x+s+r // first look: carenado f33a bonanza

F33 hdr

Carenado’s Bonanza models have been my “go-to” files for GA goodness ever since they released their first model for Xp, but then again, I grew up in these things and by the time I was a teenager I knew Dad’s A model inside and out. I did flight training in a C-150 but always looked forward to going up with Dad so I could get my hands on that airplane – even if only for an hour or so. The difference between a Beechcraft and a Cessna (or Piper) is like the difference between an old Chevy and a new Mercedes, too. Everything about the Bonanza felt rock-solid while everything inside the little Cessna rattled. The -150 felt like a kite in a crosswind, while the Bonanza just powered through messy air, and IFR in the Bonanza was a zero stress affair because she was 1) equipped for it, and 2) such a solid platform that it was always easy to work the panel.

Carenado’s file will never be able to fully translate that rock-solid feel – indeed, no acf can – if only because these are impressions, and impressions can’t be modeled. No joystick and rudder in a desktop flight-sim will ever be able to realistically convey how the slipstream over the ailerons feels. You’ll never pull back sharply on the yoke and feel butterflies in your gut as the Gs push you down…just the nature of the beast, ya know?

But Carenado give you a physical model that goes a long way to getting you there, to putting you in the cockpit. This is Immersive stuff…

In Texas, during the summer months of July and August, when you taxied out to the active in the Cessna you opened both windows to let some air in; in the Bonanza all you had was the little hatch set in the pilots window and the main door, so Beechcraft included a little detent that would hold the door open just a little – and you could taxi with the door open, enough to keep the air moving over your sweat-soaked face and forearms, anyway.  That was enough to keep from cooking yourself.

Carenado manages to model many of the most important details with subtle precision, and hardly anything is ever left off. In the luggage compartment below you’ll find a couple of small nylon duffels and a windbreaker someone tossed in at the last moment. Minor detail, you say? Not me… That’s the type of detail that hits home, that tells me the person modeling has been there and done that. It’s pretty cool, really.

You can see elements inside the lightbulbs, decals on the windows, the make of tires on the mains (Goodyear), and all the detail takes me back to the sixties and seventies. Again, pretty cool for a 26 buck program.

F33 1

I enjoy the panel on this model. It’s really very well equipped for IFR, right down to the radar altimeter and HSI with integrated LOC, DME, and GS, all coupled to the AP. The Garmin of course is a pop-up model, but now so are the AP head as well as the ALT head. Just click on their face and there they are, ready for work…

The only downside? You’ve got to disappear the yoke in order to see the throttle and mixture; better to have a dedicated hardware unit for such things anyway. In practice, this F33 feels rock solid and climbs with authority. Flying IFR will be a no-nonsense experience too, because all the controls and manipulators work as advertised.

F33 2

Working the model into a stall, she held true through 60 knots then the nose gently dropped; power on and you’re out of the stall. Not realistic, but pretty close. “Stalling” in a climbing turn was even less realistic, as the aircraft never truly entered a stall. The nose leveled and dropped slowly, and that was it.

Flying an ILS into EDHI, the AP held LOC and GS until about two miles out (still 1500 AGL); at that point the aircraft lost lock on GS and drifted down fast; I had to disconnect the AP to finish the approach. I’ll try a few more approaches and see what happens, and report in a future post.

Below, flying over EDDH on the way to EDHI…stall tests and final approach.

F33 3

All of the little niggling bugs in v3.2 are gone now, and the panel lighting is back to the best GA in Xp. To me, this is the first truly satisfying Carenado in v11, though the Beech 1900 comes close. Maybe its just that this aircraft file feels so much like what I remember a Bonanza feeling like?

And…is that such a bad thing?

If new to X-plane, or to flight simming in general, stick with the default C-172 until you know which way the pointy end goes, then move on up to this Beechcraft. Unless you really aspire to much more, like flying heavy metal or an SR-71, you could have a serious long term relationship with this file and never look back. It’s all you need to get you through your PPL and instrument rating – in style. But by then…you’ll be ready for your multi-engine…and so on…

Anyway, this is close to X-plane perfection. Maybe a few issues left to iron out, but it’s a new model and that’s usually the case.

Hasta later and adios – C

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