Monday, June 30, 2008

Wilco E-Jets Previews

Wilco has released screenshots of various liveries for their upcoming E-Jets add-on:
I get a chuckle out of the Frontier Airlines E-170, as Frontier just ended its contract with Republic Airlines to fly the E-170s a few weeks ago. Frontier has transitioned some of those markets to its Lynx Aviation Q400 turboprop subsidiary and upgraded others to service with full-size Airbus A318/A319 planes. Eventually it will cease service altogether to a few markets (e.g. Louisville).

This is yet another example of how the airline industry is rapidly changing, particularly in challenging times such as these.

PMDG MD-11 Previews

PMDG has been teasing us lately with a bunch of new liveries from their upcoming MD-11 product:
PMDG has not officially committed to a release date for the MD-11 add-on yet, but according to this post, creation of new liveries typically happens near the end of product development. Looks like we will be adding the MD-11 to our virtual hangars very soon!

The MD-11 is not widely flown in the U.S. anymore, having been largely phased out by most airlines in favor of more fuel-efficient twin-engine planes such as the Boeing 767. Cargo airlines (particularly UPS and FedEx) as well as a few international carriers such as KLM and Finnair still routinely fly the MD-11 in the U.S. though. Flightaware offers a realtime display of all MD-11 aircraft currently in flight here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

CLS 747 Screenshots

As promised, here are some screenshots of the classic "queen of the skies" -- enjoy!

All of these are in the default liveries, as I have not taken the time to download any repaints yet.

Here is the 747-200 lined up for an evening departure from New York's JFK Airport:

Here is a 747-300 cruising somewhere over south Texas at around FL230:

Note: just for kicks, I decided to see if I could land this bird at the Brazoria County Airport (KLBX) in Angleton, TX on this particular flight. (This is the airport closest to my parents' house, in case you were wondering.) This uncontrolled airport sees one or two flights a day from an Airbus A319CJ corporate jet operated for Dow Chemical, primarily used to shuttle employees back and forth between Dow's plants in Midland, MI and Freeport, TX. Otherwise, the airport typically gets just a handful of GA arrivals and departures each day. It has a single narrow 7000+ foot paved landing strip with an ILS approach available for Runway 17. (As the prevailing winds typically blow in from the nearby Gulf of Mexico to the south, takeoffs and landings are almost always in that direction.) I seriously doubt this runway could handle the weight of a 747 in real life, so please kiddies, don't jump in your 747 and try this for real!

Anyway, I am happy to report that, with a very small amount of fuel in the tanks (around 10-20% or so), I was able to land the 747-300 at KLBX with plenty of room to spare. Autobraking, reverse thrust, and spoilers all help out a great deal here. I'm sure my arrival probably annoyed all the locals and maybe even made the front page of the local paper. Now I'm just not sure how I'm going to get this bird outta there!

And now, back to the show. Here are the overhead switches:

And the pilot's instrument panel:

And the view from the copilot's chair:

Oh yes, as with most of the classic jets, the 747-200/-300 requires a flight engineer. Here is the flight engineer's panel:

Note that there appears to be a bug in this picture, in that all the fuel gauges are showing zero! I later downloaded the SP1 update from CLS, and the gauges were working fine after that. If you purchase the 747 add-on from CLS from now on, it will come shipped with the SP1 update already.

Here's the radio stack and the INS. The INS isn't really all that functional, but it is kind of interesting to note your GPS position at times:

And here are the impressive array of throttles:

The CLS 747 is not a terribly demanding plane in terms of learning curve, but beginners and experienced pliots alike can have some fun with it.

Mini-Review: Kickin' It Old School with the CLS 747

I have been playing around with the recently released CLS 747 add-on this week, so I thought I would take a few moments to share some impressions about it.

The CLS 747 product represents the classic -200 and -300 series of the 747, which when originally released, lacked many of the modern features found in the flight decks of today, including the 747-400. The 747-200 and -300 still do see a fair amount of use these days, especially among cargo airlines as freighters. (In fact, a 747-200F freighter made the news in May 2008, when one of Kalitta Air's planes broke apart after overrunning the runway in Brussels.) Many airlines that still happen to fly the type have probably retrofitted the flight decks with modern flight management systems and other conveniences, but these are not really simulated much in the CLS product. CLS does simulate a basic FMS similar to their DC-10 product, but the functionality is minimal. Nonetheless, for a pure old school 747 flying experience, you won't miss the FMS much anyway.

The rest of the cockpit represents a typical set of steam gauges from the classic 747. Experienced 747 pilots are probably used to it, but some of the presentation is a bit unique compared to other aircraft. For example, EPR, N1, and N2 are all represented as vertical bar graphs for each engine, rather than dials. This is actually a rather clever presentation, as it minimizes the amount of space required to display four sets of values (one per engine). Once you become familiar with it, it's not a big deal.

Flying the CLS 747 is actually not much harder than flying one of FSX's built-in planes, as it turns out. (The CLS 747 is very similar to the CLS DC-10 series, in this regard.) The trick for me was figuring out how to engage all the various aspects of the autopilot and autothrottle. I actually didn't even use the autothrottle for the first couple of short test flights, just to make the experience even more authentic. The CLS manual provides a good illustration of the panel and where the various switches are, but it does not clearly spell out how to engage IAS hold with the autothrottle armed, for example. It took a couple of short flights before I finally figured it out.

The CLS 747 manual actually has some really nice tables reproduced from Boeing's 747-200 flight manual regarding takeoff N1 settings, and V1/Vr/V2 speeds based on aircraft gross weight. This is a particularly nice touch. The manual also includes some checklists for every aspect of flight. I don't remember if these are available online from the kneeboard, but it would be nice if they were.

Overall, I had no trouble taking the CLS 747 out for a spin on a few flights this week. I was able to navigate from VOR to VOR quite easily using NAV radio mode on the autopilot. The autopilot also supports FSX's built-in GPS navigation mode, but I figured this wasn't old school enough for me.

Bottom line: if you're looking for a classic 747 flying experience, the CLS 747 is a fun choice. Don't expect a detailed sim along the lines of the PMDG 747-400, though. CLS has made quite a few free liveries for the CLS 747 available as free downloads from their website, which adds a nice touch of realism when flying around in this aircraft. I do wish they had an easier way to install these as an all-in-one package, rather than having to download, unpack, and install each ZIP file individually.

I'll post some screenshots in my next blog entry.

Rating: *** 1/2

Wilco Set to Release E-Jets PIC

Christmas in July continues with more good news for us flight simmers! First, CoolSky announced the imminent release of the Super 80 Pro. Now I just discovered that Wilco Publishing has officially announced that the download edition of the E-Jets PIC add-on will be available in July.

Pricing structure for this one introduces a new wrinkle. There will be a "base pack" containing the standard 3 aircraft (E-170, E-190, and Lineage 1000 CJ) with 22 liveries. In addition, McPhat Studios has created an additional 53 liveries in a separate, optional "airline pack." For the customers who want it all, you can get both as a "deluxe pack" for a discount. I am probably enough of a sucker that I will shell out for the whole enchilada.

I wonder if this will be the start of a new trend in flight sims. Most payware add-on providers are happy to throw in a whole bunch of liveries along with the product at no extra charge. Charging more for liveries seems to be a new thing, though. Will it catch on? Who knows. I suspect lots of talented amateur artists will probably contribute even more free liveries over at AVSIM.

This is shaping up to be a bad month for the breweries here in Oregon. Kiss all my beer money good-bye until August!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wilco A380 v2 NavData Update Troubles (Solved)

I tested out updating the FMC database for the A380 using the latest available AIRAC cycle (0806) from Navigraph. Good news -- it works, although there seems to be a bit of a trick to it.

Most of Wilco's add-ons seem to be developed by a separate outfit known as feelThere. Nearly all feelThere/Wilco products look in FSX\feelThere\Nd for navigation database information. (FSX here refers the toplevel Flight Simulator X directory, typically Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator X.) However, for some reason, the A380 v2 add-on looks in FSX\Wilco\Nd instead. The Navigraph installation utility for feelThere/Wilco planes updates the data in the feelThere directory, but it is apparently unaware of the existence of similar data in the Wilco directory. This results in the A380 v2 not getting updated navigation database information for its FMC.

As an experiment, I tried copying the updated files in FSX\feelThere\Nd to FSX\Wilco\Nd. This proved to be successful -- the A380 v2 FMC became aware of the latest waypoints and terminal procedures after the update. Hopefully this discrepancy is merely an oversight by Wilco, and they can fix the add-on to look for FMC data in the feelThere directory instead. Copying this data over manually after each AIRAC cycle update is a pain.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wilco A380 v2 Screenshots and Follow-Up

I have included a few screenshots of the new Wilco A380 v2 add-on here for your enjoyment. Note that these images are not endorsed by Microsoft, Wilco Publishing, nor Lufthansa in any way.

Here is the A380 Panel from Wilco's A380 v2 add-on:

And for comparison, the A340 panel from Wilco's Airbus Vol. 2 PIC add-on:

Note the glass displays in the A340 add-on are larger, which makes them easier to read. The A340 panel also has more of a polished feel to it.

Here is the A380's virtual cockpit:

Here are the overhead switches from the A380:

Here are the throttles and the radio stack from the A380:

Here is the A380's FMC. It is essentially identical to the FMC used in Wilco's Airbus Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 add-ons:

And last, but not least, here is the A380 cruising over Lake Erie on a journey to Chicago from New York:

I did encounter what appeared to be a very severe bug in the A380 v2 on this particular flight. As I was cleared for descent into Chicago near Grand Rapids, the autopilot stopped responding to my instructions to descend to FL300 from FL380. In fact, the ECAM (EICAS) screen on the right side of the panel went completely black at that point! I immediately gave up and aborted the flight, as there were likely to be other major problems along the way. Sure hope Wilco finds and fixes this issue soon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Running the PMDG Beech 1900 Series in FSX

While surfing around, I happened to run across an interesting tidbit over at the PMDG wiki. Did you know that it is possible to run the PMDG Beechcraft 1900 series aircraft from within FSX? PMDG has instructions here. I tried it out, and it worked fine for me. This makes for another fun little turboprop to go cruising around in. I guess they don't want to be bothered with officially supporting this, but it might be nice to mention that the add-on is FSX-compatible from their main page.

The Beech 1900D is among the smallest planes used for scheduled airline service. Great Lakes Airlines flies a bunch of them between small towns in the western U.S. and Denver.

FSX Airplane Wish List

Last, but not least, I would love to see a few more add-on planes for FSX:
  1. Bombardier Q-series turboprops. (Formerly deHavilland Canada Dash-8 series) These are extremely popular on short-haul routes to smaller markets in the U.S. With fuel prices skyrocketing, these will become even more popular due to their fuel efficiency. Frontier Airlines recently launched a subsidiary (Lynx Aviation) flying exclusively Q400s to smaller cities, and Horizon Air recently announced that they will retire all their CRJ regional jets and Q200 turboprops in favor of an all-Q400 fleet. The Flight1 ATR is a reasonable substitute for this plane, but the Q400 has a substantially longer range than the ATR 72. Horizon actually runs Q400s on nonstop flights between PDX and LAX, for example.

  2. Embraer 120 "Brasilia" turboprops. These are also quite popular in the U.S. for short-haul routes to smaller cities. I understand the fuselage is very similar to Embraer's ERJ-135 regional jet in terms of size.

  3. Continuing with the turboprop theme, how about a Saab 340? While these were discontinued a few years ago, several major U.S. airlines still use them to serve smaller markets.

  4. I would love to see some of the Russian-made planes, such as the Ilyushin Il-96 or the Tupolev Tu-204. I know these aren't flown much in the west, although Cubana actually routinely flies a Tu-204 over the eastern U.S. between Havana and Toronto. I think it would be very interesting to try out some Russian aircraft, at any rate.

  5. How about a good CRJ model, similar to Wilco's ERJ-145 PIC?

  6. I would love a detailed simulation of the Airbus A300/A310 series. CLS has a nice, basic version of these, but they lack advanced features such as the FMC. American Airlines actually still flies A300s between New York and various Caribbean destinations. A300s and A310s are still widely used in many parts of the world, as well. UPS and FedEx also seem to like them as cargo freighters. They only went out of production in 2007, with Airbus directing customers to the A330 as a direct replacement now.

  7. How about a good Boeing 727-200 for FSX? These have fallen out of vogue as passenger airliners in the U.S., but FedEx still likes them a lot as smaller cargo freighters. Is Dreamfleet planning to update their 727 for FSX, by any chance?

  8. I think a DC-8 for FSX would be fun as well. UPS still likes the DC-8 "Super 70s" as cargo planes, in spite of the fact that DC-8s have not been widely used as passenger planes for many years now. This sounds like the type of project somebody like CLS would take on.
What do you think?

Upcoming FSX Products I Want

Here are some of the recently announced add-ons for FSX that I am looking forward to. Luckily, my birthday isn't until November, so maybe some of these planes will actually be available then.
  1. Wilco Publishing's E-Jets PIC. The E-Jets are becoming an increasingly popular aircraft in many airlines' fleets. They are seeing more action in lieu of the old smaller DC-9 variants, as well as the smallest full-size modern jets such as the Airbus A318 and the Boeing 737-500 and 737-600. The lack of a good E-Jet add-on is a major hole in my virtual hangar that I am really looking forward to filling.

  2. PMDG's MD-11. This one is currently in beta test, and the screenshots published so far look very appealing. If the quality is even half as good as PMDG's 747X, then I will probably have to spend the rent money on this one. (Note to landlord: just kidding!) A few European airlines such as KLM and Finnair still fly MD-11s, and they are also seeing use as freighters by cargo airlines such as FedEx. As there aren't many tri-jet add-ons for FSX available, this will be a fun one to look forward to.

  3. CoolSky/Flight1's Super 80 Pro. This one was just announced, and it will reportedly be available "very soon." I enjoyed the heck out of their Super 80, and this one looks really nice from what I have seen.

  4. Level-D's 757. They have supposedly been working on this one for a while, although there is no news as to when it might be available. I know the flight deck is virtually identical to the 767, which should make development a little easier. I understand the flight dynamics of the 757 are drastically different, however. I know Level-D has had to devote some resources to fixing issues with the 767, so hopefully that one is in good enough shape that they can focus more on the 757. I would love to have a great 757 add-on in my virtual hangar, as the aircraft is still hugely popular among many U.S. airlines. Hopefully this one won't enter Duke Nukem Forever vaporware territory.

  5. PMDG's 737 NGX. I would dearly love to see an ultra-realistic 737 NG add-on for FSX. The 737-800 included with FSX doesn't really cut it, and this aircraft series is becoming extremely popular with U.S. airlines as they replace their aging fleets. Word on the street is that we shouldn't expect to see this one anytime soon, though, as PMDG has been busy working on the MD-11 and supporting the 747.
Any others you have run across lately?

CoolSky Announces the Super 80 Pro

Check it out here, including some screenshots. I had heard they were working on this one, but I did not know they were about ready to roll it out. What a nice surprise! The original Super 80 product represents the classic MD-80, which was just a modest improvement over the DC-9 series. Looks like the Pro edition modernizes the cockpit, as seen in later models such as the MD-88 and MD-90. Looks like they have implemented glass gauges, TCAS, and apparently even an FMC. I'm really stoked about this one. Will have to add it to my ever-growing hangar soon.

My Favorite FSX Add-Ons

I've been thinking about a few of my favorite FSX add-ons lately. A lot of these are perennial favorites is most flight simmer's hangars, but I am probably a little less picky than most. I won't do a similar list of most-disliked add-ons, as I like to keep the general overall tone of this blog positive. Just the same, I do plan to be truthful as to any shortcomings I run across in particular products as I review them.

This list is in no particular order:
  1. 747: Queen of the Skies by PMDG. This is an extremely well-done simulation of a Boeing 747-400 aircraft. The freighter version (747-400F) is also included. I love flying this baby on transoceanic routes such as New York to London. There are also a ton of free downloadable liveries available at the site, representing most major operators of the 747 currently. I honestly can't say anything bad about this particular product at all. The only downside is the price: at €59.99, this is equivalent to nearly $100 US! Quite expensive -- even more so than the original game itself. Gotta hate the weak US dollar these days.

  2. 767-300ER by Level-D Simulations. This is a very high-quality simulation of a 767-300ER aircraft. This one happens to be another favorite of mine for running transoceanic flights, as well as some domestic flights on high-capacity routes such as Chicago to Los Angeles. Lots of liveries are available for this one as well. The developers have been very responsive at the Flight1 product forums with product support issues, and they have come out with a few service packs over the last year or two to address software bugs. The price on this one ($54.95 US) is fairly reasonable for such a quality product as well. You definitely won't be disappointed with this one.

  3. 737 PIC by Wilco Publishing. I know a lot of people knock Wilco for quality issues with their products, and I have certainly had some mixed experiences with their add-ons in the past. However, I will give them their due and say that the 737 PIC is quite good -- easily one of their best aircraft add-ons available. Note that this is a simulation of the 737 "Classic" series (-300/-400/-500) and not the latest "NG" series (-600/-700/-800/-900). They have quite a few free liveries available for this one as well. The only drawback with this one is an apparent bug in the installation scripts that seems to corrupt FSX's dll.xml file. This is known to cause both the 767-300ER and 747 products above (and quite possibly others) to crash when loaded. Fortunately, fixing this file is a relatively simple procedure. PMDG has some instructions here. The only other unfortunate thing about Wilco's products is that they also happen to be priced in Euros, which puts customers in the US at a disadvantage.

  4. ERJ-145 PIC by Wilco Publishing. This is far and away my favorite regional jet add-on for FSX at the moment. I really enjoy flying this one from hubs to smaller, outlying airports. I only wish there were a comparable CRJ add-on as good as this one. Wilco's CRJ add-on is rather outdated, and quite underwhelming. There are relatively few add-on liveries for the ERJ available from Wilco, but lots of folks over at AVSIM have created some really nice repaints for this plane. I really like the American Eagle, AmericanConnection, Continental Express, and ExpressJet repaints, among others. I will omit mention of Wilco's Embraer Legacy PIC product in this list, which is nearly identical to this one.

  5. Airbus Series PIC Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Wilco Publishing. A lot of people have complained that these have been rather buggy, although I think they have gotten much better within the last few months or so. I know I have tripped over a few irritating bugs on these myself in the past. However, I rather like them now -- I think they are fairly immersive renditions of the Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 (Vol. 1) and A330/A340 (Vol. 2) airplanes. CLS makes a competing version of the Airbus heavies (A330/A340), but their product lacks some comparable functionality such as a FMC and VNAV modes. However, some people say the Wilco models aren't very realistic.

  6. Cessna Citation X PIC by Wilco Publishing. Staying with the Wilco theme, I really enjoy their Citation X add-on as well. Cessna has even officially endorsed it as of fairly recently, so this apparently speaks very well of the quality of this particular plane. I dunno, there is just something really fun about cruising along at Mach 0.88 at FL510 and waving to everybody flying down below you. One of the best corporate jet add-ons around.

  7. Ultimate Airlines: Super 80 by Coolsky/Flight1. This is an absolutely fantastic rendition of a McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The MD-80 series remains a workhorse in American Airlines' fleet (among others), and this is a fun plane to fly. The add-on simulates an MD-81, though these are relatively rare in the U.S. these days. Midwest Airlines still flies a few, while American prefers the slightly upgraded MD-82 and MD-83 models. I have had some troubles with this one crashing in the past (particularly in the load manager), but recent beta updates seem to have fixed quite a few of those issues.

  8. ATR 72-500 by Flight1. This represents one of the few turboprop add-ons available for FSX, and it is very nice. I use it to simulate flights to mostly small-market routes in the U.S. that are typically served by Bombardier Dash-8 and Saab 340 props, as there are no high-quality add-ons available for those airplanes yet. I have encountered a couple of bugs in this one that have caused crashes on occasion, so beware.

  9. McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 series by CLS. One of my favorite add-ons for simulating cargo flights by carriers such as FedEx. The CLS aircraft has some kind of minimal FMC, which I find interesting. I suppose many DC-10s have been retrofitted with FMCs, but these were obviously not standard equipment on the DC-10s when they first came out in the 1970s. The CLS FMC is fairly minimal, mainly consisting of importing the existing FSX flight plan into the autopilot, not unlike the planes shipped with FSX by default. Still, for a realistic "old school" DC-10 experience, you could probably just avoid using automatic lateral navigation and fly from VOR to VOR the way things used to be. At any rate, this one comes with quite a few liveries, including some nice retro liveries dating back to when the DC-10 was in regular use as a passenger aircraft.

  10. Boeing 747-200/-300 series by CLS. I honestly haven't looked at this one much, but it looks very interesting. I will probably do a mini-review on it soon once I have a chance to play around with it some more. I think the navigation situation is very similar to CLS's DC-10 product above. Again, another good plane for "old school" flying.
Any other planes out there you like?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mini Review: Wilco A380 v2

Wilco Publishing just came out with a major update to their Airbus A380 add-on. This update adds full support for Flight Simulator X, along with a few new features. I managed to get hold of it this week, so I figured I would take a few moments to share some impressions.

Let me start off by mentioning that there are some nice aspects of the A380 v2 product. It uses the same FMC as Wilco's Airbus Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 products. Presumably, the FMC database is upgradable with AIRAC updates from Navigraph, although I haven't tried this yet. The FMC seems to work fine for both vertical and lateral navigation. Wilco has created a nice set of liveries for the A380, including most of the known A380 customers such as Singapore, Qantas, and Emirates. The external models look very nice. Wilco has also simulated flight attendant announcements in-flight, similar to the Level-D 767. These are cute and add a little touch of realism while flying.

Some of the initial comments regarding the A380 v2 I have seen in various forums elsewhere have been somewhat negative. It is worth noting that Wilco has not endorsed the A380 add-on with their PIC ("Pilot-in-Command") label, which seems to be reserved for their best releases. Given this, criticism of the A380 v2 is not entirely fair, as Wilco themselves seem to have acknowledged that the product is not in their top tier. Still, with both their Airbus Vol. 1 and Airbus Vol. 2 products bearing the PIC label, it seems like some of those efforts could have rubbed off onto the update of the A380 product.

With that said, I will address some of the downsides of the A380 v2 product. The 2D panel appears to be a direct port from the old FS9-only version of the A380. While functional, it is not as visually appealing as the panels used in the Airbus Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 products. I understand the real A380 instrument panel is substantially similar to the earlier Airbus models, so it seems like it would have been easy enough to reuse some of those components. My major complaint is that some of the text in the displays of the A380 product is much more cramped, making them more difficult to read.

My other major complaint is that there seems to be a bug involving deployment of reverse thrust on the A380 when landing. I did a few short test flights of the A380 this weekend, and the reverse thrusters did not seem to stay activated when landing. When holding down the F2 key, the reverse thrust mode seemed to toggle off and on. At the very least, the behavior seems to be different than the behavior apparent in the Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 products. If this behavior is indeed a bug, hopefully it will be resolved in a future update of the A380 product.

Some people have reported that the A380 v2 handles nothing at all like the real thing. I wouldn't know -- not being a real pilot myself. That certainly could well be the case.

Overall, I think this product is OK, but not spectacular. It is not up to the standards of the 737 PIC or the Airbus PIC products, but it's not terrible. I rate it better than Wilco's CRJ add-on (another direct FS9 port lacking significant functionality) and their 777 add-on (severe bugs), but not as highly as their PIC products. It's worth checking out if you are just dying to try out an A380, but I don't know that I would put it in the must-have category.

Rating: ** 1/2


Hello, and welcome to the Pretend Flyer! My name is Chris. Let me take a few moments to introduce myself. I'm not a pilot, nor do I play one on TV. In fact, I've never even had a flying lesson in my life, although I have flown commercially probably more times than I can count. I have, however, developed a severe addiction to Microsoft Flight Simulator over the last few years or so. I figured it would be fun to blog about flight simming and aviation topics in general, so here we are.

My first exposure to flight simulation was around 25 years ago with subLOGIC's Flight Simulator game on the Commodore 64. That game really frustrated the heck out of me, and I sort of gave up on flight simming for many years because of it. Nonetheless, I vividly recall the game. By default, it started you out in a Cessna or Piper prop plane at (the now defunct) Meigs Field on the Chicago lakefront.

Fast-forward to a couple of years ago, when somebody gave me a copy of Microsoft's Flight Simulator. My wife suggested I give it to my brother-in-law, as she didn't think I would really be into it. But just for fun, I loaded it onto my PC. After going through the first few training missions, I was hooked. The rest, as they say, is history. Needless to say, my poor brother-in-law wound up having to get his own copy of Flight Simulator elsewhere!

Here I will cover almost anything involving virtual or real-life aviation. Sometimes I may do mini-reviews of new flight-sim related products. Sometimes I may just post interesting screenshots of my virtual travels. Sometimes I may comment about something interesting going on in aviation news. I am definitely open to reader input as to interesting topics for discussion.

In real life, I live in Portland, Oregon with my beautiful wife and three wonderful kids. I work for a tech company here, providing engineering support for the technical marketing organization. I like to cook and garden in addition to my flight sim hobby. As a relatively new resident of Oregon, I am also looking forward to spending more time in the great outdoors in this beautiful state. I used to play a lot of other computer games -- mostly role-playing and strategy games -- but I sort of lost interest as those genres have largely dwindled.

Welcome, and enjoy!