Weather, Fog and a Cool View

 

Sometimes, the less than ideal weather that causes that voice in the back of your brain to scream, “don’t fly! don’t fly!”, really is the best weather to fly in.  Not only for entertainment purposes, but also because it can make you a better pilot.

b747

I recently took the SSG 747-8f out for a spin around the Seattle area.  The Cargolux beast took to the air from Everett/Paine Field and quickly became consumed in fog.  Flying IFR was great on the ascent, but changed to chase view in X-Plane to capture the above image.  Sorta of reminds me of jaws coming out of the deep blue sea.  Without the tail, the sexy, curvaceous fuselage really pops.

Happy Flying!

 

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SSG Boeing 747-8i Beta 1.1 Released (Now Version 2)

For the X-Plane pilots out there, check out the latest version of the Boeing 747-8i by Supercritical Simulations Group (SSG).

Now on version 2 of  development, the latest release improves flight dynamics with the help of real world pilots, improved 2D panel, external HD lighting support, X-Pland 10 support, and various other tweaks that improve the feel and autopilot. Version 2 is a stand alone download, no need to have previous versions installed.

Note: Version 2 is only compatible with X-Plane 10!  A version for 9.70+ is coming.

I also added SSG to the X-Plane Directory hosted here at ARoMO.

Sweetness!

<download 747-8i beta 1.0 at x-plane.org>

<download 747-8 version 2 at x-plane.org (X-Plane 10 Only)>

<Visit the SSG Forum for Support & Questions>

Update 07jun13 – SSG releases the 747-8i version 2 with Passenger & Freighter Configurations
Update 18mar12 – SSG releases the 747-8 Freighter beta 1.0 at the .org!

<download 747-8 Freighter beta 1.1 update at x-plane.org>

A BBJ 747-8i for Hawaii

It is without a doubt, the SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i is a brilliant aircraft.  Not only did Boeing do a great job extending the life of their largest airliner, but the SkySpirit2011 group brought it to life for us in FS9 and FSX.

The SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i over Anchorage, AK

Since its release, repaints available have been somewhat limited and limited to commercial airlines.  With only a small percentage of the population with the means to have a private jet the size of a 747, it is no wonder that private liveries weren’t more abundant. Until now that is.

Recently released by Alexi Antoniou is the “BBJ” livery for the SkySpirit2011 model (link at the end of the post).  While the repaint is not without fault (there seem to blending issues on the left wing [fixed in a recent update]), it is still a pretty cool repaint and it is the only one available as of the time of this post.

Since I have been obsessing about a trip to Hawaii, I decided to take the BBJ 747-8i on a “long” trip from Denver, Co (KDEN) to Kailua-Kona, Hi (PHKO).  With a distance of about 2,800 nm, the newest 747 is the perfect, roomy personal shuttle to get there in style.

Pre-flight preparation on the ramp at KDEN in FS9

So, we arrived at Denver airport and was promptly escorted to the ramp where our flying hotel awaited us.  There was lots of activity loading cargo, stocking the galley and other last minute preparations for our flight to Hawaii.   Despite the light rain and thunderstorms in the distance, we anticipated a relaxing flight.

As each engine started, the cabin doors closed and the flight crew escorts us to our leather wrapped personal modules, we took in the beauty of the lavish interior. With lots of fine wood, chrome and gold accents, and enough leather to kill a cattle ranch, we started to feel like kings.

Cleared for takeoff, we begin our flight

Despite the luxurious accommodations and careful pilot, we could feel the motion of the aircraft as we taxied to RWY 17R for departure. The occasional flash of lightning and roll of thunder in the distance made me wonder if we shouldn’t wait.  However, the pilot knew more than we did and we trusted his judgement.

Pressed back in our seats as the thrust propelled us forward, we eagerly anticipated that sinking feeling when lift off is achieved.  However, we didn’t really notice that we left terra firma until we looked out the window and saw the ground falling away.  The pilot made such a smooth transition to flight, we almost missed the moment.

leaving Denver behind, we take to the air

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as smooth.  Not even one minute after leaving the ground, we experienced some heavy turbulence.  Despite the leather and padding, the stomach felt every dramatic drop, lift and bank produced by the unstable air.  Ironically, I noticed a lack of puke bags, which made me wonder if the VIPs ever got sick.

Turning west for Hawaii

As we banked toward the west and steadily climbed out over Denver and the Rockies, the cabin crew came by and checked on us.  Free drinks and appetizers were being prepped.  I asked for a beer and chose the chicken kabobs, as the ahi tuna rolls seemed a little too much for my weary stomach.

After we reached cruise altitude and settled in the for the long flight, we got up and explored the exquisite surroundings.  From the polished, wood carved mahogany staircase that led to the executive suite and lounge upstairs to the gold plated fixtures in the master bath, the builder left no luxury behind.  We took a seat at the lounge and kicked back with our personal bartender.

Sunset over the Pacific ocean

With a few too many drinks and a fabulous steak dinner with garlic mash potatoes, I retired to the lounge and fell asleep on the couch.  I dreamed of being an entrepreneur with many successful companies under my belt, flying around the globe to give speeches to inspire my employees and relax on brilliant white beaches while the money rolled in.  Ah, the life.

But the dream was cut short when the cabin crew woke me up and asked to return to leather wrapped throne. We were getting ready to land at Kona.  I looked out the window and found nothing but blackness.  It was just after midnight in Hawaii and the sun had long set and the moon was but a sliver.

Descending near Hawaii

With an announcement from the pilot, we were ready for landing.  I commented to the crew that falling asleep on such a beautiful airplane was like a mortal sin, to which they snickered and walked away.

The flaps extended and the engines quieted.  As I began to make out the detail of ocean below us, it quickly changed to land.  Then a marker light passed below us, and I prepared for a quick deceleration so typical of commercial jets.   Then there a slight jolt, but the deceleration was nothing more than hitting the brakes in the car.  This pilot was good.

Touching down at PHKO

We taxied to the ramp and I watched as the staircase was moved into the place and the cabin crew opened the door.  You could feel the warm, tropical air rush into the cabin, displacing the leather and varnish smell.  I was happy to be here, but sad to leave such an accommodating and large aircraft.

On the ramp with smoke pouring from the rear galley

But, our departure was not without fanfare.  One of the cabin crew had left a microwave oven going with a meal in it.  As we took a step toward the door, the cabin began filling with smoke.  At the top of the stairs, we looked toward the tail and saw nothing but black smoke.  The fire crew were on there way and we were ushered quickly down the steps and into the waiting limousine with our baggage. Then our Hawaiian vacation began.

Cheers!

Model: SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i (<download>)
Livery: “BBJ” by Alexi Antoniou (<download>)
Scenery: Default FS9 (boring!)

For an awesome Boeing 777 (POSKY model) BBJ livery, check out BBJ Design Group.

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.

Project Opensky has Closed, Welcome FSPro

Update 12/01/12: There is a new site up called, Project Opensky Archive, which contains all of the original Project Opensky (POSKY) files.  In Addition, the FreeSky Project domain has expired.  If  anyone has any news, please leave a comment.

Update 09/01/12: Additional Facebook sites have been added to cover an updated POSKY Boeing 777 model and the release of the CRJ-1000.  Below are links to the corresponding page depending on the aircraft model you are looking for:

Boeing 777 ~ SkySpirit2012 – 777

Bombardier CRJ-1000 ~ SkySpirit2012 – CL Series

Boeing 767 ~ SkySpirit2010

Boeing 747-8i(f) ~ SkySpirit2011

Project Opensky Archive Site ~ poskyarchive.com

Update 10/30/11: Free Sky Project is no longer supporting the Project Opensky models.  The models are available for download from the original Project Opensky site (site has expired as of 8/1/12).  Free Sky Project has moved on to other unknown projects for fs.  The Lockheed L1011 is dead, but you can get one from Historic Jetliners Group.

Update 2/14/11: This post has been updated with more accurate information regarding the status of SkySpirit2010.  The SkySpirit2010 Facebook group is only active to support the 767 model. Please keep all discussions and posts to the group limited to the 767 model only.   All other models in development will be released under a different group(s) when they are formed.

Update 2/16/11: Previews of the Boeing 747-8I by Hiroshi are now available at a new Facebook group called SkySpirit2011.

–original post—

All good things must come to an end.  Shortly, the group known as Project Opensky, one of the best flight simulator freeware add-on developers, has closed its doors.  For reasons that I will not mention here, the group has disbanded.

However, for every end, there is a new beginning.  A few members of Project Opensky are taking ownership of maintaining the files and continuing operation under the name of Free Sky Project (FSPro).  They are currently in the process of launching a new website and forum, so be patient over the next few days as they ramp up.

Note the aircraft under development with Project Opensky are not going to be released under the new group. Hiroshi created the SkySpirit2010 group to release and support the 767 model only.  All future aircraft will be released under a yet to be named group.  

It is with some sadness and great admiration that I bid farewell to Project Opensky.  For so many years, they have set the standard for freeware flight simulator add-ons that it is safe that they have dramatically shaped the freeware community into what it is today.

With an open mind, great respect, and a tad bit of curiosity, I welcome the FSPro team.  I am looking forward to flying their work and hope they will continue the spirit set by POSKY.

Cheers!