Yes indeed i’m back! I have a lot to talk about and a lot to share but first and foremost, I want to welcome you to my, to our, next adventure. A little backstory for the “About” page you’ll find below and much more in the days to come! Welcome to FL350!!
November 3rd. 1993. It was the night that would essentially define the person I would become. I had just celebrated my 11th birthday 3 days prior, my aunt at the time was making her way up the ranks to become the district attorney for the city of Los Angeles and her husband was starting his third year as the club scout for the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, my aunt decided to take me with her on this particular trip to Chicago to visit her husband. For me this meant 2 things, meeting a just retired Michael Jordan in person, and flying on an airplane for the very first time. As fate would have it, American Airlines had assigned us the “Super 80” workhorse. An aircraft that was assembled not far from where I lived at the time. It was a redeye from LAX-ORD and as we began to taxi, I began to wonder what all those yellow signs and colored lights on the ground meant. We turned onto the runway 25R and what happened next, completely blew my mind. Sure I had seen airplanes take off all the time but they always looked so slow for some reason. But this time, for the first time, being onboard and hearing the roar of the Pratt JT8D’s far behind me, I had absolutely no idea anything could ever go that damn fast! And faster and faster we went! Everything was a blur, loud and I could feel every bump on the runway as we continued to accelerate. Until…
God it was like a rocket! Hell, it was a rocket! I felt like I was on by back like a space shuttle astronaut on my way to space. It was at that moment I knew: “This is all I ever want to do for the rest of my life…” A week later, I got the DC-10 and compared to the MD-80 man it was HUGE! They played the just released to VHS Tommy Lee Jones / Harrison Ford film “The Fugitive” from an overhead projector onto a bulkhead several thousand rows ahead of me. I couldn’t see that far but I could plug in and listen as I stared out the window. This time it was a day flight.
I would not go on to fly again till I got my first aviation job at FedEx and took advantage of the free employee jumpseat program in 2000. I flew everywhere and sometimes for no absolute reason. I’d show up to the airport and hop on the next flight out with an open seat with no care as to where it was going. Once I got to whatever the hell I wound up I got on a flight somewhere else. And if there were no flights, I slept in the crew lounge.As this was prior to 9/11, It was all cockpit jumpseating and in many cases, I was not even security screened before boarding. This is funny because the only hijacking FedEx ever experienced was from an employee so you’d think… Anyway, I quickly became very acquainted with the entire FedEx fleet and flew so often, (the 727 being my favorite) several of the flight crews began to know me by name. Fast forward to today and I have been in the airline industry for just over 20 years.
But the story of my adventure into flight simulation really hangs in the years after my first real world flying experience.
1995. It was the year I experienced my first flight simulator. It was an F/18 combat sim on for Apple Macintosh, and looking back at it now, it was all colors and lines that vaguely resembled an airplane. But back then, it was cutting edge technology. My time to play was always in the weee late hours after dad had abandoned the PC for bed. As the years progressed so did the home computers and flight sim games leading to the changeover to PC when my dad purchased a Monorail PC alongside Microsoft FS98. Holy crap was that badass compared to anything I had ever touched before. I graduated in the year 2000 and moved out that year. I wouldn’t go on touch a flight sim again until 2002 when I traded a 6 month old PS2 with 10 games for a used PC. You could easly argue I got the bad end of the stick but you have to remember, quality PC’s were very expensive back then and an eMachine was simply not going to cut it. I headed out to Best Buy and grabbed myself a copy of the just released Microsoft FS2002. I went to Radioshack and got myself a $50 Saitek joystick and just loved it!! Then came FS2004 A Century of Flight. I bought a Sony Vaio Desktop PC the last one they ever made. It cost me $1,800. The world’s very first Pentium D dual core processor. That bad boy was lightening fast.
This is also when I began to travel overseas to Europe. And when I returned home, I began looking for more detailed airports to match the amazing ones over in Europe. I discovered Cloud9 Flight Simulations, Aerosoft, and FlyLogic where I began to spend money on my very first addons. The first dollars that would become thousands. I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But the bottom line was, flight simulation was an addiction. One that carries to this very day straight into my bank account.
We continue to fast forward and I come across a google blog called AirDailyX: “The Insolent European FS News Breaker” ran by a Frenchman by the name of Dominique Mason. What made this little blog so different from all the rest was his style. He had real opinions that he was not afraid to share and I really respected that. He had a lot of community support however, AirDailyX was never really meant to be a long term thing for him. I don’t think he ever expected it to grow the way that it did. So when he quit for the second time, I offered to step in and help. What happened next was amazing. We grew the little blog into becoming the most popular independent flight simulation resource on the internet. We got more help from a few others most notably member Mark Hrycenko throughout our time working together. But ultimately, over time, everyone eventually burned out in trying to keep up up with the day to day work ADX required. So when everyone left, I choose to shoulder on.
I started a new website and re-branded as AirDailyX.net (the original site is currently no longer accessible) but in all that time since joining Dom, I wrote over 15,000 news articles and nearly 100 product reviews as well as livestreams. It really takes someone with a strong passion to do all that and what can I say, my FS addiction lives on.
Back during the late summer of 2017 I received a job offer that promoted me the highest level I had ever achieved which meant ADX could no longer have a dominant place in my life. I had the choice to end it, but instead, placed it into the hands of others to continue forward just as it had been placed into my hands. Sadly, the third iteration of AirDailyX now just known as ADX did not ultimately flow into the direction I had hoped or understood it would.
And to add to it, January 2019 saw me being laid off from my job and the position I loved so much. So now unemployed and being a glass half full kind of guy, I have chosen to take this time as an opportunity to go back to what I love. the wanting to return to serve this community for which I so love. But returning to ADX just doesn’t feel right to meand quite frankly, there simply just is not an appropriate place for me there.
So what next?
Well besides from getting my butt kicked from countless people in both the respective consumer and development communities for exiting my community service after 7 years (and leaving ADX into the hands of the people I left it to) the other resources that have sprung up in my absence lack one fundamental aspect the FS world both loves and hates me for. My strong opinions, style. and viewpoints that quite frankly, no one else either has, or are too afraid to share openly. And so enters Flightlevel 350. My resurrection! Why this name you may ask??
Well this is where this long winded ass story comes full circle. Back on my fateful first MD-80 flight back in 1993, when the captain came on the PA after crossing 10,000, he noted that we would be climbing out to 35,000 feet where we would be leveling off. And that stuck with me. Something abut being 35,000 feet above the world was a shock to me. I stayed awake as long as I could watching the world go past. That also came at a very dark time in my childhood. Being up there took me away from all of it and honestly could have stayed up there for ever. It’s was that newly found passion in aviation that helped pull me through.
I didn’t name AirDailyX as I was not it’s original founder, but, whenever you see the brand name on this site, you’ll know it’s something special from my childhood and to serve as a reminder that all of the efforts you see here, is driving force from the passion of an 11-year-old boy that started so long ago and rages on.
I don’t have a community charter for you or anything like that. All I can say is you are getting me and all the baggage that comes with that. And if by some chance you’ve never heard of me, I suggest running a search of my name over on Avsim. That should paint a really colorful picture.
Nevertheless, I am so glad you are here to continue this journey with me. Flight simulation is a wonderful thing, something you and I share in common. So please try to remember that just in case I happen to piss you off at some point.