June 21st, 2009 by Marianne McCann
I’ve made posts about this here before, the idea that in a world where we can do virtually anything, why is it we opt to follow routines from our first lives? We can live in sunken grottos, yet many opt for a simple suburban home. We can create cities in the clouds, yet often opt for storefronts firmly embedded in virtual bedrock. We always come back to some real-world basis for our world. Is it that our imaginations are limited, tethered to reality, or is it that we relate to things closer to our reality much more than those outside our possibilities?
In Second Life, we can fly. A simple tap of my “home” key, and I can hover over the virtual earth, ready to zip around like Supergirl. Its quicker than walking or running, usually more efficient, and just a lot cooler.
Yet many, myself included, purchase and fly virtual aircraft. Indeed, virtual aircraft that look like real aircraft, when we could have a vehicle far removed form the realm of possibility. Some of these even have built in limitations. Take for example the PT-17 Stearman from Cubey Terra.
It’s a great little plane. not the fastest, but still have some kick to it. It also has a limited amount of fuel. You can burn out the engine if you go too fast for too long, and you will kill it if you drop it into the water.
Add all that to the hazards of inter-sim travel as it is — bad sim crossings, ban lines and full parcels, and such — and one wonders why you would ever want to be in a vehicle in the first place.
I think part of it is the challenge. I love taking the Stearman out for a flight from Bay City Municipal Airport to Abbotts Aerodrome and back. That round trip is about a full tank of gas for that plane, especially with some of the navigation one has to do to avoid “problem spots.” I’ve had to coast into Bay City a time or two, and it’s not uncommon for my gas tank to run dry before I taxi to the hangar. but I’m always a little giddy for having made it back, knowing that I did not have to rely on my silk parachute for a dunk into the Gulf of Lauren.
Part two is what I said above. We can relate to it in some ways. I can only fly, unassisted in my dreams. IRL I have been in commercial jets a few times, and once got to take a flight in a friends 50s-era prop trainer. So on one level or another, I “get” this, it feels right.
There is an opposite side to this, too. I will never own a Stearman PT-17 in real life. Aside form it being simply impractical for me to have such a thing, I would not particularly want such. Too much hassle. But in Second Life, it’s only as far as my inventory — and I need not take classes or apply for a pilot’s license!
Likewise, my other usual aircraft is one that is as far out of the realm of possibility as even the most fantastical spacecraft as far as I’m concerned. the Terra Aerius blimp. Seats five, and features a 20x20x60 hull. I call mine the Airship Sansara, with tail marking SL1.
It’s unlikely I will ever ride in one, though I did get to see inside the cockpit of a Goodyear blimp once. I’ll certainly never fly one. Yet in SL the other night, I took members of my virtual family and a couple friends our for a tour of the tri-city waterways. First off, I can report that — aside from a false start that caused us all to take a bath in Battery Passage —
we completed our tour without incident and landed back at the airport. Secondly, it was a great, fun, social time with friends: one that I could simply never do in my first life.
I recommend it. Give it a shot, whether you get one of the above planes or something else, and whether you fly out of Abbotts, Gray, Bay City (which has another privately owned airport in the city proper as well as the future Info Hub in Hau Koda), Hollywood, or some of the other runways.