Prepar3D Updates to Version 1.4

Prepar3D is Microsoft’s FSX under a new owner, Lockheed Martin.  Continuing on with the flight simulation tradition, Lockheed Martin has put its own twist on this new version of FSX.  While it is missing some of the more mainstream aircraft like the Boeing 737, just the fact that Lockheed Martin is continuing development of the platform is a huge win for the flight sim community.

Mooney’s Acclaim joins Prepar3D thanks to Lionheart Creations

This latest release shows their continued development, improvements include:

  • fixes for stutters or performance issues
  • Dialogs now remember their previous position
  • Various UI enhancements including the removal of the “apply” button
  • Added two new aircraft: Mooney Acclaim by Lionheart Creations, and the T-6 Texan II by IRIS
  • Fort Rucker area scenery expansion
  • Dozens of legacy scenery and database issues

Upgrading from a previous version (like 1.3) requires the user to download nearly 10G of data, conduct a full uninstall and then reinstall the program.  With this being 2012, such an upgrade procedure is cumbersome, but then Lockheed Martin is new to the consumer flight simulator market.  There is saying, “good things come to those who wait”, so patience is the key.

Beechcraft T-6 Texan II by IRIS in Prepar3d v1.4

I took both the Mooney and the Texan out for a spin around the Fort Rucker area to check out the new scenery.   I have to compliment Lockheed Martin on these additions.  The Mooney feels true to its brand, fast, sleek and forgiving.  While I am not a huge fan Texan II in the real world, I did enjoy flying this model.  It has gobs or power and is super fun to toss around.   I even managed to crash on landing as I came in a bit too fast and lost control.  Way cool!

The Hanchey Army Heliport (KHEY) is a cool addition to Prepar3D

Flying around Fort Rucker, I learned to appreciate the subtleties of the scenery.  I landed at the Hanchey Auxiliary on the north end of the base and was surprised to see a tank hiding in the trees and a well placed Humvee next to the control tower.   I felt like I landed at the real base and was about to get annihilated by a tank.  There are three other areas to check out, the  Hanchey Army Heliport, Knox Army Heliport, and the Cairns Army Field. All of which are nicely done with a great level of detail.

I really like the direction Lockheed Martin is going with Prepar3D.  By leveraging the flight sim community for “default” add-ons and adding some scenery, the future of Prepar3D is bright.   I can’t wait to see what future releases bring.  In the meantime, its time to start porting over my favorite MSFS aircraft!

FS Moment: Flying a Favorite

This evening I was flying Carenado’s beautiful Mooney M20J around Mooney’s home of Central Texas; Kerrville to be exact.  Not only did I spend a few years of my childhood in this area, but I have family located not far from the airport and my Grandfather worked at Mooney for a number of years.  So, flying around central Texas is sort of like going to grandma’s house.

 <livery by John Glanville> < aircraft by Carenado >

The weather made this flight fairly interesting with gusting winds, variable clouds, and high humidity.  A storm front was moving in from the north and west.  Taking off from Kerrville, already in the midst of the storm is proof of this pilot’s questionable discretion, was a little hair raising.

Once airborne and above 3,000 feet, the wind was calmer, but the visibility was close to nothing.  Good thing we are in an IFR equipped Mooney as we cruised southeast.

ATC asked us to approach from the south due to incoming traffic and clearer weather, so we paralleled downtown San Antonio, banked left over the DPS field and hooked back north.

The approach to runway 21 was tight due to traffic on the inbound. We hugged the runway tight, made our sweeping, descending turn and landed safely, despite the winds best attempts at making us crash.

Carenado’s Mooney in X-Plane

Finally got a chance to take the Mooney M20J by Carenado out for a spin in X-Plane 9.  This model for FS9 and FSX is one of my favorite of all times not only because it is a Mooney Aircraft, but because Carenado is one of the top modellers in the add-on flight simulator market.

The M20J in X-Plane is a pilot's virtual dream!

So, what can I say about the M20J in X-Plane?  One word…  speechless.  This model is impeccably executed from the eye candy right down to the realism.  This model takes the best of FSX and combines it with the best of X-Plane for a breathe-taking virtual pilot experience.

Go get it… the $25 you will pay is worth every moment of joy flying.

Aircraft: Mooney M20J
Author: Carenado
Cost: $24.95
Purchase Link: X-Plane Store

AVSIM File Library Back!

Following the devastating loss in May of AVSIM’s File Library, a serious gap opened up in the flight simulator world.  While other freeware download sites such as Flightsim.com and Simviation.com picked up a lot of the slack, there was still something missing.  I guess you can say that AVSIM delivers a truly unique add-on flight simulator experience.

Top AVSIM Downloads as of 21:51 PST, 5oct09

Top AVSIM Downloads as of 21:51 PST, 5oct09

Yesterday, the library opened up for uploads.  Today, there are hundreds of add-ons available for you to partake.  POSKY is uploading their 777-series, Tom Ruth has uploaded his Antonov models, and Al Wheeler even snuck in updated Central Coast scenery for MegaScenery.   So what are you waiting for, get over there and grab some add-ons!

AVSIM

Mooney M-18C released for FSX!

This is a release I have been waiting for for my entire flight simulator career; the release of a decent quality Mooney Mite (aka M-18).  While I had seen a few works in progress advertised on the world wide web, nothing was near completion.  Well, until now.  Tim “Piglet” Conrad brought the Mite to life for FSX-SP2 today when he released his model over at Simviation. While I am still in the process of downloading it, once I boot into Windows and capture some screenshots, I will give a more detailed review.

For now, go grab this historic flight simulator release!

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Post Download Update:

This model is super simple to install, just copy the M-18C folder to the airplanes foled and place the *.cab file in the gauges folder.  Fire up FSX, select the Mooney Mite and you are ready to go.

The M-18C is small, but looks impressive.

The M-18C is small, but looks impressive.

I decided to take the Mite out for a quick flight from Kerrville Municipal Airport (KERV), where the current Mooney Aircraft factory is located, to San Antonio International (KSAT).  This short flight would give me plenty of opportunity to experience grounding handling and airborne flight dynamics.

On the ramp at KERV, prior to departure.

On the ramp at KERV, prior to departure.

The level of detail that Tim put into this model is what we would expect for the latest generation of flight simulators.  From the propeller to the map/dog treat pocket in the virtual cockpit, to the Mooney logo on the tail, no detail has been spared.

The vitrual cockpit is highly detailed and is the perfect place to conduct business.

The vitrual cockpit is highly detailed and is the perfect place to conduct business.

Taxiing the Mite is a true joy as its responsiveness is lively and goes where you tell it to.  The oversize tires and unique landing gear definitely make great contact with the ground.  After looking at the Mite sitting on the ramp, I wondered if there were some balance issues as the landing gear looks too far forward.  It really isn’t and the ground experience is pleasantly civil.

Climbing out from KERV for San Antonio.

Climbing out from KERV for San Antonio.

On the takeoff roll, the Mite came off the runway so smoothly that the only indication was the lack of tire noise.  Pulling lightly back on the stick brought the nose up and a more aggressive climb.  Note that I did not give the Mite full throttle, only slightly more than half and it still became airborne in a reasonable amount of runway length.

Climbing the Mite is slow, but stable.

Climbing the Mite is slow, but stable.

As I turned toward Comfort, Texas, I did give the Mite more throttle for a more aggressive climb to 4,000 feet.  While not a stunning climber, the Mite does well for its small engine and gives the pilot a sense of stability that other small aircraft only wish they could achieve.

Looking toward Kelly AFB as we cruise south of KSAT for runway 30R.

Looking toward Kelly AFB as we cruise south of KSAT for runway 30R.

Cruising across the Texas hill country at slightly more than 100knts in this Mite was a real treat.  The flight dynamics are stable, even with a stiff, gusting crosswind.  I learned to appreciate the sensitivity to control input.  Like a dog, I found out how much this Mite could be a man’s best friend!

Approaching the airport a little too high and fast, but the Mite seems to love it.

Approaching the airport a little too high and fast, but the Mite seems to love it.

Approaching San Antonio, I really wanted to continue flying, but it was time to see how this old friend handles descents and approaches.  I purposely came in high and fast for runway 30R.  I wanted to see what would happen in a rapid descent and then how quickly I could burn excess energy to cause a stall just prior to touchdown. It did pretty good and I was impress with nosing down to ten degrees and throttling back the throttle kept speed under control.  At the bottom of the rapid descent, I began leveling off and found that the speed wasn’t bleeding off as quickly as I had hoped.  Extending the landing gear and then the flap helped, but I still ended up landing more than halfway down the runway.  I think this efficiency in maintaining speed speaks kudos to its design.

A zoom view from KSAT tower, the Mite looks as graceful as she feels.

A zoom view from KSAT tower, the Mite looks as graceful as she feels.

Once parked on the GA ramp at San Antonio, I took a moment to reflect on the flight.  The Mooney Mite is an exceptional aircraft whose only limitation is that you can’t share its grace with anyone else (it’s a single seater).  However, as a personal runabout, the Mite is fast, efficient, and stands out on the ramp.  Tim’s mastery of flight simulator modeling has transformed a little known legend into a download that we can all enjoy.  A big cheers goes to Al Mooney for creating the wonderful Mite in the first place and Tim “Piglet” Conrad for making this experience available to all of us!

The first of three repaints included in the download.

The first of three repaints included in the download.

The second of three repaints include.  Reminds me of a bumble bee!

The second of three repaints include. Reminds me of a bumble bee!

The third of three repaints.  The "Zero" repaint looks pretty good on this model.

The third of three repaints. The Zero repaint looks pretty good on this model.

THANK YOU, Piglet!

Author: Tim “Piglet” Conrad
Filename: M-18C.zip
Size: 9.5 Mb
Download Links: Simviation 
Update files: none as of yet

05AUG2011 – Updated download links as Sim-Outhouse and FlightSim no longer host the file.  Happy Mite Flying!

Gotta Love Carenado’s Mooney!

I am a huge fan of Mooney Aircraft. While Cirrus and Columbia might represent better values, Mooney is still the Porsche of the skies. So, when Carenado released the popular M20J, I instantly bought it and put it through its paces. Oh my, she is a beauty!  The repaint below is by Sean Doran, the Mooney painting king, and is available from most major flightsim file sites like avsim.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us