X-Plane is an awesome alternative to MS Flight Simulator and is under constant development. Seems that updates are frequent and with X-Plane 10 on the horizon, it has a very bright future.
And! It just got better, with the release of the TB9 Tampico by Pascal Nicolas. Manufactured by Socata, the TB9 is a single engine, light twin that can carry up to 4 passengers. Popular as an instrument trainer, many students with advanced ratings may have spent quite a bit of time in one.
So, I was eager to give Pascal’s new model a test flight. In this case, I flew it from Santa Maria (KSMX) to Santa Barbara (KSBA) on a day with varied weather conditions in X-Plane. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the winds were quite gusty at Santa Maria and Santa Barbara had a fog warning. Maybe I was getting more than I bargained for, but I pushed the throttles forward, felt the power come up and released the brakes. Away we went…
I quickly noticed the gusty winds and how severe the TB9 responded to them. Once we cleared 500 feet and began our turn toward Gaviota, I considered turning back, but ultimately decided to continue the flight and see how it goes. There was a very strong tendency for a left bank and we hopped around as the winds gusted, but I kept the wings generally flat and the nose pointed slightly up to maintain climb.
Once at 3,000 feet, I came to predict the handling and settled into a routine to constant adjustment to correct for the winds insatiable appetite to throw us off course. In fact, the handling, expansive view forward, and quiet interior was really starting to grow on me. As a fan of the Mooney M20J, the TB9 was a reasonable cruiser at a lower price point (free vs $30 for Carenado’s model).
As we approached Gaviota, we made a turn toward the east to Santa Barbara, staying north of the 101 freeway. Despite the clear skies, I could see fog creeping in in the distance, so I knew the beautiful weather was limited. Would I land in Santa Barbara before the fog hit the airport?
With little air traffic and the clear skies, I pushed the Tampico to its limit, cruising at 160 knots. With the wind dissipated flying didn’t require constant correction and I could relax a bit and enjoy the expansive view of paradise. The Tampico was turning out to be a great little companion.
With clearance from the tower to land on runway 15R, I reduced power and pulled the nose up to bleed off speed. But then I realized that I am higher than I should be, so I reduced power again to slow enough to engage the flaps. At that point, I can start a more rapid descent without losing control of airspeed. This was going to be an interesting approach, but we beat the fog!
Turning to course, I was still quite high. Nosing the aircraft down, cutting power, and keeping my fingers crossed, I dove for the numbers. Tower noticed this and asked if I wanted to go around, to which I answered, “no, I got it.”
Before I knew it, I was on the runway. Watching airspeed, altitude and the runway, I put down about 1/3 down the runway in a perfect stall. The aircraft rolled out and we turned left at the end of the runway.
Taxiing the Tampico is a joy. With great visibility and responsive controls, it easily goes where you want it. However, imprecise control inputs will be rewarded with chaos. Upon turning to the ramp, I over reacted and steered hard to the right while hitting the brakes, resulting in a spin on the taxiway. Oops.
Arriving at the ramp, I set the brake, cut fuel and open the doors. The sweet smell of ocean and aircraft exhaust was like cow manure to a cowboy. With the wheels chalked, electrical systems off and my bladder emptied, I complete the post flight walk around.
Just in time too, the fog came barreling in, causing some VFR pilots to divert north to Santa Ynez. We admire the fog as it enroaches on the hills above Santa Barbara and say good afternoon to the Tampico, the airport and a day’s successful test flight.
Aircraft: Socata TB9 Tampico for X-Plane (<download>)
Author: Pascal Nicolas
File Size: ~20mb
Scenery: Santa Barbara Municipal (<download>)
Scenery Author: Martin (aka Partnair)
File Size: ~ 10mb