x+s+r // kmbs/r+freeware quick-takes

xsr mbs2

We should see new payware scenery files from FranceVFR and UK2000 within a few days, but the rate of new file releases continues at a trickle – even freeware files. Odd, isn’t it, as the opposite should be happening right now, at the beginning of summer. Oh well, c’est la vie; opportunities come and they go. Oh yes, an update to KMBS came out this morning, so let’s looks at this one – as well as a few noteworthy freeware files that came out over the last few days, and those up first.

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LFMQ – Le Castellet International Airport France by PaulMort

LFMQ

Here’s a whimsical interpretation of LFMQ, which in the present day is a hang-out for biz-jet traffic into the French Riviera. This is a nice little Must Have file located between Nice and Marseilles, perfect for your Hawker 4000 or Gulfstream, and you can get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44989-lfmq-le-castellet-international-airport-france/

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EBLG + Liege 2.0 by NAPS/Freddy de Pues

EBLG

This is the massive air freight airport located outside of Grâce-Hollogne, Wallonia, Belgium (near Liege). There is a small, 2-gate passenger terminal here (TUI Belgium the sole operator), yet it’s the sprawling air cargo facilities lining both sides of Rwy 4/22 (l/r) that commands your attention. This is a revised file with a lot of attention paid to x-life compliance, but a lot of visible improvements will catch your eye too. Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45020-eblg-liege/

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EGHC + Penwith-St Just Lands End by Stuart H

EGHC

Produced to complement the developer’s EGHE St Mary’s, this airport provides an air link to residents of the Scilly Isles. GA and Twin Otters? That’s about it. Get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44885-eghc-penwith-st-just-lands-end-v10zip/

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DAOO-Oran Ahmed Ben Bella, Oran, Algeria by aissdz

DAOO

Nicely done medium sized commercial airport on the Mediterranean and quite near the Algerian border with Morocco. Close to Ibiza, Alicante, and Malaga, due to Algeria’s history with France (ahem, cough-cough) a number of carriers fly to destinations within France. The file is available here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44892-daoo-oran-ahmed-ben-bella/

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NCRG  + Rarotonga International Airport by Cami De Bellis

NCRG

While this isn’t a new file I thought it might be of interest if xpfr’s recent Polynesian files piqued your interest in the region. Raratonga is the principal city and airport of the Cook Islands, a semi-autonomous island group still in New Zealand’s sphere of influence. As such, Air New Zealand is a big player here. Cami De Bellis’s file is a real gem, and you can find it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/27957-ncrg-rarotonga-international-airport/

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LBSF Sofia Airport, Sofia, Bulgaria by mishaikin

LBSF

An exceptionally well done airport file; impressive list of airlines and destinations. Highly recommended, good location near Greece, Italy, and in the heart of the Balkan region. File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/39565-lbsf-sofia-airport/

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There’s little doubt that Turbulent’s KMBS is the best small commercial airport file for Xp – located in North America – though I’m sure there are many who might claim this is the best airport file in X-plane, period. I won’t argue with that assessment, if only because words like “best” are so fraught with subjective undertones. Still, every time I open up here (usually at Gate 3, by the way) I’m simply impressed with how well this file works in everyday use. Frame-rates are decent, load-times are as well, but there’s one other kind of performance I’m impressed with regarding this file, too.

This file has been out less than a week and the devs have already issued a small revision, and in the world of payware scenery files for X-plane, this kind of attention to detail and customer satisfaction is actually pretty rare. I mentioned our file was purchased at the Threshold Store, and I had an email in my inbox this morning from the store with a one-click link to the revised file, and in my book that’s pretty good customer care, too. I hope more devs go with Threshold, if only to help spur on some legitimate competition. The Org serves a great purpose in this community, but X-Aviation has never been able to attract enough devs to really take off. There’ve been a few other efforts to launch new stores, but few have had the staying power to match the Org’s near monopoly position. Hopefully with Threshold this will change. The community needs depth and competition in order to thrive.

So, need a few more shots around KMBS…? Sure, why not…I’m game!

MBS2.1

As big as this airport is, and with as diverse a selection of facilities, the commercial terminal is in a class all it’s own. It’s perfect for small Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and RJs as well.

KMBS 2.2

So, food for thought. What do you think is the best airport release of the year so far?

We’ll see you when something interesting breaks. Until then, happy trails – C

 

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x+s+r // memorial musings

xsr DDv2

Random thoughts on KMBS, DD’s Polish Airports Volume 1 v2, and what it all means – for Xp going forward, and…

When I look back on the journey many of us have made in Xp over the years, it’s almost impossible to tally-up what we’ve witnessed over the past few decades. From 512Kb processors and 256 colors – which was a huge leap up from grayscale, believe me – all the way to Xp 11.20 (with almost infinite processing power now on hand), so to say we’ve come a long way is almost a joke. When you look at early screenshots from the earliest versions of MsFS and X-plane, and then you look at a recent image, say like the one below, with the IXEG 733 on a long downwind over KMBS Saginaw, Michigan, all that earlier imagery looks like dusty animation cells from an old cartoon.

But that’s the nature of progress, isn’t it? Still, the gradations of color and light in this image tell us everything we need to know. It’s twilight, the sun hasn’t peeked over the horizon yet, speed brakes are up so the pilot’s slowing…but the airport in the background looks interesting, while the 733 just looks perfectly real. And just a few years ago…this image was impossible.

xsr dd1

We’ve seen Orbx come to X-plane this year, entering the market with their rendition of Meigs Field, and Fly Tampa came to the party too – finally. And now Turbulent has claimed their place at the top of the development world in X-plane – for now – with their hyper-realistic KMBS. So maybe now would be a good time to look back at where we were just a few years ago…

…yet somehow I don’t think so.

Maybe a more interesting exercise would be to speculate about what we’ll likely see in Xp in just a few years time…

…but no, such efforts are often little more than trivial pursuits, simple wastes of time.

No, something else has been weighing on my mind the past few days, and that’s the proliferation of “Memorial Day Sales” we’re seeing everywhere – from car dealers to furniture stores to, yes, X-plane add-on stores. Strange, as here in the United States, Memorial Day was created to memorialize our fallen brothers and sisters, or to think about those of us who lost their lives in war.

And lest you feel that this is a distinctly American observance please consider that since 9/11 the entire world has been in an almost constant state of war. Some of these were American interventions, yet in the end these wars pulled America’s allies into one of the most serious expenditure of arms and blood since 1945 – and few nations have been exempt from the letting. From ‘shock and awe’ in the skies over Baghdad to the sidewalks of Paris, this ‘war on terror’ has effected us all. And now it has a new name: the Forever War.

So while this may be a good time to pause and reflect on how X-plane has progressed over the years, perhaps this is also a good time to think about all the ways our little world had changed during that same period, too. I kept thinking about the idea of Memorial Day as an American holiday, and how that idea may finally be obsolete. Sure, most countries have their own versions of our memorial day, a day to commemorate those who have fallen in wars, but really, with our world so interconnected now, isn’t it time we stopped and thought about the idea of all the people lost in all our wars – in just the past few years?

And I got to thinking…if we have indeed entered an era of “forever wars” – and as we enter a prolonged era of resource depletion and population overgrowth – how much more important is it that we pause from time to time, that we step from all the killing for a moment…at least long enough to think about what it is we are doing to ourselves.

KMBS 2

So, back to X-plane. DD has released a decent new revision to their Polish Airports volume 1 file, now at version 2. There’s an extensive change-log but in the end the decision to upgrade rests on how much of an improvement is there… The two airports that stand out most (to me) are EPGD and EPRZ, and here they are, with GD up first:

DDcomp1

Those funky night textures are still used here, whereas a modeled interior would have made this a knockout file. And here’s EPRZ, which, again, has no modeled interior:

DD comp 2

Okay, so none of these get the interior treatment we found at EPWA Warsaw Chopin, but really, I suppose the reason is clear enough. Four airports for roughly 20 buckeroos – or 5 bucks per airport – and so maybe it’s not fair to expect that level of detail for so little $ per airport. To me, the updates at EPRZ made the difference so I went ahead and upgraded, but I was disappointed the Org didn’t apply the discounted price for existing users. If you use these airports frequently the upgrade makes sense, but for most that use these only occasionally, there’s not much of a compelling reason to pull the trigger, especially with no upgrade price available, as at the Org. So yeah, I’d pass if paying full price for the second time. That really left a bad taste in my mouth.

Need another destination in Greece? Have you considered LGSK – Skiathos Island available at X-Aviation? Decent airport, tons of local scenery (including sailboats tacking out there in the bay…), nicely detailed tower, and, like TNCM, you’ll find interesting approaches lined with spectators – as well as a decent location near Athens, so on the Aegean side of things.

XA LG

In the end, the week was indelibly marked by the release of Turbulent’s KMBS. I know there are a limited number of airports out there that are so interesting architecturally, but if Xp had a dozen or so airports like this, the way we experience our sim would be altered completely, and for the better, I think. I look at the image below and am blown away every time I see it.

How many recent payware files are out there with nowhere near the quality of conception or execution? How many possibilities exist for updates or even upgrades to these existing files? How many developers will even consider this opportunity to better the sim? Time will tell…

turb 2

And, perhaps, the weekend was marked by thoughts far beyond this little hobby of ours, but time will tell – A

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x+s+r // kmbs + ayers rock

xsr ayers m

Two payware files today, Turbulent Design’s brand new (to X-plane) KMBS International, located in east-central Michigan, as well as a somewhat older file from Down Under: Rim & Co’s Ayer’s Rock/Connellan Airport. Both are smaller airports with a decidedly commercial focus, but beyond that these two files couldn’t be more different. KMBS serves a limited commuter clientele headed to Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, or Minneapolis-St Paul, while Connellan Airport at Ayers’ Rock serves one of Australia’s primeir tourist destinations with non-stop flights to Sydney Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane and good ole Alice Springs. That said, let’s jump right in and take a look at these two…

KMBS hdr

I’ve been looking forward to this release ever since Turbulent’s Idaho Falls released late last year. I bought from the Turbulent Store so of course browsed through all their Fsx/P3D files, and when I laid eyes on this one it was love at first sight. Cue flash card: WARNING: SOURCE BIAS! Well, yeah. So? Any long-time user of Xp (of any version) looking at this terminal and not getting hot flashes needs to find another hobby. Knitting, perhaps?

Well, when the teasers popped on Threshold over the weekend I was ready to rock and roll, so when the announcement flashed on my Threshold feed I went straight to the Threshold Store and pulled the trigger. No pause to browse, no hesitation, just did the deed.

Installation was straightforward, everything all in one folder and in she went, straight into Custom Scenery. Open her up, not one error – and after the last several files I can not tell you how much I appreciate Turbulent’s simple execution – with the end user first in mind. I opened the X-Craft E175 and looked in the terminal windows…

And just about lost it. This team is one class act.

So yeah, source bias. How do you as a reader account for it other than to realize expectations ran high on this end – and after just a minute or two every expectation I had was blown right out the window. This file isn’t perfect, no airport file is, not really, but this one comes so close it leaves you kind of breathless. Gone are all my expectations that big airports are the best. After Idaho Falls and then Fly Design’s Two Polish airfields – and now this file, you’re going to want to reconsider that paradigm too.

So, just where the devil is this airport?

KMBS GE

So, distances? Well, in the Beech 1900 it’s a little over an hour to O’Hare, and that’s the farthest afield. In other words, this airport will provide short-flight CRJ-200 nirvana. In winter conditions? IFR, baby! – all the way!

The modeling of the terminal is  scrumptious, and I’ve never used that word to describe anything in X-plane. This isn’t a terminal fit for a flight sim; it worthy of an architectural design firm’s CG walk-thru. The only things NOT modeled are the bathrooms and two janitors closets. It’s just an outrageous tour de force, period. Everywhere you look, from the car park and passenger drop-off areas to the ramps and aprons, this is as good as it gets. Note the sidewalks and built-up curbs in and around the car-park; ramp detail minimal but believable; and the painted apron markings. All first-rate.

KMBS 2

And it just gets better at night. Everywhere you look – you look and SEE inside. The only thing missing? People. None, nowhere in sight, and even a few strategically placed would help lend scale…but look at these images…!

KMBS 3

The interior? Well, again, the only shortcoming is the lack of people, but the rest is simply audaciously perfect, even the carpeting and the recessed light cans in the ceilings. HVAC registers? Check! Departure and arrivals monitors – everywhere? Check! Doors with scuffed kick-plates? Yup. Baggage claim carousels? Like – duh… Security point. Coffee bar. Herman Miller seating… Perfect. Just perfect.

KMBS 4

Another oddity? From the inside, textures on the windows show carts and such, but not your aircraft, and at night the windows turn blue so you can’t see out at all. I don’t know why, but I think it would be nice to be able to see out, night or day. With a few people standing at the windows looking out, this would  make a great setting for people who like to make videos of their flights.

Another minor drawback? Street lighting as you approach the airport – and around the airport entry proper – is lacking. You can make out the light-pole bases on the ortho, and even the shadows of light poles on the street at the entry, but no light poles. The area around the airport is a little too dark at night as a result, and the fix is simple enough.

Still, there isn’t a better airport file for X-plane out right now. There are a bunch in this league, however, including DDs Warsaw, Fly Design’s two Polish airports, Short Final’s KABQ, and Turbulent’s Idaho Falls, and all this points to a vibrant future and good momentum for X-plane going into the important summer sales period.

Oh yes, there’s more to this airport than just the commercial terminal, but I guess you  knew that. There’s a nicely modeled tower/fire rescue station as well as a large GA/bizjet hanger/ramp area, and taking off from here you’ll get to see most of it:

KMBS ga

Note: no smeary orthos with smudge-stick cars? No smeary window textures? Great lighting, excellent ramps (though no static aircraft), and great surrounding details? All at a price LESS than many recent files that get nowhere close to this level of quality? And a location in the heart of the American Midwest?

Well, I picked up my copy at the Threshold store for about 25 buckeroos, and I highly recommend you do too.

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Ayers hdr

I saw this at the Threshold Store and decided to pull the trigger on this one, too. Simon and I started to model this airport back in v9 and I was curious to see how Rim & Co chose to model this airport terminal, because while it looks simple enough it’s actually quite a complex little building, especially the roof. There’s also a basement level with inclined ramp access from ramp side, and they chose not to model this feature. I completely understand, as X-plane doesn’t like underground features. Other than that, the only other design shortcoming concerns the lack of trees that shade the ramp side of the terminal building, and yet – I understand that decision, too. Why build and texture this building only to hide it all behind a bunch of rocks and trees? Well, because that’s the real way the airport looks? Yeah, maybe. I guess.

So, where is Ayers Rock?

Ayers GE

A little perspective? Auckland is roughly 2800 nmi distant, most Australian airports 1300-1800 nmi. Perfect for medium range aircraft, or the 752 from NZ.

How ’bout a few images now? Just for fun?

Ayers comp

You’ll recall this developer, Rim & Co., made the St Helena Island file we enjoyed so much last December, and this file is quite similar in feel. A nice airport and huge ortho coverage are included, and the airport looks quite good night or day. That, to me, is the hallmark of a superior file and this file is a winner in that regard. You’ll also find lots of animated action on the ramps, especially the biz jet ramps, and there are people all over this airport! Hallelujah!

We’ve gone over massive City-VFR files for Melbourne and Sydney the past couple of weeks so maybe now is the time to think about adding this file to your Custom Scenery folder. This makes a perfect 2-3 hour flight in anything from the 733 to the A319, and even the Dash-8 Q400 or Saab 340 makes sense here from a few airports. And I hate to admit this, but this is probably as close to Ayers Rock as many of us will ever come, and the landscape here is ably presented, enough to make the experience worth the time. As such, this makes an immersive and very interesting flight opportunity, one you might want to take up from time-to-time, and we recommend this file as another Must Have…for off the beaten path adventures in X-plane.

Of course, we look forward to what comes next from both these developers. Their work is redefining the quality of the experience we enjoy in Xp.

Ayers Rock, too, is available at the Threshold Store, as well as via other outlets.

That’s all for today. We’ll continue looking over both these files, adding insights this weekend. Until then…adios – C

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x+s+r // edlp + quick-takes

Major update to the FF752 so run your updater. EDDH is on sale at the Org – which is usually a pretty good indicator that a major revision is about to release. Just Sim’s EDDC Dresden is on sale too, so maybe a good time to pick up these two.

Pfeffer has been busy lately too, cranking out a new EDLP as well as revising his EDDV Hannover. EDLP Paderborn is new, however, and man-o-man is this a sweet file. Custom buildings, good textures, unexpected architectural elements, extraordinary rock-wall features, and particularly good ramp and apron markings. Lots of winter charters from here but LH regularly flies to EDDF and EDDM. Modified from aeroSOFT’s gateway airport, this is as good as freeware gets, so don’t pass this one by.

EDLP

Pfeffer’s EDDV Hannover came in for an update too, and when I opened up here this is what I found: the stairs and a catering truck did NOT come from the JarDesigns GHE package. All I can say is “it’s about time!” This airport is closing in on payware quality too, so get it onboard if you haven’t already.

EDDV

LEMG Malaga came in for some work and this one is getting good too. Note: BA flies to London City from here, and Delta to JFK; the list of carriers and destinations is surprisingly long. Nice update, well worth the download.

LEMG

Oh…a lot of these images were taken with the Toliss A319 sporting a new cockpit texture set. It’s much lighter and less blue-green, and here are two more to consider. Installation is simple, but back-up your originals.

319tex

WMKK Kuala Lumpur v1 is worth adding to your Asian files, and there are so many gates and terminals here it’s astonishing. Lots of cargo ramps, too.

WMKK

Night textures a little on the simple side, but the airport works well and looks good in daylight. Below, ramps are busy…and well detailed.

WMKK2

KSQL San Carlos may not sound all that interesting but look over the image immediately below. Follow the runway to the buildings off in the distance under the hill; that’s KSFO. Off to the right, that’s downtown San Francisco. “Behind the photographer” you’d come to Palo Alto in a couple of miles, and San Jose in about 30 miles. NOW does this look a little more interesting? No? Well, KHAF Half Moon Bay is a couple of miles west of here, and if you’re still not interested perhaps you should take up knitting…

KSQL

Never heard of the Gold Coast? That’s Melbourne, Oz to you blokes up north, and this is one city file you don’t want to miss.  Catch this hot & fresh revision while it’s still on the racks.

Gold Coast

And we’ll wrap up this post with Cami De Bellis’ latest, NGTU + Butaritari Atoll, the fourth in her Kiribati series. Her lush tropical airports have consistently been some of the most colorfully accurate in X-plane, and her latest work is no exception. She remains a priceless asset to the X-plane community.

CDB3

What sets this work apart is X-plane’s auto-gen housing (i.e., Rancho Cucamonga Estates housing) is nowhere to be found. Instead, you’ll find thatched-roof houses and cinder-block commercial buildings, and all of it accurately placed on a nicely detailed ortho.

We’ll see you next time, and thanks for dropping by – A

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x+s+r // kbzn + skcg (and a few more)

Word out earlier today that Frank Dainese & Co are finishing up their latest mountain-masterpiece, and this time we’re going to get Monument Valley, Arizona. If for some reason you are unfamiliar with this part of the southwest United States, well, you probably haven’t watched enough John Wayne movies. Such timeless classics as The Searchers was filmed here, among the many John Ford/John Wayne pairings. If you’ve seen Clint Eastwood’s The Eiger Sanction this area figured in the first half of the movie, but if you’ve ever flown over this area in X-plane you know it is extremely disappointing, to say the least…so having this area ably represented in X-plane will be nothing short of fantastic. Maybe they’ll try the Grand Canyon area next time out? Or Jackson Hole & The Grand Tetons?

A few images from the preview they posted earlier today, you’ll recall the first was used in The Eiger Sanction:

MonVal.jpg

MonVal 1

MonVal2

All you need with that last image is the soundtrack from Rio Bravo. Wow. Can’t wait.

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Another airport from out west posted today, a freeware version of KBZN Bozeman, Montana, and this one ain’t bad.

KBZN

This is a big Delta/Sky West airport, but don’t dismiss this one as too small. Look over the list of carriers and destinations here, and note the deep connections available here too, from SeaTac to Long Beach to SLC, DEN, ORD, and MSP. In years past this was a big 733 airport; these days you’ll find an occasional 738 but by and large this is CRJ-200 territory. The airport is a much more popular gateway to Yellowstone National Park, too, and in the winter skiers come to tackle Big Sky’s spectacular slopes. Bozeman has inherited a new name over the last 20 years, too: Bozangeles…because a bunch of movie stars call the area home, and even a retired shuttle commander lives there, too. Nice scenery library airport, and I’d recommend you try this one; get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44767-kbzn-bozeman-yellowstone-international-2018/

And don’t forget the other Yellowstone gateway airport: Idaho Falls, by Turbulent, and the file was recently picked up by the Org so now you can buy it there.

KBFI

This is one of the best payware airports in Xp, and a total Must Have file. KBZN only makes it more so.

A new freeware airport and city file for Cartagena, Columbia came out Thursday, and you’ll want to look this one over:

SKCG

The airport could use a few tweaks but it gets the job done. File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44783-cartagena-xplane-11/

Another city file is out, part of the Germany VFR series and this time for Nordhausen; this one will be reasonably close to EDDP Leipzig-Halle. The local airport, EDAO, is not modeled and not in the download manager.

DM VFR

Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44759-nordhausen-vfr/

Another CDB file for Kiribati, and another slice of Polynesia to fill out the area in Xp. Smudge-pot landing lights? Really? That’s a first, and very cool!

CDB

File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44732-ngtm-tamana-island-kiribati/

Finally got around to upgrading my DD NYC Airports Vol 1 to version 2 (which includes JFK, LGA, and Teterboro, NJ). I’ve only looked at JFK but the taxiway and ground textures are a major improvement and make it worth the minor cost of updating this file. It’s at the Org.

KJFK

Also took a look at Mike Wilson’s Xp11 version of his 707-320/420 file, and ya know, it ain’t bad. Maybe about where Jack was with his 732v1; the cockpit is looking decent, and the exterior texture set is quite an improvement:

707

If you want to round out your classic Boeing stable, this file is getting there. You might check it out, and even though it still has a way to go it’s got that old Boeing feel. This one too is at the Org. and it just looks right at home taxiing the ramps at Kennedy. Sounds good, too.

Later, and have a good weekend.

 

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x+s+r // news & freeware

KRAP hdr

When Turbulent released KIDA Idaho Falls a few months back we finally got a taste of what we might find coming to X-plane if the expected wave of FsX developers did in fact migrate some product our way. If you’ve not tried it yet that’s understandable, because KIDA is a world class airport file so far off the beaten track (in the USA, anyway) it may have been hard for some people to justify the purchase – and that’s too bad. The main terminal building has some of the best modeling we’ve ever seen, and it’s a small airport so performance is spot-on.

Well, looking over on Threshold yesterday we learned that Turbulent is on track to shake up the market once again with their release of KMBS, Michigan. This file will, as we’ve mentioned, fit into the midwest route network we discussed last autumn, directly linking Michigan to major hubs in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. From these hubs, of course, the world is your oyster, but so far there’s been little action in Michigan save KTTF Custer Gateway, which is, in the end, an insignificant GA airport when viewed in terms of commercial aviation.

KMBS features great architecture and the model by Turbulent reflects that, right down to the fully modeled interior:

turb 2

This facility is geared towards ops by RJs, especially CRj-200 type aircraft, and the super detailed jetways are set up accordingly:

turb 1

Turbulent’s KMBS is the type of airport X-plane has been desperate for, and it’s one we can’t wait to see in action.

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Also seen over at Threshold, word that a new Beechcraft is in-development, this time a King Air 350, and with a file that looks detailed enough to challenge Carenado’s place as best GA aircraft developer in X-plane.

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So, two hopeful trends emerging this week, with KMBS being the best news we’ve seen in a long time. Stairport’s Daytona Beach was, as we concluded, a mixed bag – yet on balance it’s a good fit for people who like to fly in and around Florida. I’m not sure it’s a Must Have for people, say, who prefer Europe or Oceania, as its utility is somewhat limited regionally, but for folks who like to fly Delta’s SE route network it’s a nice addition. Anyway, it wasn’t the knock-out punch we might have been hoping for, so…we have high expectations for Turbulent’s KMBS.

And so, on to the day’s new freeware: if you like to fly Delta’s western routes, Sioux Falls, South Dakota was a nice addition last week, and what more could you ask for? Well, how about two more on Delta’s Rj net: KGSP and KRAP, so let’s take a look at those two now.

KGSP

KGSP Greenville-Spartanburg Regional serves the all-important BMW manufacturing facility in South Carolina, and hey, the beemer plant is even included in this file, too! Note: this airport file is also for Xp11.20 or newer, as the latest Laminar library objects are used. Looking at the image just below, these appear to be quite nice. The main terminal building appears to have an interesting texture set, as well. The view from the ‘pit? Great!

KGSP

Get KGSP here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44721-kgsp-greenville-spartanburg-for-xp-1120/

It’s a long drive from, say, New York or Boston to Rapid City, South Dakota, and not a very pretty one at that (except in winter). Make the drive in August and you can add miserable heat to the reasons not to make this trip, yet early each August thousands of lunatics get on their Harleys (count me among that number once upon a time) and zero in on Rapid City, as this is the last stop before hitting Sturgis, the little town almost on the Wyoming border where every August a few billion Hawg riders congregate to see how much chrome can possibly added to a stock Harley. Also in the area: Deadwood and the Mount Rushmore National Monument. Also not far away, Devil’s Towers, Wyoming (Close Encounters, anyone?), so before you write off an airport around here as irrelevant you might consider there are a few places to explore around the region. Note: Devil’s Tower is a joke in Xp…won’t somebody please take care of this?

KRAP Rapid City Regional uses Xp11 library objects too, so here’s yet another piece of the freeware puzzle that tells you Xp10 is fast fading into irrelevancy. Decent little airport, too, with the Big Three legacy carriers all working out of here and, interestingly enough, KIDA Idaho Falls makes a nice GA hop from this area – as you’ll overfly the Tetons on that route. Another factoid? Many attendees at Sturgis have their bikes shipped to the rally and arrive at…you guessed it…KRAP.

KRAP

Get all the KRAP you’ll ever need right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44690-krap-rapid-city-regl/

Quick-takes

Rio

This freeware SBRJ Santos Dumont in Rio will never take the place of GlogallArt’s excellent payware file, but if you don’t fly to Rio frequently enough to justify picking up a payware file this is a decent scenery library file with nice Xp11 compliant features.

St Mary's

EGSE St Mary’s has been revised again! Worth adding the new version, too.

HINC

HNIC is a hospital-rooftop helipad just up the hill from LFMN Nice. Interesting approach, worth picking up, though the ortho is a little off-putting.

Last Word

Carenado’s F33A release over the weekend got us thinking about Carenado’s other Bonanzas available in X-plane, and while these models represent an interesting spread of capabilities, only the F33A is currently fully Xp11 compliant. That said, the version 3.2 V35 model (V models have the split “butterfly” v-tail arrangement) is a perfect initial GA training aircraft, and this acf could even see you through the early phases of instrument training. The current F33A bridges the gap between the V35 and the A36, which is a stretched six-seater. Carenado’s v3.2 A36 is equipped with a modest glass panel, the Aspen Avionics EFD 1000. While in theory an interesting choice for this aircraft file, in practice there’s not enough documentation for this unit, and real world manuals are of little value as the unit in the acf has limited functionality. This panel also includes 2 Garmin heads but no radar altimeter, another curious omission.

If I was going to hop in just one of these (real) aircraft to fly across the US (and assuming a light payload) I think I’d go with the F33, which might explain why Carenado chose to convert this file to Xp11 standards first.  The F33A has a nice selection of old school instruments just perfect for simple – you might even say bulletproof – operations, and I’d sooner fly cross country with VOR/NDB instruments that any glass cockpit, though a Garmin backup wouldn’t be a bad idea. If all you do is VFR over short distances, the A36 is overkill, and even the F33A is a little over the top, too. The V35 is perfect for this pilot. That said, the A36 has air conditioning, so if hot KRAP is on your plate this summer you won’t lose your cool.

Bonanzas.png

Both models imaged on the GA ramps at Daytona Beach; night panels on these v3.2 versions are just functional, by the way, and some manipulators are dodgy.

Carenado also just released their Saab 340a for that “other platform,” and it looks quite nice. The big question? Will that file make it to X-plane anytime soon? If so, how will it differ from the Leading Edge 340? I think it would be an interesting decision on Carenado’s part to port this one, too. Time will tell, I suppose. As Goran said recently, competition is good. To which we might add: competition spurs developers to take chances, to really lay it all out there, and that too is a really good thing.

We’ll see you next time. Keep cool – A

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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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