Prepar3D Version 2 Is Out!

Prepar3D, by Lockheed Martin, takes a giant leap away from FSX with the latest release, version 2!  Out today, version 2 brings some pretty cool changes and adds a few cool aircraft as well.

prepar3d goes to version 2

First off, the rendering nows runs on DirectX 11.  This is a serious upgrade the FSX engine which ran on DirectX 9.  This enables pretty stellar dynamic shadows and a new HDR light system.  They upgraded the user interface, so the dejavu FSX experience is history!

< For a full list of Version 2 features, click here >

Second, four new aircraft join the virtual hangar.  Of course two Lockheed Martin models are included (why did you think otherwise?). The F-22 and F-35 are welcome additions.  The Extra 300s from Alabeo is a great gift for the fast and furious crowd.  Lastly, one of my favorite aircraft of all time joins the sim as default, the Beechcraft A-36 by Carenado (one of the most favorite modelers).

There is a great video by Michaelc136 over at YouTube showing off the new Version 2 UI, system preferences, etc.  Check it out here.

Sounds great, right?  It is, until you realize that being an early adopter counts against you for this “upgrade”.  Users who purchased v1.4 or early, have to purchase the sim all over again at full price.  Yep, $200 for a full license or sign your life away at $9.95/mo as a developer (annual upfront Developer is $120). This leaves a sour taste in this blogger’s mouth.  With X-Plane 10.25 retailing for $60, flat fee, and it offers an arguably competitive experience, users have a great excuse to say goodbye to Lockheed Martin even before trying it.  <  For more information on licensing options, click here >

Anyhow, version 2 is an impressive upgrade.  As soon as I can negotiate a lower rate, I will be purchasing version 2.  Stay tuned…

Carenado’s Cessna 337H

Carenado sneaks up on you at times and just screams in your ear, scaring you half to death.  Well, not quite, but seeing the release of their Cessna C337H for X-Plane was a big surprise.   Now this means that I have yet another awesome aircraft to buy…   Who knew running a flight simulator blog could get so expensive??

< Carenado’s Cessna C337H page >

Anyway, you X-Plane Cessna fanatics better get over to their store and buy it.

Carenado Releases a KingAir B200 for FSX/P3D

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.

Carenado’s KingAir B200 is the latest of their lineup

< Carenado’s KingAir B200 Product Page >

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?

Cessna Caravan for X-Plane

Carenado continues to expaned their X-Plane hanger by adding a modern, sophisticated and rugged Cessna, the Cessna Caravan.  Available for around $30 US and available with HD textures, this is going to be a great addition to anyone’s hanger that appreciates sophisticated ruggedness.   Check it out at their homepage…

Carenado Adds Prepar3D Support

When Microsoft sold FSX to Lockheed Martin Corporation, my heart skipped a beat.  The very foundation of one of my favorite hobbies just handed off to an unknown owner with a further unknown future.  However, Lockheed Martin has kept FSX alive in a product called Prepar3D, which is FSX, but with improvements and a whopping price tag of $199.

Regardless of how you feel about the price, Prepar3D is a viable alternative X-Plane 10 and a decent upgrade from FSX.  This is probably why Carenado is extending support to Prepar3D, with new installers for their Cessna 337 Skymaster, Piper Malibu, King Air C90, and the rest of the FSX lineup.  The new installers will be available to purchasers of these products.

So now you really have an excuse to give Prepar3d a good look.  In fact, A Reality of My Own is in the process of putting Lockheed’s product through its paces and so far, we are impressed.   We can’t wait to get our hands on the Carenado installers and take that Malibu out for a flight in the improved FSX experience.

FS Moment: Flying a Favorite

This evening I was flying Carenado’s beautiful Mooney M20J around Mooney’s home of Central Texas; Kerrville to be exact.  Not only did I spend a few years of my childhood in this area, but I have family located not far from the airport and my Grandfather worked at Mooney for a number of years.  So, flying around central Texas is sort of like going to grandma’s house.

 <livery by John Glanville> < aircraft by Carenado >

The weather made this flight fairly interesting with gusting winds, variable clouds, and high humidity.  A storm front was moving in from the north and west.  Taking off from Kerrville, already in the midst of the storm is proof of this pilot’s questionable discretion, was a little hair raising.

Once airborne and above 3,000 feet, the wind was calmer, but the visibility was close to nothing.  Good thing we are in an IFR equipped Mooney as we cruised southeast.

ATC asked us to approach from the south due to incoming traffic and clearer weather, so we paralleled downtown San Antonio, banked left over the DPS field and hooked back north.

The approach to runway 21 was tight due to traffic on the inbound. We hugged the runway tight, made our sweeping, descending turn and landed safely, despite the winds best attempts at making us crash.

Another X-Plane Release: Carenado’s F33A

Just announced is the release of Carenado’s Beechcraft Bonanza F33A.  We’ve been seeing the previews for weeks now and we finally get to load the model up in X-Plane and take her out for a orientation flight.  Does Carenado’s latest live up to the hype?

< Carenado’s F33A Bonanza >

After taking the F33A Bonanza out for a short flight around Moab, UT, I am quite pleased with my $26.95 purchase.  While I need a lot more time behind the yoke, I can tell you this:  The F33A is worth every penny and will make a great cross country cruiser.

One thing I noticed immediately was how long it took the power to come up and get the plane moving.  Granted I was taking off from 5,400 feet in elevation on a gravel runway, so this issue might be limited to my choice of orientation flights. (Update: Flew from Camarillo, CA and the power came up quickly and smoothly. Elevation has a lot to do with engine performance and that is definitely modeled well here.)

Once airborne though, it handled like a dream.  Throwing the yoke left to right and feeling the nimble reaction of the aircraft, reminded me greatly of the performance Mooney models (the M20J is also available from Carenado).  With entertaining handling and relatively fast cruise speed, I really can’t wait to take this baby out on a longer flight!

On this inside, there are plenty of things to click that also have automation.  On this orientation flight, I started the F33A cold and dark, so flicking the switches, setting mixture and throttle, and turning the key were superbly modeled and really made me believe I was a real pilot sitting in a real Beechcraft.  All I missed was that strange aviation smell.

Like the Cessna 172N, the interior includes a pop-up from the brim of the dash cover that gives quick access to panels like switches and the fuel lever.  There is even a rear seat view, but it is not as cool as that included in the 172N. Why? Because the view is from the luggage deck, so a large portion of the screen is useless compared to the full cinematic view of the 172N.

The sound of the virtual Continental engine is spot on.  I always thought these engines sounded like they were over revved up all the time and this feeling came through in this package.  Even subtle changes to the throttle position produces variations in pitch (and you can almost feel the vibration) of the engine.  While not as entertaining or throaty as the Lycoming engines, this one still provides an authentic experience for the ears.

Even still, the overall package of the Beechcraft F33A is superb.  While I am critical of the chosen rear seat view, I am quite happy to report that the Beechcraft does live up to the hype we’ve been seeing on Carenado’s Facebook page for the past few months.  The only thing better would be the V-tail model (which my grandfather was part of the engineering team that designed it), which shares the same fuselage, but uses the distinctive V-tail design.

< for other reviews of Carenado models click here >

So, if you haven’t already, buy this thing…  the virtual pilot inside you will thank you later!