Sometimes, You Just Need a Virtual Sunset

So life has been a tad stressful as of late. What does one do?

Fly circles around Puget Sound at 100 knots in the Turbine Duke at sunset.

Real Air Turbine Duke over Puget Sound

One of the most serene and beautiful flights I’ve had in a long time.

Cheers!

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Need Some Inspiration!

Been thinking about taking the FSX Mooney Mite out for spin.  I haven’t flown it much since I reviewed the model after its release.  The M-18C Mite model for FSX is a superb, one of a kind model that I thoroughly enjoyed flying around central Texas and Mooney’s Kerrville factory.

However, I would like to engage my readers a bit more and would like you all to make suggestions on where I should the Mite next.  I will make a full report here after the flight as a Flight Report. I typically fly in the United States, but would be happy to expand my horizons to Asia, Australia, or any other part of the world.  There are really no restrictions on what I would choose other than it needs to be scenic.  Flying through the desert isn’t exciting for me.  I flew the Grand Canyon in a helicopter before and it has worn off.

So, where should I take the Mite for its next flight?

Flight Simulator Moments

Have you ever been flying in a flight simulator and had a moment where the imagery just takes your breathe away?  It happens to at the most surprising times and completely unexpected.   Sometimes I will leave my local airport for no particular destination and fly a new direction, ignoring the published airways for entering and exiting the airspace (this is A Reality of My Own, afterall).  The goal is to not only break out of the mold, but to survey and experience a new part of the world.  It is normally during these flights that I have spectacular moments that make me wish I was really flying in the real world.

Take for instance the screenshot below.  Carenado‘s Bonanza over the Sierra-Nevadas approaching Mammoth Lakes (KMMH) in FS2004.  While I left Santa Barbara an hour or so before, I really didn’t expect to see the sun as low as it was and upon viewing the flight from spot plane view, I was over-joyed to see such a spectacular image.  The low sun back-lighting the ridges, accenting the shape of the Beechcraft,  and the romantic pinkish color of the sky all give this image an incredible story.  The far off clouds even lend to the mood.  These types of shots are always inspiring.

Bonanza - Sierra-Nevadas

FS2004 Bonanza - Sierra-Nevadas

Take another example, the screenshot below.  One this particular flight, I left Arlington, WA (KAWO) in the pre-dawn hours and took a flight out over Puget Sound.  Not quite wanting to end the flight so early, I decided to head toward Boeing Field (KBFI) via I-5.  This might be the perfect opportunity to chase some AI vehicles which is one of the coolest new features in FSx.   While I struggled a little to maintain altitude and speed, my attention was diverted to the view outside.  Again the early morning sun provided a spectacular moment that blew me away. The traffic, the buildings, the distant clouds, the dark panel and the grand vista forced me to pause and take in the moment. The angle of the view also amplified the moment.

View from the BO-105 seat above Snohomish County, WA

View from the BO-105 seat above Snohomish County, WA

As you can see, flight simulator can be used to produce pretty spectacular imagery, just like someone with a camera can.  The moments are timeless and the experience awesome.  Capturing a moment in the virtual world can be just as breathe-taking as a moment in the real world, perhaps more so.  For those of us a little more grounded, flight simulator will always provide moments to remember for years to come.

Does anyone have any flight simulator moments of their own to share?

If you are new here, please take a moment to vote in my poll What Type of Aircraft Do You Fly Most?

Wedgetail Meets USCG

The Wedgetail variation of Project Opensky‘s Boeing 737-700 has been around for a while,  but was only available in Royal Australian Air Force colors.   Thanks for Colin Lowe, Wedgetail enthusiasts have something a little more colorful to fly in.  Recently released is a United States Coast Guard (USCG) livery that really brightens up this bird.

USCG Wedgetail at Boeing Field

USCG Wedgetail at Boeing Field

I loaded up the repaint in FS2004 and took it out for a flight from Boeing Field (KBFI) to Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA).

Turning on to course after leaving Boeing Field

Turning on to course after leaving Boeing Field

The flight was pretty uneventful.  I did find that the roll rate of the Wedgetail is pretty slow.  It is sorta like driving Cadillac when you are used to smaller aircraft that handle like a Porsche.

Passing over Mt. St. Helens

Passing over Mt. St. Helens

One of the things that impressed me most about this combination of model and livery was how great the colors matched with the shape of the aircraft.  The red markings on the wings really give the 737 a much larger presence.  While not exactly stealthy, the bright red makes for great show.

Landing on SBA's runway 7

Landing on SBA's runway 7

It was the approach to Santa Barbara that really showed off the Wedgetail’s lazy handling.  To accommodate it, I found myself flying a wide approach to runway 7 so that I would have plenty of distance to align with the runway.  In doing so, short-final was smooth, although I brought her in a little slow and slammed the wheels on the runway.  Hey, I just wanted to make sure the crew was awake for our arrival on the central coast.

Overall, flying the USCG Wedgetail is a lot of fun.  There is a lot of eye candy here and Colin did a great job representing the livery in flight simulator.

Filename: b737uscg-1.zip (flightsim.com)
Filesize: 5mb
Author: Model – POSKY ; Livery – Colin Lowe

update 11jul09 – fixed some spelling and grammatical errors. ;-(

More Reasons to Love FSX

The more I fly in FSX, the more I love it.  The honest truth is I was one of those who saw FSX as a video game version of FS9.  The missions, the eye candy, and the graphics seemed to Xbox for me.  But then I started to find more add-ons for FSX that really took FS9 to another level for me.  You see, flight simulator is a very individualized.  I have my favorite aircraft and my settings just right, which varies from how my friends have their flight simulator setup.  After loading an off the shelf version of FSX, I really wasn’t that impressed because I didn’t take the time to wait for some of my favorite FS9 add-ons to port over to FSX.

Case in point…  Posky’s B747-400 in British Airways colors.  This is the classic 747 in my mind.  Now that I took the time to load it up in FSX and found that it works pretty good (although the ground handling stinks).  Below is one of those memorable shots of pushing back from the gate at Dublin in the early, early morning light prior to departure for Heathrow.

In addition, PAD’s EMB-190LR is another favorite that I loved in FS9.  While PAD had an FSX version available, I never took the time to load it since I wasn’t that big on FSX.  Now, needless to say, I installed it and I love it! Below is a shot ascending from Dublin enroute to Schipol.

Both of these pics have very dramatic lighting and look very realistic.  While FS9 could acheive near the same level of realism, the more advanced graphic rendering engine in FSX shines hands down.  The other thing I really like is how the eye sight moves as the aircraft banks, climbs, descends, etc.  Firewall the throttles and you literally get the feeling of being pushed back in your seat.

Cheers!

Flight Simulator 2004 Flight – Saratoga II TC

Hi all,

I resurrected the Piper Saratoga II TC that I bought from FSD International a while back. I loaded the FS9 version and took off from SBA with no real destination in mind. I tuned in the Camarrillo VOR and headed southeast. After a few minutes, I decided to replicate a flight I took to Phoenix in a Mooney when I was younger. Once I passed Camarrillo, I turned toward Van Nuys and then toward Ontario.

It was approaching Ontario that I noticed some lights appearing in front of me through the clouds. Visibility was only a few miles so I was a little concerned. To make matters worse, it seemed to be moving quite fast and was clearly larger than a Cessna. I realized that it was a 737-type aircraft that was climbing out from KONT. Just when I was about to take evasive action, ATC notified me of the closing traffic. I snapped the following screenshot to show just how close we had come. I think “caution wake turbulence” should have been then next warning, but those pesky FS9 air traffic controllers aren’t that courteous.

Saratoga 737 Close Call

After passing KONT, I stayed on course toward Banning and then Palm Springs. Visibility cleared just east of Ontario and I was treated to a beautiful night flight illuminated by the moon. At Palm Springs, I decided to take a diversion and visit Death Valley. Again the moonlight night was absolutely beautiful, which made me appreciate man’s ability to fly.

Saratoga leaving Palm Springs

I turned south and tuned the Imperial VOR. Since it was getting late, I decided to land at Brawley Municipal airport. I started my descent and got a little confused as to which airport it was. Death Valley is wide open space and since visibility was clear, you can see for miles and miles. Consulting the GPS got me pointed the right direction and I made one of the best landings of my life. I had to wonder if I had touched the runway since I so lightly set it down on the tarmac.

Putting the Saratoga II TC to rest for the night gave me a chance to check out this model a little more. The crew at FSD International did a superb job of modelling this Piper. The animated prop pitch, the detailed Virtual Cockpit, the flap hinges, to the landing gear, all provide plenty of eye candy. I especially like the teddy bear and refreshments in the back (too bad I am not a passenger to enjoy them).

Parked at Brawley

So, what is my opinion of the FSD Piper Saratoga II TC? Well, its a great airplane with a stunning visual model, inside and out. The sounds enhance the experience while the Load Manager let you customize the experience and tracks operating costs. With the FDE set to real world, it really does handle like a Saratoga, with a stable and heavy feel. The one drawback is that there are limited number of repaints available, perhaps because the Saratoga is not as common place as a Cessna 172.

Overall, two thumbs up. I look forward to putting the FSX version through its paces.