An Aspen Approach with FSX

It was love at first sight.  The Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop lifted off gracefully from the runway.  I had never seen such a graceful thing before.  At that moment, I knew the Brasilia was going to have an important place in my virtual hanger.

And the Brasilia is available for FSX thanks to the Eagle Rotorcraft Simulations group update to Erick Cantu’s EMB-120 model for FS9.  Version 1.1 adds the default King Air 350 virtual cockpit, which isn’t entirely accurate, but beats flying with a 2-d panel.

So, with a vacation to Colorado not too far away, I decided to visit Aspen.  Not only is the approach to KASE an interesting one, but the surrounding scenery is stunning.   So, Aspen was the destination.

But where to depart from?  Why not where I grew up, Phoenix, Arizona.  Since KPHX is a pretty busy airport, I decided to use KIWA, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway. This would make the flight just under 500nm, so the Brasilia would be a good choice. Here it goes:

We left Phoenix-Mesa Gateway mid-afternoon and climbed to FL200.  The weather was breezy but clear.  With relatively little air traffic and a pretty barren scenery below us, we quickly learned to anticipate the arrival of the Rocky Mountains.  The cabin crew delivered coffee and shared a few jokes to pass the time.

Descending north of Aspen

Once the Rockies appeared on the horizon and their jagged peaks and valleys added some interest to the view outside our window, time seemed to fly by and it was time to start our descent and prepare for approach.

Turning to left base over Aspen

With a slight haze reducing visibility, we pass directly over Aspen and prepare for a left base approach to runway 15.   Just then I received a call from tower reminding me of noise abatement and not flying over populated areas.  Well… too late now.

Looking down at the airport I couldn’t help but notice the lack of traffic.  Sure, it is July, but Aspen is a beautiful place all year.  With an open ramp, navigating the taxiways was not going to be a problem.

Turning to approach (note the King Air wingtip)

As we turn to approach and enter the Roaring Fork Valley, I run through contingency plans in my head while monitoring the instruments.  The approach to runway 15 is offset and there is a slight breeze with some gusts. Challenging, but beautiful.

Touching down, really late!

We are cleared for landing and I put the gear down, throttle back and gasp at the awesome peaks that now loom above us.  The runway rushes towards us.  The illusion of descending into the valley, the tall trees and gusty winds all do a very good job at distracting the pilot.  Still, we turn slightly late to course and touch down more 1/3 down the runway.  The late touchdown is a tad embarrassing, but at least the ramp is not packed with onlookers!

We were immediately cleared to the gate in the late afternoon sun.  The sun dramatically lit the ridges around us, mother nature’s way of reminding us of our place on this earth.

On the ramp at Apsen

With the engines shut down, the cabin crew cleared, and the ramp crew giving the okay, we opened the passenger door and started offloading luggage.  The fuel truck arrived and gave us a few hundred pounds to get us back east.

With that, another FSX flight comes to a close.  A brilliant Brasilia landing in a beautiful location in Microsoft’s latest simulator.  Life is good.

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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!

The United Express Brasilia, Brilliant for FS9!

Living on the central coast, I often find myself using Santa Maria or Santa Barbara airports as an alternative to LAX or BUR when I travel. With that said, I have spent many hours as a passenger on the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop airliner. There is something exciting about watching the engines start, feeling the vibration of props, and the close quarters of the seating arrangements. Yes, riding in a “puddle-jumper” is not for everyone.

For many years, the flightsim community survived without a decent model of the Brasilia. There was Project ERJ for FS2002, but that model lacked something. Then came the now defunct Online Simulations Solutions (OSS) that planned on releasing a basic freeware model and a more inclusive package for FS9, designed by the wonderful Erick Cantu of Vistaliners. While the outstanding freeware model was released, there were very few liveries available due to OSS’s strict repaint policy. But then OSS went under and Erick released his model as freeware as part of the Vistaliner’s collection of flightsim models. To this day, Erick’s Brasilia is still one of the most brilliant models available for FS9.

With the model out, I anxiously awaited painters to fulfill my dream of virtually flying the SkyWest liveries from destinations on the central coast to LAX. Slowly they came and I was satisfied, but then United debuted a new livery in 2004 and I have been patiently awaiting since for the United Express NC Brasilia to come available. I can remember the day I drove by SBA and saw one of these on the tarmac… I was so impressed with how this livery complemented the classic lines of the Brasilia. I really, really wanted to fly it in flightsim, but a quality paint was not availble.

That is until now, thanks to the superb work of Jeffrey Bryner. Available to the flightsim community is N293SW, a Skywest Brasilia wearing the new colors of United Express (pic above). The quality is very high, with superb window representations, excellent detail placement, and those wonderful metal texture engine nacelles. So far, I flew this bird from LAX to SBA and back and am just can’t tell you all how giddy I am to have such a great repaint in my sim. After a good night’s sleep tonight, I will be flying the Santa Maria – LAX route and San Jose – Santa Barbara route. Thanks Jeffrey!

Author: Jeffrey S. Bryner
Filename: skw_n293sw_emb120.zip (avsim)
Size: 2.5MB
Model by: Vistaliners (Erick Cantu)

New Embraer Phenom Papermodel!

Looking to give your eyes a break from the monitor on a long virtual flight?  Tired of flying planes that don’t really exist in the material world?  Not a flightsim fan, but looking for a new papermodel project?  Well, PaperInside.com has the papermodel (cardmodel for those card people) for you.  Recently released is the Embraer Phenom 100 model consisting of three pages of parts and three pages of instructions.  The model comes with a stand, so if your good, you can show it off.  This one looks pretty simple (compared to Canon’s Starflyer A320 model) and should look good on anyone’s bookshelf.  Head on over and check it out.  If you like it, please leave a donation to make sure future become availalble.

If you are not into business jets, they also have an Embraer Super Tucano complete with missiles!  It is definitely not for the novice!

Happy cutting!