I’m still struggling to cope with the devastating news that Microsoft isn’t releasing FS’11 this year. In fact, it’s kind of hard flying FSX these days without becoming emotional. Exploring the virtual globe in Flight Simulator has been my main hobby since FS’98. Being a man of limited resources, health and funds, Microsoft’s Flight Simulators have been my only ticket to go visit the reefs of Palmyra Atoll, the top of Mount Everest and the Volcanoes of Kamchatka. Zooming in on these places in Google Earth isn’t even half the fun of going there in a beat up DC-3 with the pistons roaring in the background.
So while I sulk, I try to focus on some of the positive and entertaining things happening for us armchair aviators. Arguably we live in the golden age of flight simulators, but a lot of good things are starting to happen in the world of television as well – which is quite rare in my opinion. Apart from the “nine o’clock news”, there are very few TV shows I’ve found entertaining lately. Sopranos, Mad Men, Californication, The Wire, Weeds, Six Feet Under and Two & a Half Men pretty much sums up my television consumption over the past decade – A decade which has been plagued by reality shows and dumbed down documentary series.
Luckily the new wave of aviation shows on television is a breath of fresh air – thematically at least. Sadly they share many of the same flaws that plague their contemporary siblings: Over-dramatization (music and story), repetitive editing and constant summarizations, focus on individuals rather than the overall theme, wrong sounds (f. ex. piston aircraft have turboprop sounds and vice versa) and creative editing (scenes are a mix of different cuts from shots made at different times). But if you can ignore these factors there is plenty to enjoy. Here’s my top-five aviation TV-shows:
5. DUST UP. Fun little show about crop dusters flying low level aerobatics over the Canadian Prairie:
4. THE AVIATORS. The most traditional and magazine-like show focusing on all aspects of aviation:
3. FLYING WILD ALASKA. If it hadn’t been for all the over-dramatization this show would have been my favorite. I could watch those Cessna 207 cross-wind landings all day:
2. ALSKA WING MEN. A more authentic and documentary like look on Alaskan aviation:
1. ICE PILOTS NWT. Whatever weakness this show has is outshined by whatching the incredible fleet of aircraft operated by Buffalo Airways: C-46 Commando, DC-3 Dakota, DC-4, Canadair CL-215 and Lockheed Electra: