Meet Austin Meyer, Laminar Research and X-Plane Founder

In 1988 a high-school student and pilot named Austin Meyer found the challenges of the fast-paced San Diego airspace to be daunting. He struggled not only to maintain his legal currency but also his competency in the cockpit. He thought that the newly introduced "Microsoft Flight Simulator" might help him with these issues and tried using it. But he quickly learned that the program's ability to help him feel more comfortable in the cockpit was limited. Thus he decided to scratch build a flight simulator of his own design.

Years later, while attending Iowa State University where he later received his Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, he expanded his program so that it could simulate any conceivable airplane design by basing the simulator’s flight model on the actual geometry of the aircraft being modeled. To do this he used "blade element theory," an underlying modeling concept quite different from those used for other simulators. This technology is the chief differentiator between Meyer's software and other flight simulator programs, resulting in a more accurate, fluid, and natural control feel and flying experience. It was at this point that he decided to call his creation "X-Plane" in honor of the series of advanced aircraft tested at Edwards Air Force Base during the 1960’s.



Austin recently explained the details incorporated into X-Plane 10: “Enter the plausible world for X-Plane 10. We build every city in X-Plane right up from the first blades of grass! Here is how it works: We started with grass or field textures for the entire world, included cities, and built up from there. For example, we took each individual parking lot and placed it on top of the grass. We then placed each building alongside the parking lot, in 3-D. Every building is real 3-D placed by an algorithm in a location that is physically possible. Every city has been built from the first blade of grass. There is no discoloration, blurriness, satellite misalignment, or 2-D Escher-illusions… all of the cities are completely plausible.”

Meyer’s further explained the scalable details: “For example the weather system is detailed enough that you see varying cloud wisps moving right around your airplane as you fly through weather for hundreds of miles in every direction without any repetition. This variation allows for fronts and thunderstorms, areas that are VFR or IFR, all simulated in this world and affecting you, depending on your location. If you want to fly as you would in reality you will work through, over, under, or around those thunderstorms and fronts in getting from one place to another, since the weather isn’t homogenous or repetitive. The simulation is totally scalable across a tremendous range.”



X-Plane customers vary widely, ranging from a youngster gleefully simulating an F-22 Raptor or Space Shuttle to student pilots first learning to fly, continuing on to seasoned pilots looking to maintain their flying skills and competency in the cockpit. Additionally, major aviation and aerospace companies around the world utilize the program in designing and testing their products, and it's likely that the designs of airline and general aviation aircraft you've ridden in or piloted were influenced by Meyer's X-Plane simulator.

It has been noted that the Department of Defense, C.I.A., NASA, countless aerospace companies, and even Microsoft are using X-Plane. Examples of higher learning institutes teaching with X-Plane include ERAU Prescott, Iowa State University, and Munich University of Applied Sciences.

Airline pilots report that they practice scheduled overseas flights on their laptop computers simulating the flight while on layover. Freight pilots report using X-Plane in order to remain sharp during off duty times or while preparing for their bi-annual flight checks.



Countless general aviation pilots use X-Plane to help maintain currency or to practice cross-country flying, saving time and money before heading to their airplanes. Cessna, Cirrus, Mooney, and countless other makes and models of aircraft are all there. Anything you can imagine can be touched, examined, or acquired as an add-on for the X-Plane user.
Invaluable cockpit features such as the Cirrus Garmin-Perspective system are available. There are more than two thousand additional aircraft models that can be downloaded from the Internet and many are free. If this isn’t enough, users can design their own airplanes and test fly their designs. It's all there waiting for you!

Are you ready to enter a new world? Try flying the Bell 206 helicopter on “X-Plane Helicopter”, one of the spin-off applications from X-Plane 9 for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Palm Pre. It is the only X-Plane Mobile app in which helicopter flight is modeled. These fascinating machines are modeled so accurately on these mobile devices that flying is almost as realistic as the full FAA-certified flight model used in the desktop version of X-Plane.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take off and land on an aircraft carrier or to be dropped from the wing of a B-52? How about imagining flying in the X-15 headed into the fringes of space at 4,000 mph? You may have dreamed about flying an F-16? Or maybe you want some cockpit familiarization with the Bonanza you are about to fly or the RV you’ve almost finished building. X-Plane can do all this and more!

Perhaps the most joyful X-Plane Mobile app is “X-Plane Glider”. This is the first X-Plane Mobile app to feature glider operations including towing, to soaring, to setting down for a landing. When flying the unpowered sailplanes users start out on their runway of choice behind the tow plane. Turning off the brakes gives the tow pilot the go ahead to take off, pulling the glider behind it to altitude. Once the craft has been successfully towed to altitude the real fun begins – soaring!



In addition to accurately simulating the physics of the aircraft X-Plane Glider can experience ridge lift, the phenomenon of wind blowing up and over the mountains, with the pilot climbing or descending to follow the contours of the terrain. Many ask “What’s next?” This question might be best answered with “Stay Tuned!” Over the years X-Plane has always been at the forefront in bringing the most realistic flight simulation possible, with a flight simulation experience so accurate that it has been adopted by countless aerospace and flight simulation companies. Now, with the release of X-Plane 10.20, Laminar has brought flight simulation to even greater heights.

Enter the 64-bit version of X-Plane 10.20!
Prior to X-Plane 10.20, commercial flight simulators were limited to 32-bit memory addressing, which limited them to three gigabytes of memory, thus limiting the accuracy and variety of aircraft, weather, and scenery that they could display.



Now, with the new 64-bit X-Plane 10.20, there is no limit to the amount of memory that X-Plane can access, thus removing limits on the scenery, weather, and aircraft detail that can be flown without computer crashes. This lets customers fly X-Plane 10.20 with unprecedented levels of variety and detail.

Today X-Plane operates on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux computers as well as Apple and Android mobile devices.
Stay tuned by dialing in each month to ASN for all the latest and greatest X-Plane news! For more information visit the X-Plane website.

With Greetings,

Judy Rice April 13th, 2013


Some words about the author Judith A. Rice,
Media Relations Consultant

Through-out her life, Rice has had a passion for aviation and aerospace technology. This interest and sixteen years in formal education eventually brought her into the field of aerospace education. She values the experience gained as a teacher in special education because it gave her a broad knowledge of the learning process.

She holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating, and is an advanced ground instructor and certified flight instructor ratings. She is the proud owner of a Grumman AA1A Yankee.

Her goal is to share her passion for aviation and education by connecting classrooms through-out the world during her upcoming world flight,
Think Global Flight.

2 comments

  1. André Bouaziz /

    Bonjour M. Austin,

    Votre simulateur X-Plane 10 est assez formidable. Cependant, il reste quelques améliorations urgente à apporter. Avant j’utilisé Flight Simulator 9 et FSX, et aussi j’ai également “piloté” sur X-plane 9. Connaissant bien les deux simulateur X-plane 9 et FSX de Microsoft, j’attendais le nouveau X-plane 10 avec impatience, mais pour tout dire j’ai été un peu déçus. J’attendais des améliorations concrète comme par exemple : 1) Un meilleurs ATC traduit en Français et sur le model de base de FSX. L’ATC, est très important pour le réalisme dans un simulateur, je ne comprends pas cette négligence. 2) Les sons, ne sont pas vraiment réaliste exemple des des roues à l’atterrissage, et aussi pour le System TCAS toujours le même son que sur X-plane 9, aucune amélioration. 3) Il n y a toujours pas de bâtiment sur la majorité des aéroports. Voila SVP M. Austin amélioré dans X-Plane 10, dans un premier temps au moins : l’ ATC (sur la base de FSX, et vous pourriez encore ajouter des améliorations comme une déclaration d’urgence) et traduit en Français , les son sur le TCAS doit être plus réaliste, les roues à l’atterrissage, et aussi l’interface de démarrage qui doit être plus facile comme un peu sur le model de FSX par exemple. Moi personnellement j’attends de voir ces améliorations avant d’acheter X-plane, peut être pour X-Plane 11 ? Merci à vous M. Austin.

  2. Hello Mr. Meyer,
    I would like to ask you about a feature I hope to see in X-Plane 10. I have been using X-Plane to fly from Paris to New York and do city-hopping around Europe. I train for emergencies and would like X-Plane to include a feature where I, for say, could contact ATC to declare “MAYDAY” or “PAN PAN PAN”. I believe this would be a great new addition to X-Plane since many professional pilots use this amazing flight simulator around the world, and could practice and prepare for emergency landings, if something were to go wrong. Thank you, and I hope you consider this feature in the next X-Plane update.
    Thank you!

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