Shot of Lone Star Museum




FlightSimExpo 2023: A Reflection on Our First Expo

Last Friday a group of more than 20 members of the Microsoft Flight Simulator team arrived at the Lone Star Museum to begin setup of our booth with both enthusiasm and a twinge of apprehension as we embarked on our first ever FlightSimExpo experience. Some of us shook hands for the first time, as our team switched to fully remote during the pandemic and has since grown considerably across the globe. We knew for as much as it was a gathering place to meet the community, it was also an opportunity for our team to finally be with each other in person, too.

Anticipation grew as we finished setting up our booth, and the product announcements began early Friday evening after a kickoff from the FS Thunderbirds:

Jorg and Seb eventually took the stage at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel and revealed the Ford 4-AT Trimotor, City Update: Texas, and, of course, more information on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024. Other fascinating product reveals included BeyondATC, upcoming hardware from both Thrustmaster and Honeycomb, and iniBuild’s next MSFS airliner – the A300-600.

Our first interaction with the community came on Friday evening as we had a private get-together at the 1940s Air Terminal Museum – a fascinating and beautiful backdrop to talk flight sim and aviation. As the atrium of the museum filled up, the sounds of excited conversation and laughter dominated the space for the next two hours. Content creators and community members alike met with their friends, industry partners shook hands and shared a drink, and members of our MSFS team began the long but exciting weekend of meeting core simmers and content developers in person.

Jorg Neumann sitting with Theisomizer (3rd Party Developer) and WombiiActual (3rd Party Developer)

Edson from Parallel 42 (3rd Party Developer) with Jayne (MSFS Senior Community Manager)

This set the stage for a weekend we can only describe as electrifying (no pun intended, but there were a few severe thunderstorms to kick off the event in style!). From the moment the doors opened to the expo at 9:00am Saturday morning, every single member of our team was on and engaged and chatting with a wide range of simmers.

From Jorg, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator:

Flight Sim Expo 2023 was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the entire Microsoft Flight Simulator team in attendance and for me personally. What set this apart from other events is the omnipresent love for aviation and flight simulation. We are planning on returning next year!

From Tyler, Pilot Tester/Mediocre Landing Challenge Flyer:

What can I say but, ‘Wow!’ I can’t thank all of the incredibly talented and passionate people that I was able to meet this weekend at FS Expo enough for welcoming me with (literally in some cases) open arms! The weekend was filled with beautiful karaoke, nerding out about NDB approaches, and having my landing challenge record destroyed by just about every person who touched the yoke at our booth. I had an absolute blast! Being able to share in the excitement and love of all things aviation with likeminded new friends is something I can remind myself of every day to keep pushing and testing our aircraft to be the best they can be for a community that I know loves and deserves it!

Tyler running our raffle giveaway on Sunday afternoon

From Khoi, Simulation/Aircraft Quality Lead:

My overall experience was very positive. Everyone I met was super friendly and clearly passionate about flight simulation. It was wonderful to talk to users, answer their questions, and help them resolve issues they were having with the sim. The world we live in is very different than it was 5 years ago. I don’t think many of our users are aware, but our team is located around the world. As a result, attending the expo was not only an opportunity to meet and interact with our users, it was also an opportunity to meet and interact with one another. And not just one another but also our partners! I met folks I’ve been working with from iniBuilds, Carenado, Thrustmaster, and Honeycomb! Special shoutout to the Tobii folks who made their home at our booth! Random thoughts: Houston is humid as heck! Everything is bigger in Texas… even the pours of whiskey!

From Shaun, Director of Consumer Engagement:

This was my first time attending a Flight Sim Expo and let me tell you Houston did not disappoint. While I could have done without the almost 100 degree weather each day, I had the most amazing time at the expo. First, the Lone Star Museum is incredible! What an amazing space to host such an amazing event. Second, the volunteers. I cannot say enough about them. So many people came together to put on this incredible event for all of us to participate in and enjoy. I just want to say the biggest thank you to everyone involved that help put on such an amazing expo. Third, the community at the expo was the absolute best. So many amazing people that have such a deep rooted passion for simming and aviation.

It’s hard to find words to express the amount of fun I had hanging out, and talking with this community.  To get the opportunity to speak with so many people who came up to me to chat about their experience with Microsoft Flight Simulator going as far back as the first iteration, It really blew me away. Hearing all of the amazing stories from the versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator past, and the excitement for the future was the best. To get to share in the excitement with them in person is something I will remember for a long time.

While many commented on how great our setup was I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight our amazing partners who helped make our setup a success. Next Level Racing helped us create an amazing landing challenge setup along with several awesome giveaways. MSI presented us with amazing laptops, PC’s, and headsets to keep everything running smooth. Honeycomb, Tobii, and Thrustmaster continued to be amazing partners by supporting our giveaways as well as booth on the show floor. Thrustmaster even went as far as to reduce their show floor display to ensure players at our booth had a great experience. The old saying is it takes a village, and I am grateful to have so many people in our corner.

I hope that everyone who came by and said hi had as much fun as I did. Thank you to each and everyone of you for stopping by and saying hello to myself and the rest of the team.

From Jayne, Senior Community Manager:

I had a chance to attend a few of the seminars throughout the weekend between booth shifts. Perhaps one closest to my heart, I got to watch Howard Forder (ForderLearntoFly) give a 45-minute presentation on How to Start Flying From Home, which introduced new simmers to the world of hardware and setups. Learning about a sim setup from the most minimal peripherals to full-blown home cockpit, Forder posed the question, “How realistic do you want your flying fix to be?” I spent over a year with Forder on Twitch as he was my “Virtual CFI” in the skies and taught me so much about realistic flying in the sim, so being able to watch him present on this topic brought me immense happiness.

Howard Forder from ForderLearntoFly

Right after that, I enjoyed another intro seminar from Sérgio Costa of on how to start flying helicopters. His insight into the process was extremely valuable and gave simmers a realistic guide to follow in order to jump into the mentally-challenging world of helicopter flying. This presentation calmed even the most nervous simmer that didn’t know how to get started!

Sérgio Costa from

Perhaps the highlight of seminars for me was the Content Creation panel with FlightswithJoel, twotonemurphy, scrufytam, CaptArash, PilotStudd, and SparkyPilot86. The Twitch/Youtube community, while niche, showed up in spades to support these content creators. I learned more definitively than I ever had that the flight sim community does not compete with each other – every content creators supported and cheered each other on throughout the expo. In the end, they all wanted to see their hobby grow in numbers for more people to enjoy the virtual skies. I felt comforted to be among such heartfelt and sincere creators.

A huge shoutout to Sky Command, who was both the Technical Director and one of the content creators as the expo. I witnessed firsthand the passion and care he has for bringing the flight sim community together. His energy helped many feel at ease and comfortable, and his ability to “command” a room and lift spirits was an expo highlight. Congrats to him and the entire Flight Sim Expo team for fostering such a positive environment!

A mix of content creators post in front of the Lone Stare Museum sign

Stronger Team Bonds

As we mentioned previously, this was one of the few times we’ve had a chance to gather as a Microsoft Flight Sim family. Both Working Title and Carenado joined us for team dinners and at our booth, and together we had many moments to share with each other in person.

Our team has a fun tradition we started at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last year: we give each team member a call sign whenever someone does something unforgettable – for good or otherwise. At FlightSimExpo, we were pleased to give our newest Marketplace engineer the callsign “1 OF EACH” after he ordered every dessert on the menu for the table at one of the dinners, impressing every sweet tooth in the room. It was even more memorable when we realized that the other table (we had to split into two large tables during dinner time due to size), ordered exactly zero desserts, so half of us stuffed our faces with chocolate cakes and crème brûlée while the others watched in jealousy.

It was silly moments like this that brought our team together in more ways than we imagined, and we all formed closer friendships with each other throughout the weekend.

Part of the MSFS Team that attended FSExpo

Coming Home

As we reflect on the entire experience, it is very clear to us that this was not only a necessary event for us to attend, but one that filled our cup and lit an even larger fire of enthusiasm for the work that we do. The core sim community is the heart and soul of Microsoft Flight Simulator, and this past weekend, we were extremely fortunate and honored to learn from our greatest supporters, critics, and cheerleaders.

As we continue to build and iterate on this 40-year-old franchise, it is moments like FlightSimExpo 2023 that will drive us to put out the best product we possibly can. Flight simming is not just a game or even just a sim; it is a robust, passionate community built around a core love for aviation and for the hobby. We respect and admire the efforts that went into making the expo a success, and we look forward to what the future holds!