On a Long, Grounded Journey…

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Life is one long journey.  At time we are in the skies, below the water and, most often, on the ground.  Regardless of your life purpose, there are times we all must focus our energy on other things, letting some of the things we love fall through the cracks.

Such is the case with A Reality of My Own.  I started this blog so many years ago to document my experiences, flights, and favorite add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I am always flattered when I look back on the history of this blog and the visits it receives on a daily basis.  I never had any other goal for A Reality of My Own than to combine my love for the hobby of flight simulation with my passion for writing.  Since more than one of you look at this blog on a regular basis, the success makes me realize I am not alone.

The past few years have seen the demise of Microsoft’s control of flight simulator, larger, bigger screened iPhones/Androids, and even the appearance of self-driving cars on our streets.  Like the world around us, flight simulator has changed.   The new players are Laminar Research’s X-Plane (9 & 10) and Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D (their interpretation of the MS franchise).   While I personally never got into Prepar3D after their 2.0 release, I have fallen in love with X-Plane.

So, let’s begin a new chapter of the A Reality of my Own journey and explore the world of X-Plane together.  In fact, we might even explore the World of Tanks (WoT) a bit too.  War Gaming’s phenomenal MMO is a love or hate it experience, but I have found some tidbits the greater community might find interesting and they fit in well with the A Reality of My Own journey. Hope you don’t mind.

Over the coming weeks, I will work on updating the look and feel of this blog and also start tracking down broken links.  There is a lot to do and a lot to share.

 

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

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!

 

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.

Poll: Which Flight Simulator Do You Fly Most?

With an upcoming series of posts that touch on multiple flight simulator products, please share which flight simulator that you fly the most?

Poll closes Friday, November 2nd at Noon PST!

Decisions on Flight Simulator: A Multipart Series

Here at ARoMO, I am not only intrigued by the awesome aircraft that our community creates, both payware and freeware, but I am also intrigued by the choices we have.

As a multi post series, I would like to discuss some of the larger decisions made when we sit down in front of our computers and click on the icon of our favorite simulator.   In fact, the very choice of which simulator to fly in is the first of a series of critical decisions we make, hence Part One, the Simulator.  If you are like me and have FS2000, FS2004, FSX, P3D, X-Plane 9, and X-Plane 10 sitting on your hard drive, how do you decided which one to use?  So, this is Part One, choosing the simulator.

For Part Two of this series, the airports.  I wanted to touch on how to decide where a flight a should take place.  From which airport, are there multiple legs and which arrival airport?  The very essence of the flight takes form in the decision we make here, although I don’t think this is the most critical.  In fact, the decision we make here influences the decision in part three. I will also offer some tools that can help inspire your choice of airports should you be looking for a new adventure or lacking inspiration.

For Part Three, the aircraft.  We will discuss the decision on which aircraft to fly.  From what’s available in the hangar, how do decide what your bird is for the day?  While dependent upon the size of the airports selected in part two, this decision is not as simple as walking out to your driveway, jumping in the car you own, and driving off to work or where ever.

One could argue that Part Two, Airports and Part Three, Aircraft can be flip flopped.  Sometimes the decision to fly a particular aircraft drives the decision of where to fly.  Bush planes fly in Alaska, but 747’s fly international between big airports.  But, if you want to fly a route, such as KSBA to KBZN via KDEN, that would take a regional jet or a more advanced general aviation aircraft like a Piper Malibu if you want to fly non-stop.

You can start to see some of the decisions we make every time we fire up the simulator, no matter which one it is.  My hope is that by the end of the three parts, my readers and flight simulator community at large will share their ideas on how they create their own flying journey’s across the globe.