Rhinebeck & The Waco Kid?
Sounds kind of like the title to a Blazing Saddles parody…
Well, not really. Not this time, anyway (though the idea has merit). No, this is more like an aircraft review, but…not really. Maybe more an aircraft file appreciation – slash – love letter to an old favorite. Looking at the NY94 airport file yesterday, I decided it was time to go spend some serious time there, and it was only natural to want to break out the Alabeo Waco, free it from storage in iCloud and let it roam the skies for a few hours. Then, the more I thought about the Waco the more I wanted to write about it, too…
So…here we are…taking a nice long look at an older, v10 file, smack-dab in the middle of one of the newest, and coolest GA files to come along recently: NY94 Rhinebeck Aerodrome.
Again, we looked at this file yesterday, but already there’ve been updates so I wanted to pass along that there’ve been some changes since then. Also today, a quick look at a relevant new livery for the SSG E-195, as well as an interesting new airport in the Italian Dolomites. So stick around and join us for a short romp through aviation history…
There’ve been some fun GA files released the past three months, and it’s been an exciting period in X-plane. KTTF Custer/Gateway opened a lot of eyes to the possibilities of ultra-high-res modeling AND for developers including much more surrounding detail to include with their downloads. Some might infer that Mr. X pioneered the concept, but, in truth, lots of developers have been adding city highlights to their airport files since at least Xp version 8 – Tom Curtis explicitly did so with his Inside Passage and KSFO files, then he really went to work in his Boeing Country files, but the Custer Gateway file really seemed to mark the transition from one era to the next.
So it was kind of interesting opening StevePHLs NY94. I wasn’t expecting much more than the usual Org quality freeware, but even a cursory look around revealed there’s a lot going on here, but with time constraints always an issue I made a few images then moved on to the next project. But this one stayed with me, and I guess that’s one way to know you’ve run across a great file. Anyway, here’s a sweet intro to the facility in New York. Give it a look-see:
This file for Xp is a conversion of Golden Age Simulation’s original file for FsX; they ask that if you enjoy the file to please consider a donation to the Aerodrome, as the facility is utterly dependent on such income.
Flying into this field is a chore, especially in low light (twilight) conditions. The small airstrip is surrounded by tall trees and, quite frankly, it just disappears once you’ve lost sight of the few buildings. You then need to gain altitude, find the buildings then pinpoint a few landmarks (the two baseball fields work well for that) and work your way down to the final approach…such as it is.
This part of New York State feels bucolic, almost Arcadian, though the airfield is only 80 miles from Central Park – in the middle of Manhattan Island. The surrounding area is dairy country, all the way into Vermont, and you can see red hay barns and white milking sheds all around the aerodrome – which only adds to the charm of this file.
It’s impossible to state the feel of this place once on the ground. Looking down the runway is a little like looking into the past…so much so that you realize this place is the antithesis of modern aviation. This IS the root of experience, the kind of place where aviation began and, as such, maybe the experience of this file is more like a shrine than a museum, or even a simple grass airstrip. That may be my interpretation, but I wonder what your impression will be.
Anyway, this is a type of file that begs to be explored on foot. It’s too bad there isn’t a “walk-around” mode in X-plane for just this sort of place.
Anyway, once you land just stick your airplane in an out-of-the-way corner and zoom around, check out the details both in and outside the main buildings. You’ll probably see enough to make you want to go explore the real facility – which is, I think, the point of the exercise. There are several more videos on YouTube of the place, and you might want to watch a few before opening the file in Xp, but try to come here in an old bi-plane, or even Khamsin & Arno’s Ercoupe.
I think this is a WIP kind of file, with ongoing improvements and additions in the works, so while we’re at v 1.0.3 right now there should be more. When (not if!) you get here, take some time to look around…not simply at the detailed textures but at the subject matter. There’s a lot to learn here.
Now, let’s look at the Waco.
And NOT in X-plane, for now, tempting as that may be. No, let’s look at a NEW Waco.
Because, oddly enough, this aircraft is still in production. Yes, you read that correctly; the Waco YMF5 is still being produced here in the U.S. Don’t believe it? Well, then you need to get out your checkbook, write a half-million dollar check made payable to the Waco Aircraft Company, then head on up to Battle Creek, Michigan and hand it over. Be prepared to wait, however, as this is one of the finest, hand-crafted aircraft being built today, and demand is high.
And I’d recommend watching this vid, too:
And just plain ole wheels and tires are available, too, in case that floats yur boat.
Think of the possibilities…
And then, think of a modern avionics package in a classic aircraft as well-crafted as this one…
I reckon there are a ton of options in this area.
Even a Garmin 500, if that’s what it takes to get you to sign on the line…
Want to take a look at the plant, take a short tour? Well, watch this:
And now, the Alabeo file for Xplane, which is a little less expensive:
But still quite interesting, with a fairly modern cockpit. At least, this was modern…back in 1960.
There’s a (completely unnecessary) audio switching panel and a huge transponder head, even a nice DME head, but no AP, while (below), on the right side, you’ll find dual NAVCOMM heads and a dandy digital fuel gauge. And no AP.
This is a version 10 file, by the by, so panel lighting is still an issue in Xp11.x. While the panel is usefully lit for daylight ops, as you can see further down this lighting scheme has some problems at night.
(below) the lower half of many instruments are simply too dark to read, and this includes both airspeed and rate of climb instrumentation, currently rendering the file useless at night. It shouldn’t be too difficult to patch this, and I hope Alabeo does so, and soon. If they do, they should also consider adding lighting to the lights switch console and circuit breakers, and the addition of a modest autopilot would make this file really useful for much more than it currently is. An optional add-on Garmin panel package would be a great idea, too. And, well, I think a floats package would be super fun to have.
Because, when you get right down to it, this really is one of the most attractive aircraft files in X-plane…and this is NOT some stodgy old bi-plane from a bygone era. This is the product of a living, breathing company that is trying to keep a little bit of aviation history alive, carrying forward a tradition of excellence into the 21st-century.
It’s worth updating as this file is detailed like few others in X-plane, and in almost every regard it just looks “real.” That said, compare Alabeo’s file for Xp with images of the real bird. You’ll understand what I’m getting at…and why I think this file is such a big deal.
And all this detail really fits at a place like the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Hopping in the file a hundred miles away, flying here in the early morning, finding the field and making a smooth landing is about as good as it gets, in Xp, anyway. Give it a try sometime. See if you don’t agree. Unless you happen to have a half million burning a hole in your pocket, this is a fun way to spend time in X-plane.
I’ve not flown the file in v10 in many years, so I just can’t recall what the flight dynamics felt like, but in v11.11 I can chop the throttle and trim for level flight, and on it goes. I mean the energy shortage is now solved, folks, as this one can fly along at 120 with zero power and not lose altitude. It’s like a perpetual motion machine…and there you are, trying to land – when it dawns on you: there are no flaps…!
Which makes it rather difficult to slow down for your approach, and to land. This involves flying a very extended downwind, losing altitude gradually before turning onto your base, then settling into a long final with power almost off and nose-trimmed UP, bleeding speed until you get to 70 knots. You’ll need to hold a gentle descent all the way to touchdown, best at around 65KIAS in this file; much faster and you’ll be stunned how high this aircraft bounces, and how slow throttle response is when you kick it to go-around!
Come in too high – and you might as well go around. If you dive for the runway you’ll pick up an easy 15-20 knots, and with a short runway like that one at NY94 you’ll either bounce halfway to the moon or float all the way past the waving crowds…as I did, below.
But, as with all such things, practice makes perfect. Landing at NY94 is a challenge on multiple fronts, however, especially in an aircraft like this. First, it’s a tail-dragger, so no hard braking allowed. Second, the engine cowling blocks your view ahead with any nose up pitch, so get your head out into the slipstream if you must in order to line up on final (or slip into a crab)…
This isn’t a smooth runway so if carry too much speed a little bump will send you sailing back into the pattern…then that slow throttle response becomes an issue again!
So, yes, a challenge to fly at a confined airstrip like NY94, but practice at a big GA strip like Arlington, WA until you’ve got the feel…or even…KTTF Custer Gateway…then Old Rhinebeck will feel a lot like home.
Now, let’s look at the included paints: There’s Black & White, my favorite:
A very classic Red & Black and, below, an all White version:
Then two variations on the mustard yellow theme, with the black-trimmed one above about as “1920s” as you can get.
All of them quite classic. There are a bunch more at the Org, too, including a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream livery.
NY94 is NOT a night equipped field so once the sun goes down that’s all she wrote. I’d like the current .acf to be better equipped for both night and cross-country flight, but who knows. Time will tell. Maybe Alabeo will get it done…
Regardless, the Alabeo Waco remains one of my favorite files, and sometimes just opening the airplane up and puttering around the pattern is all I need out of X-plane. Flying from Rhinebeck down to 1N2 Spaduro out on Long Island has proven to be a nice, hundred mile flight, too, and flying low over Manhattan in the Waco is simply a blast – even if it is a simulation.
So, that’s about it for this flight…time to land…at KLGA!!!
Alabeo’s Waco is available at multiple outlets, including the Org store, and from Alabeo’s in-house store, here. We regard it around here as a 10 out of 10 “Must Have” file, despite the night lighting/AP issues.
Recall, if you will, the St Helena file we reviewed a few weeks ago, right after Christmas? What we needed to work the SSG e195 to Windhoek, Namibia was a South African Airlink paint, and now we’ve got one:
There’s no matching paint for the airstairs, but hey, who cares, right?
If you’re ready to make a “neck-breaking approach” after a two-hour over-water flight, now you’ve got the goods to make it look right, too.
One last file to look at today, and this one’s in the Italian Alps, so hang on…again…
Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of those places where the über-wealthy gather in winter, and have for well over a hundred years, too. If you’ve seen the original Pink Panther movie, the one with Peter Sellers and David Niven, winter scenes were filmed in and around Cortina. The Roger Moore/James Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed here, as well.
There used to be an airport just up the valley but it was closed after a bad accident – in 1976. The facility has been used off and on since 2011 as a base for sightseeing and mountain rescue helicopters, but it’s been brought back to life in X-plane by plasticbug, in this new LIDI file.
You might want to take a look at this one, particularly if you’ve downloaded the massive Dolomites ortho file, as this might fit in quite well. This was imaged with AlpilotX’s v4 mesh and MrX’s HD forest file, and it’s not bad looking. Take a look…
This may well be the perfect place to work the new v2 Twin Otter file, as the runway is fairly short and kind of rough. I used the SSG e170 and that was almost a joke. There’s no place to park such a “big” aircraft and runway length is marginal, at best. That said, the Bell 407 and 412 work just fine here…!
Maneuvering room is limited, of course, and fixed-wing take off is one direction only. Xp does a good job of mixing up the air, so it can get rough near mountain faces. And…the Dolomites look pretty good when set up with the mesh.
There are two helipads, one occupied, so land on the pad closest to the terminal building.
The little E-jet just fits on that pad, too, though the wing almost intrudes on the runway. The small terminal is well modeled and there’s a lot of detail included in the area, as well. All in all, a very nice job.
You can see the tight clearance with the wing/runway below. Night lighting is really decent, however, and the runway is lighted should you be crazy enough to try and land here at night.
Taking off IS possible in the little E-jet, but only just, and only with a light load. There’s a noticeable incline on this end of the runway, and a smallish turnaround, though the E-jet handled the tight radius quite easily.
Taking off, I got a positive rate with little room to spare, and climb out requires that you make a few turns to clear nearby terrain, and, as I could find no updated charts, I just wouldn’t try this one at night, in any aircraft.
Again, the freshly revised Twin Otter may be the best arrow in your quiver for this runway. Regardless, this is a really fun airport for helicopters and GA aircraft, with easy flights to cities all over northern Italy, while more difficult options would include Geneva, Zurich, Lugano, Lyon, Nice, as well as Marseilles, or any one of a number of airports in southern Germany or Austria.
Well, time to sign-off again. Y’all have a great weekend. See you soon. – C