Grand Theft Flight Simulator

(From the Archive – 2/18/06)

Take a Little Trip, Take a Little Trip With Me

To the cool, cool water of the semi-pirateless Caribbean . . . In reality, my only excursion to the region was a week on St. Martin / Sint Maarten for my honeymoon, most of which was spent lounging at the Sunset Beach Bar on the beach, the one with some of the best airplane watching anywhere in the world.

(For those familiar with the island that know of Orient Beach – find your own link – the answers to your three questions are "Yes", "No, are you kidding?!?", and "Unfortunately, mostly wrinkled old German men.")

First thing Monday morning, however, I’m going to have to make a virtual return to the area, this time to take a look at the presumably fictional Cabo Cay, thanks to one of the more interesting and original Flight Sim add-ons to come out in recent memory, Smugglers of the Caribbean.

A few bits from their press release:

"Smugglers of the Caribbean – Cabo Key" is an add-on package set in the Caribbean on a small uncharted island just north of Havana. It is part 1 of a multi part series of add-on aircraft & scenery packages which will all be set in the greater Caribbean Area and will all tie in with each other. For us it was important to provide a full simming add-on “package” to MSFS2004 rather than merely a scenery or an aircraft. Our package includes a rideable ground vehicle, a boat and an aircraft and of course scenery and something to do. Smugglers of the Caribbean gives you an uncomplicated set of wings, set in a visually realistic environment.

When doing smuggle runs take off from base and rendezvous with the Pan Americana, a cargo vessel used by the clan to smuggle contraband to Europe. Drop your cargo and get back to base. Be sure to stay under flight level 1000 to avoid detection by radar, yet be aware of Coast Guard vessels patrolling the area. Once a month you have to take a boat ride to Miami or to one of the close-by islands to get spares and supplies.

This package includes photo textured scenery of Cabo Island, with its short and challenging landing strip, a Cessna Caravan 675, a "Gofast boat" and a 500cc Quad ATV. Also included is the Pan Americana, anchored a 30 minute flight north of Cabo Key, waiting for your delivery and AI traffic flying to and from your island such as Coast Guard patrol boats patrolling the area.

When my friend, flight sim texture genius and fairly new Horizon pilot Justin Lamb sent me the link, my first thought was that maybe my other friend Bill Lyons (creator of some of my all-time favorite add-ons) had finally turned evil or been replaced by a Bizarro version of himself. (Bill’s add-ons always include a boat or a car, some great scenery, etc, but they tend to involve roughly 100% less smuggling.)

If anyone has a clever religious metaphor that they’re not using about how and why the Lamb made me think of the Lyons, let me know. Otherwise, lets call it coincidence and move on.

Anyway . . . My second thought was how strange it was that they’d happened to use one of our rejected marketing slogans, inspired by the new FSX missions system we’ve been working on: Flight Simulator X: Something to Do.

My third thought was about how excited my friend Jim (not that one, the other one) is going to be when he sees this. (It’s not Orient Beach (with or without the wrinkles) Jim, but it is a step in that direction. Give my love to Donna!)

My fourth and final thought, so far, was the absolute unadulterated (pun intended?) joy I will feel when I submit an official Microsoft expen$e report (product research) on Monday for €25, payable to Pimp Aviation.

I can’t wait to put these guys on our Beta.

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