) 737NGX. PMDG is lucky enough to have Avsim host their support forums on one of the largest, if not the largest, forum systems of the community. Through the past few years, I have watched the Avsim forums build rapidly and very quickly. I have learned an enormous amount of information about aviation and procedures performed in real life with aircraft like the 737NG and MD-11. All of these resources would be spread out and overwhelming where it not for Avsim. It’s just mind boggling that Avsim allows people like me to make a new post on the forum asking something specific about a real aircraft and get a response from a type rated pilot or mechanic for that aircraft who answers my question. The thing about this is that this person is usually on the other side of the planet. The first time I did this, I just got this surreal feeling. It really puts a new meaning to the saying, “It’s a small world”. Again, none of this would be possible without Avsim uniting the world of flight simmers together in one place. It’s also a great feeling to have a post of your answered by the CEO of a company that develops add-ons, or know that you can make a difference in what a company produces by just starting or participating in discussions.
During this time, many new features are steadily being added. One of the new features I personally like is the new photo gallery. I know there was a staff gallery before, but the new user gallery is something that allows the enthusiasts of the community to see others pilot’s photos of their experiences in the virtual world as well as real world, as well as share their own experiences. I have to say, some of those photos are spectacular, and some even look real!
Another few things that have been added are the user reviews and links directories. The user reviews section allows users to request a review of an add-on or program for flight simulator, and have another user review that add-on. Again, this helps people answer the big question, “To buy, or not to buy?” from the experiences of other users like themselves. The same principal applies to the links directory. This allows users to see a categorized list of user added links to various resources and websites for things like Virtual Airlines and hardware or software vendors that support the flight simulator community. This is another place I always look when I am in that purchasing mood or I am just looking for another site to expand my love of Flight Simulator. (I wonder if it’s a good thing that my wallet shrinks and yet my hobby grows.)
I guess what I really want others to get out of this whole thing is that the community is essentially brought closer by Avsim. Avsim has, in a sense, shrunk the world and allowed people from all walks of life and countries to come together in one place to share in a common interest of Flight Simulator. One thing that really says this is the member map. Just look at it and you can see that people that participate on the community are from literally everywhere. Just before I finished typing this today, I checked out the forums as part of my daily routine and saw this quote at the top: “Where Flight Simulation Enthusiasts Gather from Around the World!” Nothing really says it any better than that. Congratulations Avsim- you have been a success at supporting the community and I know you will continue to do so. I can’t imagine how it could get any better, but I know it will and the community will continue to be amazed by what you do.