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.



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.


Sweet: A 747-8F

Being mostly all things Boeing, Project Opensky (POSKY) has been busily working away on different variants of the classic 747.  With their recent release of the AL-1 platform and development of a 787 model, the next generation long-haul freighter, the 747-8F couldn’t be far behind.   Ya know somethin’?  It really isn’t!

Recently posted in the POSKY “Official Preview” forum are some fantastic screenshots of the new model.  Check them out. While you are there, make sure to leave a comment and congratulate the team on yet another superb model for Flight Simulator 2004. If compatibility is on par with their other models, we should be able to enjoy it in FSX as well!


Another Cargo Jet: C-17 by UKMIL

Tom Ruth’s Antonov AN-225 is the largest cargo jet available (see The Biggest of the Big).  However, it doesn’t exactly handle like a sports car.  If you are looking to haul a lot of stuff to distant front lines with short runways, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster will fit the bill.  Now, thanks to UKMIL, you can enjoy the C-17 in FSX SP2.

C-17 by UKMIL descending over Europe

The C-17 by UKMIL descending over Europe

The C-17 is not only a great looking plane, with an important military role, but it has some great facts as well (wikipedia):

1) Developed and built by McDonnell Douglas and later Boeing in the United States

2) It is the third model of the Globemaster series; the C-74 (I) and  C-124 (II) are predecessors in the strategic airlift role

3) Each C-17 costs $218 million.

4) Each C-17 can haul 160,000 lbs. of cargo 2,400 nm, and can land on runways as short as 3,500 feet.

The C-17 is a true workhorse and operates as the sports car of cargo aircraft.  It is so popular with armed forces, that military units around the world use it for a variety of missions.  From med-evac, to troop deployments, to tactical airlift, the C-17 can do it.

You can do it too thanks to UKMIL’s extraordinary modeling abilities.  Their Flight Simulator X model is full of eye candy, including a detailed virtual cockpit, animated ramps and plenty of doors to open and close.  They even delivered this download with 12 (twelve!) liveries, including one Qatar livery.

UKMIL C-17 Virtual Cockpit in Flight Simulator X

The VC includes fully functional HUDs for both seats!

To me, one of the best features of this model is the virtual cockpit itself.  Yes, the graceful, rounded lines of the fuselage are cool and the animation is there to please the eye, but the realistic flight experience is where the enjoyment is.  There are very few models on the market that offer realistic, functional virtual cockpits like this C-17 does.  The dual HUD’s are just the beginning, with clickable auto-pilot buttons, advanced panels, and animated yokes that add to the impressive experience.

Clicking around this flying office really made me want to take for it for a test flight, just to see if the rest of the experience measures up.   So, I loaded up a flight plan from Dubai to Zurich.  The flight started in the dark, early morning hours, but it was okay since the visibility from the cockpit is great and the taxi lights are nicely illuminated. Ground handling is quite good, although you have to take it slow.  This isn’t a Cessna and does not turn on a dime.  Well calculated turns are needed here, especially on narrow taxiways.

Aligning the nosewheel on the center line of the runway, I eased the throttles forward.  The four Pratt and Whitney PW2040 (F117-PW-100 if you are DoD) engines roared to life and started accelerating down the runway.  We were quite light, so rotation came quickly and then our flight had begun.

On our ascent to cruising altitude, I couldn’t help but wiggle the wings and do some banking turns (sorry dudes in the back!) to see how the C-17 handled.  I have to say much more nimble than the AN-225 and more like a 737, which is great considering how much weight it can haul the its larger size.

UKMIL C-17 at cruise altitude in Flight Simulator X

At cruise altitude over Iran, notice the marker lights

Cruising along at 32,000 feet, you can’t help but play with all of the cool buttons on the panels in the virtual cockpit. Some of the switches operate the lights, one of which turns on the marker lights.  The outside view with them on in the early, early morning light, you can get the sense of what it would look like from the tail of a KC-135 refueling tanker.  Imagine placing the refueling boom in that box (screen above) while cruising at a few hundred miles per hour.  Yep, the imagination wanders while cruising with the auto-pilot.

C-17 by UKMIL descending into Vienna

Descending into Vienna with IFR weather conditions below.

After the sun came up and illuminated the Swiss Alps, it was time to start our descent into Zurich. Unfortunately, the weather at Zurich was IFR below us so ATC took us on a little tour of the greater Zurich area to align us with the runway.  But then I came in a little fast and conducted a go around, which required even more maneuvering.   It is a good thing that I found the C-17 a joy to fly and a joy to look at it in chase view.  For such a utility oriented aircraft, it really handled quite responsively with light controls and a tight 360 radius.   I am not sure if the passengers in the back would ever fly with me again, but I enjoyed it. 😉

C-17 trying to land Zurich

Coming around for another pass at low altitude

Landing was a breeze the second time around.  Flaps, trim and air speed all set and this Globemaster settled easily on the runway just over the piano keys.  Engaging reverse thruster (didn’t need to, but what the heck) brought us quickly to taxi speed.  Turning off the runway at Zurich, we were cleared to the cargo ramp.  The taxiways at Zurich easily accommodated this big bird and I was shutting down the engines, disappointed that such a great flight, in such an awesome FSX model came to an end.

But then, I can still play around with the eye candy before I exit flight simulator; the doors, the ramp, the lights, the flaps.  Plenty of things to watch go up and down, left and right, and everything in between.

C-17 on the ramp at foggy Zurich

On the ramp, unloading at foggy Zurich

Overall, the C-17 Globemaster by UKMIL is another one of those must-haves for flight simulator.  The guys at UKMIL delivered an awesome package of a true military workhorse.   From the awesome virtual cockpit, to the exterior model, to the graceful and responsive flight dynamics, they spared no expense in delivering this model for us to enjoy.  Cargo enthusiasts will spend many, many hours behind the yoke of this bird!


Author: UKMIL
Filename: 1UKMILC17.zip (simviation)  V1.1 Patch: 2UKC17p11.zip (simviation)
Filesize: 21.5mb , patch 7.8mb

AVSIM File Library Back!

Following the devastating loss in May of AVSIM’s File Library, a serious gap opened up in the flight simulator world.  While other freeware download sites such as Flightsim.com and Simviation.com picked up a lot of the slack, there was still something missing.  I guess you can say that AVSIM delivers a truly unique add-on flight simulator experience.

Top AVSIM Downloads as of 21:51 PST, 5oct09

Top AVSIM Downloads as of 21:51 PST, 5oct09

Yesterday, the library opened up for uploads.  Today, there are hundreds of add-ons available for you to partake.  POSKY is uploading their 777-series, Tom Ruth has uploaded his Antonov models, and Al Wheeler even snuck in updated Central Coast scenery for MegaScenery.   So what are you waiting for, get over there and grab some add-ons!


Simple Papermodel Ship Project

It has been quite a while since I built a papermodel ship.  The last one I made, I believe, was the Sikinami patrol boat which came out a little funky since I printed in on US letter paper and it was intended for A4

This time, I chose to build another patrol boat, but from a different part of the world.  In this case, Australia, a country surrounded with water, so it’s Navy must be on it’s toes.

Two pages of parts, 11 pages of instructions... eek!

Two pages of parts, 11 pages of instructions... eek!

The subject of this building is the Armidale class patrol boat, of which the Australian Navy has 12.  They are manned by a crew of 21 and have a range of 3,000 nm.  Not very large, but perfect for paper modeling.

This model has just two pages of parts, none of which appear too small, which indicates that this is not a highly detailed model.  However, there are 11 pages of instructions with it, so maybe this will be more complicated than it needs to be?  Well, you will just have to check back on my progress!

You can download the Armidale over here (there is also a submarine model available on the same page).

17MAY2010 – model is no longer available at the site above, looking for alternative download.  Sorry y’all! 

25nov2011 – Thorsten pointed out the download is available again. You can grab it here (PDF).


The Biggest of the Big!

Tom Ruth amazed us all with his Antonov AN-124 model for FSX, and he just upped the ante a bit more.  The Antonov AN-225 Mriya (means “dream”), is the largest fixed wing aircraft to ever be built.  In fact only one was built and is still flying today, while a second airframe was started, but never finished.  Originally designed as the main transporter for the Soviet Buran Shuttle, the Mriya currently hauls extremely large, heavy and oversize loads around the world for Antonov Airlines.

Antonov AN-225 Mriya - largest fixed wing ever built

Antonov AN-225 Mriya - largest fixed wing ever built

Flying this bird is like flying a large brick.  You sit so high up and you look over such a large nose, that one can’t help but wonder if you stepped aboard the Star-ship Enterprise. The detailed virtual cockpit puts flight controls where they need to be, with that bit of strange Soviet feel.  However, the Mriya doesn’t fly like a brick, but not exactly like a Cessna either, perhaps more like a heavy 747.   Getting off the ground takes patience and a long runway.  Once airborne, though, the behemoth is much more docile with responsive handling and decent climb rates. Those six engines and large wings really help move the shear size of this beast through the air.   Overall, I was quite surprised at how well it flew.

The bowing Mriya swollows cargo from the front.

The bowing Mriya swallows cargo from the front.

Back on the ground, there is plenty of eye candy to please the gaming enthusiasts.   The opening doors and animated cargo door, ramp and front gear are all wonderful surprises in freeware.  Each of these functions are controlled by clickable buttons on the center panel.   It is part of the experience to sit in the virtual cockpit, throw the cargo door switch and watch your view be consumed by the massive nose of the aircraft as it opens.  One can see the detailed underside including support struts as it opens in front of the windshield.  Then, throw the front gear switch and change views to outside to watch these behemoth squat.  Then back to the virtual cockpit to throw the ramp switch, change to outside view to watch the ramp unfold.   The experience of opening the cargo bay is worth the download alone.  If you ever find yourself in need of counting something, try counting the tires on the main gear, that will keep you busy for awhile.    There is even a second model available with a Soviet Buran Shuttle mounted on the back of this big guy.   Talk about a “large” model.  The exterior and interior model on Ruth’s latest FSX model is outstanding.

Overall, this is quite a surprise from a talented freeware modeler.  Not only has Ruth recreated the largest aircraft in the skies, but he has done it to new standards and upped the ante for flight simulator experiences.  I can’t wait to spend more time behind the yoke of this bird.

Author: Tom Ruth
Filename:  tom225x.zip
File Size: 29.2mb