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Monday, March 31, 2014

Virtual Pilots

In the Malaysian Airlines 370 mystery, much was made of the simulator that the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Shah, had in his home. Because there are so few facts, speculation has run rife, including questions about whether Shah had used the simulator to plot something evil before this flight. However, investigators who have checked the hard drives of his simulator say there is nothing on there that even comes close to a smoking gun.

It seems that Shah, in addition to being an actual pilot, was like hundreds of thousands of other virtual pilots who use software to fly the world without leaving their homes. To find out more about this culture, I invited Justin Friedland onto my America Weekend show. Friedland is a member of VATSIM, a platform for virtual pilots and virtual air controllers. He explained how Shah's setup is not at all unusual, why he and others love to pretend they're in real cockpits, where they go, and how it works.

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