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Author Topic: 10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS  (Read 3065 times)

10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS
« on: January 09, 2019, 08:58:18 PM »
As part of the 10th anniversary of AirwaySim we're posting a series of blog-style posts to tell you more about the history and background of AirwaySim.

This first post in the series introduces the people behing AirwaySim.


10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS

Believe it or not, AirwaySim started out as a hobby project for one flight simulation and aviation enthusiast. All this happened in 2006 with first public release in 2009, but already before that the lead developer and "the guy" behind AirwaySim, Sami Puro, had been involved in various online communities and websites related to aviation for more than a decade.

Roots in the flight sim community
Sami, today in his mid-30s, was in his teenage years involved in flight simulation community in Finland. And in the 1990s he was already running a website called Flight Simulator Finland where people could download add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator series and talk in the forums. From year 2000 onwards the site greatly expanded and was called Flight Simulator Nordic since also people from Sweden joined in, and dozens of different people were part of the freelance & non-profit staff to create content and moderate the forums at the very popular site. Many of those people contributing and visiting the site, including Sami, work nowadays in the fast-growing aviation sector in Finland, and the early era of flight sim online communities and online gaming was an inspiration to many young guys for their future choice of profession.

The flight simulation forums also attracted people interested in real aviation, since there were no such forums available in Finland at the time. So a spin-off from the flight sim site, was created and that remains active even today. Here too Sami is the person responsible for the website but many other persons help in the administration. All of these projects have been hobbies for Sami, which was of course natural considering his age back then and the motivation and interest towards aviation and flight sims. These projects have worked on non-profit basis with the advert incomes were being used in server hardware and other costs. And the numerous people who have been involved in the administration and other tasks in these early years have been a huge resource and many of them are great friends too.

Growing into real-life aviation
Later on, after high school and military service, Sami also started his pilot training at the legendary Helsinki-Malmi airport in year 2002. Malmi airport, by the way, is one of the first land airports in Finland (opened in 1936) and is today used for pilot training and general aviation. The status of this historical airport is currently highly endangered since the short-sighted politicians of the city plan to mow down the airport and fill it with apartment blocks.

Sami graduated from the training in 2004 and started flying with ATR 72 aircraft for the Estonia/Tallinn-based Aero Airlines (part-owned by Finnair). During his years living in Estonia Sami, a great fan on simulation games of all genres, found out that while some airline simulation games did exist, none of them were really up to any great quality. The idea of developing something more complicated than just a flightsim website grew bit by bit and at some point in 2006 the first early ideas and tests of own airline simulation game were laid out.

Like all previous projects and websites, also AirwaySim started out as a small hobby project, and first the idea was just "to see if it can be made, and how hard would it be". Interestingly, the airline simulation game was not the only option but also a flight planning application for flight sim purposes was considered, and this is one of the reasons why the aircraft and performance data is very accurate in AirwaySim.

In the development of the airline sim the online community and friends from Sami's flightsim websites were a big help in giving the first feedback and ideas (too many to name any individuals here though!). From there the project slowly expanded and later on became a commercial venture. But more of that in later chapters...

Since the years in Tallinn, Sami has moved back to Finland and lives in the suburbs near the capital Helsinki. He has been flying for the flag carrier Finnair since 2007 and has been a captain in the narrow-body Airbus A320 fleet since 2017. Flown fleet types include all of the A320 variants and total flying experience is today just short of 10 000 hours. The car of choice is a Volvo wagon (for which the old flightsim friends, nowadays also airline captains and driving BMWs, will always remind of) ;D

From hobby into something more serious
Today the AirwaySim website, trademark and service is being run by Finnish company called AviaDesign where Sami is a part-owner together with his relative. This is a micro-enterprise employing two persons part-time, and Sami is the person responsible for all operations, development and management related to AirwaySim.

The tiny office of the company is located in Vantaa, Finland. But due to the airline work, the actual true location of the one-man office is usually somewhere else. Sometimes the preferred office location is outside and occasionally during office hours a beer is allowed too.  ;)

Or sometimes some very remote place works well too.

Like in the earlier hobby projects the AirwaySim project too relies very heavily on freelancers, contributors and regular users. While on the outside it may seem very much like a one-man project (to which AirwaySim in all honesty to a very big extent actually is), there have been hundreds of people who have helped the process on this 10-year journey.

The development plan has always been that Sami is responsible for the code and oversight of the project, and other day-to-day operations. Outside help is then hired when needed. For example nearly all of the interface and graphics design were outsourced and we have worked with several great individuals over the years, such as Don, Roman and Alex. At this time we'd like also to give a shout to any talented web-UI designers out there - if you're interested in working with us to develop AWS further, drop a message to Sami.

One of the biggest areas of contributions are the airport and aircraft data. Here we have relied heavily on the user base and at least 200 different people have contributed with some sort of data over the course of these years. In order to make things a bit more professional, from time to time we've also made paid freelancer contracts to help us further. Thanks go for example to Tiina for handling social media, and Albert for recent aircraft data contributions.

The feedback and active reporting of issues not discovered in internal testing and many ideas for improvements and new features come nearly solely from our active current user community. This is a great thing to see and like in the old days of the flight simulation community in the 1990s and early 2000s the forums and community is a great overall resource. Sometimes the requests and reports have a backlog, but all items are always analyzed and checked soon after they are posted. So keep them coming  ;)

And the last but definitely not least are the gurus lurking in the background who have helped in the administration and upkeep of the server hardware, Jari and Samuli.

AirwaySim has been a great success and became something much more than originally thought. However it has been an intentional decision to keep AirwaySim mentally at the level of a "small hobby project", similar to where it all started. All of the people involved have their day jobs, families and other hobbies, and while the financial potential of the commercial venture in a larger & even more professional level could be greater than today, it still wouldn't be so big that it could support several people working full-time for the company and development. After all a serious airline simulation is a very niche genre. Probably like many users here, Sami too is bit of a purist and can't approve if AirwaySim would turn into an extremely simple "candyland" mobile app pleasing the 15-year-olds.

That said however the plan for the future is to get more people involved, and share the burden of actual development and planning more. The usage habits, devices and technology are changing very quickly (what phone you had in 2006?) and AirwaySim needs to evolve too. Not just in terms of features and adding more data, but also in terms of how it is used.

At this point, a great big thanks to everyone who have helped AirwaySim on this journey and we hope you to see you in the future too.  :D

AWS chief guru Sami pictured here on a flight from Rovaniemi, in Arctic Circle in Finland, at Christmas Eve 2018.


In the next chapter of this series we'll look into the very early stages of AirwaySim and how everything started.

Remember also the discount for 20% from all of your Credits purchases by using the code "AWSTEN" at the purchase page. This code is valid until Jan 16th 2019, 23:59.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 10:05:50 PM by Sami »

Offline dkontod1

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Re: 10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 02:07:42 PM »
Great game mate, thoroughly enjoying it since the early days! Well done :)

Offline zehking

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  • Posts: 2
Re: 10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2019, 12:56:37 PM »
Now I understand why a lot of things are so accurate in this game. Keep up the good work  :)

Offline Moseby

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Re: 10 years of AirwaySim - People behind AWS
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2019, 11:11:11 AM »
Ah ha!  Now I even have more of a reason to visit Finland...home of my favorite Formula One driver Kimi Raikonen.  We should all meet at his tavern, tell lies and drink good Finnish beer.  What could possibly go wrong?


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