Puttering around in the revised FJS 732 left me a little curious…about the old Dash-8 Q400 file that launched Jack’s career as a developer in X-plane. “How has it stood up in v11?” was, I guess, the main question, but I’ve really not used the file much since we did our first Norwegian route summaries…like almost a decade ago! Simon and I wrote back then that the aircraft – in X-plane, anyway – was a beast to fly. Simon noted there were a few problems with the model (gaps in seams, etc.), while I thought the instrument legibility was poor. Yet we both felt the flight model was almost terrifying. Then I contacted a Q-driver who set me straight: Jack’s Q handles about like the real deal. In short, the Q is a beast, kind of like Tom Kyler’s MU-2 is a beast. You have to practice, practice, practice to get comfortable in either of these sims.
Well, for v11 Jack has tamed the beast somewhat and his old Q is no longer as intimidating as it once was (it’s either that or I practiced enough…), and I took the Q from DDs new SeaTac down to KPDX Portland with not a problem. It was, in fact, more than enjoyable, with most of my gripes about panel clarity scrubbed clean away. The Fly-J-Sim Q400 is, to be clear, a very enjoyable ride these days…yet I’d be reluctant to work engine-out drills unless I had a very durable set of pedals underfoot. Those huge engines are full of untamed torque!
Here are a few images from the flight down…
The seats up front are still the best ever crafted for any aircraft, in any sim…I said it then and I’ll say it again: they are a total work of art. The panel is much sharper these days (despite my eyes), perhaps more so at night, and the red glowing knob in the wheel retraction sequence is still unique in X-plane. One thing that gets me to this day? The logo lighting on the tail is without a doubt one of the best implemented in X-plane; the smooth gradations of light, the subtle feathering are all perfect, yet the overall effect is almost gothic, like a time-worn street light in an old Faulkner novel.
Now, on to Portland…from takeoff to touchdown…with a few looming volcanoes…
I ran through most of the systems and found not a single bug, other than speed bugs, though the AP broke ALT hold once. If I had to make just one gripe I’d say the Course and Heading manipulators need some work, but even as is they get the job done. The first version I used (a beta copy) had a Storm Lighting switch which lent a nice amber effect on the panel, but alas, it’s gone now. Gone, but not forgotten.
The front office in Jack’s Q is a pretty cool place to work, and systems are deep enough to keep all but the most serious students engaged. Even so, my guess is if you can handle systems on a King Air or the Leading Edge Saab you might not have to do much reading to make simple, failure free flights. Oh…give yourself plenty of time for your approach, as the Q does not like rapid descents and builds speed rapidly (Hint: know your flap speeds).
The NAVComm heads take some getting used to, and the de-icing panel is complex, but other than those two items getting comfortable in this cockpit only takes an hour or so. I think that’s an hour well spent.
I’m glad I blew off the dust and took the old Q up for a look-see. Updated over the years, she still has what it takes to delight the mind’s eye, and when Jack gets around to giving this old girl a real makeover…well…my guess is she’ll be one of the very best aircraft in X-plane…once again.
The Org Store frequently has this file on sale; this weekend it’s 10$ off. Not bad for a Must Have file. And yes, there’s an amazing variety of paint available for this file!
Scottish Wings’ files are smile inducing, that much is certain. Always full of gardens and usually loaded with humorous little side stories hiding in plain sight, they’re picture puzzles just waiting for exploration. His latest work is a revision to EGHT Tresco Heliport, located way out there in the Scilly Isles and not a mile from St Mary’s airport (on its own little island, no less). There are transient flutterbugs tied down out there, too, lost among the garden shears and lawn mowers.
There are a few other decent opportunities for helo practice out here in our little corner of the flight sim omniverse, but just read the release notes with this file, download the two other recommended files, then get ready for some serious flutterbug fun. The new G2 is perfect for these situations, too: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/23514-eght-tresco-heliport/
Y’all have fun out there this week. We’ll see you on the dark side of the moon–