My first flight that wasn’t

The first time I ever flew in an airplane, I was flying it. Crammed into a tiny single-engine plane, the instructor turned the controls over to me and told me simply to fly straight and level. It was far more interesting than I expected and perhaps what surprised me most was the elevator drop effect when flying over trees.

After we landed, I chatted with the pilot who was impressed that a teenager could handle a small plane with such a fine touch the first time. That’s when we started talking about computer games.

I’d been flying planes for years… in the digital world. At that time I think my favourite was Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat. My flight instructor immediately made the connection between my hours on simulators and my prowess in the cockpit. He also suggested I buy Aces of the Pacific, his current favourite, and soon to be mine as well.

I spent way too much money constantly upgrading and rebuilding my computers to play the latest flight simulators. I flew Air Warrior multiplayer by modem against guys I met on bulletin board systems. As a group we ordered hardcover copies of a textbook published by the US Navy on aircraft fighting tactics and we practised the maneuvers on each other, reading up on how historical pilots used the unique features of their aircraft instead of getting dragged into the tactics of their enemies.

At some point, I gave it up. The games became too complex, the computer requirements too steep… I was never all that interested in devoting my life to learning how to play a game. My friends moved on to simulators of the F16, the F18, the F14… but I lost interest.

Posted in: Week 05: Game-Based Learning