Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wilco's Tilt Rotor Released

However, it's the download version only right now. It is priced at € 36.95 if you live in the EU, or € 30.54 elsewhere. For those of us in the U.S., that currently comes to around $41. Not a bad deal, although I think I shall wait a bit and see before springing for this one.

In other Wilco news, they dropped the price on their Legacy add-on, which was developed by the guys at feelThere. It can now be had for € 16.95 for EU customers, or € 14.00 elsewhere. Again, for those of us in the U.S., that currently comes to around $19. Nice little plane if you are looking for a cheap Christmas gift this year. The Legacy add-on is rather old, as it essentially served as a forerunner to feelThere's ERJ add-on (also rather old). It works OK in FSX, although it was originally targeted for FS9. The FS9 to FSX conversion tool is a bit clumsy, as I recall. Still, for less than $20, you aren't going to find too many better planes outside of some of the freebies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Captain Sim Holiday Sale

Speaking of Captain Sim, they are running their annual holiday sale right now. You can pick up some great discounts on their add-ons for Christmas if you hurry:

  • 757 Pro Pack for €59.99 (around $78 US), normally €89.97
  • C-130 Pro Pack for €59.99 (around $78 US), normally €89.97
  • 727-100 and 727-200 for €9.99 each (around $13 US), 727 ACE for €5.99 (around $8 US)
And many others goodies there, too.

To be frank, I wouldn't spend $117 US on any add-on unless it came with a flight yoke or rudder pedals or something really juicy. $78 is a little high, but OK with me if the add-on is of high quality. Captain Sim's 757 has had some rather serious bugs in the past that would make me question whether this is a wise investment. However, they have been actively working on the issues and releasing updates, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, if you're going to pick up one of Captain Sim's goodies, now is the time to do it!

At the very least, I would jump on those 727 modules. They may not be the best now, but it will make the upgrade to the full 727 (when the panel and cockpit are done) less painful in the wallet.

Captain Sim 757 (FSX) v4.2 Released

Just got a note in my inbox today that mentions that Captain Sim has released an update to their 757 (FSX version), v4.2. I have no idea what it fixes, but hopefully it addresses the really irritating CTD when setting an altitude constraint in the FMC on an approach. There seem to be some mixed reports of success in the forums. I will give it a try later and see if I have any luck.

Would love to see Navigraph do updates for the Captain Sim 757. I understand it's in the works...


I was doing a flight on the PMDG 747-400X freighter from Toronto to Calgary last night. Somewhere over eastern Saskatchewan, the plane started to lurch right, even to the point where the autopilot could no longer control it. I did have real world weather turned on, and it had gotten a bit turbulent in the vicinity. Some research on the AVSIM forums indicates that the 747X may run into trouble if the winds switch around violently, as is how the real-world weather behavior is implemented in FSX. The FSUIPC module supposedly has a wind-smoothing feature, so I may need to go investigate turning that one on. I wonder if there is a bug in the flight dynamics of the 747X which gets tripped on when the air is excessively turbulent -- or if this is simply a feature of the aircraft, and the pilot needs more training as to how to correct the situation.

Anyway, as any good pilot would do, I assumed manual control of the aircraft and arranged to divert to the nearest suitable airport, which turned out to be Regina International in Regina, Saskatchewan. Steering the plane in this situation was difficult, but I managed to keep it in the sky. I finally found Runway 13 at Regina, lowered the flaps and gear, and lined up on approach. I then executed a visual approach and landing without incident, as I feared the automated instrument approach would fail. Fortunately, we all lived. Hopefully the plane will check out and we can get back in the skies again!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Flight Status: Delayed

Ugh. Sorry for the delays in the Around the World with Santa feature. I have completed two flights associated with this, and I will be posting them soon. I was sick last week -- seems like every time the kids bring home something from school, I end up getting it as well. I have also been busy with trying to wrap up a few work-related projects before the end of the year.

The good news is that I go on vacation (from work) on December 17, so I will have a lot more free time to catch up after that!

EDIT: Day 1 is available below. I had started the post on November 28, so that is the day it appears in the blog. Not sure if I can change the date on this. Anyway, scroll down to read it. Day 2 coming soon...

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Museum of Flight

As I mentioned earlier, we took a brief visit to Seattle this weekend. One of the nice things about living in Portland is that we are close enough to two other major cities (Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC) that weekend getaways to see something different are quite feasible. Even better, there is so much to see and do in all three cities.

If you are an aviation junkie, then Seattle is definitely one of the best places around to visit. Boeing was founded there, as most of you probably already know. They have massive assembly facilities for all their civilian aircraft currently in production or under development (737, 747, 767, 777, 787), which are located in the suburb of Everett. Supposedly they run tours of the place, but two of my kids were too short for the tour. Maybe in a few years, we will go back and do that.

Down in south Seattle sits the King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field. This airport is primarily used as a general aviation and cargo facility. Two small operators (Kenmore Air and SeaPort Airlines) do offer limited passenger airline service on small prop planes to nearby destinations from here as well. Boeing also uses the airport as a test facility for its aircraft -- although in spite of the name, it does not actually own the airport (King County does). In fact, while driving by, we saw an All-Nippon Airways 737 taking off for a test flight to Moses Lake, WA. Really cool! Note that almost all commercial traffic flies into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac), located a few miles south of Boeing Field.

Anyway, one of the great things to do in Seattle is the Museum of Flight, which is located directly adjacent to Boeing Field. They have a great collection of passenger airliners to walk up and touch, including the very first 737-100 and 747-100 planes ever produced. An old American Airlines 727 is also there. You can also walk through the original Air Force One, a modified 707 built in the 1960s and flown well into the 1990s before being replaced by the current modified 747 fleet. Another treat is one of the British Airways Concordes, which you can also walk through. The exhibits and gift shop are wonderful, and there is even a mock control tower where you can watch planes take off and land on the Boeing Field runways right in front of you. There are also sections devoted to space flight and military aircraft, especially WWI and WWII fighters and bombers. It is an excellent place, even for kids. If you are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend it.

By the way, I picked up two really cool posters in the gift shop. One of them is a close up view of the 777 cockpit. The other one features a whole bunch of different plane models, painted in different liveries. I need to get some poster frames for these, but once I hang them up, I will have to take pictures and post them.

A Brief Vacation

Just a quick post to say that nope, I haven't forgotten about my Around the World with Santa feature. I took my family to Seattle for a brief weekend vacation during the Thanksgiving holiday, so I didn't get much simming in. I have one episode queued up and ready to go as soon as I upload the pictures. I will do a couple more quick flights to catch up. Stay tuned!