X-Plane’s Santa Barbara

For the past few months, I have been a proud owner of X-Plane, the “alternative” flight simulator.   With the demise of the Microsoft Flight Simulator Development team,  I, like many other people, took advantage of discounted pricing and purchased X-Plane.   While it takes a little getting used and a fair amount of configuration, X-Plane offers a competitive package to the MSFS products.  But this post isn’t about comparing MSFS to X-Plane.

No, in fact, this post is about me showing my delight to finally have my hometown airport available for X-Plane.  Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (KSBA) has been beautifully modeled by Partnair and is available for download at x-plane.org.

Approaching Santa Barbara over Summerland

While not as detailed as Al Wheeler’s Central Coast Scenery of the MSFS products, it is far better than the empty default scenery in X-Plane.  There are things like rows of trailers parked in the short-term parking lot and some detail around the tower is missing, but the big pieces are there!  The tower, the antique passenger terminal, the T-hangers, and the runways (of course!).   I hope that with future development, this scenery can be improved upon.

Baron at SBA's passenger terminal.

Who knows, maybe someday this scenery will include the new terminal which is currently under construction.  The two story, modern building provides a much needed update to the crammed, inhospitable terminal of today.

No matter what, updates or not, this scenery has made me revisit the X-Plane simulator.  I am looking forward to spend many more hours flying its alternative skies and making countless approaches into Santa Barbara… after all, this is X-Plane’s Santa Barbara.


Note: The Beechcraft Baron 58 is by Alcala-Sim and is available for X-Plane 9.x at this link.


A Bonanza For Saskatchewan

Flying in Canada is something I don’t do that often.  Most of my flying is in the southern Unites States, but when I saw Gregory Putz’s new fs2004 scenery for La Ronge, Saskatchewan, Canada, I decided to give flying north of the US border a shot!

What better aircraft to fly than the Beechcraft Bonanza F33A.  One of the earliest members of the Bonanza family, the F33A is a great cruiser thanks to its economical performance and comfortable cabin. Her curvy lines are not only classic, but quite sexy as well.

Carenado's Beechcraft F33A Bonanza in FS2004

Leaving Minot International Airport (KMOT) in North Dakota, we fly approximately 450 nm north to La Ronge.  While weather was quite good in North Dakota and in La Ronge, he weather in between was a little dicey, with clouds, gusty winds and low visibility.  Well, an adventure I wanted and an adventure I got!

With low visibility, I discovered that tracking progress from landmarks (VFR) was not working too well.  I had already setup a direct GPS route, so there was no question about where I was or where I was going.  However, some of like to watch the scenery go by, but not so today.

Circling La Ronge

The gusty winds also made me keep a close eye on the controls and gauges.  With winds gusting up to 20 mph and the autopilot auto-correcting to course, this was quite a bumpy ride.  Sitting in the pilot seat feeling the plane react to the environment around it was really cool, if not nauseating.

On the downwind for runway 36

Approaching La Ronge (CYVC), I started my descent from 10,500 feet and quickly noticed how much the landscape had changed since leaving North Dakota.  Gone were the prairies, replaced with forest and lakes.  With the late evening sun low in the sky, our flight took on a romantic mysterious feeling.  Flying a low circle of La Ronge before landing was awesome!

Crosswinds make for a dirty landing

One thing that didn’t change upon arriving at La Ronge were the winds.  Landing at runway 36  with a stiff crosswind was going to test my skills. I was already low from my circle, just under 2,000 feet so the runway approach was going to be interesting.  I removed the autopilot as I turned to base and started crabbing.  Unfortunately, I almost stalled as I didn’t apply power turning from the tailwind. Already slow forward speed gave me time to align with the runway center-line, but the crosswind did its best to throw me off.

Scenery detail is awesome!

Once on the ground, I appreciated being on terra firma again. Taxiing to parking let me see Gregory’s new scenery up close.  From the water bomber ramp, to the small terminal building, to the airport’s hangar line, it really felt as though I was at La Ronge and not in a simulator.  Thank you Gregory!

La Ronge, Saskatchewan Scenery:

Author: Gregory Putz
Filename: cvyc_La_Ronge_2010.zip (avsim)
Fixes/Updates: cyvc_texture_fix.zip (avsim)
Filesize: 12mb, fix 11mb

Beechcraft F33A Bonanza for FS2004:

Developer: Carenado
Website: http://www.carenado.com
Cost: $29.95 (USD) for FSX version

Al Wheeler’s Central Coast Scenery Updated

Al Wheeler released the fourth revision to his California Central Coast scenery for FSX, featuring detailed airports such as Santa Barbara (KSBA), Paso Robles (KPRB), and others.

If you already installed the original scenery package and the previous three revisions, you can obtain the fourth revision from Avsim.

If this is the first time you are installing this scenery, Al released a complete version, including the four revisions, saving you the trouble of installing four updates on top of the original. The complete version is available >> avsim > (cccfsxc.zip)


California Central Coast Scenery for FSX!

Al Wheeler produced one of the best sceneries available for FS2002 and FS2004 when he released his California Central Coast Scenery back in July 2002. This scenery covered airports and key features between Santa Barbara, all the way up the coast to Hearst Castle, including Paso Robles. I instantly fell in love with this scenery, not only because I live on the central coast, but because the detail Mr. Wheeler models is extraordinary.

The detail just got a little better. Al released the Flight SImulator X (FSX) version of this scenery recently at AvSim. After downloading (link below) and installing it I immediately set out in my Saratoga to explore. I am just as impressed with the improvements as I was when I first installed the fs2002 version. New to the FSX version is more detailed landclass and features around the airports. For instance, Goleta Beach State Park is fully represented with a building and parking lot to mark the spot of the Beachside Bar-Cafe. The Santa Barbara harbor is also improved. To go with the impressive inventory of features is a highly detailed readme file that includes frequencies and coordinates of all of the good stuff! Combined with the enhanced rendering of the FSX engine and AI, this scenery really comes to life!

Welcome to Santa Barbara and Goleta

Flying over KSBA (you can see the oil rigs on the horizon and Goleta Beach near the pier)

The old 1920’s terminal which will soon be replaced by a modern facility with jetways

My favorite airplane, the Piper Saratoga II TC by FSD

Title: California Central Coast Scenery
Author(s): Al Wheeler
Filename: cccfsx.zip (avsim)
Revisions/Service Packs: cccfsxr1.zip (avsim); cccfsxr2.zip (avsim) cccfsxr3.zip (avsim) cccfsxr4.zip (avsim)
File Size: 5.3MB
Website: CCC FSX Site Information

edit 10may08 – added revsion 1 information and website link.
edit 01jun08 – added revision 2 information
edit 29jun08 – added revision 3 information
edit 20dec08 – added revision 4 information (adds museum at PRB)