A Smaller Side of Aviation

As an Analyst, I spend a lot of time paying attention to outliers in data sets.  Outliers are the odd balls that typically sit at one end of the spectrum or the other, separate from the population group.  Light sport aircraft (LSA) definitely fits into the outlier category of aviation.  This growing segment of ultra-small aircraft provide a restricted, but easy access to the friendly skies for those who may not become full private pilots in larger aircraft.   

One of the best LSA aircraft for X-Plane 9 and 10 is the Tecnam P2004 Bravo by TexasRanger.  Available for download from the .org file library, this great little aircraft is great to spend a few hours in shooting touch and goes and exploring more detailed scenery that screams for a low and slow experience. 

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I spent about an hour conducting touch and goes at Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA) in this tiny bird and have to say that I appreciate the light feel and nimble characteristics.  The Italian made competitor to the Cessna 152 trainer, the P2004 does not try to be anything more than basic airborne transportation.  Even though it is relatively forgiving to fly, it is easy to over control the aircraft and end up in trouble. 

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Jumping back into Carenado’s Cessna C172N for a quick trip down to Camarillo, the 172 felt heavy, almost as if I was flying a Cadillac.  The Tecnam was surprisingly agile which gives the small-ish 172 a much heavier feel.  However, the 172 did feel much more in control when I let go of the controls.  Both aircraft are a lot of fun to fly, but I really look forward to spending more time in the Tecnam, especially in X-Plane 10. 

Download: < .org Tecnam Bravo P2004

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Weather, Fog and a Cool View

 

Sometimes, the less than ideal weather that causes that voice in the back of your brain to scream, “don’t fly! don’t fly!”, really is the best weather to fly in.  Not only for entertainment purposes, but also because it can make you a better pilot.

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I recently took the SSG 747-8f out for a spin around the Seattle area.  The Cargolux beast took to the air from Everett/Paine Field and quickly became consumed in fog.  Flying IFR was great on the ascent, but changed to chase view in X-Plane to capture the above image.  Sorta of reminds me of jaws coming out of the deep blue sea.  Without the tail, the sexy, curvaceous fuselage really pops.

Happy Flying!

 

FlyJSim Releases Boeing 727 for X-Plane

As if Christmas came early this year, FlyJSim beat Santa Claus to the virtual flying gift with their long awaited release of the Boeing 727 for X-Plane 10.  Available as stand alone packages or a complete pack, the group offers the 727-100, 727-200Adv, and the 727-200F variants.  If this release is anywhere close to the quality of their existing Dash 8 Q400 model, the 727 is going to be an awesome experience!

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

FlyJSim releases the 727 series

If that hasn’t gotten your mouth watering, available separately are livery packs, such as “The American Classics Pack” from XPJets for the -200Adv model.  You can also purchase a pack that contains all 54 liveries across all three variants.

What surprises me is that by the time you buy the Complete 727 Model Pack ($62) with the Complete Livery Pack ($19.95), you are pushing north of $80.  While the sticker shock makes me change my underwear, when you realize you are getting a complete package of one of the most detailed and advanced models for X-Plane 10, suddenly that sticker shock seems like a bargain.  Of course, you could just purchase your favorite variant $32 individually.

< click to see the purchase options at the .Org store >

I know what I am doing this weekend… flying the virtual skies in a classic three holer!

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

FlyJSim 727-100 on approach to KSEA. Detailed cockpit is awesome.

Update – Purchased the complete variant pack and the complete livery pack. After a simple installation, I took the -100 variant in an Eastern Airlines “whisperjet” livery out for a flight from KPDX to KSEA.  I can say that I am speechless.  Everything I love about the Dash 8, applies to the 727.  The detailed cockpit, sounds, and exterior model are simply the best and justify the expense.

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

Banking turn from KPDX on a test flight to KSEA in the FlyJSim Boeing 727-100

With three models and 54 liveries to explore, this X-Plane 10 add-on is going to keep me busy.  Time to  sit down with the manuals and start with cold and dark cockpit.  Full review coming soon!

 

A Cessna 182RG Turbo for X-Plane

Surprises are always great unless they involve death or car crashes.  Luckily for the X-Plane community, this post doesn’t have anything to do with death or car crashes.  That means good news for the general aviation crowd running X-Plane (9 or 10 works).

The great news is the .Org (X-Plane.org) purchased from Shade Tree Micro Aviation (STMA, checkout their awesome DHC-3 Otter!) their Cessna Skylane Turbo RG model and have made it free to their members.  Whenever a former payware aircraft goes freeware, you have to take a step back and bring your expectations down a level.   In this case, they don’t have to come down too far.

STMA’s Cessna SkyLane 182RG for X-Plane

 

I took the Skylane out for a test flight from Three Forks, MT to Bozeman, MT and have to say my expectations were beyond met.  Granted this is an older model and you can tell it is more of X-Plane 8.6 refinement, but the panel, virtual cockpit, flight dynamics, and overall package are superb.   While perhaps lower in quality compared to Carenado’s payware, the overall package delivered here for free sets it apart.

The modeled interior is a welcoming place to spend a few hours.  While the refinement will likely be hard for some to get over, the fact is that the interior is there.  Seating for four, door handles, and yokes have been fully modeled.  While I was a bit disappointed with the 2D-like panel in the virtual cockpit, you have to remind yourself that everything you need is there; light switches, HSI, altimeter, throttles, etc.

Hey, it has a back seat!

The Skylane Turbo packs a bunch with over 200-hp and a cruise speed of 150+ knots.  The retractable gear is also fully animated and its just cool to watch it fold back into the stowed position with this model.    The flight dynamics are “reactive” yet forgiving.  True to the X-Plane feel, you have to fly this plane or set the auto pilot.

Power and speed in a compact package, the SkyLane Turbo is a great companion.

Perhaps one of the best features is the return you get in frame rates.  Running this model on X-Plane 9.70 on my old 2007 iMac with settings cranked fairly high, I was able to get 45+ fps, easy.  That means more processor power for the world around you.

< Cessna SkyLane Turbo 182RG for X-Plane  >

So, if you haven’t already skipped to this part (who reads these posts anyway?), you can download the model over at the .Org.  Just make sure to say a thank you to Shade Tree Micro Aviation and the .Org while you are over there.

 

Carenado’s Cessna 337H

Carenado sneaks up on you at times and just screams in your ear, scaring you half to death.  Well, not quite, but seeing the release of their Cessna C337H for X-Plane was a big surprise.   Now this means that I have yet another awesome aircraft to buy…   Who knew running a flight simulator blog could get so expensive??

< Carenado’s Cessna C337H page >

Anyway, you X-Plane Cessna fanatics better get over to their store and buy it.

X-Plane 10 Error Message: Read Only File

I  fired up X-Plane 10 after a few week break and updating to beta 8.  Now, I get a series of error messages about files being marked as read only in windows. It seems that X-Plane 10 thinks the “scenery_packs.ini” and “X-Plane Pilot.txt” files are read only.  see screenshots:

The interesting thing here is that both of these are NOT marked as READ ONLY.  In fact, I can see the entries from my last flight in each file.   The problem  is that when the X-Plane Pilot.txt error message comes up, there is no way to get rid of  the message, I have to kill X-Plane.exe in Task Manager.

A friend  of  mine suggested that there is a bug in  the rendering settings that causes this and resetting to the default  fixes it  temporarily, but I can’t find where to reset X-Plane.

I am curious if anyone else has had this problem and what you did to fix it.  My copy of X-Plane 10 is dead until I find a solution.

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SOLUTION:  I finally found the solution.  The errors are due to Windows 7 changing permission of X-Plane 10 files as I had my X-Plane 10 folder installed in Program Files.  The solution is move the X-Plane 10 folder to a “non-system” owned directoy, such as your Desktop.  Visit this forum post at  the org for  details.   I copied the folder to the desktop and it is working okay now!

Cessna Caravan for X-Plane

Carenado continues to expaned their X-Plane hanger by adding a modern, sophisticated and rugged Cessna, the Cessna Caravan.  Available for around $30 US and available with HD textures, this is going to be a great addition to anyone’s hanger that appreciates sophisticated ruggedness.   Check it out at their homepage…