With an upcoming series of posts that touch on multiple flight simulator products, please share which flight simulator that you fly the most?
Poll closes Friday, November 2nd at Noon PST!
As a multi post series, I would like to discuss some of the larger decisions made when we sit down in front of our computers and click on the icon of our favorite simulator. In fact, the very choice of which simulator to fly in is the first of a series of critical decisions we make, hence Part One, the Simulator. If you are like me and have FS2000, FS2004, FSX, P3D, X-Plane 9, and X-Plane 10 sitting on your hard drive, how do you decided which one to use? So, this is Part One, choosing the simulator.
For Part Two of this series, the airports. I wanted to touch on how to decide where a flight a should take place. From which airport, are there multiple legs and which arrival airport? The very essence of the flight takes form in the decision we make here, although I don’t think this is the most critical. In fact, the decision we make here influences the decision in part three. I will also offer some tools that can help inspire your choice of airports should you be looking for a new adventure or lacking inspiration.
For Part Three, the aircraft. We will discuss the decision on which aircraft to fly. From what’s available in the hangar, how do decide what your bird is for the day? While dependent upon the size of the airports selected in part two, this decision is not as simple as walking out to your driveway, jumping in the car you own, and driving off to work or where ever.
One could argue that Part Two, Airports and Part Three, Aircraft can be flip flopped. Sometimes the decision to fly a particular aircraft drives the decision of where to fly. Bush planes fly in Alaska, but 747’s fly international between big airports. But, if you want to fly a route, such as KSBA to KBZN via KDEN, that would take a regional jet or a more advanced general aviation aircraft like a Piper Malibu if you want to fly non-stop.
You can start to see some of the decisions we make every time we fire up the simulator, no matter which one it is. My hope is that by the end of the three parts, my readers and flight simulator community at large will share their ideas on how they create their own flying journey’s across the globe.
The Beechcraft KingAir B200 (wikipedia) represents a magnificent blend of economy, comfort and speed. Perhaps this is why the B200 is popular with the business segment.
While the B200 has been done before by many modelers both as freeware and payware, this is the first time the B200 graces the Carenado product page. Available now, the gorgeous lines, detailed cockpit and awesome turboprop engines are up to the quality of what we expect from Carenado. Optimized for both FSX and P3D, the only question is, how fast can you buy it?
Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) come in all sizes. If Boeing makes a jet, then it can easily be converted into lavish personal transportation for the 1%.
Lucky for the flight sim enthusiasts we have talented painters like the BBJ Design Group to make those BBJ’s a reality in our virtual worlds.
You might recall last summer they released their Boeing 777 VIP repaint for the POSKY 777 model. This paint is one of my favorites to circle the earth in. Whether it is crossing the pond or crossing a continent, you can do it in style.
There are some exciting things to come for this talented group. Not only are they working on an updated version of the 777-300 VIP livery, but they also are working on a version for the 777-200. And to complete the Boeing lineup, BBJ Design Group plans to offer VIP liveries for the 747-8i and the more mainstream 737-BBJ.
Head on over to their Facebook page and show them some love. They are also taking requests, so ask nicely and perhaps your favorite BBJ will be added to their livery lineup.
The Douglas DC-8 family of commercial jets were perfectly good airliners produced from 1958 to 1972. Production came to a close as newer, larger, and more efficient airliners such as the DC-10 and Boeing’s 747 changed the game for airliner design. During its 14 years of production, the DC-8 competed quite successfully against the Boeing 707 and even collected a world record for the first commercial airliner to break the sound barrier during testing in 1961.
To me, the DC-8 represents a gorgeous design. The unique shaped nose, to its squarish windows, the design was the epitome of modern jet design. Lucky for us, Kingfisher Addons (Kfa), reproduced the model for us in FSX. Before I go too much further, I want to point out Kingfisher’s tagline: simple virtual aircraft. For those of you who have been around the flight simulator hobby for a few years, might remember Mike Stone who had the goal of building unique aircraft for FS, but kept it simple. Eye candy took a back seat to simplicity and low polygon count.
When I saw version 1.20 available at FlightSim, I jumped at the chance to put this aircraft through the aRoMO paces. While I am pleased with the visual model (could be better, but it fully represents the aircraft to my eye), the FDE leaves me wanting a little more refinement.
My test flight was from Victorville, CA (KVCV) to Denver International (KDEN) as a virtual ferry flight for a customer that had taken the DC-8-73 out of storage. This modernized bird has the CFM-56 engines as opposed to the original JT3C it debuted with.
The weather was clear, a bit breezy, but otherwise perfect flying weather. With some passing showers in Denver, landing was sure to be a bit more exciting. I was hopeful as I pushed back and began to taxi. The visual model is clearly not as detailed or refined as the SkySpirit models, but it does represent a DC-8 competently and it is light on the frame rates. The animated nose gear and flaps are there, as is the opening passenger door. The basics are all there.
Also, basic means no virtual cockpit. While a bit of a bummer, the 2D panel is okay.
As I lined up to takeoff, added power and trim, I was surprised to see my view appear to flop back on my butt. It seems a click of trim up from my joystick sends this bird into rocket straight up and trim down sends her into a sharp dive down. However, I after a few resets (thank goodness we have a reset button in FSX), I was able to finesse the bird into being airborne without the use of trim at all. Perhaps when Kingfisher means simple, they also mean simple when it comes to FDE and flight controls. Personally, this aircraft is best flown with the autopilot on! (note there is a known trim issue with v1.2. A fix will be released with v1.3 when it is ready.)
As we continued toward Denver on autopilot, I couldn’t help but wonder about the tail number of this bird, N872TV. So, I searched for N872TV and discovered links to photo archives from the 1980’s or so of a TransAmerica DC-8-73. While the single white livery included in the download simply bears the name of the model and engine type, I am happy to see a legitimate tail number adorn the aircraft. Now, if only someone could provide some additional repaints… perhaps a rainbow United livery?
We started our descent in the dark with the vast Denver area of lights before us. The mountain peaks hidden in the darkness made us glad we were descending from FL330. Using the autopilot, I setup the approach to runway 7 at Denver. Once on short final, I cut the autopilot and found the maneuverability of the DC-8 quite sluggish. Granted this was an early jetliner, but the FDE seemed much more difficult to control than the HJG DC-8 I’ve flown before.
With some luck and slightly off center, the DC-8 touched down and quickly decelerated. Exiting the runway, I found that steering required a very low forward velocity. As speed picked up, the nose gear seemed to become non-responsive. I would expect this as turning the nose wheel too much with too much speed can lead to skidding and excessive tire wear. After a few turns I got the hang of it and we parked at the gate.
With my first flight in the Kingfisher Addon DC-8 in the history books, I must say that I am impressed with their work. The model delivers simplicity, but the FDE and trim needs work. It also needs a few good repaints. But beauty can come in many forms and in this package, beauty is simplicity and that is significant.