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Actually my love of flying began at age 8 when I made airplanes out of cardboard boxes and flew them in the back yard.


I started my flying career in a Cessna 150 in 1967. A few years later, after winning a flying scholarship, I received by Private Pilots License.


Shortly thereafter, I joined the Marines and began pilot training in Pensacola, FL flying the T-34. Next, I trained in the twin-engine T-2 jet in Meridian, MS and advanced jets in Kingsville, TX. It was pretty thrilling to fly the A-4 Skyhawk off the Carrier, Lexington. I received my Naval Aviators' Wings in July 1973.


At MCAS-El Toro, I trained in the C-130 (4-engine Aerial Refueler) and flew the same C-130 that is now known as "Fat Albert", the Navy Blue Angels' support transport.


A post in Okinawa with a C-130 squadron got me flying to Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan, Midway Island, Hawaii and Guam.


As a former military pilot, I miss the excitement of a catapult launch, carrier landing, formation flying and aerial combat.


While touring the Thunderbirds' hangar at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, I saw on display an F-16 "C" cockpit and thought how neat it would be to build an authentic flight simulator.


Where to begin? While on eBay one day, I was surprised to see actual inoperable F-16 cockpit parts for sale. That was the start of an international scavenger hunt. It has taken 8 years, but gradually I have been able to find 95% of all the original parts for the F-16 and F-18. These original parts, combined with current hardware and software, can now create a very realistic jet fighter experience.


So...that is how this simulator craze got started.

Here's a little more about my adventures in flight and some photos.



I started my flying adventure in a Cessna 150. This photo was taken in Redding, CA where I landed and fueled up and completing my first cross country flight back to Medford, OR. I received my Private Pilot License in a Cessna 150.



I started basic Jet training in the twin engine T-2 in Meridian, MS. This was a very stable airplane. The flight training included 2 to 4 plane formation, instrument navigation, solo night flights, air to air gunnery and carrier landing practice.



I received Advanced Jet training in an A-4 in Kingsville, TX. This picture was taken in a formation take off flight of 2 A-4s. The flight training included instrument training, formation, cross country flights, bombing and carrier qualification. This was a great airplane to fly. All the A-4s I flew are in the Bone Yard in Tucson, AZ by now.



This is a picture of a C-130 that I flew in many missions from El Toro, CA. I was also trained by the Air Force in their C-130s then transitioned over to the Marine C-130. I flew all over the US in this aircraft. I also flew several trips to Hawaii, Midway and Alaska.


While overseas in Okinawa, I also flew the C-130 to Japan, Midway, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.



After being out of the military for 11 years I returned to flying a twin engine Cessna 320 on the weekends from my work in San Diego, CA to Medford, OR. This was a great airplane to cruise around 200 knots but it was not pressurized and I had to stay around 10,000 feet or less. Currently I do not have an airplane but remember all the really great adventures we had with this airplane. We flew from San Diego to Palm Springs, Oceanside, Sacramento, Redding, Red Bluff, Corvallis and Medford. Every flight had a memorable story.


Talk to you in the forums.

Steve Patterson






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