x+s+r // FJS Dash-8 Q400 + EGHT

SeaQ400

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…

Dash8Q400 C1

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…

Q C2

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).

Q cockpit

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!

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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.

EGHT

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–

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x+s+r // FJS 732 v3.1809.1125

732 hdr

A lot of aircraft files come and go in our little corner of the flight sim universe, almost too many to count, but there are a few that come to define the X-plane experience for many of us. And you know what I’m talking about…files so good we spend almost all our sim-time with them. For Heavy Metal aficionados the IXEG 733 comes to mind, and yet now even Laminar’s default 738 – and the Zibo permutation – have reached that coveted status. There’s no doubt that even after a short time on the market that both the Flight Factor A320 and Toliss A319 are there, too. Fly-J-Sim owns a slice of this pie too, and remarkably, all three files produced by this developer have reached a kind of cult status.

Yet there’s something oddly special about Fly-J-Sim’s 732, and after fiddling around with the file for a year I’ve come to think it’s attractiveness is something quite unique. Maybe like the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, the file has always had a few niggling flaws yet the overall feeling I had after a flight in this “aircraft” was pure, simple satisfaction.

Now, with version 3 out for a while, almost all of the little flaws are gone, in effect wiped clean, and what’s left is getting real close to simple perfection. The panel is better, yet even so the night panel is the best in X-plane. The animated doors and air-stairs are without a doubt the best of their kind, yet it doesn’t end there. The triple-slotted Fowler flaps, the thrust reverser animation, all the other moving surfaces on the wing are flawlessly realistic. The cabin? As good as any in Xp…but the list goes on.

So, let’s take a flight today, take a closer look. Below, the latest version 3.18, as released yesterday, seen at Skyline’s KSNA John Wayne – getting ready to depart for KSBP San Luis Obispo, about an hour to the northwest:

AirCal 732

The onboard air-stairs were a costly option few carriers went for, and the units weigh a lot so the fuel penalty was real – and ongoing, yet for some carriers they were a godsend. So equipped, the first 737s brought jet travel to smaller, almost marginal airports, and with it’s powerful APU the aircraft was almost self-sufficient. Bravo Fly-J-Sim for bringing such a difficult to model feature set to this acf; like the Rotate MD-80 these animations do so much to define what it is we love about such files.

Another thing I’ve noted before on this file is the wing, especially the delicate arc as the wing loads on takeoff. Not many developers get it this right.

AirCal 732 2

For some of us, the joy that comes from navigating with relatively simple VOR/NDB instruments is hard to explain. Many pilots brought up in the age of GPS have little understanding of the role these systems played, or the feats of navigation that can be pulled off with a simple non-directional beacon and a stopwatch, yet the Fly-J-Sim 732 gives you that option…the option to fly under conditions that commercial pilots in the 60s and 70s took for granted. If you are a student of aviation, in other words, if you’re a pilot who enjoys learning about such things, this is a file you can learn – and grow – with.

It’s about an hour flight from KSNA to KSBP, and the VOR chain is easy to follow: Seal Beach to LAX to Ventura, Goleta, Santa Maria and finally San Luis Obispo. The weather in San Luis is picture perfect most of the time, there’s a popular university there, and the beach is only a nice, short drive away. American Eagle used to have a training facility there, and they took new hires and trained them on the Swearingen Metroliner, then the Saab 340. There’s also a really good freeware airport file for the facility (download link here).

732 KSBP L

The flight model in this latest version is refined enough so that there are few areas of concern left, yet turning on final I noted a little too much hobby-horsing. Other than that the flight was smooth and uneventful. Again, look at that wing!

And the main entry animated air-stair is simply a joy to watch. If you can’t get the aft air-stair to deploy, you’ll need to make sure you have power configured properly.

AirCal 732 3

All doors and hatches operate, by the way, and this is one of the few aircraft files with this feature.

Fly-J-Sim’s interior is a total work of art, a worthy complement to all the work that went into the air-stairs.

732 4 int

Two galleys are included, and three heads are shown, but (thankfully) not modeled.

With version 3 of the aircraft file the front office has reached perfection. Instrument clarity is peerless, night lighting is now so immersive it’s almost hypnotic. The old Sperry autopilot is a simple affair and is good for taking out some of the drudge during cruise but of little help flying modern SID/STAR departures and arrivals. Yes, this is a vintage steam-gauge cockpit, and it’s gorgeous.

732 4

I think the IXEG 733s panel is still the best in X-plane, but this 732 is getting so good the margin is razor thin now, yet its fun to fly both back to back. You can see and appreciate the evolution of navigation by using these two, and the differences are instructive. Try it yourself sometime… Is one easier than the other?

We reset the time and weather for our return to KSNA – to night and moderate precipitation for our departure airport, clear on arrival, then loaded up and took off. Two things I need to mention regarding the night panel: the overall clarity is stunning, and the refined glow around many of the toggle switches is best seen to be appreciated. Indeed, such features cast little pools of light everywhere you look inside this cockpit, and in this area the Fly-J-Sim file beats all others. You need to study the third image below, look closely at the toggles, how orange light bleeds and diminishes from the base up the stalk. Another area to look at is the throttle quadrant. Magic…

732 night flight 1

The turning radius on the ground is amazing, exterior lighting is perfect, the tail logo light nice and bright. Ground handling is trouble free, directional control on takeoff superb.

But the night panel provides the perfect ambience to work in comfort. Again, instrument clarity is second to none and everything simply works…no awkward manipulators, no hard to operate switches.

732 Night Flight 2

Again, the same route back to KSNA…Santa Maria, Goleta (Santa Barbara), Ventura, LAX, Seal Beach and El Toro, where you turn and follow the 55 to your final. Flying VOR is simplicity itself, and the Fly-J-Sim 732 makes the experience picture perfect.

Again, the only issue encountered was some hobby-horsing when slowing from 170KIAS down to the 150s, easily countered with some power and initiating a gentle climb. Everything else was, to my mind, as it should be. I know this type of flying is often referred to these days as “classic” – and I suppose, in a way, it is – but it’s also fun…and quite satisfying. Perhaps, after the developers finish updating their Dash-8 Q400 they’ll move on to more modern aircraft…but I kind of hope they stick with these early, classic jetliners. Xp could use another 707, or perhaps even the DC-9-10 would be great to see, but whatever…I have a feeling whatever they choose, it’ll be worth the wait.

Way to go, Jack.

And we’ll see you next time out. Adios –

***oh yes, the 732 is on sale this weekend at the Org Store. If you still don’t have this file…all I can ask is why not?

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x+s+r // Orlando City + Paint + Updates

xsr 330 hdr

A long post today, lots of updates to go over, so read through to the end.

We’ll look at Orlando first, and then a few notable paints before we tackle the updates, so get your coffee ready so we can get to it.

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A City/VFR file for Orlando, Florida came out this week, and it includes LIT downtown structures as well as the suburban location of the University of Central Florida (in separate files, in case you don’t want the UCF facility).

Pictured here with the latest v2.4 of the X_Craft E175, which had a few bugs when released but is now stable. The second image is the downtown area at dusk, the third is the college campus on the NE side of the city, seen just above the fuselage.

crj mco

What’s missing? Yeah, Walt Disney World…but we can always wish, can’t we…?

Get the files here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47279-vcities-orlandovfr-orlando-and-ucf/

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An exceptional American Eagle paint for the Leading Edge Saab came out this week as well, seen at aeroSoft’s DFW. Read the release notes to get a good idea of what went into this one, as this was no simple effort, and the weathered effects are subtle but very good.

340 dfw

Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47280-american-eagle-les-saab-340a/

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New paints for the JarDesign A330 are few and far between, so it was great to see a new file this week, and for an airline seldom seen in Xp, Tarom, the Romanian national airline. Odd choice as Tarom does not, and has not, flown the 330 (current fleet is mainly 737s), but the livery looks good on this 330, so why not? And note the raccoon mask around the cockpit glass, as on the A350.

330 Tarom

Pick it up here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47289-jar-a330-tarom-livery/

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And for the default/Zibo 738, a special ‘one-off’ livery for Turkish Airlines. Remarkably good looking and very well executed, here’s the perfect paint for LTAI Antalya.

738 turkish

Hot and fresh, right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47294-turkish-airlines-special-livery/

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And here’s a rare bird, a Czech Airlines CRJ-200.

crj csa

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45581-crj200-czech-airlines-fictional-livery/

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And for the default 738, WestJet’s 2018 paint:

Westjet18.png

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44622-default-zibo-737-westjet-2018-new-livery-c-gwsv/

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And here’s one of the default UAL paints for the CRJ flying over the updated Chicago waterfront (in Xp11.25+). The most prominent items are (at far left) The Field Museum (where the lions from The Ghost and The Darkness reside), the Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.

crj meigs

Below, the CRJ departing Chicago Midway, showing the relationship between MDW and ORD (on the right side of the image, looking west here).

crj ord mdw

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FJS 732 1

Also, the Fly-J-Sim 732 is on sale this weekend (21 Sept 18), and a new update posted today as well, with the following noted on the Change-log:

  • UI will now scale up if you are on a larger resolution monitor
  • Flight model adjusted. Better takeoff and more stable in pitch
  • Various cockpit texture enhancements
  • You will now be able to perform maintenance on airframe,engines, and apu once they have aged to keep them running longer.
  • fixed issue where only inner left flap would fai
  • spoilers will not deploy with reverser.
  • changed yoke roll angle to 105º
  • fixed some issues with the ADF units that had been reported
  • changed aircraft description
  • Updater now available

Perhaps of most importance is the last item, that an updater is now available. Assuming this is the Skunkcraft Updater (now at v1.2, so it too needs to be updated), updates to the acf will now be automatically downloaded on starting Xp. This works well for the 727 series, but after each update I’ve had to re-activate the file (enter serial number, etc). Needless to say, the cockpit has received some nice new textures this time out.

732 2

Panel textures are now about as good as those on the FJS 727-series, which is quite good indeed.

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KOAK Oakland International is almost directly across the bay from San Francisco International. Southwest hangs out here a lot these days, too, and this latest version of the airport has decent ramp side facilities for commercial, air cargo, and GA aircraft. Note: this is for Xp11.10+:

KOAK

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/38846-koak-metropolitan-oakland-intl-airport/

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Have you forgotten about this one already? I had.

So I opened up here a few days ago to take the Do-228 down to Tromso, but do you remember what airport this is?

ENSV

This is ENSH Svolvær Airport Helle, one of aeroSoft’s most attractively priced Norwegian wonders from last winter, and it too looks recently tweaked, with flatter ramps on hand now. It’s one of the most dramatic airports in X-plane, too, with a short runway to test your skills and nearby fjords and peaks to keep you interested.

 

So, that’s all for now. Seeya around the campfire –

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x+s+r // LFBH + LIML +LSZR VFR to EDDS

xsr hdr liml

A great new tdg airport on the Bay of Biscay, a useful new LIML Milan Limate, and a quick and easy VFR flight for newer pilots in X-plane looking for something new.

Ready?

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xpfr continues its quiet retreat, in effect leaving France wide open for other scenery developers to move in, and this week tdg presents LFBH La Rochelle, a small commercial airport on France’s far west coast. As per his usual attention to detail, you’ll find a stunning airport completed to near payware quality – all in a much more than useful location.

You’ll also find a short but interesting list of airlines and destinations here, but FlyBe handles the UK, AF HOP! will take you to LFPO, LFLL, and Ajaccio (down on the island of Corsica), while both EasyJet and RyanAir have an odd assortment of unusual destinations to offer. In short, from Dublin to Brussels to the Med – this airport offers some fun new flights to try.

LFBH 1

Ramp detail here is really off the charts good, but then again, so too are tdg’s foliage and grasses. The layout of the real terminal is followed and, as you can see just below, car parks and other peripheral detail are better than excellent. Compare this work to other small airports and you’ll see why we think tdg is the best freeware file developer in X-plane. In fact, his work is as good as many payware developers, only he uses scenery libraries to fill out his projects. Still, look at the first image just below. Hard to imagine this is freeware when files like this were unimaginably good just a few years ago.

LFBH 2

So, tdg gives us another great airport with an interesting route network to tinker with, and there’s not much more to say than that, is there. Well…maybe…thanks?

Find the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47264-lfbh-la-rochelle-airport-france/

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And here’s a new LIML Milano Linate by Pat372. It continues to stun that after how many years there’s still no payware for the two major airports in Milan (the other being the much larger LIMC Malpensa) and, oddly enough, many  of the freeware files have either been of modest quality or so old they no longer work in Xp11. This file is on the right path though still needs some work on details, but the bare bones (layout and main buildings) are good enough to use as is. One issue I had was that almost all gates and ramps are filled, so you’ll open on top of another aircraft almost all the time.

LIML Linate was the main airport for the area until Malpensa went online in 1948; operations at Linate have since been scaled back due to its proximity to the city center. Even with this diminished role, you’ll find an interesting assortment of airlines and destinations out here, though nothing in comparison to Malpensa or even LIME Orio al Serio (the third major airport in the region). You might try routes to Dublin, Stockholm, or Sofia if looking for something new.

LFML

LIML is a main navigational waypoint if coming south over the Alps from Zurich, Munich, or Basel, so it’s nice to have a decent airport here now. Until a payware developer comes along, this file will get the job done, and while not perfect it is certainly of good quality. Thanks to the developer for sharing this one, and we hope he continues to work on the details.

Get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47269-milano-linate-airport/

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LSZR St Gallen, Switzerland was recently revised (download link here), so we were tinkering with Alabeo’s new C177 Cardinal RG there a few days ago and ended up flying an interesting, if incredibly easy, VFR route up to EDDS Stuttgart.

“What makes it interesting?” you ask.

“Well,” I reply, “the route takes you astride Lindau before going right over EDNY Friedrichshafen, and though the overall route is less than a hundred miles it ends up at one of aeroSoft’s nicest airports, EDDS Stuttgart. What’s not to like?”

“But,” you add, “what makes it so easy?”

“Ah, well, listen up, and take notes…”

So, you open up on the ramps at St Gallen and fire up your GPS, enter EDDS and end up with a course of 347º and a distance of 89 miles. Hit the ‘M’ key and bring up the map in X-plane, find VOR Tango, then the VOR at EDDS; enter those at NAV1 and NAV2 respectively, and also take note of DME SGD (114.45) at EDDS. Set your heading bug on the DG to 347º, and you can pre-set these values on the AP if you want to use Otto on this flight: ALT=5000MSL, VR=500FPM. See the example images further down if not sure what this looks like.

LSZR C1

Above, the departure from St Gallen. Below, setting up your panel for navigation.

VFR panels

Below, departing LSZR, abreast the medieval island city of Lindau (which we covered a couple of weeks back), passing over EDNY Friedrichshafen, then just puttering along at 5000MSL…

e z vfr 1

Below, on final at EDDS, then taxing to the GA ramps. Our route takes you to the Tango VOR (TGO, 112.5) for a handoff to Stuttgart ATC on the way to Stuttgart VOR (STG, 116.85) and runway assignment. Why is this route “easy”? There are almost no course changes, so it should be, in effect, an easy to follow route past some interesting scenery (not to mention with good airports along the way.

e z EDDS

EDDS and EDNY are both excellent aeroSoft airport files, by the way.

If new to Xp, or to flying in general, try this easy exercise and see if you can make it without the autopilot.

Any questions? Fire away…and if not, we’ll see you next time.

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x+s+r // Guimbal Cabri G2

xsr g2 hdr

Flutterbugs (aka helicopters, or death-traps…depending on your point of view) are a unique niche in the aviation world. Most fix-wing drivers look upon ‘rotor heads’ with frank suspicion – like they’re a seriously mentally deranged sub-species of aviator. And I suspect there’s some truth to that, but there’s just one thing you have to cast aside before you can adopt that point of view. And that is, simply…helicopters are fun, especially if you know how to fly one. Even if you don’t, they’re still kind of fun – at least in X-plane.

And…I suspect most people who drift in and out of X-plane never take one up, even the default S-76, and while that’s understandable it’s also unfortunate. Why? Because, again, flutterbugs are seriously fun, and there’s nothing impossible about learning to fly one – in X-plane, anyway.

The best helicopters in X-plane have been made by Dreamfoil, and his Bell 407 for Xp11 – with SAS (or Stability Augmentation System) is indeed an irresistible combination of thrill ride AND serious learning tool. Still, you could say that the SAS system deadens the feel TOO much, and so, perhaps, makes the learning experience TOO easy.

So, along comes V Sky Labs and their Guimbal Cabri G2 project, and reading between the lines it appears that this aircraft file may be well positioned to become the best training helicopter around, either in Xp or out there in the world. Curious how this might play out, to say the least, I saw this one release this morning and jumped right on the bandwagon, and after about half a day puttering around in this one I’m convinced these guys are onto something.

So, get your coffee ready then buckle up. Let’s go flyin’…

G2 hdr

First, the file is available at the Org Store and directly from V SKY LABS, and the price is right. The cabin is certainly well crafted, and the exterior model is as well. What might not come through in these images is size, because this machine is really quite small. Look over the manufacturers web-site to get an idea of these parameters, and the scope of missions this bug is created to handle before you go much further, because this is a fascinating creature. And yes, the biggest purchasers so far have been flight schools! Ooh, sign me up!!!

Consider too that while this file costs about 30USD, the real deal will set you back about 400,000 buckeroos, so this is a comparative bargain…

Now, a few images of the real deal:

G2 real 1

And note the different avionics package on this model:

G2 real 2

And here’s something worth taking a look at too.

G2 real 3

Now, take a look at this link from the Org:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47204-vskylabs-guimbal-g2-g-izoo/

Okay, got that?

So, let’s go take a look at the file for X-plane 11:

G2 C2

These images were snapped at LSZH Zurich, and aeroSoft’s v2 of this file has a plug-in driven hanger door at the Rega Helicopters hanger, as well as a heliport. Below, we’ll take off from a pad on the GA ramp at LEVC Valencia, then putter down to the docks…

G2 c1

So, first impressions?

First, this puppy is EASY to fly. It IS a helicopter and does all the unpredictable things helicopters like to do, but it just feels easy to get out of trouble without the need for an SAS-type system onboard. Next, this bug is seriously maneuverable, so I can see this file becoming über popular with the rotor head crowd, especially those demented souls that enjoy landing on a pad that’s about the same size as a medium pepperoni pizza.

Faults? Panel lighting is adjustable – but not enough – and I’d prefer to see the Aspen 1000 unit being shipped on current models than this hodge-podge of steam gauges.

This helicopter is slow (it’s not a JetRanger, but I guess you figured that out already), so don’t even think of this as a cross-country voyager. This is a trainer and, perhaps, a downtown commuter (assuming your office building has a pad handy). Cruising at 100 kias takes effort, and 80 feels better. Again, the bird handles like a dream going low and slow.

This version is not really IFR equipped, so better to not even go there. There’s enough stuff on the panel to get you out of deep do-do, assuming you know how to use it, anyway, but again, this model isn’t really aimed at IFR pilots.

So, who might want to get this file and tinker around with it?

First, anyone thinking of buying the real aircraft should consider this a fun first step in the process. Next, anyone attending a ‘Flutterbug Flight School near you’ might want to play with this when not actually crashing at school. Fidelity to the actual aircraft seems good enough to warrant consideration as such, and perhaps even flight schools might want to evaluate this model for suitability in their curriculum. Next, rotor heads in X-plane in dire need of something new might get out of their 412s or 407s – just for a change of pace, for crying out loud….

But the last group I’d recommend this to might want to listen up here.

This model is just about perfect for anyone terrified of flying a helicopter in X-plane, but who, even so, remains curious what it might be like to at least try. And I reckon there are a bunch of people out there who fall into this category, too.

Again, flying a flutterbug is fun. If you’ve always wanted to try but the default S-76 just seemed like too much…well…give this a try before you give up for good. In the end, think of this helicopter as something akin to a Piper Cub, only a cub that can land on a pepperoni pizza – with room to spare.

As such, this is a 10/10 Must Have file and, before I forget, you can get the POH from the manufacturer after registering…and here’s that great looking UK Jack livery, complete with gray interior:

G2 IZOO

Adios for now. Seeya next time –

G2 BigBen

 

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x+s+r // YBCS + WMKK + KPGD + 5 Singles

xsr cairns hdr

A new airport in Cairns, another in SWFlorida, a fantastic new revision in Malaysia, and kind of a “What’s the best retractable geared, GA single in X-plane these days…” exercise.

Got your coffee ready? Okay then, let’s roll!

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YBCS + Cairns International Airport

Located in far Northeast Australia, tropical Cairns is a very popular tourist area almost wholly dependent on this airport. This new file, by fsclips, is really very well done and with the static aircraft option enabled the ramps are thickly populated with relevant airliners; there’s also a large GA area as well as  limited air cargo areas.

YBCS 1

The ramp and apron markings are almost astonishing, and take care to look images of this work over, as it really is a remarkable job. You’ll find foliage, good car parks, and decent ramp lighting here as well.

YBCS 2

There’s service available all over Australia from here, but also longer flights to New Zealand, China, and Japan. This is a Must Have addition for all flyers Down Under!

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47186-ybcs-cairns-int-airport/

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WMKK + Kuala Lumpur

We’ve been watching this one for a while, and it’s recently added several new options, including the ability to add terminals still on the drawing board. If you choose to do so, you’ll wind up with a massive, very good looking airport…

WMKK

This is a massive project being constantly updated, but you might give it a try now as it’s getting interesting, and quite deep.

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44806-wmkk_kuala-lumpur/

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Gateshead Millennium Footbridge

Itching for a reason to go to Newcastle-upon-Tyne today? Well, slip this little bridge into your scenery folder and go take a look-see…

Newcastle

There’s a decent EGNT in Global Airports these days too, so there’s no excuse not to!

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47192-gateshead-millennium-footbridge/

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After flying the new Alabeo Cardinal RG from Key West to Naples, Florida the other day, we ran across this little airport file, and if flying around Southwest Florida is your thing you might want to get this one onboard. KPGD Punta Gorda is in the same general vicinity as Naples and Fort Myers, and while GA has been the thing here, Allegiant recently moved in and is offering a spectacular variety of flights from here (see the list here). If looking for another airport to use your Rotate MD80, here she be. A319s and A320s are welcome here too. Get the file here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/42580-kpgd-punta-gorda-airport/

One other thing popped to mind after we wrapped up our Alabeo Cardinal post… What are about the other high quality GA singles in X-plane – the retractable geared varieties?

Well, here’s my take on the top 5 for X-plane 11, as of September, 2018.

  1. Yup, the Alabeo C177 II RG makes the cut;
  2. And so does the Carenado Cessna 210 Turbo Centurion;
  3. The PA-28R ARROW III by Just Flight is a great file too;
  4. Yet so is the Alabeo Mooney M20R Ovation;
  5. But which is the very, very best GA single (retractable gear) in X-plane? Well, scroll on down to for my opinion, but let’s face it, you already know the answer, don’t you?

KPGD comparo

Carenado’s F33 Bonanza is equipped the way I like a single – capable of complex IFR operations yet easy enough to fly to hardly need an AP. With a radar altimeter and a true flight director on the panel, this Bonanza will keep up with you as your training progresses from nugget to 3-striper, and if you simply enjoy taking a robust GA single on long cross country flights there just is not a better aircraft to do this in, whether in X-plane or out in the real world. Beech is STILL building these birds, too, and there’s a good reason why. There just isn’t a better single engine aircraft out there, and there hasn’t been…since the 1950s. If Carenado’s file was a dog we’d not bother to recommend this one, but the exact opposite is true here: Carenado’s F33A Bonanza for Xp11 is STILL the class act no one has beaten…yet.

F33a

So, no surprises, eh? Well, thanks for reading along today. We’ll see you next time, and…Happy Trails –

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x+s+r // C177IIRG + Santiago, Chile redux

xsr c177rg

In addition to taking a look at Alabeo’s latest Xp11 upgrade, we’ll head down to Santiago, Chile to take a second look around the area, then we’ll look at a tweak you might want to get onboard for flying over that storied city.

Okay, let’s get to it!

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Cessna C177 II RG by Alabeo

Alabeo released their Cessna Cardinal RG for Xp10 some time ago, but recently released a new version for Xp11 and, as we didn’t have the older version on hand, we were curious. How does this littlest retractable geared Cessna stack up against the likes of the default Skyhawk, or even Carenado’s C210 Turbo Centurion, Cessna’s big retractable geared single. And, why these other two? Well, is this new Alabeo interesting enough to entice someone new to flight sims in general to break away from using default aircraft like the 172 Slyhawk II? And if so, is it deep enough to keep someone interested for more than a few weeks? Is the 210 a better option for a “student” pilot moving up to something more complex?

Well, let’s take a look, and we’ll start off the day down in sunny Key West, Florida, at Icarus Simulations KEYW (available from X-Aviation, link here). After a rough afternoon at Sloppy Joe’s, we’ll bunk out and get an early morning start and head up to Naples, Florida for a nice, hour long test-flight.

Ready? Let’s start out on the ramps and take a walk around our newest aircraft…

C177 C1

Alabeo has become fondly known as a developer something akin to Carenado’s kid brother, and once upon a time that might have been the case. Not anymore. Alabeo’s latest aircraft files are every bit as good as the newest generation of Carenado, and the evidence is clear as soon as you open the file and take a look around (as always, we’re using the latest version of Xp (11.26) with all rendering options set at MAX). Still, beauty has to be more than skin deep…everything has got to look great AND work flawlessly to really be the equal of Carenado, but once again, this newest Alabeo earns a Carenado Class award from us…she flies great, handles well in multiple flight regimes, and presents few surprises. Details, like opening doors and menu items, are pure Carenado, too.

So, we’re trying to get off by 0530 and get out to the aircraft around 0500; preflight done by 0515 and buckled in a few minutes later. Nothing to starting a Cessna, so get her going and watch the gauges for a minute, then cut the brakes and let’s go…

C177 C2.png

Taxiing in this little Cessna is straight-forward with no surprises. Torque on applying power was a little more than expected, and as a rule when you run into this it’s best to apply power slowly. Direction control was excellent, even so. If this is your first experience in a retractable gear aircraft, the rule of thumb is simple enough: as soon as you register a Positive Rate of Climb for a few seconds (enough to register about +2-300 FPM) you’re good to retract the landing gear. We set the AP to a 500 FPM climb on a heading of 005º, using the Garmin 530 to set our baseline course for Naples Municipal. The VOR at Naples is too distant to pick-up in the Keys.

C177 C3

Some details stick out on this model. Watch the gear retraction sequence (or on the 210 Centurion, for that matter), as this sequence is unique. Also note, no wing support struts, the fuel tank selector knob on the floor – with the cowl flaps control just above. The last image in the set below is approaching Marco Island, about 30 miles south of Naples.

C177 C4

Below, approaching KAPF Naples Municipal – Runway 5 – about an hour later. Alabeo’s panel is set up for VFR to light IFR duties, while the Garmin 530 handles all NavCOMM frequency tuning. There is a basic AP, a simple AHI and DG (no HSI), i.e., about all that’s really needed for simple VFR flying, with just enough to deal with unexpected (and infrequent) instrument conditions. As such, this is not really an ideal IFR trainer, rather a VFR cruiser.

C177 C5

I only experienced two issues during this “flight”: 1) the AP cut off and lost altitude/heading for about 15 seconds, then turned back on and all was well; and, 2) there was a little bit more ‘Cessna float’ than I was expecting on landing at Naples.

I started a gentle flare once below 60KIAS, expecting speed to drop quickly and the last few feet to trickle away, but the aircraft resolutely refused to sink until speed dropped well into the 40s, and somehow I doubt this is representative of real world performance. Could be, but I was expecting more sink rate. Other than these two minor issues, this was a Carenado Class ride. Or maybe we should say an Alabeo Class ride?

As usual, there are a bunch of liveries to choose from, including this great looking French registration for the RG model:

C177 F

NAPS makes many great airports in Florida for X-plane, including the KAPF Naples Municipal used today, and it can be found right here: https://naps.blog/naples/   It’s a freeware file, BTW.

The Cessna C177 II RG file is available at all the usual outlets, including the Org Store, the aeroSoft Store, and, of course, at the Carenado/Alabeo stores. Do note there is a non-retractable geared model included in this purchase/download, but I mean…really? Why bother?

C177II FG

Now, as to the question posed at the beginning of this post, let’s address our would-be pilot new to flight, though perhaps she’s been using Xp for a few weeks and is comfortable with the default Cessna 172. She’s been thinking it’s time to move on up to a faster single…perhaps because her first few tries in the Baron were not so enjoyable. So…would this Cardinal RG be the way to go?

Assuming our hypothetical pilot likes the whole Cessna gestalt (high-wing, good visibility, etc.) what would be the next step up from the Skyhawk? This little Cardinal gives a modest increase in speed and just a little increase in complexity, so it’s an easy move. The 210 Turbo Centurion? In the real world I’d never recommend such an aircraft to someone with so little flight time, but in Xp the move isn’t as audacious as it sounds. You gain near twin-engined speed, but at the expense of both more mechanical complexity and engine management skills. You pick up more IFR capability, too, so in the end I think it all comes down to confidence level and need.

If our pilot has real world ambitions that include a higher performance IFR equipped aircraft in her future then, by all means…go for the 210 and see how that feels. On the other hand, if flying at 120KIAS in a modestly equipped single is all this pilot aspires to, then why bother with the complexity if, in the end, our pilot won’t need the additional speed and capability. And sure, there are other models by Piper and Beechcraft (and more) to consider as our pilot builds time, but that’s for another day. This little Cardinal makes for an anxiety free transition up from the Skyhawk, so maybe this is the best choice for many just getting into X-plane and now confident enough to move up to a payware aircraft file. This Cardinal just might open up a whole other world possibilities, and lead our new pilot to a life up in the clouds.

172 177

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SCEL hdr

VirtualDesign3D has been putting out extremely detailed airport files for quite a while, and not long ago they published SCEL Santiago, Chile under the aeroSoft label. The file is a classic, too, and a Must Have for anyone who likes to tinker with long-haul heavy-metal flying. Their other file in the same city, SCTB Tobalaba, includes a seriously detailed city file for Santiago, making these two files complimentary, almost vitally so. With both on board, you end up with something that looks like this:

789 1

Oh, that’s the latest v1.52 MagKnight 789 (released a couple of days ago), and it’s a nice upgrade with very well done wing flex and a cockpit makeover featuring a gray texture that looks great (and seen in the next set of images).

Now…what I wanted to pass on is a simple addition you can add to the Santiago area. The complete, hi-res ortho set seen just below adds another dimension to flights over the city, and the file is – free. Take a look:

789 2

And where can you get this file?

Yup, you guessed it…at VirtualDesign3D’s website, under the freeware section. It’s great to find another team that’s willing to keep making freeware assets available – even as they make great payware products (TruScenery in Finland is another). Their SCEL and SCTB are available at the Org Store, and, of course, from the aeroSoft Store.

And…I hear that fat lady singing again, so it might just be time to quit for the night. We’ll seeya next time, and Happy Trails –

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