Flying the DHC Dash7 in FSX

Years ago, Milton Shupe and the rest of the Flightsimonline development team released a stunning de Havilland Canada Dash-7 for FS2002/FS2004.  This aircraft became a remarkable workhorse in my virtual hanger.  A four engined turboprop with STOL capabilities clearly is a very capable aircraft that earns its respect.

Sadly, when FSX debuted, the Dash-7 was left behind.  While it did sorta work in FSX, the usual bugs such as disappearing propellers and strange flight dynamics made this aircraft far from a joy to fly.  Lucky for FSX users, Shupe and team ported the recently updated FS2004 version to FSX.  I am happy to say that my workhorse is back for another beating in the FSX virtual hanger.

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

I flew it on a two test flights between KSBA and KONT and couldn’t have been happier.  The sounds, the virtual cockpit and cabin/cargo, the flight dynamics and the sexy fuselage all live up the expectation of its original release.  We are indebted to Shupe, Flightsimonline, and the rest of the team for bringing this update to our hangers.

< Visit the DHC Dash-7 Homepage >

Now go do some intense bush flying with tons of cargo!

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Project Opensky Archive Site Opens

For those of us that think the world of the old Project Opensky models for FS2004, we are all in luck.  There is a new location hosting the old files called Project Opensky Archive.

Capture3

So, if you are looking for those files, head over there and grab ’em.  Who knows how long the site will be up.

Cheers!

An A380 Moment…

There are moments that just make you stop and appreciate flight simulator.

This evening I fired up Prepar3D, loaded up the Project Airbus A380 wearing Singapore colors and headed  across the pond for EGLL.    Just something about the colors, the reflection  on the fuselage, and the clouds just made this moment special.  And yes, the Project Airbus A380 does work  in  Prepar3D.

 

A Cessna 182RG Turbo for X-Plane

Surprises are always great unless they involve death or car crashes.  Luckily for the X-Plane community, this post doesn’t have anything to do with death or car crashes.  That means good news for the general aviation crowd running X-Plane (9 or 10 works).

The great news is the .Org (X-Plane.org) purchased from Shade Tree Micro Aviation (STMA, checkout their awesome DHC-3 Otter!) their Cessna Skylane Turbo RG model and have made it free to their members.  Whenever a former payware aircraft goes freeware, you have to take a step back and bring your expectations down a level.   In this case, they don’t have to come down too far.

STMA’s Cessna SkyLane 182RG for X-Plane

 

I took the Skylane out for a test flight from Three Forks, MT to Bozeman, MT and have to say my expectations were beyond met.  Granted this is an older model and you can tell it is more of X-Plane 8.6 refinement, but the panel, virtual cockpit, flight dynamics, and overall package are superb.   While perhaps lower in quality compared to Carenado’s payware, the overall package delivered here for free sets it apart.

The modeled interior is a welcoming place to spend a few hours.  While the refinement will likely be hard for some to get over, the fact is that the interior is there.  Seating for four, door handles, and yokes have been fully modeled.  While I was a bit disappointed with the 2D-like panel in the virtual cockpit, you have to remind yourself that everything you need is there; light switches, HSI, altimeter, throttles, etc.

Hey, it has a back seat!

The Skylane Turbo packs a bunch with over 200-hp and a cruise speed of 150+ knots.  The retractable gear is also fully animated and its just cool to watch it fold back into the stowed position with this model.    The flight dynamics are “reactive” yet forgiving.  True to the X-Plane feel, you have to fly this plane or set the auto pilot.

Power and speed in a compact package, the SkyLane Turbo is a great companion.

Perhaps one of the best features is the return you get in frame rates.  Running this model on X-Plane 9.70 on my old 2007 iMac with settings cranked fairly high, I was able to get 45+ fps, easy.  That means more processor power for the world around you.

< Cessna SkyLane Turbo 182RG for X-Plane  >

So, if you haven’t already skipped to this part (who reads these posts anyway?), you can download the model over at the .Org.  Just make sure to say a thank you to Shade Tree Micro Aviation and the .Org while you are over there.

 

BBJ Design Group Is Back!

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.

BBJ Design Group’s first release, the 777 VIP

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.

< BBJ Design Group Facebook page >

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.

A Douglas DC-8 by Kingfisher Addons

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.

Kingfisher DC-8-73 FSX

The DC-8 taxis to the active at KVCV for a ferry flight Denver.

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.

Kingfisher's DC-8-73 turning to course for Denver  International

Kingfisher’s DC-8-73 turning to course for Denver International.

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.

DC-8 v1.3 panel with era appropriate gauges

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.)

Cruising over southern Utah

Cruising over southern Utah with the sun behind us.

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?

Descending over Colorado in the dark

Descending over Colorado in the dark

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.

Kingfisher DC-8 landing at Denver

Landing at Denver, a little off center.

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.

SkySpirit2012 CRJ-1000 Released

We knew it was in the works, but didn’t know when we could get our hands on its virtual yoke.  The release has come!  Available from SkySpirit2012 is the CRJ-1000 with tons of liveries.

SkySpirit 2012 CRJ-1000 leaving Bozeman for Denver

 For more info:

Check out the SkySpirit 2012 Facebook page, including links to packages

Check out Avsim, search for “SkySpirit2012 CRJ”

Service Pack 1 has been released, download it here

You all know what I will be doing tomorrow… flying the next generation Bombardier in FS2004!

Update: First Impressions

I had the pleasure of flying the CRJ-1000 from Bozeman, MT to Denver, CO and have to say that it flies like a CRJ.  In fact, I kept thinking I was flying the CRJ-900 whenever I went to outside view.   Of course, this meant the model offers the same great eye candy the former Project Opensky group was known for.  The push back tug, the air-stair, and the reverse thrust animation were all there.

Taxi to the active at Bozeman, MT in FSX for a test flight to Denver.

Regardless, the model had issues right out of the download file in FSX.  When I first loaded the aircraft, the nose wheel was turned completely perpendicular to the fuselage and no amount of joystick play was going to right it.  That was when I found the update on the group’s Facebook “file page” (clickie here) which updated the aircraft.cfg, model files, panel files,  and *.air  file.   With the update installed, life was so much better with a properly functioning nose wheel.  So, if you are having issues, run over and make sure you install the update before posting the issue on the Facebook page.

Nice shine on the wings and fuselage as we descend to final at KDEN, runway 34L

However, even with the update installed, I noticed the cockpit windows appeared greyed out in FSX (see screenshots).  At times they appeared more transparent, but most of the time they seemed dull,which detracted from the realism experience.  Hopefully a fix will  follow, although the model was designed for FS2004, not FSX.

Short final, runway 34L, notice the greyed out cockpit windows

Again, flight in FSX  went as expected from my flight time in the smaller CRJ-700 and CRJ-900 (did I just say smaller and refer to the CRJ-900?) in that the flight model rewards patience and calculated inputs.  An aerobatic biplane this is not, and your passengers will thank you for not flying it as such.  My one pet peeve, and this is probably because I am running FSX is that banking seems sluggish, even for a regional jet.  Both the Project Opensky CRJ-700 and the Roll-On CRJ-200 for X-Plane have a slightly more reactive feel compared to the SkySpirit model.  Aligning with the runway on short final was a little more challenging than expected. On the other hand, it could be that I have been  general aviation aircraft for the past few months and this is my first flight in a jet in a few weeks.

At the gate at Denver waiting for the jet-way to extend

Does the SkySpirit 2012 CRJ-1000 set a new standard?  Well, I think it compliments the existing FS CRJ family quite well.  The high  count of liveries already available is also a huge plus (livery list here).  Despite a few early bugs, this model will make a great addition to any virtual airline fleet.  But, I can’t wait for a private livery or two.  I am sure the 1% will add this to their fleet of toys as well.