Community Spotlight: Alyson Johnson

Among the content creators within the Microsoft Flight Simulator player community, some post videos reviewing new releases to the Marketplace, some discuss news about upcoming Sim and World updates, and others create educational material. If you browse the Microsoft Flight Simulator category on YouTube or Twitch, you’ll find many people sharing their knowledge about aviation with their viewers.

Most of the educational content comes in the form of virtual flying lessons to teach sim pilots about flight techniques, aircraft systems, navigation, and radio procedures. Community member Alyson Johnson enjoys sharing her expertise in a different area: aviation history, or more specifically, women’s aviation history. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to shine the spotlight on Alyson today. 

A resident of Newcastle, UK, Alyson makes her living working in the technology industry, but she has long had a passion for flight. When she was in her 40s, she earned a private pilot license, but sadly she is now grounded for medical reasons. Microsoft Flight Simulator allows her to pursue her love of aviation in a virtual setting since she can’t currently fly in the real world.  

Alyson standing next to the Cessna 172 in which she learned to fly

On her Twitch channel, she guides her viewers in re-creations of famous flights of women pilots from the early days of aviation, with a special focus on her personal flying hero, Amelia Earhart. Digging deep into the lore of these famous flyers, Alyson shares detailed information garnered from documents such as logbooks, journals, news stories, and historical weather reports all while using Microsoft Flight Simulator to quite literally follow in the footsteps of these giants of aviation. We recently spoke with Alyson about her love of flying, both real and simulated. 

What do you enjoy most about Microsoft Flight Simulator?

The visuals are absolutely stunning. For a VFR pilot like myself, it’s incredible. The immense level of detail now lets me explore the skies from home with the ability to use VFR navigation as I used to do when flying for real. It’s amazing. In addition, being able to fly along and share the beauty with others is fantastic. The final part I most enjoy is the community itself. I’ve never found a home like I have in any online community like this before. It’s brilliant at how welcoming, engaging and interesting our community is. Long may it continue. 

What prompted you to start streaming Microsoft Flight Simulator on Twitch?

I was amazed at the visuals of Microsoft Flight Simulator when it was first announced and pre-ordered.  Whilst browsing Twitch one evening, I caught a twotonemurphy stream where he and the Fireflies were chasing Storm Eileen. It was a really funny stream, so I watched for a few weeks then joined one of the group flights. I soon became a moderator and community manager. In the community we’d all come up with ideas for epic flights to undertake, so I picked female aviatrixes as something to focus on. I announced I would be doing the flight and would stream on Discord. Twotonemurphy and others spoke to me and suggested I start streaming on Twitch. On 31 January 2021, I went live with my first stream and the first leg of the Amelia Earhart flight from Oakland to Burbank. It’s really taken off (no pun intended), and here I am over a year later! I’m so glad I followed their encouragement. 

Alyson seated at her computer.

Can you tell us about the historic flights you have completed so far? 

My first flight re-creation was flying the Earhart Trail in the Mooney M20R. This aircraft was used by Brian Lloyd. (Editor’s note: Brian Lloyd completed a historical re-creation of Earhart’s ill-fated 1937 around-the-world flight in 2017.)

My second re-creation was Amy Johnson’s 1930 flight from Croydon, England to Darwin, Australia in a PT-17 Stearman which flies at the same approximate speed of the De-Havilland 60 Moth used by Amy.

My third recreation was Lady Mary Heath’s flight around the UK to celebrate the reinstatement of Pilot Licenses for Women.

I am currently re-flying the Earhart Trail in the Lockheed Electra 10A Special. I had promised my viewers I would do this if the plane Amelia flew historically was ever released for the sim. I’m co-piloting this flight with CaptArash who is doing all the navigation using only Celestial Navigation and deductive reckoning. 

Above: a highlight video showing Alyson and other members of the community arriving at Howland Island, the destination of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan when they disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

What historic flight re-creations do you have planned for the future? 

Upcoming flights include:

  1. Lady Mary Heath’s flight from Cape Town, South Africa to Croydon, England
  2. Geraldine Mock’s around the world flight in a Cessna 180 – first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single engine aircraft solo
  3. On 17th June 2021, I will be flying across the Atlantic in the Fokker F.VII “Friendship”, the anniversary of the flight in which Amelia Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane, albeit as a passenger. Community member Jeppeson2001 has created Sea Ports for us to use for this flight.
  4. A collaboration with ArticTern following the adventures of Jimmie Angel and his discovery of Angel Falls in Venezuela. 
Do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share with the Microsoft Flight Simulator player community? 

With March 8 marking International Women’s Day, I’m looking forward to seeing more female pilots in the virtual skies. We have a few now but need to encourage more ladies to join in with us; they’d be very welcome! Wouldn’t it be great if we could start our own MSFS Ninety-Nines type organization?! 

If you’d like to fly along with Alyson Johnson and learn more about the history of women in aviation, you can find her livestreaming Microsoft Flight Simulator every Saturday on her Twitch channel. To conclude our Community Spotlight for International Women’s Day, Alyson left us with the following quotation from her idol, Amelia Earhart: 

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” -Amelia Earhart 

Amelia Earhart in 1928