Sky Spirit 2011 Releases An Intercontinental

Not long after the real Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental took to the skies for the first time, Sky Spirit 2011 releases their exquisite model for FS2004.  To keep this brief, I will simply say, head over to Flightsim.com and search for ssp748v4_genx_n6067e.zip.

The FlightSim.com file description.

So, what are you waiting for, go get it!

Leaving Anchorage

Update 22mar2011 – Loaded it up in FS9 and took it for a brief flight around Anchorage.   Initial thoughts:

  1. The exterior model is gorgeous!
  2. Taxiing takes practice as steering can be tricky depending on speed, etc.
  3. Take off requires proper flap and trim or else you’ll end up in the bushes.
  4. This thing needs a panel and sound set.

Update 4/24/11 – The official paint kit is now available and can be downloaded here, if you want to try a paint for yourself.   There is a very active discussion going on over at the SkySpirit2011 Facebook page regarding repaints and previews.

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A Seriously Impressive Duke

With climb rate of 4,000 ft/min and two glorious turboprop engines attached to its six seat fuselage, you can’t help but question the sanity of such a thing.  Its like putting a V-8 in a Miata and wondering why the tires are bald after one lap.

One mean looking airplane!

As insane as it seems, it actually makes a lot of sense as an alternative to flying a jet.  Why not put jet-like performance on an aircraft that can deliver much lower operating costs?   Enter the Real Air Simulations Beechcraft Turbine Duke for FSX.  It is a regular six seat Duke twin-engine aircraft retro-fitted with PT6A turbine engines that take this bird to a new level.

Real Air Simulations is known for producing realism, putting an emphasis on flight dynamics and system operation rather than eye candy.  That isn’t to say the Duke’s model is poor, but the package is much more refined and complete compared to other payware offerings.  With this model, engine failure is quite real, so managing torque and prop speed is essential as I found out on a test flight when I blew both engines and had to make an emergency landing.

Take care of those engines!

While some might balk at the nearly $50 US price tag, the level of detail of this model is well worth it.  You aren’t paying for eye candy alone, but also realistic engine function and flight dynamics.    I’ve flown the Turbine Duke in FSX on three flights and have to say that I am extremely impressed.  This is probably the best commercial add-on for FSX yet.   A full review is coming soon, so check back in the next few days.

 

A New Boeing 727 For FSX

Thomas Ruth is most well known for his Airbus line of models for FSX.  The A340, A330, A310 and A300 come to mind and are constantly in the “Top Files” charts at avsim.com. His models are a great compromise between detail, frame rates and realism.  In addition, Thomas’s consistency across all of his models is exemplary.

Taxi for takeoff at KVCV

He must have run out of Airbus inspiration as he recently released a really cool Boeing 727 package for FSX.  Included are the -100 and -200 models with a few liveries to match.   Included is a detailed virtual cockpit, wing views, and enough eye candy to satisfy any flight sim enthusiast.  My favorite feature is the virtual cockpit as they always a sense of realism to the model.  I don’t care how great the exterior model is, a 2-d panel just doesn’t cut it anymore.  I am a virtual pilot seeking realism and Thomas Ruth delivers!

Gear retraction in early morning sunrise.

For my inaugural flight in a 727-100C wearing UPS colors, I flew an early morning flight from Victorville (KVCV) to San Luis Opisbo (KSBP) to see how she flies and how the frame rates handle this large metal bird.   As I pushed the throttles forward, the 727 very reluctantly started to move.  In fact, my reaction turned to wondering whether or not this thing will ever get up enough speed to take flight.  Since this was a new aircraft and the older jetliners weren’t as responsive as today’s jets, I sat back and watched the needle slowly move around the circle. Eventually, and with room to spare, this UPS 727 took flight!

Turning to course for San Luis Opisbo.

With gear retracted, we made a left turn toward to a heading that would take us to SLO.  The flight was relatively short, with only a few hundred nautical miles separating the two airports.  While in the real world, this would have been costly and there must have be good financial reason for making such a flight, the short distance lets me spend time behind the yoke and get an impression of this awesome bird.  After all, this is A Reality of My Own.

To save you the time, I will simply say this bird cruises well.  The autopilot functioned as it should and the virtual cockpit was an excellent place to monitor traffic, gauges, and the view outside. With fully clickable buttons and good quality gauges, the realism is what we have come to expect from an FSX model.  The engine sound is spot on and you can almost smell the stale coffee brewing in the galley.

Turning to final

Clicking off the autopilot and “stick” flying this bird to landing gave me a chance to feel how this bird really handles.  With just a banking turn after take off and a few minutes of flat and level flying during cruise, I really didn’t have the opportunity to put it through its pace, until now.  I am happy to say that there are no surprises, other than it handles like an older jetliner should.  When you start to bank, it feels sluggish and resists the change in motion.  Bank too much and the nose drops very quickly.   Maneuvering to short final reinforced this as I came in off center and too high initially.

Slammin' down on the pavement

With a little finessing and careful use of the throttles, flaps, and speed brakes, I was able to align with the runway and slow the bird down.  Unfortunately, that day there was a stiff cross wind and I ended landing off center. Initially I was disappointed with myself, but a commercial pilot I know said that they do land off center as the ride is typically a bit smoother. So, maybe I knew what I was doing, but I was surprised how hard I hit the runway.  This was one “hot” landing.  Engaging the reverse thrusters and slowing down was not an issue and I was happy to feel how composed the 727 was despite the harsh landing.

Whew! Made it to the ramp!

Taxiing to the gate proved to be simple, with a straight line shot from the runway turnoff to the ramp.  The 727 turns as expected and it has that jet handling, sluggish to get started, but then speeds up quickly as friction is overcome, forcing one to throttle back to keep the speed down.   Arriving at the gate, it was time to shut down the engines and take another look at the exterior model.  With fully animated doors and operating rear stairs give this three holer more of a sense of realism parked at the gate.  One problem though, is the UPS freighter livery does not have an opening cargo door.  This is likely because the model is a passenger version wearing a freighter livery.  Perhaps a true 727-100F/200F will be released at some point.

Overall, Ruth’s Boeing 727 for FSX hits the mark and is a great addition to my virtual hanger.  Like the Airbus models released before it, this 727 has a great virtual cockpit, enough eye candy to please the gamers and is easy enough on the frame rates that it does not choke our video cards.   Go get it if you haven’t already!

Author: Thomas Ruth
Filename: tom7271.zip (fix: tom72fix.zip)
Download: tom7271.zip on Avsim (fix download)

Update: Thomas Ruth also released the Boeing 727-200 Advanced model.  Follow this link to grab it from Avsim.