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Interview : Austin Meyer, the man behind X-Plane!


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<center><img src="https://newbluejournals.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/austin-meyer-interview.jpg"></center><p><strong>Interview: Austin Meyer, the man behind X-Plane!</strong></p><p> </p><p> </p><p>This is an interview that I had with Austin Meyer, the founder of X-Plane.</p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Where did your love of aviation start?</span></p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#000000;">I don't recall exactly… but I think I was around 10 years old or so, playing Microsoft flight simulator on the apple-II, just line drawings, but still that “sim” would fire the imagination! Then r-c air planes (which, by the way, are MUCH harder to fly than real air planes, so I was much more likely to crash!) and then finally real air planes, when I found  an old desktop flight sim trainer for pilot's in the 70’s and 80’s it's pretty easy to fly a light plane.. much easier than an r-c plane.</span></p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: What real aircraft do you fly? What would be your dream plane to own, can x-plane make that dream real?</span></p><p> </p><p>I started flying in the Cessna 152, then Cessna 172 just because they were available to rent, then some Piper Archers I rented in southern California (LOVED that) then Cirrus Sr-22 (my first plane I owned) then two Columbia-400s (the first one got smashed when a hangar fell on it, so I got another just like it), and this is what I currently fly. I have a Lancair evolution in the final phases of construction right now, and i will be flying that for regular transportation starting this august.</p><p> </p><p style="text-align:center;">post-110-0-94477400-1405100615_thumb.jpg</p><p> </p><p> X-Plane has all of these planes to at least some degree… though the dream that I have is to make the Lancair evolution really, really, really perfect for x-plane.. and of course that is a dream that I will make come true! </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Why did you develop Xavion? Can you tell us about it?</span></p><p> </p><p>The real reason is rather interesting: i got tired of never seeing the avionics in real air planes that were QUITE what I thought was perfect, so I wrote my own prototype for the macintosh desktop computer, simply as a demonstration of what I thought avionics should look like. Then, when the iPad came out, I ported that code (it was then called “EIFS-App”) to iPad and iPhone, and then I changed the question from “what should avionics LOOK LIKE” to “what could avionics on an iPad DO?” the answer is embodied by xavion now:</p><p>- full PFD and map displays, very useful in the event of instrument failure in the cockpit, especially if IFR- internet weather if you find a wifi hotspopt before take-off, or fly low with an ipad with a good antenna (yes, i get internet weather in the cockpit on my ipad mini if flying around 8,000 feet, often!)- ADSB weather from an ADSB receiver- 3D hoop guidance down to the best airport to glide down to in the event of engine failure- and now, just uploaded to apple and pending their approval as i write this, current-data airports and charts from Seattle avionics, so you can have all your charts in the cockpit on your ipad without having to run a different app- and now,<strong><em> just flight-tested last week and to be commercially available soon, xavion connects to the autopilot by WIFI to bring the airplane down to a safe airport in the event of engine failure or pilot incapacitation!</em></strong>so, if anyone wanted to know when iphones would start taking over airplanes to bring them down to safety if the engine quit or the pilot passed out, the answer is: last Thursday. </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: What are your thoughts and views of the thriving X-Plane community that you have created?</span></p><p> </p><p>Minimal, very, very minimal. This is where my string LIBERTARIAN leanings become clear. I just make X-Plane, and plane-maker so you anyone can make their own planes, and I let Ben Supnik make plugins so anyone can read and write data, and then other people can do whatever the heck they want! My meddling is basically zero there.. I just dropped the tools in the workshop.. anyone else can use them to build anything they want.</p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Why did you decide to start developing a flight simulator all those years ago? Where did the inspiration come from?</span></p><p> </p><p>I did not quite like the INSTRUMENT PANEL LAYOUT of MSFSseriously...I thought that MSFS was as good as a sim could be, except for one thing: the instruments were not laid out QUITE like they were in the airplane i was renting at the time (a piper archer-II). So I wrote my own sim to simulate the piper archer.. it was called “Archer-II: IFR" that quickly turned into x-plane when i saw that it could simulate any air plane by just changing the appropriate aircraft dimensions, since the sim was balde-element theory right from the very start. </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Developing one of the worlds most comprehensive flight simulators is certainly a tough challenge, what problems have you faced over the past years?</span></p><p> </p><p>My two greatest annoyances and enablers: customers, and Apple.  :P I could not succeed without the money of the customers, and the truly shocking GENIUS of Apple computer. But, when customers complain, and apple constantly changes their standards, they can both sure be annoying! </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: How else is X-Plane applied in everyday life rather than us flying desks!?</span></p><p> </p><p>oh, NASA, scaled composites, gulf stream, Garmin, countless branches of the military… TONS of large organizations use x-plane to see how airplanes will fly for all manner of projects… far too many for me to list. How will a glider re-enter the atmosphere of Mars? How will a prototype air plane fly? We need an imaginary air plane flying around to send signals to our new avionics to test them out, making them THINK they are in a real air plane. etc..</p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: As X-Plane 10 has developed, what has to be your most favourite payware add-on(s)? </span></p><p> </p><p>I actually never use any add-ons myself I hired Ben Supnik to make and maintain the plugins for x-plane, so people can do anything they want! Then i just let them do it while I get on to my own work. </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: What's your flight set-up for X-Plane 10 like? Have you built a home cockpit?</span></p><p> </p><p>Nope!</p><p>I am too mobile and un-committed to any hardware to do so if I ever made a cockpit, I would be tired of it in an instant, because a physical cockpit is so STATIC… I am constantly improving x-plane though, so if a customer needs me in olathe, Kansas, to get x-plane to do exactly what they want, then my favourite x-plane cockpit is a macintosh laptop with a $19 joystick from the nearest best buy hooked up to it sitting on a desk in olathe, Kansas! </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: So, the big question, the Oculus Rift! I understand in the past 10.30 betas some oculus preparation has been made. I can't wait to get an oculus rift, plugin and fly! I believe the experience that we will get will be raised up a level! What's currently happening with the rift? Will it be plugin and play?  </span></p><p> </p><p>Oh yes, plug and play of course!</p><p>Yes we are flying the rift right now inside of the company it works perfectly, but with the limits inherent to the rift right now: you WANT to reach out and TOUCH the buttons in the cockpit, but you can’t. you move your hands out in front of you, but do not see your own hands in the virtual world. so, it seems to me that we need some sort of gloves or something to make the oculus experience really useful in a complex cockpit with a lot of buttons in <em>it but it sure FEELS amazing!!!!!!!!</em> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: How do you plan to make X-Plane even more realistic in the future?</span></p><ul><li>clouds</li><li>weather</li><li>rain</li><li>water</li><li>more air planes, with better realism in the cockpit.</li></ul><p>Those are some top items.</p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: The GNS 530 is the latest and most recently greatest thing for X-Plane! What is the story behind it?</span></p><p> </p><p>Well, we have been OVERDUE for a good gns430 for a LONG time so I hired Philipp Munzel to make it for X-Plane then, he refused to release it until he could make a 530 as well (since that would give a lot more power for a small amount more work) so, he hit the ball out of the park on that one!</p><p>Then, he made x-pane work with STEAM!We announced that yesterday (10th July 2014) , and it will be on the STEAM store Monday 14th July 2014.  This will be X-Plane 10.25 (the latest non-beta version) and of course all subsequent (non-beta) updates, so 10.30 will be on steam as soon as it is out of beta, and then every version after that as well.</p><p> </p><p style="text-align:center;">post-110-0-18828000-1405099849_thumb.jpg</p><p style="text-align:center;"> </p><p>So, finally, we get the most realistic, powerful, 64-bit simulator with scenery and realism that really blow my mind all accessible with a button-push on steam.. No physical DVD needed any more really, to me, quite amazing!Make no mistake about it: I am as amazed by x-plane as anyone else! Maybe part of the reason is that my memory is so bad! I code the most realistic and amazing stuff I possibly can, I forget much of what I have coded soon after, but the computer does not forget! So x-plane just keeps building and getting better and better!! </p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Being within the home simulation community we don't get to here about X-Plane 10 and commercial use. Are there any major companies that use X-Plane for commercial uses, if so what experience does it create in those expensive full motion simulators?</span></p><p> </p><p>We sell LOTS of commercial use keys but as it turns out, they are NOT used to build giant simulators! Instead, they are used to emulate air planes to test avionics systems, or replay accident scenarios, or test out new prototype designs.</p><p> </p><p style="text-align:center;">post-110-0-62366200-1405100146_thumb.jpg</p><p> </p><p>So, we sell a lot of keys, but they wind up being used INTERNALLY… INSIDE of companies doing research and development, not so much in giant cockpits that the guy on the street will ever see.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: To finish, the classic question. What are the future plans for X-Plane? Can we see an X-Plane 11 on the horizon with new amazing features?</span></p><p> </p><p> </p><p>huh huh.. that is sort of like asking if the next pope will be catholic, right?  ;)  </p><p><span style="color:#696969;">XPR: Or future plans for X-Plane 10?  Any secrets of developments you wish to share?</span></p><p> </p><p>Well, the steam and occulus rift support are next for version 10, also, I just got back some performance reports for x-plane 10.30 beta 6 last night: it is now running about 25% faster than x-plane 10.25 in many scenarios, and slower in NO scenario that we could find! so, x-plane 10.30 is offering a pretty decent frame-rate boost… we are always working on optimization, trying to keep hat frame-rate up.I do the same thing with Xavion on the iPad, using all of the iPads processors at the same time to maximize multi-threading and therefore frame-rate. The iPad gets so hot from this that it is too hot to hold after a while!</p><p> </p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>I would like to thank Austin on behalf of everybody at </strong>X-Plane Reviews<strong> for taking the time to have this interview.</strong></span></p><p> </p><p>Note: the beta 10.30b6 Austin noted in the interview has been released, Go to your installers!</p><p> </p><p>Visit the official X-Plane website : <a data-ipb="nomediaparse" href="http://www.x-plane.com">x-plane.com</a></p><p> </p><p>Visit the official x-plane community site : <a data-ipb="nomediaparse" href="http://www.x-plane.org">x-plane.org</a></p><p> </p><p>Interview by Joe Charman</p><p> </p><p>Copyright©2014 : X-Plane Reviews</p><p> </p><p>post-110-0-45614600-1405098469.jpg</p>

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Guest Guest

I've been an X-Plane flier since Ver 3 -- never stop being amazed at what Austin has done. He is a genius at this, and obviously a nice guy as well. Thanks for a great interview

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Guest Chuck Bodeen

I started with XP 1.00 (yes, ONE.ZERO)

I paid him $600 for it. It was the least expensive one in a catalog I received.

I learn more about Austin almost every day.

Is there no end to this man's ability?

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Guest Mark Farnham (marken79)

Thank you Austin, Like what was said before, It great to hear about the man behind X-Plane.&nbsp; But, maybe, it's time to pull X-Car out and see if it feasible to put on the market.&nbsp; After all, a lot of new programing technics have surfaced, especially the last&nbsp;couple&nbsp;years.&nbsp;

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