Interesting perspective Bob,
I too am a licensed Radio Amateur (G8VLR) although FsX takes up most of my hobby time these days. My great love was scratch building or converting ex-pmr gear to work on amateur frequencies. I remember talking (mobile via a repeater) to another amateur who was an agent for a Radio Ham store and in our conversation after I had described my home-built gear he said "home brew is fine if you can't afford the real thing." My response was that I could afford his gear if all I wanted to do was talk...but for me the pleasure was all in making my own gear...and making it work right.
However, I have a basic mobile phone, for emergencies, just phoning and texting...a £10 top up does me for a year, but this little gadget is a full duplex walkie-talkie that, via repeaters can link me to anywhere in the world. I couldn't build that in such a small space for love nor money!
To build a virtual aircraft is also way beyond me. So I rely on on our devs to feed my need, be it freeware or payware, they are all deserving of our respect!