Boeing’s Different Beast for FS9

There are certain releases in the flight simulator community that just shock me.  Either the release was unexpected (at least by me) or the quality of the aircraft was so good, I wonder how it could possibly be released as freeware.   Another one of these shocking releases happened.

Boeing’s 797 is a fictitious double deck, blended wing airliner with seating for 1,000 passengers.  Capable of flying 8,800 nm, the 797 can move a lot of people around the world efficiently.  Whether or not the 797 is actually real, or ever will be real has been a debate for quite a while, with rumors and discussions popping up across the internet.

Lionheart Creations has taken the 797 design and made it a reality for the Microsoft Flight Simulator family, FSX & FS9.  William Ortis left no detail behind when he created this monster.  The windows, landing gear, engines, virtual cockpit, and stairs are of superb quality. Flying this distinct looking bird around the virtual skies is an experience that you will never forget.

The only drawback is the size of the model.  Not only is it a 65mb download, but the model itself contains 32-bit textures and tips the rendering scales at 65,000 polygons.   While the user can improve frame rates by converting to DXT-3, the sheer size of this model will leave low-end systems stuttering.  Still, the flying experience is worth it.

Head on over to Simviation.com and download this rather different beast.<direct download>  As of Aug 19, you can also download it from AVsim’s library as well. <Avsim download>

Cheers!

An Improved Industry Icon Enters Flight Simulator

The 747-8F Intercontinental Freighter is the next generation freighter that brings the classic industry icon into the new century and beyond.  The popular 747 family set a new standard when it entered service in early 1970.  Its unique partial double deck design and tall stabilizer remind many of a whale, the whale that represents international travel.

With the economy on a downward spiral, commercial travel as competitive ever, and an aging platform, Boeing responded to its customers’ needs for a more efficient, larger aircraft that can haul more passengers and/or freight on less fuel, all the while being a little quieter. Enter the 747-8 Intercontinental, an extensive refresh of 747-400 with next generation engines, new wings, and an extended fuselage.

The 747-8F leaves Everett

Project Opensky has been developing models for Microsoft Flight Simulator for many, many year now.  Their focus on the Boeing family brings the mainstream, workhorse airliners, such as the 737 and 777, to our desktops. Completing the 747 family is the 747-8F which joins the AL-1, Air Force One, and the other 747 variants in POSKY’s download library.

The 747-8F is a beautiful bird and meets the high quality expectations that POSKY is known for.  My only nitpick is that the model does not include a virtual cockpit, which makes flying in FSX a little limiting.   What really impresses me is the wing flex.  Taking off from Everett, I watched in awe as the wings created lift, rose before the fuselage and then gracefully lifted the large airplane into the air!

For more information on POSKY’s release of the Boeing 747-8F, read this announcement.  It is also available for download in their library.  Note, if you intend to use this model in FSX, please download the FSX model package in addition to the base pack.

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

A 747 To Play LaserTag

I don’t think I would actually want to play laser tag with such a big laser, but Project Opensky‘s recent release will let us play in the virtual skies. You can read the press release here and download the model here.

YAL-1A from Project Opensky

Yes, Airborne Laser 1, the test bed for America’s next generation missile defense system, is available for FS2004 (fs9).   YAL-1A is a modified Boeing 747-400F mounted with a megawatt-class “chemical oxygen iodine laser” (COIL) that can shoot down various unfriendly missiles.<wikipedia>

Firing the YAL-1A laser

Not only does this aircraft have the normal detail and animations expected from Project Opensky, but the added animation of the COIL and its ability to “fire” takes it to an even higher level.  Hitting Shift+E+7 on the keyboard brings up the gauge panel containing the controls.  It takes some getting used to, using two different +/- buttons to set orientation.  The provided situational graphics are a little difficult to interpret when first start moving it around.  But, take a few moments, get used to it and then fire away!

So, head on over to Project Opensky’s site and get this model…  the kid in you will thank you!

Cheers!

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!

Cheers!

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

Project Opensky’s E4B 747-200

Well, it seems that Project Opensky is constantly pulling surprises out of their virtual sleeves.  Today, POSKY released their version of the Boeing E4B, an advanced airborne command post.  The E4B’s purpose is to keep the United States functional by placing command in the air should something happen to ground based command units.  These play such an important role that they are capable of resisting an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and have special windows and insulation to help prevent radiation from leaking into the cabin. You get the picture…  worst case scenario.  Yes, these were developed during the 1970’s when the threat of nuclear war was very really.

Boeing E4B at Everett

Boeing E4B at Everett

Like most POSKY models, the E4B should work in both FS2004 and FSX, but was designed for fs2004 only.  FSX testing is pending.

Update Dec 1, 2012 – Sadly, the model is no longer available for download.  It is not listed on the POSKY Archive site and I can’t find it hosted anywhere else.

update 28jul09 – added screenshot.

Wedgetail Meets USCG

The Wedgetail variation of Project Opensky‘s Boeing 737-700 has been around for a while,  but was only available in Royal Australian Air Force colors.   Thanks for Colin Lowe, Wedgetail enthusiasts have something a little more colorful to fly in.  Recently released is a United States Coast Guard (USCG) livery that really brightens up this bird.

USCG Wedgetail at Boeing Field

USCG Wedgetail at Boeing Field

I loaded up the repaint in FS2004 and took it out for a flight from Boeing Field (KBFI) to Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA).

Turning on to course after leaving Boeing Field

Turning on to course after leaving Boeing Field

The flight was pretty uneventful.  I did find that the roll rate of the Wedgetail is pretty slow.  It is sorta like driving Cadillac when you are used to smaller aircraft that handle like a Porsche.

Passing over Mt. St. Helens

Passing over Mt. St. Helens

One of the things that impressed me most about this combination of model and livery was how great the colors matched with the shape of the aircraft.  The red markings on the wings really give the 737 a much larger presence.  While not exactly stealthy, the bright red makes for great show.

Landing on SBA's runway 7

Landing on SBA's runway 7

It was the approach to Santa Barbara that really showed off the Wedgetail’s lazy handling.  To accommodate it, I found myself flying a wide approach to runway 7 so that I would have plenty of distance to align with the runway.  In doing so, short-final was smooth, although I brought her in a little slow and slammed the wheels on the runway.  Hey, I just wanted to make sure the crew was awake for our arrival on the central coast.

Overall, flying the USCG Wedgetail is a lot of fun.  There is a lot of eye candy here and Colin did a great job representing the livery in flight simulator.

Filename: b737uscg-1.zip (flightsim.com)
Filesize: 5mb
Author: Model – POSKY ; Livery – Colin Lowe

update 11jul09 – fixed some spelling and grammatical errors. ;-(