The New Toy for FSX – MD-81

For those of us using FSX the add-ons are really starting to multiply. With SP1 released a few months back, a wider number of simmers are able to use FSX and developers are taking more interest in the latest simulation from Microsoft. For some developers, modifying existing FS9 favorites for use in FSX is a priority. One such FS9 aircraft is the McDonnell Douglas MD-81.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft started out as an improved and stretched version of the popular DC-9 series. With more efficient engines, more capacity due to the longer fuselage, and redesigned wings, the MD-80 series became a popular member in many airline fleets. Its first flew in October 1979, but sales didn’t take off until the more powerful MD-82 came to market with American AIrlines placing an initial order for 67 aircraft in 1984. Production ended in 1999 with 1,191 units built. Many are still flying today. <SAS MD-81 landing at ESSA>

While there are a few freeware and payware versions of the MD-80 series aircraft for FS2004, there is only one freeware version that includes a virtual cockpit. Designed by Mitsushi Yutaka and Warren C. Daniel, this MD-81 and MD-82 model was a complete aircraft with sounds and an awesome panel that weighed in as a hefty 65mb download. This FS2002 and FS2004 model, unfortunately, never rose to the popularity of the SGA model, possibly because of its advanced virtual cockpit and download size.

Ported to FSX by Claus Vendelboe Holmberg, this plane really takes on a new life. The virtual cockpit comes alive and the detail of the model is still quite good. Flaps are fully animated, and there is even an animated air-stair for use at those regional airports. This freeware model is certainly as good, if not better than some payware models. Only two liveries are available, an old school SAS and an SAS new colors.

SAS MD-81 at the Gate

Despite the eye candy, how does it fly? I decided to take it for a short flight across the creek, from Amsterdam to London. Leaving the gate, the engines took a little longer than usual to spool up and get the aircraft moving. This is when I noticed how awesome the included sound package is with very accurate internal and external sounds adding to the enjoyment of this sim. I had plenty of time to test the ground handling as I had to taxi all the way to the other end of Amsterdam (EHAM). My one nitpick is that it doesn’t turn as sharply at low speed as other models I’ve taxied, which made turns a little interesting.

The Terminal from Virtual Cockpit

After setting flap, adjusting the trim and getting take off clearance, I pushed the throttles forward and we started to roll. The rotation was smooth and it easily took flight. However, I noticed two things. First, I quickly found that the FDE was different than I expected. I found the aircraft rolled very easily, more easily than a GA aircraft. This meant that I had to be extremely precise with the joystick input. I think this is an issue with porting an FS2004 model to FSX as I experienced this same issue with Project Airbus’s A320. Second, the airspeed indicator was pegged at 280 knots. What is a GA gauge doing in a jetliner?

VC SAS EHAM Take Off Speed Indicatorr Pegged!

Once I got used to the “feel” of the handling, I headed straight toward London (EGLL), climbing to 25,000 feet. Setting the autopilot, I had a chance to do a walk around of the model. The night flight pointed out an issue with lighting. First, there is some type of “bleed” into the nose of from the cockpit. I was able to make it go away by turning off the cockpit lights, but then I couldn’t see anything. The second thing that I noticed was that the cabin lights only come on when the landing lights are on, so during the flight when the landing lights are off, the cabin seems to be dark, which is not realistic. I consider these to be minor issues.

SAS MD-81 Climbing MD-81 Virtual Cockpit

After a miles, I decided to warp time and have the sun come up as we approached the coast of England. This way I could appreciate the model’s day time qualities and make the approach to EGLL in daylight. Having the early morning sun reflect off the fuselage made me appreciate why I love FSX. Frame rates were around 25fps, which is better than I expected. Typically flying a GA aircraft, I get 30+.

SAS MD-81

The late descent into EGLL was quite interesting as I had to circle to lose some altitude. As I stated my approach, I was reminded that conditions called for a 20 knot crosswind. This was fine as I flew with the autopilot until short final. Stick flying the last mile or so gave me one last chance to get used to the rolling of the FDE. Needless to say, I was relieved when the wheels touched the runway and the reverse thrusters engaged.

SAS MD-81 Landing EGLL

Arriving at the gate, I turned off the engines and reflected on the flight, the airplane and the sim. My impression, the flight was short, the plane was great and complimented by a remarkable sim. I think that Claus Holmberg did us all a great favor when he adapted it for use in FSX. I just wish that Warren would release a patch for the FDE to work properly in FSX. Although there are a few bugs in the lighting, I think I will just fly it during the day. I will also keep my fingers crossed that some painters will produce a few liveries to compliment the model.

NEW SAS MD-81 FSX Old SAS MD-81

So, what the hell are you waiting for? go get it! This is a must have for FSX.

Pros:
– Its freeware
– Outstanding visual model
– Great Virtual Cockpit
– Sound and panel package are topnotch

Cons:
– FDE is a little tricky
– Some lighting bugs
– GA gauge is pegged
– Huge download size

File size: 71.4mb
File name: sas_md-81.zip (avsim , simviation)
Author(s): Mitsushi Yutaka, Warren C Daniel, FSX update by Claus Vendelboe Holomberg

Texture Add-on pack: md81_add_on.zip (simviation) by Fred Miller

Edit: Corrected misaligned images.
Edit 10jun09: added download link to simviation as Avsim recovers.

Halloween 2007 Pumpkin carving

It has been years since I carved a pumpkin.  When I went off to college, I never had the chance and I now live in a place where trick or treaters would have to be on drugs to walk around begging for candy. But, this year I decided to participate in the pumpkin carving contest at work.

After thinking long and hard about what to carve, I decided to just start with the mouth and go from there.  So after carving the mouth, I came up with the concept of Mr Datahead.  Mr Datahead has a chart on his head.  Making the chart was a little easier than I thought and the eyes are part of a template I found online somewhere. The asparagus coming out of his head was an after thought that shouldn’t have been.  Oh well! While the concept is better than the reality, I do like him.

Mr Datahead 2007

I guess I should start planning for next year’s contest.

Words of Wisdom on Choice

I recently ordered an olive oil camp light from Lehman’s online store. I had been looking for an oil lamp for my disaster kit and decided on olive oil as a fuel since it burns totally clean, is quite bright compared to other oils and fats and can be grown on my own property. For $15, I am quite satisfied.

As part of my education about olive oil lamps, which have been used since the dawn of civilization, I also purchased a small booklet titled I Didn’t Know That Olive Oil Would Burn! by Merry Bickers. It is a wonderful guide to burning olive oil and also discusses other oils that can be burned in placed of olive oil, such as canola oil.

Even though I learned a lot about using olive oil as a fuel, this book ended with a captivating summary of our choice. On the last page, one paragraphed gripped me as it so eloquently described the situation that our society faces. From the book:

“People being the creatures of pleasure and comfort that they are, we believe it would be unreasonable to advocate the abandonment of petroleum and electrical lighting in favor of olive oil and other more earth-friendly light fuels. We do believe that everyone should learn about and think about the impact that technology has upon our world and consider how they can change their own habits to the betterment of our environment. Environmental decline is not the result of someone else’s corruption, but the sum total of all of our actions. We should think about how we are sold a lifestyle not because it benefits us, but because it speaks to our weaker natures, our willingness to follow rather than lead, and because it makes someone wealthy.”

Wow these very points have been on my mind for the past few months as I struggle with removing consumerism from my life. I no longer wish to be “sold a lifestyle” and want to do what I can to respect the earth that gives us life and appreciate the life I have without the constant corruption of false wants and peer pressure. These words are wisdom and sooner or later, the world will have to choose.

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to comment.

Components of 21st Century Success

While I was in Texas, I spent a fair amount of time contemplating what success is. Prior to this, I had struggled through college and rushed into a job to pay the bills and found it extremely difficult to find work in my field. I was demoralized. Heck, I couldn’t even get a basic retail job in Texas. So, I started a period of serious reflection and thought hard about what success is and what life was about. More specifically, I formulated the following question which I thought was key:

“What factors are important to living a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, while being successful in the 21st century?”

In July 2005 I made a number of mind maps focused around this topic. The mind map below is a high level look at the basic components of what I felt made success for someone living in the 21st Century. From being in good mental and physical condition to networking with the right people, these are the basic components as I saw them in 2005. This is a reproduction from my notes using a program called Freemind. (click below for the larger image).

21st Century Success

Looking at it today, I think I would add a sustainability component along with a mention of goals and the role of music. If you have any feedback regarding the map, please feel free to comment or email me. Note that the above mind map is not to be reproduced without my written permission.

Cheers!

Santa Barbara is a dust bowl!

I spent the day down in Santa Barbara, or at least intended to.  I knew SoCal was in a major drought, but I never knew it was this bad.  When I arrived in Santa Barbara, looming above the foothills was what appeared to be smog but was really dust being blown over the hills from the Zaca Fire burn area.  Later in the afternoon, that dust covered almost the entire city, making it difficult to breathe and dropping dark brown dirt on top of everything!  To make matters worse, the winds severely kicked up, gusting to well above 60mph turning Santa Barbara into a huge sandblaster.    Needless to say, I didn’t stick around for the grand finale.  Driving north on the 101 was quite treacherous as well.  I am sure SB lost many $$$$ since tourists were forced to enjoy the Dust Bowl rather than Paradise.  Let’s all start dancing the rain dance and hope that Santa Barbara does not get blown off the map!  Let’s hope that those idiots that allegedly started the Zaca Fire get whats coming to them.

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