I can't believe it's been eight years since I joined SimAirline.net. Eight eventful years, I must say. When I joined back in May 2002 the main reason was to fly for Swissair Virtual. I didn't know SimAirline.net was actually a group of virtual airlines and run by a single person with everything taking place manually, from website updates, roster, and PIREP processing to emails and selecting aircraft and scenery for download.
I couldn't possibly believe one person was doing all that. I thought to myself, "Aaron Robinson must be a retired person with nothing in life to do." Later I discovered he was actually very close to my age with only two years difference with studies and life to enjoy. So, I thought to myself, since he can do it, I could help out and make this place a much bigger place.
First, there needed to be means of communication, and the Message Boards had just opened after being shut down for lack of usage. I grabbed the opportunity and became one of the most active voices there, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I only knew I wanted to fly for Swissair, and I couldn't do it in real life, so I could do it at least on my computer. For me, flying has been a dream since I was four years old; back then I was 20.
Second, a few years before joining I had come up with my own virtual airline and started repainting aircraft, a skill I had developed that proved crucial to getting things moving at SimAirline.net with a lot of aircraft missing from some of our virtual airlines.
In August, three months after I had joined, the management team was ready to take over some of the duties previously held by Aaron to help out expand the organization and make it a better place for our pilots. Much of that had been discussed and known already.
I remember throughout the time, until today, I tell people what I do on my computer in the virtual skies, and refer them to SimAirline.net's website and show them my duties and explain the details of how things actually work. I even wrote that in my resume, which helped earn me an opportunity to help manage an airshow held in Sharm El-Sheikh Airport here in Egypt.
As the days passed by, I started learning, developing and acquiring flying skills and knowledge with the hope that one day I'd become a real pilot and use them. I had decided to give this organization as much as I could, and the outcome of this is the Roster System, which took over a year to develop (see the April 2007 issue of Latitude). Honestly, there was a lot more planned for the Roster System than what you actually see. However, I'm glad enough that since the release of version 1.1.0 on 12 March 2009, which included major bug fixes, a major rewrite to the code to include documented error messages instead of the normal "Contact Aaron Robinson or Ali Abou-Zeid" message, there has not been a single error message logged into the system, and the errors that used to delay or mess up the monthly overhaul of the roster were all fixed.
A few days after the release of the roster system in April 2006, my life changed completely. As mentioned in the Latitude issue above, I entered the army and was for 14 months away every other week from any means of communication outside the army camp site. The other week I was at work, so there was no enough time to spend for SimAirline.net. Here time zones played a major factor: while before, I could stay up late to match Aaron's time zone and discuss organization issues and make decisions together, during army service I had to wake up at 5 every morning, whether I was going to the army or work, so it was almost impossible to communicate with Aaron. We had to use SMS for urgent matters, otherwise email was our only means of communication.
I finished the army service in June 2007, and by late July 2007 I was in South Africa earning my Private Pilot License, and since then, the flying career took hold of me, my time, my efforts, and my thinking. I have excelled in each and every single aspect of my flying to this day, be it theory, practical knowledge, or general knowledge. And all that because I started it here at SimAirline.net, which I unfortunately had to put aside for a while. For those who did not read my post on the Message Boards, I'm now a commercial pilot with a type-rating on Airbus A320 as co-pilot, and flying for a new private Egyptian airline called Nile Air.
All of that contributed to the decision to close SimAirline.net this month, as I didn't have enough time to fix the bugs, and add features to the roster system, as well as the reasons Aaron had mentioned in his announcement.
It was a pleasure being a major part of SimAirline.net and working along side Aaron, and many others. I have definitely learned a lot, not only flying related, but it has been a great environment and learning experience.
As a final word, I would like to again apologize to all those who are affected by the closure of SimAirline.net, as I was a part of why this is taking place. As much as I feel guilty for it, I hope you understand it was the dream to fly that led me to step back and focus on my flying. It all paid off as I had been praised for my flying skills from each and every single instructor with whom I have flown, including my A320 type-rating instructor who didn't believe himself when he saw me flying as well as the chief pilot in the company I work for. He complimented my flying skills by questioning if the autopilot was still on as I was flying precisely on final approach with autothrust off.
For all those who have helped keep this organization what it is today, pilots, management, and last but not at all least Aaron, I say, thank you for everything.