This was posted this evening in the Hangar Forum and we thought the wider community might enjoy the read. Thank you Jackson for posting it.
One thousand posts on an internet forum is not a massive deal, however I decided to do a little write-up on Avsim and the role, to whatever extent, it has played in my life.
I stumbled upon Avsim in the build-up to the PMDG NGX release. As a 13 year old with a budding passion for hardcore simming, I had been buying tubeliner add-ons in attempt to learn the incredibly complex systems of modern airliners, and the NGX looked to be the next step up. I lurked for a long time, a tad scared at the idea of posting anything to a public forum that could be deconstructed and criticized by hundreds of simmers more knowledgeable than I, but sooner or later I started to post, usually staying in the PMDG forums just to keep up with the latest product news and offering help to anyone I could.
But you can only do so much in a small space, right?
I started to read around different sub-forums, learning more things and discovering more aviation history than I ever could've imagined. FSX went from a mystical beast that never really responded to anything I tried to a program that could be understood with a few software/hardware guides. I learned IFR rules and SID/STAR procedures, and started to research flying lessons in the real world, as I was starting to think that aviation was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Aviation just stood out to me like a green thumb, and the best way to get into it at the time was to fly from my desktop, and there was no better place to discuss my hobby than this site.
I got into different sorts of add-ons, discovering what parts of aviation appealed to me more, whether it be rotorcraft, light-twin GA ops, bush flying, or heavy iron. Products from A2A, Aerosoft, and many more kept my passion for learning fueled, and there was no stopping it. I started doing more and more complex procedures with less-automated aircraft, and got into serious pre-flight planning. Transoceanic routes in older equipment such as the A2A Boeing 377 were something I particularly enjoyed doing.
Where am I headed with this? Well, after a while, it seemed like I couldn't learn any more. I got bored with it. Sure I could do a bunch of stuff, but there wasn't any "spark". So I just kept myself doing patterns in my spare time, just to stay current. With the stress of school and social life, I couldn't find the time to do a 2 or 3 hour flight in the 737 or A320 like I used to be able to. Simming went from something I looked forward to to something I considered an obligation so I didn't lose my touch.
However, 2 weeks ago, I soloed for the first time at a flight academy in Dover, Delaware in a Piper Warrior, one month after my 16th birthday. Since then I've come back to simming with a vigor, and am looking forward to a bright future in aviation, both in the simming world and in the real world. Soon, I hope to start studying hardcore for my PPL, and my future is looking bright.
The simming community has helped me in more ways than I could imagine in finding my true passion, and I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. Without Avsim and all the support and education within it, my passion for flying would be little more than a pipe dream. As a teenager coming into a hobby mostly dominated by older folks, I was at first scared I would be unwelcome, but the community was and is extremely approachable, and for that I thank...I guess everyone. I've grown in my three short years here, both in confidence and skill level, and it's mostly because of all the exposure to aviation that Avsim and the simming hobby has given me.
So thanks, and happy landings,