Some of you asked about my flight simulator set up, so here's a geek post on the details. The computer is a Toshiba laptop with dual Pentiums at 2.16 GHz and 2 GB of RAM running Vista. I only have the one computer, with my data back ups being a stack of CD-ROMs and my access back up an iPod touch.
When I'm at home I have a CH Pro yoke and pedals which plug into the computer USB ports. I fasten the yoke to the keyboard drawer on the desk, and then jam cardboard into the tracks of the keyboard drawer, so it doesn't roll in and out when I try to make pitch changes. It still does a bit, so I try to control pitch more with trim and power, which doesn't work to well either, so then I use the autopilot. When I start up the simulator I sometimes find that the controls are unresponsive, but I've learned to unplug and replug the USB connectors and that usually fixes the problem.
When I'm on the road, I just have a little butterfly-shaped controller. It's made by Logitech; I think it might be called Wingman. It's about the same size as my hand, including fingers. I have to replace it fairly often, as the action gets damaged in my luggage, even though I pad it with clothes. It has two thumb yokes and lots of buttons and is covered all over with DYMO labels because I never remember what I've assigned to what. When I use my road controller I mostly just fly the autopilot. It's an exercise in sussing out the plates and planning descents and turns to be efficient and legal.
On screen my default aircraft is some fairly generic twin with a six pack panel. I think it's a Beechcraft. There's a King Air style autosynch display on the panel. NAV1 is the HSI and NAV2 is an integrated receiver with a big fat yellowish needle for the ADF and a double striped green needle for the VOR. Instead of having the usual standard head presentation of zero to ten degrees deflection and a TO/FROM indicator, it acts like an ADF. That means if I'm tracking to a waypoint in order to intercept an ILS, it's like ADF tracking, which is okay, because I like ADF tracking. The engine instruments are mostly hidden by the avionics display. I can see just enough of the left ones to know what power setting I have selected.
The only keyboard controls I use are G for Gear and B for Baro--i.e. to reset the altimeter to the current setting. My kudos to anyone who can actually manage a flight entirely from the keyboard.
My system description makes me laugh, because my first hard drive was 40 MB. I remember a friend who returned to Canada after a few years travelling and used my computer to update his resume and re-enter the job market. He asked, "Do you have the Word disks?" When he left the country, the typical computer only had enough memory for its own operating system, so you ran Word right off the disks, then saved your document to another disk. And by disk I mean a 5 1/4" square of thin flexible plastic inside which was the disc-shaped magnetic media. The disk was sealed inside the sleeve and you put the whole thing into a slot in the computer.