A Boeing 717

Historic Jetliner’s Group continues to expand its collection of historic jet-powered commercial aircraft.  Its latest addition to the already large collection is the Boeing 717.

Retired fairly recently from production, the 717 has its roots all the way back to the DC-9 airframe.  After the Boeing purchase of McDonnell-Douglas, the 717 was the longest running carry over airframe from the MD family, which is testament to its importance as a regional airliner in the spoke and wheel route structure. The last two 717 rolled off the Long Beach assembly line in 2006, making this modern jetliner historic.

HJG's new Boeing 717 in TWA colors

Wonderfully modeled for Flight simulator 2004, I took HJG’s 717 for a spin from St. Louis to New Orleans in TWA colors.  While I couldn’t stop thinking that the cockpit looks like the Space Shuttle, the B717 eye candy kept me interested.  Both ground handling and flight dynamics were impressive.

Head on over to HJG’s website and grab the B717 in your favorite livery.

Project Airbus A380 Released!

Short and sweet, the Airbus A380 for Microsoft Flight Simulator is out!   Check out this announcement for download!  Looks like it is also on avsim as well.

The Biggest Project Airbus To Date!

More later…  I am so going to take the day off from work for this one!  Woohoo!   Mark this day in history!

Project Airbus A380 on Final?

If you are both an Airbus fan and a fan of Microsoft Flight Simulator, you are probably already familiar with Project Airbus.  You are also probably already aware that they have been working on the best freeware A380 models for flight simulator for many, many years.

Well, I just popped over to the PA site and am wondering how near the A380 release is.  In their Preview & Announcements forum, there are some very jaw dropping screenshots of the A380 wearing Air France, Qantas, and Emirates clothing.  Head over and take a look.  But wait…

With previews appearing in their forum and a tweet on Twitter that says “cabin crew, seats for landing“, one can’t help but think that a release is near.  Of course, the actual release date is only for the wonderful developers of Project Airbus, but it is time for you and me to check their site daily… release must be near!

Cheers!

Update:  The release was very, very near.  The Airbus A380 is now released, you can grab it at Avsim.  You can also read the A Reality Of My Own announcement here.

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!

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

Mac Meets FSX via Fusion

Many FSX pilots own Macs.  This means, that like me, you use a virtualization platform to run Windows within a partition on your MacintoshHD.   I personally use Boot Camp because it is free and I rarely need to run Mac programs in parallel with Windows.

To make a long story short, to check on the latest virtualizatoin news, I visited the blog for VMware Fusion; Team Fusion.  Boy was I surprised to see a post featuring FSX.  In a post titled MacWorld: First Look at VMWare Fusion 3, the team demonstrated the power of the virtualization graphics environment by running a demo of FSX. It appears to be mission where a CRJ makes a challenging approach to St Maarten. (Video below)

While the graphics didn’t seem to be set to a very high level, the fact that you could run Windows 7 and FSX from the Mac environment blows my mind.

Clearly the pilot flying the demonstration needs to learn how to fly.  Using the mouse to fly the CRJ is a little tough…  I hope that doesn’t mean joystick support has been left out?  I also wonder how FS2004 would look.

Anyway, I am off to buy Fusion 3.  How about you?

New Flight Simulator Directory Page

For your convenience, I compiled a directory page featuring some of the top freeware add-on design teams for flight simulator.  As I find more groups, I will add them to the list.  Consider this phase one with refinement of the directory coming as I have time to update it and add detail about each group.

Flight Simulator Model Directory

If you have a favorite freeware group you would like to see on the list, please leave a comment.   Of course suggestions and feature requests are always welcome as well!

Cheers!