Sweet: A 747-8F

Being mostly all things Boeing, Project Opensky (POSKY) has been busily working away on different variants of the classic 747.  With their recent release of the AL-1 platform and development of a 787 model, the next generation long-haul freighter, the 747-8F couldn’t be far behind.   Ya know somethin’?  It really isn’t!

Recently posted in the POSKY “Official Preview” forum are some fantastic screenshots of the new model.  Check them out. While you are there, make sure to leave a comment and congratulate the team on yet another superb model for Flight Simulator 2004. If compatibility is on par with their other models, we should be able to enjoy it in FSX as well!

Cheers!

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ICARO AW139 Available Now!

For the rotorheads out there, ICARO released their AW139 model for FS2004 (FS9) over at Hovercontrol.com.  Head over and download both base packs.  Included are military, VIP, and tanker models.

While I haven’t had a chance to fly it, installing it and taking a moment to walk around this model really makes me want to get to know this bird better!  A full review will be coming this weekend!

Cheers!

A Bonanza For Saskatchewan

Flying in Canada is something I don’t do that often.  Most of my flying is in the southern Unites States, but when I saw Gregory Putz’s new fs2004 scenery for La Ronge, Saskatchewan, Canada, I decided to give flying north of the US border a shot!

What better aircraft to fly than the Beechcraft Bonanza F33A.  One of the earliest members of the Bonanza family, the F33A is a great cruiser thanks to its economical performance and comfortable cabin. Her curvy lines are not only classic, but quite sexy as well.

Carenado's Beechcraft F33A Bonanza in FS2004

Leaving Minot International Airport (KMOT) in North Dakota, we fly approximately 450 nm north to La Ronge.  While weather was quite good in North Dakota and in La Ronge, he weather in between was a little dicey, with clouds, gusty winds and low visibility.  Well, an adventure I wanted and an adventure I got!

With low visibility, I discovered that tracking progress from landmarks (VFR) was not working too well.  I had already setup a direct GPS route, so there was no question about where I was or where I was going.  However, some of like to watch the scenery go by, but not so today.

Circling La Ronge

The gusty winds also made me keep a close eye on the controls and gauges.  With winds gusting up to 20 mph and the autopilot auto-correcting to course, this was quite a bumpy ride.  Sitting in the pilot seat feeling the plane react to the environment around it was really cool, if not nauseating.

On the downwind for runway 36

Approaching La Ronge (CYVC), I started my descent from 10,500 feet and quickly noticed how much the landscape had changed since leaving North Dakota.  Gone were the prairies, replaced with forest and lakes.  With the late evening sun low in the sky, our flight took on a romantic mysterious feeling.  Flying a low circle of La Ronge before landing was awesome!

Crosswinds make for a dirty landing

One thing that didn’t change upon arriving at La Ronge were the winds.  Landing at runway 36  with a stiff crosswind was going to test my skills. I was already low from my circle, just under 2,000 feet so the runway approach was going to be interesting.  I removed the autopilot as I turned to base and started crabbing.  Unfortunately, I almost stalled as I didn’t apply power turning from the tailwind. Already slow forward speed gave me time to align with the runway center-line, but the crosswind did its best to throw me off.

Scenery detail is awesome!

Once on the ground, I appreciated being on terra firma again. Taxiing to parking let me see Gregory’s new scenery up close.  From the water bomber ramp, to the small terminal building, to the airport’s hangar line, it really felt as though I was at La Ronge and not in a simulator.  Thank you Gregory!

La Ronge, Saskatchewan Scenery:

Author: Gregory Putz
Filename: cvyc_La_Ronge_2010.zip (avsim)
Fixes/Updates: cyvc_texture_fix.zip (avsim)
Filesize: 12mb, fix 11mb

Beechcraft F33A Bonanza for FS2004:

Developer: Carenado
Website: http://www.carenado.com
Cost: $29.95 (USD) for FSX version

A 747 To Play LaserTag

I don’t think I would actually want to play laser tag with such a big laser, but Project Opensky‘s recent release will let us play in the virtual skies. You can read the press release here and download the model here.

YAL-1A from Project Opensky

Yes, Airborne Laser 1, the test bed for America’s next generation missile defense system, is available for FS2004 (fs9).   YAL-1A is a modified Boeing 747-400F mounted with a megawatt-class “chemical oxygen iodine laser” (COIL) that can shoot down various unfriendly missiles.<wikipedia>

Firing the YAL-1A laser

Not only does this aircraft have the normal detail and animations expected from Project Opensky, but the added animation of the COIL and its ability to “fire” takes it to an even higher level.  Hitting Shift+E+7 on the keyboard brings up the gauge panel containing the controls.  It takes some getting used to, using two different +/- buttons to set orientation.  The provided situational graphics are a little difficult to interpret when first start moving it around.  But, take a few moments, get used to it and then fire away!

So, head on over to Project Opensky’s site and get this model…  the kid in you will thank you!

Cheers!

The Little Guy That Started The Regional Market

What were you doing in 1965?  If you are like me, you weren’t even a thought in your mother’s mind let alone alive yet.

What were you doing in 1982?  I was annoying my parents and teachers in grade school and too young to really recall any significant events in the world other than nap time and potty time.

Why are these dates significant?   They mark the time when Douglas Aircraft first flew the DC-9 on February 25, 1965 and when the last DC-9 delivery occurred in October 1982.  While the airframe continued to be produced under the McDonnell Douglas (MD-80/-90) and eventually Boeing (717) nameplates until 2006, the DC-9 is the jet that created stiff competition as the jet-age was maturing in the short to medium range category.  The Boeing 737 didn’t fly until 1967.

HJG DC-9 TWA Livery

DC9-10 turning to course for KBOI

For those of us whom missed the inaugural flight, there is still a chance to experience this aircraft.  Thanks to Historic Jetliners Group (HJG), the DC-9 is alive and well in the virtual world from Microsoft.  While not a newly released model, I decided to give it a fresh new spot in my virtual hangar after seeing it added at HJG’s recent spring update.  Available are all five DC-9 series: -10, -20, -30, -40, -50.

So, I loaded up FS2004 (it will work in FSX, more or less) and plotted a flight plan from Denver, CO (KDEN) to Boise, ID (KBOI).  With lots and lots of liveries available, I am partial to TWA for reasons I can’t explain.  For some reason the red an white livery is classic, clean and nicely retro by today’s standards.

Taxiing from the gate to the runway at Denver always take awhile.  Colorado has a lot of open spaces and it takes time to go the distance.  They apparently decided to carry this experience to its airport… I guess gas was cheap back then too.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to test the ground handling.  Overall, it is good in the turns, but you have to watch the speed.  However, it takes time to spool up the engines and get this guy moving.  The trick is to apply quite a bit of thrust and when you start rolling throttle back before you start rocketing down the taxiway.   While this doesn’t surprise me, it does take some getting used to, especially since I am used to smaller piston aircraft.

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Taking off from Denver is always fun.  You get to see the open space surrounding the airport.  Depending on orientation, you might get a glimpse of downtown Denver and even the Rocky Mountains. With that, the 563 nautical mile trip to Boise begins!

Cruising west means flying into the wind. Flying into the wind means slower actual speed.  Slower actual speed means longer flying time.  What more could you ask for to give this exterior model a quick once over?  While not an FSX model, no shortcuts were introduced on this model.  The detail wings, animated landing gear, air stairs, and t-design tail have more than enough detail to keep us entertained on our trip across the mountains.

HJG Cantu DC-9 TWA FS2004

S-Curves on approach to Boise.

Beginning descent in Boise gave me an opportunity to see the littlest DC-9-10 handles.  For some reason, Microsoft ATC decided to have us approach the airport in a series of S-curves about 65 nautical miles out.  I can understand this if I was too fast or too high, but we weren’t.  Anyhow, I can tell you that the DC-9 handles well, responsive, forgiving and doesn’t lose altitude too quickly when banking hard.   Keep in mind that an F-16 it is not!   So plan ahead and operate this aircraft with controlled, planned efforts and it will treat you like a Playboy bunny would.  😉

HJG Cantu DC-9 FS2004

Touching down a little hard at Boise.

Final approach was really a great time.  With the responsive handling, great weather and high visibility, landing at Boise was a breeze.  But, do you remember that sluggish throttle response I mentioned during taxiing?  Well, it can be a problem on final approach.  In fact, I nearly stalled the aircraft twice as I reduced throttle a little too much to reduce speed, but added some to compensate but it didn’t spool up in time, so I had to really gun it.  I think that with time and a few touch n goes that I will get the feel of the throttles.

HJG DC-9 FS2004 Cantu Boise

Parked at the gate at Boise

Touching down a little hard, I was quite sad to see this flight conclude.  My time in this classic short-range jetliner that set the first standard for regional jets came to a close.  What more could a flight simulator enthusiast ask for? A great exterior model, great fde even with sluggish spooling engines, and more liveries than just about any other model I’ve seen developed for flight simulator (don’t quote me on this).    So what are you waiting for, head over to HJG’s site and grab your favorite livery and take this little guy for a spin!

I am pretty sure you will remember 2010 as the year you flew the DC-9 in flight simulator!

Cheers!
Hosted by: Historic Jetliners Group
Model File: DC-9-10 (hjg_mcdonnell_douglas_dc-9-10_v1.12.zip)
Livery: TWA 1977 N1054T by Nicholas Botamer (dc-9-10_trans_world_1977_14_n1054t_v1.zip)

Update 4may10 – I mistakenly noted Erick Cantu/Vistaliners as the model author, but this is incorrect.  Credit belongs with Historic Jetliners Group and Nick Botamer (forum thread).