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.

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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.

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!

The Little Guy That Started The Regional Market

What were you doing in 1965?  If you are like me, you weren’t even a thought in your mother’s mind let alone alive yet.

What were you doing in 1982?  I was annoying my parents and teachers in grade school and too young to really recall any significant events in the world other than nap time and potty time.

Why are these dates significant?   They mark the time when Douglas Aircraft first flew the DC-9 on February 25, 1965 and when the last DC-9 delivery occurred in October 1982.  While the airframe continued to be produced under the McDonnell Douglas (MD-80/-90) and eventually Boeing (717) nameplates until 2006, the DC-9 is the jet that created stiff competition as the jet-age was maturing in the short to medium range category.  The Boeing 737 didn’t fly until 1967.

HJG DC-9 TWA Livery

DC9-10 turning to course for KBOI

For those of us whom missed the inaugural flight, there is still a chance to experience this aircraft.  Thanks to Historic Jetliners Group (HJG), the DC-9 is alive and well in the virtual world from Microsoft.  While not a newly released model, I decided to give it a fresh new spot in my virtual hangar after seeing it added at HJG’s recent spring update.  Available are all five DC-9 series: -10, -20, -30, -40, -50.

So, I loaded up FS2004 (it will work in FSX, more or less) and plotted a flight plan from Denver, CO (KDEN) to Boise, ID (KBOI).  With lots and lots of liveries available, I am partial to TWA for reasons I can’t explain.  For some reason the red an white livery is classic, clean and nicely retro by today’s standards.

Taxiing from the gate to the runway at Denver always take awhile.  Colorado has a lot of open spaces and it takes time to go the distance.  They apparently decided to carry this experience to its airport… I guess gas was cheap back then too.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to test the ground handling.  Overall, it is good in the turns, but you have to watch the speed.  However, it takes time to spool up the engines and get this guy moving.  The trick is to apply quite a bit of thrust and when you start rolling throttle back before you start rocketing down the taxiway.   While this doesn’t surprise me, it does take some getting used to, especially since I am used to smaller piston aircraft.

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Cruising over the Rockies toward Boise

Taking off from Denver is always fun.  You get to see the open space surrounding the airport.  Depending on orientation, you might get a glimpse of downtown Denver and even the Rocky Mountains. With that, the 563 nautical mile trip to Boise begins!

Cruising west means flying into the wind. Flying into the wind means slower actual speed.  Slower actual speed means longer flying time.  What more could you ask for to give this exterior model a quick once over?  While not an FSX model, no shortcuts were introduced on this model.  The detail wings, animated landing gear, air stairs, and t-design tail have more than enough detail to keep us entertained on our trip across the mountains.

HJG Cantu DC-9 TWA FS2004

S-Curves on approach to Boise.

Beginning descent in Boise gave me an opportunity to see the littlest DC-9-10 handles.  For some reason, Microsoft ATC decided to have us approach the airport in a series of S-curves about 65 nautical miles out.  I can understand this if I was too fast or too high, but we weren’t.  Anyhow, I can tell you that the DC-9 handles well, responsive, forgiving and doesn’t lose altitude too quickly when banking hard.   Keep in mind that an F-16 it is not!   So plan ahead and operate this aircraft with controlled, planned efforts and it will treat you like a Playboy bunny would.  😉

HJG Cantu DC-9 FS2004

Touching down a little hard at Boise.

Final approach was really a great time.  With the responsive handling, great weather and high visibility, landing at Boise was a breeze.  But, do you remember that sluggish throttle response I mentioned during taxiing?  Well, it can be a problem on final approach.  In fact, I nearly stalled the aircraft twice as I reduced throttle a little too much to reduce speed, but added some to compensate but it didn’t spool up in time, so I had to really gun it.  I think that with time and a few touch n goes that I will get the feel of the throttles.

HJG DC-9 FS2004 Cantu Boise

Parked at the gate at Boise

Touching down a little hard, I was quite sad to see this flight conclude.  My time in this classic short-range jetliner that set the first standard for regional jets came to a close.  What more could a flight simulator enthusiast ask for? A great exterior model, great fde even with sluggish spooling engines, and more liveries than just about any other model I’ve seen developed for flight simulator (don’t quote me on this).    So what are you waiting for, head over to HJG’s site and grab your favorite livery and take this little guy for a spin!

I am pretty sure you will remember 2010 as the year you flew the DC-9 in flight simulator!

Cheers!
Hosted by: Historic Jetliners Group
Model File: DC-9-10 (hjg_mcdonnell_douglas_dc-9-10_v1.12.zip)
Livery: TWA 1977 N1054T by Nicholas Botamer (dc-9-10_trans_world_1977_14_n1054t_v1.zip)

Update 4may10 – I mistakenly noted Erick Cantu/Vistaliners as the model author, but this is incorrect.  Credit belongs with Historic Jetliners Group and Nick Botamer (forum thread).

Poll: Your Favorite Regional Jet?

What is your favorite Regional Jet?  These aircraft are the workhorses of the airlines’ spoke and wheel distribution system.  Often picking up passengers at smaller airports and shuttling them over short distance, within the region, to a major airport, their small size makes for intimate accomodations.

With many models available for flight simulator, I am curious about which regional jet is your favorite.  I will say that I find myself flying the Bombardier CRJ series quite often.  I think the CRJ-700, in particular, is quite sexy.

Please take a moment to respond to the poll below and let’s see if there is a consensus.  Poll closes March 15th, please only vote once.



3/16/10 – Poll is now Closed! Thank you to everyone who voted. This was the best poll yet for A Reality Of My Own. Discussion of results coming soon!