On a Long, Grounded Journey…

PA321_Taca_FS9

Life is one long journey.  At time we are in the skies, below the water and, most often, on the ground.  Regardless of your life purpose, there are times we all must focus our energy on other things, letting some of the things we love fall through the cracks.

Such is the case with A Reality of My Own.  I started this blog so many years ago to document my experiences, flights, and favorite add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I am always flattered when I look back on the history of this blog and the visits it receives on a daily basis.  I never had any other goal for A Reality of My Own than to combine my love for the hobby of flight simulation with my passion for writing.  Since more than one of you look at this blog on a regular basis, the success makes me realize I am not alone.

The past few years have seen the demise of Microsoft’s control of flight simulator, larger, bigger screened iPhones/Androids, and even the appearance of self-driving cars on our streets.  Like the world around us, flight simulator has changed.   The new players are Laminar Research’s X-Plane (9 & 10) and Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D (their interpretation of the MS franchise).   While I personally never got into Prepar3D after their 2.0 release, I have fallen in love with X-Plane.

So, let’s begin a new chapter of the A Reality of my Own journey and explore the world of X-Plane together.  In fact, we might even explore the World of Tanks (WoT) a bit too.  War Gaming’s phenomenal MMO is a love or hate it experience, but I have found some tidbits the greater community might find interesting and they fit in well with the A Reality of My Own journey. Hope you don’t mind.

Over the coming weeks, I will work on updating the look and feel of this blog and also start tracking down broken links.  There is a lot to do and a lot to share.

 

Prepar3D Version 2 Is Out!

Prepar3D, by Lockheed Martin, takes a giant leap away from FSX with the latest release, version 2!  Out today, version 2 brings some pretty cool changes and adds a few cool aircraft as well.

prepar3d goes to version 2

First off, the rendering nows runs on DirectX 11.  This is a serious upgrade the FSX engine which ran on DirectX 9.  This enables pretty stellar dynamic shadows and a new HDR light system.  They upgraded the user interface, so the dejavu FSX experience is history!

< For a full list of Version 2 features, click here >

Second, four new aircraft join the virtual hangar.  Of course two Lockheed Martin models are included (why did you think otherwise?). The F-22 and F-35 are welcome additions.  The Extra 300s from Alabeo is a great gift for the fast and furious crowd.  Lastly, one of my favorite aircraft of all time joins the sim as default, the Beechcraft A-36 by Carenado (one of the most favorite modelers).

There is a great video by Michaelc136 over at YouTube showing off the new Version 2 UI, system preferences, etc.  Check it out here.

Sounds great, right?  It is, until you realize that being an early adopter counts against you for this “upgrade”.  Users who purchased v1.4 or early, have to purchase the sim all over again at full price.  Yep, $200 for a full license or sign your life away at $9.95/mo as a developer (annual upfront Developer is $120). This leaves a sour taste in this blogger’s mouth.  With X-Plane 10.25 retailing for $60, flat fee, and it offers an arguably competitive experience, users have a great excuse to say goodbye to Lockheed Martin even before trying it.  <  For more information on licensing options, click here >

Anyhow, version 2 is an impressive upgrade.  As soon as I can negotiate a lower rate, I will be purchasing version 2.  Stay tuned…

A Smaller Side of Aviation

As an Analyst, I spend a lot of time paying attention to outliers in data sets.  Outliers are the odd balls that typically sit at one end of the spectrum or the other, separate from the population group.  Light sport aircraft (LSA) definitely fits into the outlier category of aviation.  This growing segment of ultra-small aircraft provide a restricted, but easy access to the friendly skies for those who may not become full private pilots in larger aircraft.   

One of the best LSA aircraft for X-Plane 9 and 10 is the Tecnam P2004 Bravo by TexasRanger.  Available for download from the .org file library, this great little aircraft is great to spend a few hours in shooting touch and goes and exploring more detailed scenery that screams for a low and slow experience. 

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I spent about an hour conducting touch and goes at Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA) in this tiny bird and have to say that I appreciate the light feel and nimble characteristics.  The Italian made competitor to the Cessna 152 trainer, the P2004 does not try to be anything more than basic airborne transportation.  Even though it is relatively forgiving to fly, it is easy to over control the aircraft and end up in trouble. 

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Jumping back into Carenado’s Cessna C172N for a quick trip down to Camarillo, the 172 felt heavy, almost as if I was flying a Cadillac.  The Tecnam was surprisingly agile which gives the small-ish 172 a much heavier feel.  However, the 172 did feel much more in control when I let go of the controls.  Both aircraft are a lot of fun to fly, but I really look forward to spending more time in the Tecnam, especially in X-Plane 10. 

Download: < .org Tecnam Bravo P2004

A San Francisco Sunset and A Seattle Sunrise

Taking off from San Francisco can be exhilarating.  Add a low sun with cool lighting and you have the makings of an awesome screenshot.   Once you start to notice the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and downtown’s skyline, you have a piece of art.

 

SkySpirit2010 Boeing 767--200 framed by San Francisco landmarks

SkySpirit2010 Boeing 767–200 framed by San Francisco landmarks

On separate flight with the TDS Boeing 787-8 lifting off from SEA-TAC, the early morning lighting  gleaned off the fuselage and created another artistic screenshot.

TDS 787

TDS Boeing 787-8 in FSX leaving SEA-TAC for Tokyo in the early morning light.

It is no wonder sunset and sunrise are the most popular times for flights in flight simulator.  Whether you fly in FSX, P3D, or X-Plane, awesome lighting and memorable moments are all around your virtual world.

Weather, Fog and a Cool View

 

Sometimes, the less than ideal weather that causes that voice in the back of your brain to scream, “don’t fly! don’t fly!”, really is the best weather to fly in.  Not only for entertainment purposes, but also because it can make you a better pilot.

b747

I recently took the SSG 747-8f out for a spin around the Seattle area.  The Cargolux beast took to the air from Everett/Paine Field and quickly became consumed in fog.  Flying IFR was great on the ascent, but changed to chase view in X-Plane to capture the above image.  Sorta of reminds me of jaws coming out of the deep blue sea.  Without the tail, the sexy, curvaceous fuselage really pops.

Happy Flying!

 

Flying the DHC Dash7 in FSX

Years ago, Milton Shupe and the rest of the Flightsimonline development team released a stunning de Havilland Canada Dash-7 for FS2002/FS2004.  This aircraft became a remarkable workhorse in my virtual hanger.  A four engined turboprop with STOL capabilities clearly is a very capable aircraft that earns its respect.

Sadly, when FSX debuted, the Dash-7 was left behind.  While it did sorta work in FSX, the usual bugs such as disappearing propellers and strange flight dynamics made this aircraft far from a joy to fly.  Lucky for FSX users, Shupe and team ported the recently updated FS2004 version to FSX.  I am happy to say that my workhorse is back for another beating in the FSX virtual hanger.

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

I flew it on a two test flights between KSBA and KONT and couldn’t have been happier.  The sounds, the virtual cockpit and cabin/cargo, the flight dynamics and the sexy fuselage all live up the expectation of its original release.  We are indebted to Shupe, Flightsimonline, and the rest of the team for bringing this update to our hangers.

< Visit the DHC Dash-7 Homepage >

Now go do some intense bush flying with tons of cargo!

FlyJSim Releases Boeing 727 for X-Plane

As if Christmas came early this year, FlyJSim beat Santa Claus to the virtual flying gift with their long awaited release of the Boeing 727 for X-Plane 10.  Available as stand alone packages or a complete pack, the group offers the 727-100, 727-200Adv, and the 727-200F variants.  If this release is anywhere close to the quality of their existing Dash 8 Q400 model, the 727 is going to be an awesome experience!

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

If that hasn’t gotten your mouth watering, available separately are livery packs, such as “The American Classics Pack” from XPJets for the -200Adv model.  You can also purchase a pack that contains all 54 liveries across all three variants.

What surprises me is that by the time you buy the Complete 727 Model Pack ($62) with the Complete Livery Pack ($19.95), you are pushing north of $80.  While the sticker shock makes me change my underwear, when you realize you are getting a complete package of one of the most detailed and advanced models for X-Plane 10, suddenly that sticker shock seems like a bargain.  Of course, you could just purchase your favorite variant $32 individually.

< click to see the purchase options at the .Org store >

I know what I am doing this weekend… flying the virtual skies in a classic three holer!

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

Update – Purchased the complete variant pack and the complete livery pack. After a simple installation, I took the -100 variant in an Eastern Airlines “whisperjet” livery out for a flight from KPDX to KSEA.  I can say that I am speechless.  Everything I love about the Dash 8, applies to the 727.  The detailed cockpit, sounds, and exterior model are simply the best and justify the expense.

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

With three models and 54 liveries to explore, this X-Plane 10 add-on is going to keep me busy.  Time to  sit down with the manuals and start with cold and dark cockpit.  Full review coming soon!