Flying the DHC Dash7 in FSX

Years ago, Milton Shupe and the rest of the Flightsimonline development team released a stunning de Havilland Canada Dash-7 for FS2002/FS2004.  This aircraft became a remarkable workhorse in my virtual hanger.  A four engined turboprop with STOL capabilities clearly is a very capable aircraft that earns its respect.

Sadly, when FSX debuted, the Dash-7 was left behind.  While it did sorta work in FSX, the usual bugs such as disappearing propellers and strange flight dynamics made this aircraft far from a joy to fly.  Lucky for FSX users, Shupe and team ported the recently updated FS2004 version to FSX.  I am happy to say that my workhorse is back for another beating in the FSX virtual hanger.

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

At dusk, the Dash-7 sits on the ramp at KSBA in FSX

I flew it on a two test flights between KSBA and KONT and couldn’t have been happier.  The sounds, the virtual cockpit and cabin/cargo, the flight dynamics and the sexy fuselage all live up the expectation of its original release.  We are indebted to Shupe, Flightsimonline, and the rest of the team for bringing this update to our hangers.

< Visit the DHC Dash-7 Homepage >

Now go do some intense bush flying with tons of cargo!

Project Airbus Finds the Middle with An A330

Project Airbus shook the virtual skies with their A320 family of models for flight simulator.  They shook the skies a bit more (luckily no birds fell from the sky) when they released the flying whale, the A380.   Each release represented a new standard of detail and new drool on the keyboard.

< check out the new project tease thread here >

With the little guy (A318) and the whale (A380) awaiting download, the middle is left wide open.  But the Project Airbus team is looking to fill the spot with a new A330 model that is rumored to be in the works.  Head over to their forums and check out some of the screenshots they are teasing us virtual pilots with.

Welcome Alabeo to FS

Carenado has been providing numerous add-ons for MSFS and X-Plane for quite a few years.  The aircraft they produce set a standard by which many other aircraft models are judged.

They also seem to have a knack for surprises.  When they released the Mooney M20J for X-Plane, I believe I blew coffee through my nose.  After buying a new keyboard and subsequent unexpected releases and previews, it is clear Carenado will be in the news for some time to come.

But now they will have company.  Meet Alabeo, a joint venture between talented young artists (unnamed as time of publication) and Carenado.  You can visit them on Facebook and on Twitter to stay up to date on their progress.   The official press release:

November 21st, 2011

Carenado is announcing the creation of a new company: ALABEO (www.alabeo.com). This new company was born as a joint venture of a young and talented 3D artist’s team and the well-known general aviation developer company: Carenado.

This talented young team is composed by 3D modelers, digital artists and computer programmers. Their vast knowledge in the current 3D modeling techniques, digital arts and games programing makes a perfect fit with a company like Carenado. Both teams will complement each other with their specific areas of expertise, pursuing the objective of developing fun stuff for the major home flight simulators.

Carenado will support this new company providing expertise, a cutting edge technological platform, and vast commercial experience.
Alabeo plans to release its first aircraft in the next few days.
People can also follow Alabeo via their favorite social networks:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Alabeo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Alabeo_com

This looks incredibly exciting and can’t wait to see what they deliver to the FS community.  I only hope that FSX and X-Plane are supported.

Update 11.23.2011 – Alabeo’s first release will be the Pitts S-2S. Screenshots available at their URL above.

Project Airbus Keeps Them Coming: A320 v2.1

We really ooohhh’d and aaawww’d when Project Airbus released the A320 v2 for FS2004.  Then we ooohhh’d and aaawww’d a bunch more when they released the A321 with new features not found on their legendary A320.  At this point, the A320 was antiquated and there really wasn’t much reason to continue ooohhh’ing and aaawww’ing about it.

Ooohhh, aawwww: The A320 v2.1

Well, we can now ooohhh and aaawww again when we fly the Project Airbus A320 v2.1.  The latest update combines the legendary A320 with the awesome new features of the A321, including:

  1. Wing flex
  2. Improved A321 engine nacelles
  3. Modeled wiper blades
  4. Additional antenna
  5. Reshaped APU
  6. Revised cargo door animation

The official release and documentation is in this Project Airbus forum post.  Downloads are available at the PA download section or via Avsim. Note, you must download the base pack AND a livery pack for it to work.

Check out those detailed engines!

Once downloaded, prepare yourself for some serious ooohhhh’ing and aaawwww’ing.  I am in the process of putting this update through its paces, so more will come later.

A note on FSX compatibility.  This model was built for FS2004 and no FSX model exists.  While you can load it into FSX yourself, your experience may vary and there will be limited support.

Cheers! Happy Airbus’ing!

Update 01dec12 – updated links to the new Project Airbus site at http://www.pafs.wf

A BBJ 747-8i for Hawaii

It is without a doubt, the SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i is a brilliant aircraft.  Not only did Boeing do a great job extending the life of their largest airliner, but the SkySpirit2011 group brought it to life for us in FS9 and FSX.

The SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i over Anchorage, AK

Since its release, repaints available have been somewhat limited and limited to commercial airlines.  With only a small percentage of the population with the means to have a private jet the size of a 747, it is no wonder that private liveries weren’t more abundant. Until now that is.

Recently released by Alexi Antoniou is the “BBJ” livery for the SkySpirit2011 model (link at the end of the post).  While the repaint is not without fault (there seem to blending issues on the left wing [fixed in a recent update]), it is still a pretty cool repaint and it is the only one available as of the time of this post.

Since I have been obsessing about a trip to Hawaii, I decided to take the BBJ 747-8i on a “long” trip from Denver, Co (KDEN) to Kailua-Kona, Hi (PHKO).  With a distance of about 2,800 nm, the newest 747 is the perfect, roomy personal shuttle to get there in style.

Pre-flight preparation on the ramp at KDEN in FS9

So, we arrived at Denver airport and was promptly escorted to the ramp where our flying hotel awaited us.  There was lots of activity loading cargo, stocking the galley and other last minute preparations for our flight to Hawaii.   Despite the light rain and thunderstorms in the distance, we anticipated a relaxing flight.

As each engine started, the cabin doors closed and the flight crew escorts us to our leather wrapped personal modules, we took in the beauty of the lavish interior. With lots of fine wood, chrome and gold accents, and enough leather to kill a cattle ranch, we started to feel like kings.

Cleared for takeoff, we begin our flight

Despite the luxurious accommodations and careful pilot, we could feel the motion of the aircraft as we taxied to RWY 17R for departure. The occasional flash of lightning and roll of thunder in the distance made me wonder if we shouldn’t wait.  However, the pilot knew more than we did and we trusted his judgement.

Pressed back in our seats as the thrust propelled us forward, we eagerly anticipated that sinking feeling when lift off is achieved.  However, we didn’t really notice that we left terra firma until we looked out the window and saw the ground falling away.  The pilot made such a smooth transition to flight, we almost missed the moment.

leaving Denver behind, we take to the air

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as smooth.  Not even one minute after leaving the ground, we experienced some heavy turbulence.  Despite the leather and padding, the stomach felt every dramatic drop, lift and bank produced by the unstable air.  Ironically, I noticed a lack of puke bags, which made me wonder if the VIPs ever got sick.

Turning west for Hawaii

As we banked toward the west and steadily climbed out over Denver and the Rockies, the cabin crew came by and checked on us.  Free drinks and appetizers were being prepped.  I asked for a beer and chose the chicken kabobs, as the ahi tuna rolls seemed a little too much for my weary stomach.

After we reached cruise altitude and settled in the for the long flight, we got up and explored the exquisite surroundings.  From the polished, wood carved mahogany staircase that led to the executive suite and lounge upstairs to the gold plated fixtures in the master bath, the builder left no luxury behind.  We took a seat at the lounge and kicked back with our personal bartender.

Sunset over the Pacific ocean

With a few too many drinks and a fabulous steak dinner with garlic mash potatoes, I retired to the lounge and fell asleep on the couch.  I dreamed of being an entrepreneur with many successful companies under my belt, flying around the globe to give speeches to inspire my employees and relax on brilliant white beaches while the money rolled in.  Ah, the life.

But the dream was cut short when the cabin crew woke me up and asked to return to leather wrapped throne. We were getting ready to land at Kona.  I looked out the window and found nothing but blackness.  It was just after midnight in Hawaii and the sun had long set and the moon was but a sliver.

Descending near Hawaii

With an announcement from the pilot, we were ready for landing.  I commented to the crew that falling asleep on such a beautiful airplane was like a mortal sin, to which they snickered and walked away.

The flaps extended and the engines quieted.  As I began to make out the detail of ocean below us, it quickly changed to land.  Then a marker light passed below us, and I prepared for a quick deceleration so typical of commercial jets.   Then there a slight jolt, but the deceleration was nothing more than hitting the brakes in the car.  This pilot was good.

Touching down at PHKO

We taxied to the ramp and I watched as the staircase was moved into the place and the cabin crew opened the door.  You could feel the warm, tropical air rush into the cabin, displacing the leather and varnish smell.  I was happy to be here, but sad to leave such an accommodating and large aircraft.

On the ramp with smoke pouring from the rear galley

But, our departure was not without fanfare.  One of the cabin crew had left a microwave oven going with a meal in it.  As we took a step toward the door, the cabin began filling with smoke.  At the top of the stairs, we looked toward the tail and saw nothing but black smoke.  The fire crew were on there way and we were ushered quickly down the steps and into the waiting limousine with our baggage. Then our Hawaiian vacation began.

Cheers!

Model: SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i (<download>)
Livery: “BBJ” by Alexi Antoniou (<download>)
Scenery: Default FS9 (boring!)

For an awesome Boeing 777 (POSKY model) BBJ livery, check out BBJ Design Group.

Skies Are For Flying

Skies are not just for birds.  The human race has conquered the planet, so now we can travel faster than the birds in a wide variety of aircraft, from slow LSA to supersonic military jets and everything in between.  The purpose of this post is to do nothing else besides offer up some eye candy on why “skies are for flying”.  Screenshots are from FS9, FSX, and X-Plane. Enjoy!

The Project Airbus A380 gliding through the FS9 sky.

The brilliant 757 flying through the X-Plane skies.

The FSX FSND MD-83 banking to course in the brilliant sky.

Historic Jetliners Group’s (HJG) 717 greeting the morning sun.

The X-Plane Learjet 23 shooting through the sky at mid-day.

The Carenado Mooney M-20J during an awesome X-Plane sunset.

Project Opensky CRJ-900 v3 turning toward final at London City in FS9.

What is your favorite “Skies are for Flying” moment?

SkySpirit2010’s Christmas Present

The gang over at SkySpirit2010 gave flight simulator enthusiasts a really awesome Christmas present (or Holiday present depending on your system of beliefs!).  The Boeing 767-400ER is a very long, unique aircraft and is brilliantly modeled for us by SkySpirit2010.

SkySpirit2010's Boeing 767-400ER with blended winglets

They also released a few additional liveries for the -300 series, including a stunning British Airways livery.

I’ll save you the details and just say go get it.  I will post some screenshots when I get back to my computer (I am at the in-laws, ;-|).

To get the 767-400ER, search “skyspirit2010” on either avsim.com or flightsim.com or visit the SkySpirit2010 team on Facebook.