I resurrected the Piper Saratoga II TC that I bought from FSD International a while back. I loaded the FS9 version and took off from SBA with no real destination in mind. I tuned in the Camarrillo VOR and headed southeast. After a few minutes, I decided to replicate a flight I took to Phoenix in a Mooney when I was younger. Once I passed Camarrillo, I turned toward Van Nuys and then toward Ontario.
It was approaching Ontario that I noticed some lights appearing in front of me through the clouds. Visibility was only a few miles so I was a little concerned. To make matters worse, it seemed to be moving quite fast and was clearly larger than a Cessna. I realized that it was a 737-type aircraft that was climbing out from KONT. Just when I was about to take evasive action, ATC notified me of the closing traffic. I snapped the following screenshot to show just how close we had come. I think “caution wake turbulence” should have been then next warning, but those pesky FS9 air traffic controllers aren’t that courteous.
After passing KONT, I stayed on course toward Banning and then Palm Springs. Visibility cleared just east of Ontario and I was treated to a beautiful night flight illuminated by the moon. At Palm Springs, I decided to take a diversion and visit Death Valley. Again the moonlight night was absolutely beautiful, which made me appreciate man’s ability to fly.
I turned south and tuned the Imperial VOR. Since it was getting late, I decided to land at Brawley Municipal airport. I started my descent and got a little confused as to which airport it was. Death Valley is wide open space and since visibility was clear, you can see for miles and miles. Consulting the GPS got me pointed the right direction and I made one of the best landings of my life. I had to wonder if I had touched the runway since I so lightly set it down on the tarmac.
Putting the Saratoga II TC to rest for the night gave me a chance to check out this model a little more. The crew at FSD International did a superb job of modelling this Piper. The animated prop pitch, the detailed Virtual Cockpit, the flap hinges, to the landing gear, all provide plenty of eye candy. I especially like the teddy bear and refreshments in the back (too bad I am not a passenger to enjoy them).
So, what is my opinion of the FSD Piper Saratoga II TC? Well, its a great airplane with a stunning visual model, inside and out. The sounds enhance the experience while the Load Manager let you customize the experience and tracks operating costs. With the FDE set to real world, it really does handle like a Saratoga, with a stable and heavy feel. The one drawback is that there are limited number of repaints available, perhaps because the Saratoga is not as common place as a Cessna 172.
Overall, two thumbs up. I look forward to putting the FSX version through its paces.