FlyJSim Releases Boeing 727 for X-Plane

As if Christmas came early this year, FlyJSim beat Santa Claus to the virtual flying gift with their long awaited release of the Boeing 727 for X-Plane 10.  Available as stand alone packages or a complete pack, the group offers the 727-100, 727-200Adv, and the 727-200F variants.  If this release is anywhere close to the quality of their existing Dash 8 Q400 model, the 727 is going to be an awesome experience!

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

If that hasn’t gotten your mouth watering, available separately are livery packs, such as “The American Classics Pack” from XPJets for the -200Adv model.  You can also purchase a pack that contains all 54 liveries across all three variants.

What surprises me is that by the time you buy the Complete 727 Model Pack ($62) with the Complete Livery Pack ($19.95), you are pushing north of $80.  While the sticker shock makes me change my underwear, when you realize you are getting a complete package of one of the most detailed and advanced models for X-Plane 10, suddenly that sticker shock seems like a bargain.  Of course, you could just purchase your favorite variant $32 individually.

< click to see the purchase options at the .Org store >

I know what I am doing this weekend… flying the virtual skies in a classic three holer!

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

Update – Purchased the complete variant pack and the complete livery pack. After a simple installation, I took the -100 variant in an Eastern Airlines “whisperjet” livery out for a flight from KPDX to KSEA.  I can say that I am speechless.  Everything I love about the Dash 8, applies to the 727.  The detailed cockpit, sounds, and exterior model are simply the best and justify the expense.

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

With three models and 54 liveries to explore, this X-Plane 10 add-on is going to keep me busy.  Time to  sit down with the manuals and start with cold and dark cockpit.  Full review coming soon!

 

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.

Initial Thoughts on X-Plane 10

Update 12nov12: I wrote this post shortly after the initial release of X-Plane.  I didn’t have the best experience with the initial beta products.   However, almost a year has gone by and X-Plane 10 has evolved into a mainstream offering.   I am working on an update to this post and encourage everyone reading this to take these comments with a grain of salt.  If you just downloaded/installed X-Plane 10, grab the updated installer from the website and run the update as there are a lot fixes available.  Cheers! 

–begin original post–

Let me start by saying that my experience with X-Plane 10 was one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had with a piece of software in my entire life.

Customer Experience Failure

I’ll skip the blow by blow, but the simple task of downloading X-Plane 10 web demo was a Thanksgiving nightmare, followed by the inability to even start the program, and finishing with such low frame rates, that I thought my monitor was showing me an old 8mm film. Then came a number of web updates and the requirement to download an installer from the website to install the DVDs.

The overall experience was a far cry from a smooth roll out of a new product. Clearly Laminar Research was not prepared for the release of software that still needed more testing and fixes prior to release.

X-Plane Eye Candy

With the full version of X-Plane 10 installed and about 20 hours dickering around with the rendering options, I have finally reached a point of content with X-Plane 10.  So, I thought I would post some screenshots of my initial testing.

The settings for my ’08 iMac

The trick to getting decent frame rates from X-Plane 10 is to turn EVERYTHING off and then start turning options back on and up.  It is a frustrating and lloooonnnngggg task.  Austin should design a little program that can set rendering options based on computer settings.  But then again, Austin is not that cool.

Challenger 300 at Sunset over Puget Sound

But after spending a lloooonnnngggg and frustrating time dickering with the rendering options, I was able to install one of my favorite X-Plane aircraft, the Challenger 300 by Ddenn Design, and fly from KPAE to KSEA and experience a few of the new X-Plane features.

The Stinson L5S, a very close cousin to the Piper Cub in FSX

I also realized that Laminar Research has clearly marketed X-Plane 10 as a direct alternative to FSX or Flight.  Included in the web demo are the Baron, a King Air C90B, and the Stinson L5S.  Similar aircraft in my default FSX hanger.  I was sad to see the Piper Malibu missing.

Initial Thoughts

My initial thoughts on X-Plane 10 are mixed.  While it represents a revolutionary step forward in simulation software, the customer experience of downloading the demo, installing it, and configuring it is down right atrocious. As an customer advocate, Laminar Research might have an awesome product, but the experience to use it is the pits.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

Is X-Plane 10 a “do not buy” product, as I stated in my tweet?  At this time, I will say that if you are willing to invest countless frustrating hours getting it configured and you own a powerful computer, buy it!

If you are an FSX user, I recommend waiting for Microsoft Flight, which will offer a far superior customer experience and better support. Since Microsoft has killed off Flight (rightfully so), the best alternative to X-Plane 10 is Prepar3D, despite its steep price tag.

For me, I paid $80 for this thing, so it will sit on my computer along side X-Plane 9.7, taunting me to mortgage my house so I can buy a super computer to properly run it. Until then, X-Plane 9.7 wins.

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!

New X-Plane Directory Published

The MS Flight Simulator Directory I created to help virtual pilots find some of the more popular aircraft for FS9/FSX was such a hit, I decided to compile one for X-Plane. (You can my gibberish below and go right to the directory here if you must.)

X-Plane, like FS9/FSX, represents a blank canvas for virtual pilots to create their own reality (hence: A Reality of My Own).  Unfortunately, out of the box, X-Plane doesn’t offer much in the way of scenic eye candy while on approach to the runways.

Even with a host of included aircraft, X-Plane doesn’t have an all inclusive virtual hangar.  With talented designers out there that recreate their favorite aircraft in great detail, there is always something new to load, fly, and explore.

< Click here to visit the X-Plane Directory >

So, head on over and take a look at some of my favorites.  If you have any suggestions for the content of the page, please leave a comment or send me a tweet (@MyFlightSim).

Cheers! Happy Flying!

AROMO!