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Veteran virtual pilot sits in real-life cockpit

June 06, 2006|by BRAD SMITH

FREDERICK, MD. - There was a lot to see at the 16th annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association fly-in and open house Saturday, June 3.

The sad part of it all is that the flight simulator was the most appealing part of the day to me.

I mean, I try to culture myself with other people's hobbies, but video games are everywhere. I can't escape them.

OK, my problems aside, I must say I was impressed with the number of planes on display. There were new planes, vintage planes, commercial planes, personal planes, experimental planes, a glider and even helicopters.

The tent exibits didn't have much to offer to someone who isn't an avid plane enthusiast. They were all selling dials and knobs and metermajiggers and I didn't understand a bit of it.

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Now the flight simulator - that was real fun. I'm a pretty good pilot. Of course, I am a veteran - four years in the "Grand Theft Auto 3" Air Force. But I digress.

There were many events taking place that day. For example, they had seminars for members of the organization, and an advice group for new pilots, and a "show floor" if you will, for planes being sold. I got a chance to sit in one of these massive, metal birds, and let me just say it is fantastic to be able to move the fins and turn all the knobs inside.

Overall, if you're an airplane fanatic, you would have enjoyed everything the AOPA fly-in had to offer, but if you are just a member of the public you might just want to stick with looking at the airplanes and playing the wicked-awesome flight simulator.

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