I missed notifying the world that this blog has been in existence for a year on its anniversary, August 9.
But August 9 – give or take a day – also marks the tenth anniversary of my presence in WarBirds.
In August 1996, I attended ONE ISPCON in San Francisco to look for fodder for Netsurfer Digest. Cisco had a booth with WarBirds, because ICI used Cisco routers at WarBirds HQ. The Cisco folks had shirts to give away to anyone who scored a kill.
I had a long history with flight sims, from the wire-frame Fokker Triplane on the original Macs to Falcon to Red Baron. I wanted to test just how Sierra Hotel I was. Every other plane in the sky was a human at his own computer. Wow!
I grabbed the stick. The Cisco account started me at altitude in a P-38J. I tooled around briefly and spotted a furball below. I dove through it, shooting at anything that got in my way, and climbed out the other side after my pass. The guy at the booth told me I got a kill, which was news to me – I hadn’t thought I’d hit anything. I still have that shirt, although it’s a bit more snug than it used to be.
I raised an eyebrow at the Cisco guy and commented on how marvelous it was, but that it probably didn’t run on Macs. “Oh, no,” said Cisco guy, “there’s a Mac version.”
I downloaded it that night. Call signs were limited to four letters at that time, and I had to think of one for my account. I thought of Puck, which was a brief nickname bestowed upon me for my Strat-o-Matic Fanatics intramural softball team. It didn’t hit home with much oomph, so I kept looking. I’d been using “Webster” as a nickname in CompuServe chat rooms. I shortened it to Webs, which also seemed to apply to my job as a professional netsurfer.
Thus Webs was born, a couple of weeks more than ten years ago today, in the game as all-lower-case webs. Later on, when WarBirds expanded to six-letter call signs, I became -webs-. When the WarBirds Trainer Corps accepted me as a member, I earned my trainer’s equal-sign wings, like so: =webs=.
I haven’t flown very much in the last 18 months because the game has advanced beyond my computer’s ability to render it quickly enough, so I’m a trainer on leave of absence – but I keep my hand in outside the game proper. I skin the game’s aircraft once in a while. Here’s one:
I told my WarBirds origins story to neighbour, screenwriter, and fellow airplane geek Shane Simmons, who met me for coffee and a chat this afternoon. Folks have been trying to set us up on a date forever. We’re similar souls. His wife is good friends with my father’s wife’s daughter (I feel funny calling her a step-sister since we were independent adults when our parents married). His backyard touches the backyard of a cousin of mine. I went to high school with his next-door neighbour. He lives two blocks away. We should have met years ago.
Shane gave me some good advice on finding work in Canadian animation. Other than that, we clued each other in on good airplane movies, told good airplane stories, and commiserated (why does that have two Ms?) over “Pearl Harbor”.
So now, in addition to spec features, I have animation to get to work on.
Just not this week.