Boeing 747-8I - Image: Microsoft

While some people may look at Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) and call it a video game, it is much more than that to a large swath of people. It’s right there in the name: “simulator”. I know a handful of lifelong aviation enthusiasts that can attribute their fascination with flight to Microsoft Flight Simulator. When Microsoft shelved the series and licensed out the code, that was presumed to be the end of the series. 

While 2020 has taken so very much from the world, it has finally given us a new entrant into the coveted flight series. I’ll get right to it, though: MSFS is imperfect. In fact, in its initial release, it is far from perfect. The bones of the simulator, however, are setting the stage for something very special…eventually. And I am very excited for what likely will be coming soon. 

At launch, MS Flight Simulator is only available on PC and that means that many will need to put money into their machines… the more you spend, the better performing your computer will be, and the more likely your experience will be improved. To be blunt; MSFS is a pig. The gaming community has compared it to Crysis, a 2007 game that was legendary for its hardware requirements. Even the highest end consumer gaming PC hardware struggles to run MSFS well, so playing MSFS may require a steep investment. There are ways around this, however, and I’ll touch on that a bit later.

The world created by the MSFS team is stunning; it’s quite literally the entire world. Using satellite imagery from Bing Maps (remember Bing!?), combined with artificial intelligence from Blackshark, MSFS recreated the entire world in a level of detail never before seen. So, even if most people won’t have computers that can run at the highest resolution, it won’t stop us from sharing some pretty good photos of the potential!

Right now is an awful time to fly. But with many of us grounded and stuck at home, it’s been an OK time for daydreaming about flights we want to take once things get back to normal. I wanted to share my list, and then (more importantly) hear from you about what your post-COVID AvGeek priorities are.

  • Flying a 747-8. I’ve flown my fair share of 747-400s. And my time riding seat 1A of a United 747 is still one of my favorite AvGeek memories. But as beautiful as the Queen looks from the outside, most 747-400s are old and have uninspiring interiors. That’s why I’m so excited to try a Dash-8. I think it’s even more gorgeous than the -400. And I’m hoping the younger age means a better onboard experience.

The first ever Boeing 747-8i to visit Prague arrives on a hot summers day Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

An Air Atlanta Icelandic L-1011 (reg: TF-ABM), taken in August 1993, with a pretty familiar livery – Photo: Ken Fielding

I probably spend too much time looking at photos of classic airliners online. I am guessing that I am not alone. One of my favorites is finding an aircraft / airline combination that just doesn’t match or is an odd ball. Then down the AvGeek rabbit hole I go to learn as much as I can about the history of the airplane. When was it born? Which airlines flew it? How many times did it change hands? Was it involved in any accidents? Is it still flying today, stored in a desert somewhere, or has it been scrapped?

When I first saw the photo above, with the obvious old TWA livery with temporary titles, that looked like an airplane out of a bad movie, I became instantly hooked (or maybe “obsessed”). I wanted to get to know this plane.

I quickly found out that this Lockheed L-1011 was serial line number 1221, which I have to admit would be a pretty boring name. As I started learning more about him, I named him Martin (for obvious reasons). He was first delivered to TWA in December 1981 and had quite the adventurous life.

Follow me down the rabbit hole to learn more about Martin’s history and where he is today…

Here is our boy, flying in full Air Atlanta Icelantic livery - Photo: Aero Icarus | FlickrCC

Here is our boy, flying in full Air Atlanta Icelandic livery – Photo: Aero Icarus | FlickrCC

This is a continuation of our COVID fleet retirement series, where we tap our archive to commemorate the planes that retired early because of COVID. In our first installment of the series we said goodbye to the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400. In this story, we stick with the “4 engines 4 long haul” theme but switch gears from Boeing to Airbus.

An Airbus A380, A340 and a few A320's hanging out at Toulouse Blagnac Airport

An Airbus A380, A340 and a few A320’s hanging out at Toulouse Blagnac Airport

With fewer people flying, plus the increasing use of fuel-efficient two-engine long-haul planes in airline fleets, older quad-engine planes are dropping like flies. No surprise, then that a number of airlines retired their Airbus A340 and A380s fleets. The A380 is a unique behemoth, the largest and arguably most-comfortable passenger plane around. And its older sister, the elegant A340, has captured AvGeeks eyes and hearts around the world.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A340 (G-VRED)

Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A340 (G-VRED)

Read on as we take a stroll down memory lane as we say goodbye to a few A340 and A380s.