Sunday, October 27, 2013

FlightGear Rembrandt: HAF -> SFO

The windy walk back from work during dusk reminded me that I do in fact live in San Francisco. And although my work schedule doesn't allow me to get out of town all that much, fortunately my flight simulator tries to fill in the gap. A couple days ago I decided to flip on the new "Rembrandt" setting in the flight sim, FlightGear, and I found myself sinking into an entirely new cockpit, as if it were the real thing. As I took a short hop tonight from Half Moon Bay Airport to San Francisco International, the airport lights flickered just beyond the cabin glow of my cockpit. And just to make things feel truly real, immaculately surreal, the sim's real-time weather brought me from the fog of HAF airport to a crosswind landing at SFO.



A couple weeks ago, I did actually get to venture inside a cockpit at SFO, this one a 737-900. My brother's friend from church gave us tickets to a United Airlines show, where I got to take a snapshot of my niece in her future profession (or so we hope!).


To my amazement, as soon as I took these snapshots from my Android phone, Google identified them as coming from a 737. It even guessed a 737-800--pretty close! Now if FlightGear could get its planes identified by Google as "the real thing," that would be rather impressive. And judging by the rendering in Rembrandt, I think that day may not be so far off.


In any case, as much as I enjoy the relaxing realism of a virtual flight after a long day, I'm thankful for the real pilots keep our real bodies safe in the air, day after day after day.


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