Meeting Art: Sketching at Work

As of late, work has been rather unexciting to me.  Pretty much all I do is sit at my computer and code reports using a combination of SQL, VBA, Mondrian, and Java.  It is very solitary and I just don’t find it exciting any more.  To make matters worse, I find myself in long meetings, listening to my co-workers duke it out for who is right, wrong or the strongest.  Ugh, after 45 minutes or so my butt starts to hurt, my mind wanders, and I start thinking about why I accepted the meeting invitation.

For a long time I would doodle during the meetings.  I would occupy myself  by drawing boxes, chasing lines with other lines, or even drawing the most lines across the top of a piece of paper.  But then I thought that I could really put some effort into these doodles and create something that I could be proud if I ever got caught.  So, I did.  They started with post-it notes. Post-it notes are the ultimate media for killing time in meetings.  I always have a stack of the small ones in my organizer as they are great for jotting down thoughts and decorating the side of my monitor.

So one day I saw the post-it note as a blank canvas, waiting for my talented fingers to guide a pencil along and make a masterpiece so incredible that Da Vinci would roll in his grave. Liking to sketch landscapes, I took inspiration from a photo I took at Crater Lake on the Cleetwood Cove Trail, I did a really quick artistic impression of what I could remember.  Wizard Island, the steep slope from the rim to the water level, the trees, the jagged rocks, and the strange wooden “wall” holding up the switchbacks.  It is an amazing doodle that highlights the features of the dramatic scene.

Crater Lake Sketch

A second Post-It note I found while cleaning out my organizer is a very simple landscape scene.  This must have been sketched while sitting on the john at work, since it is so simple.  If I had a full meeting for this one, it would have been more complete.  I started with the river and added the mountains.  Since I usually draw houses, I think this time I took a chance with a road paralleling the river.  Overall, I don’t think this is going to impress anyone, especially not Da Vinci.

My most recent meeting art is below, inspired from a photo I found on a homesteading site.  There was something timeless, but motivating about the structure of the picture.  I ended drawing it on the back of one of my organizer sheets that I use to plan my day.  Anyway, I think it came out quite nicely, although I might go back and add some color to it with color pencils.   I did find out that three people at my end of the table watched me sketch it out.  I was a little embarrassed that they caught me, but they thought it looked great and was certainly more interesting than whatever the boss was talking about!

Landscape 1001

Happy Sketching!



A Beechcraft B1900D for FSX

Beechcraft has been at higher end of the aviation market for quite some time. Their original Bonanza model was a huge success. For modern business traveling pilots, the KingAir series offers incredible performance and reliability unmatched by anything else. With its first flight in 1982, the 1900C model was a heavily modified KingAir 200 model with 19 seats and more powerful engines.

The 1900D model, an improved version of the 1900C first flew in 1990. This improved version, modeled by Premier Aircraft Design (PAD) for FSX, had a taller fuselage to aid in standing up, more powerful engines (of course!), and larger doors and windows. The 1900 model has been adapted to numerous roles including military, executive, and maritime patrol. Production ended in October 2002, but many airlines still fly the 1900, including the largest operator of the type, Mesa Airlines.

The working end of the 1900

PAD’s 1900D model is exquisite from nose to tail. With a full virtual cockpit and a great sound set, this baby is a great addition to your hangar. While the initial release livery is that of Air Labrador, the dark blue paint perfectly complements its curvy, but yet boxy lines. It leaves the pavement with vigor and flies like a Cirrus. I am looking forward to spending many more hours in the cockpit of this bird… not to mention more repaints!

flying over head

Happy regional flying! Make sure to drop the guys at PAD a note of appreciation for this model.


Update 27jun08: The ERA Aviation livery has been released for both FS9 and FSX.  It is a beauty, so stop be PAD’s site and grab her.  Coming soon is a 1990’s United Express livery… 

Project Opensky’s 747-SCA Is Out!

A wonderful Sunday surprise from Project Opensky (POSKY) as they release their magnificent 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. More specifically, the model released, N905NA is a variant of the 747-100, obtained from American Airlines in 1974 and modified to carry the space shuttle orbiters on its back. Modifications include the addition of three struts and related structural enhancements, the addition of two vertical stabilizers, and the full removal of the interior aft of the no. 1 door. Of course, POSKY could have released it without an orbiter, but what fun would that be? Included is a very dirty shuttle Discovery. See the POSKY release post.

Boeing delivered a second SCA to NASA in late 1990, after modifying a Japan Airline 747-100(SR). Both of these aircraft serve the purpose of transporting the orbiters around the world. Whether ferrying an orbiter back to Kennedy Space Center from an alternative landing area or taking an orbiter around the world, the SCA is a true work horse in NASA’s fleet. Prior to final approval as an SCA, N905NA was an important aircraft in the wake vortex flights that helped the FAA study and enhance their wake turbulence procedures.

After loading this new model in FS9, I took N905NA on a flight from LAX to SFO. My two biggest reactions: 1) oh my, this is a large but beautiful model, and 2) geez, this thing is a sluggish dog (I would fly like a dog too if I had an orbiter on my back!). Climb rates are only around 400fpm, but banking is still relatively normal. I am looking forward to many more hours behind the yoke of this beast! This is better than their Dreamlifter, although it is also beautiful in its own respect.

N905NA is clean compared to Discovery
Like the perfect couple, N905NA climbs out of LAX with Discovery

N905NA Leaving LAX
Just after leaving the asphalt at LAX

N905 NA on the ramp at SFO
On the ramp at SFO, with cabin door and stairs.

Cheers & Happy Ferrying!

A Grand Old Lady Makes It To FSX

One of the most elegant airplanes, in my opinion, is the Douglas DC-8.  The sleek nose, rounded fuselage and swept wings represent the elegance and grace of the early jet age. The DC-8 was Douglas’s first jet aircraft and followed the Boeing 707 to market one year late, costing Douglas dearly. However, time shows the DC-8 as a worthy companion in the air, especially the later Super series, most of which have surpassed 100,000 flight hours (ref).  Something that can’t be said about most Boeing jets.   Most DC-8’s today are found in the charter market or have been converted to freighters.

With Historic Jetliner’s Group recent May web update, I decided to test their DC-8 in FSX. But, which variant? I wanted something a little more current and realistic for 2008, so I turned my attention toward the freighter variants.   While there are plenty of freight companies with attractive liveries on their aircraft, there is one that popped out of the crowd.  The Airborne Express/DHL DC-8-63F(M) (N814AX) in the current livery  not only stood out with its bright yellow and red scheme, but the lines accentuated the sexy fuselage.  Douglas delivered this aircraft to SAS airlines on February 28, 1969 and served as a valiant member of their fleet until 1991, when it was sold to its current operator, Airborne Express.  (pic, pic)

Now that I had my choice of aircraft, I simply downloaded the base pack and livery pack and loaded them into FSX.  The instructions were simple to follow and I found myself quickly at KMEM considering where my destination would be.  I recently flew to San Antonio (KSAT) and decided that would make a short, sufficient flight to check the grand old lady out. 

The power is sluggish compared to today’s modern jets, but she flew with grace and never belched at any of my control inputs.  Flying this bird really made me appreciate the old school engineering and design of this elegant aircraft. 

DHL/ABX DC-8 cruising toward SAT
Flying toward San Antonio in the evening sun.

descending over Texas
Desceding over Texas for landing at San Antonio.

While my FSX cancelled the flight while I was on final approach, this was a remarkable flight that made me appreciate the grace, elegance, and sexiness of the Douglas DC-8.  I would highly recommend this model to everyone as it deserves a space in everyone’s FSX hangar. 


Note: This model is also available for FS9.