When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?
I started publishing airports less than a year ago. FSX had a lot to offer, however X-Plane lacked a few good airports in key areas. My first involvement at the early stages of X-Plane 9 was to convert FSX files for my personal needs, but I was quite disappointed by the results, so I began to make some adjustments using the “Overlay Editor”, a precious tool offered to X-Plane fans. I have to admit there was a time when I populated my favorite destinations with objects collected here and there with no fear for copyright issues, since I’ve never shared my early productions.
I was still using “Overlay Editor” when I created my very first airport. I even considered uploading it to the official X-Plane platform. I could have selected a Belgian airport to start with, since I was born there, but I chose Baton Rouge instead. Baton Rouge is my home of 20 years and it is where I became a proud American citizen.
In a sense, my approach can be compared to what motivated me to write French novels, the ability to escape from the real world by creating my own microcosms. Baton Rouge KBTR, for instance, had a USAF section in its first release, although it doesn’t exist in reality. Houston KIAH has an Airbus A380, just because I thought it would be nice to have it there.
In other words, I like to accommodate reality to my imagination and scenery development is one part of this approach.
What French novels have you’ve written and where might be able to find them?
One novel has been published so far: Baron Rouge: 19-59 was published by Tintamarre Editions, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, 2006. It is the only French novel written in Louisiana since the mid-19th century.
It’s the story of that guy who was 59 and reversed his aging process after a bath in the O’heo Gulch Pools, aka the Seven Sacred Pools, in Hana, Maui. It is written in French.
The second one “Saisons Eternelles” (Eternal Seasons) is still in the making. It tells you the story of a man visiting paradise. Eventually, he will have an affair with the goddess in charge of the universe at that time (gods are so numerous, they take turns). But after a while he expressed some regrets about life on Earth, so he was sent back with a mission by the goddess in charge.
Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?
As a teacher of French literature and language (or French as a second language), I lacked the technical skills to go deep inside the mysteries of airport editing. Nevertheless, I became quite popular in the X-Plane community for being a pioneer in Lego brick airports where you use only non-customized buildings. I became a mentor for quite a few followers, and others enjoyed teasing me for the simplicity of my designs.
Over time, I developed new skills which inspired revisions of earlier versions of my airports. Quite recently I teamed up with a German fellow, Hans H. Gindra, a former licensed GA pilot and ATC controller at Frankfurt/Mannheim. Hans is my custom buildings architect, I do all the rest but still listen to his expertise, and follow his reality checks in signage, radar placement, etc.
Since last week, a former Belgian Air Force fighter pilot, Marc Leydecker (Belga12345), is in the process of teaching me SketchUp. I hope this will help me to get rid of my reputation as the Lego bricks guy.
What do you consider your best or most popular work?
I don’t have one. Every single production for the next day, the next month, the next year will be my best.
I might have become popular with Houston KIAH, but when I fly there, I still see improvements needed. Eglin II with Hans was most certainly our best achievement since every single object in the orthoscenery had something significant on top of it.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?
Sometimes I am facing quite a few technical issues, but there are always friends out there to help me out like Brian Godwin who just released Dallas-Fort Worth KDFW. I can go through a lot of frustrations when things go wrong or when I cannot find the right answer in a fashionable matter of time.
It can be minor issues like USGS not delivering orthoimagery for Hawaii, an ugly layout for KECP Panama City, or a new beta scenery tool I would adopt in the middle of a development, causing problems.
What are some of the more unique or special aspects of what you create?
I basically create for my own pleasure and personal use. Eventually, I share it with the community of simmers. In general, although I can take liberties with airports, I like to make them look as true to real life as possible, an accumulation of abundant objects and junk. I could be described as the baroque scenery developer.
What have been your favorite projects?
I have a special interest in Hana, Maui, PHHN, since this is the setting of my first novel, Baron Rouge 19-59. It was recently upgraded and uploaded to the Org and FlightSim.Com. I plan to return in three years, for my 20th wedding anniversary, where I plan to take a lot of pictures and make it the best airport frede ever made.
What software packages and tools do you use to develop?
I am a Marginal’s WorldEditor addict (WED) and in particular I like his GroundTraffic tool a lot. I faced quite a few difficulties with his ATC taxi and traffic flows. Like I said before, I’m very excited to use SketchUp in the near future.
Who would you consider to be your mentors or inspiration in the development world if you have any?
I consider the Australian guys of YSSY (Chris K.), etc., as the epitome of perfect developers.
Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?
The day I will be as good as Chris K. and his team, I will consider payware. Nevertheless, I ask my fans for a small contribution with PayPal in order to cover a part of my own expenses.
How many people work with you or your team?
I’m privileged to have Hans H. Gindra (Wheelie) as my architect for custom buildings. He is, in my opinion, the best Blender expert for sceneries ever. Our next production, Kahului PHOG, will have (Belga12345) Marc Leydecker’s most recent SketchUp amenities. Pierre Lavaux, of France, was kind enough to tweak my orthos and objects in Eglin II for better performance and gritty textures. I also keep in touch with Brian Godwin for traffic matters and plenty of other concerns we like to share.
Do you have any experience in real aviation?
Yes, I was the guy who brought Delta flight 1205 down to Brussels EBBR, in May 2003, when the crew collapsed.
You where the guy who did what?
Interviewer’s Note: When I read Freddy’s answer to the real aviation experience my mouth sort of dropped open and I immediately jumped on Google doing every combination of search for Delta Flight 1205 Brussels and any problems with the crew. – OK Freddy you got me … I sent back a message and said, “Your answer raised more questions than it answered what’s behind I that?” He must have been really smiling when he wrote back:
Belgian born French novelists are well known for their inclination to tainting reality with their surrealistic perspectives. They don’t seem to have a problem crossing the red thin line between reality and their wildest heroic dreams.
My first novel, I wrote way before the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” came out, is about a man getting younger and younger. If I can dream it, I can write about it. The same pattern is detectable in my airports, there is always at least one element whose presence is only justified because I imagined it was there and it would beautify the real facility.
What started your interest in aviation?
My uncle worked for SABENA, Belgian World Airlines. When I was younger, I would take every opportunity I had to visit anything including ATC tower and planes at EBBR Brussels International.
Any memorable flights in real life?
I have had a few good experiences as a helicopter passenger in Grand Canyon, Kauai, and New York. I would also at times joke with the flight crew and insist business class passengers could visit the cockpit and admire the icebergs of Greenland or KATL approach short before landing.
Would you like to share what you do in real life?
I am a retired teacher, principal, and adjunct professor.
What other hobbies or things do you do for enjoyment?
I am an avid writer.
Have you ever considered doing flight simulator development full-time?
No, there are still quite a few limitations to the sceneries development process. On the other hand, a writer, creation goes way behind the horizon due to the infinite possibilities of the language.
How do you choose your next new design or project?
I usually design places I like.
What simulators do you design for now and what ones do you plan to develop for in the future?
I’m an X-Plane person. I quit FSX when I turned to OSX (Mac).
In what ways do you see development changing in the future?
I would love to live long enough to see affordable immersion flight sims (3D, 360° helmets).
What can sites like FlightSim.Com do to support you and the hobby better?
Just tell us honestly how to do a better job.
How do you feel about the future of flight simulation in general?
Immersion (please see above).
What are some of the most important things a site or community can do to help the developers?
Site: stop overprotecting yourself from copyright issues.
Community : stop considering that freeware developers have a help desk for any issue downloaders might face.
Freddy De Pues