Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PMDG's New Secret Plane: Jetstream 41

Some shop Germany leaked this info, and Ryan from PMDG just confirmed it. The new "secret plane" from PMDG is going to be a Jetstream 41 turboprop! Ryan was rather displeased at the way this was revealed, but at least for me, it does not diminish my interest in the product in the least. I am looking forward to seeing what they have done with this one! Sounds great.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PMDG "Secret Plane" Going Beta Soon

Captain Randazzo over at PMDG posted another status update on Monday. Summary:
  1. Expect a bugfix update for the PMDG MD-11 by this weekend.
  2. The PMDG 737NG 2.0 is a massive expansion over the old PMDG 737NG, with much more advanced modeling of the onboard systems. They are making progress, and may have some screenshots to post within the next few months.
  3. The "secret plane" is about to go beta!!! They still haven't let slip about what this one is, but we should find out very soon. I think they are having lots of fun watching us guess...

Captain Sim 727-200 and 727F Pro Released

Captain Sim has finally released their 727-200 and 727F expansion models for their 727 Pro product line. You will need to purchase the 727-100 Pro Pack to use these expansions. Here is the pricing:
  • 727-100 is €59.99 (currently around US $76). Prior owners of the 727 exterior-only preview get a €10 discount, bringing the total price down to €49.99 (currently around US $63).
  • 727-200 and 727F are €19.99 (currently around US $25) each.
My economic situation is pretty lousy right now, as with many people in these trying times, so it will probably be a while yet before I can get my hands on these. This looks like a nice product, and I'm looking forward to trying it out once things improve. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and Captain Sim will run another one of their crazy one-day sales soon...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Travelogue: Day 13 - Tampa, Florida to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Ah, sunny Florida. Where just about every northerner in the U.S. wishes he/she would rather be, rather than slogging through six inches of the white stuff back home. We start off in Tampa today. This time, we are going to head west for a bit, and pay the Lone Star State another visit at Dallas/Fort Worth.

Tampa International Airport is reminiscent of Boston: it is one of the busier airports in the U.S. which does not serve as a hub for any major airline. Southwest Airlines considers Tampa one of its top tier cities, with extensive operations there. Most other major domestic airlines offer substantial connections to Tampa from their main hubs, and even Air Canada, WestJet, and British Airways have gotten in on the act with international flights to Tampa.

Here we are at the cargo area of Tampa International, parked next to a UPS 727 freighter:

We have been directed to Runway 36L for takeoff. Here are some views of the terminals and Tampa skyline as we taxi by:

Nothing but blue skies and seas ahead of us as we arrive at 36L for takeoff!

And we're off!

We fly north briefly before turning west over the Gulf:

About 50 nm off the coast of Florida, we run into some showers in the Gulf. Nothing much to worry about, though:

Before long, we see the tip of the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana poking out into Gulf ahead of us. We will fly right up the mouth of the Mississippi to New Orleans, then continue northwest toward Alexandria and Dallas:

Here is a better view of the Mississippi Delta. New Orleans lies along the south short of Lake Ponchatrain ahead of us:

Here is a closer view of New Orleans and Lake Ponchatrain, directly below us:

Over central Louisiana, things get a bit cloudy once again:

However, things clear out nicely once we are in Texas, ready to begin our descent toward Dallas/Fort Worth:

We have been directed to land on Runway 13R. Strangely enough, in all the times I have ever flown into DFW Airport in Flight Simulator, I think this has to be a first. I usually almost always just prepare for a landing on 18R or 17C by default. (Now I actually have landed on 13R at DFW Airport in real life before...)

Here is the Dallas skyline below us. In the background, we see Dallas Love Field, a secondary airport serving Dallas. Southwest Airlines serves the Dallas/Fort Worth area out of Love Field, having opted to stay away from DFW Airport. We won't be visiting Love Field during our tour, but I have flown into it before many times in Flight Simultaor as well. The approach paths from the south are really cool, because you fly very close to the skyscrapers in downtown Dallas:

Anyway, 13R seems to be an unusual choice of runway for us to land on, but what the heck. We'll play along. We are north of the runway here, having circled around the airport. Soon we will line up on final:

Here we have picked up the localizer, and are getting lined up for final on 13R:

Another satisfactory landing! There is an ERJ-135 (probably American Eagle) coming in right behind us, so we better hurry off the runway:

The Dallas skyline is barely visible off in the distance. I'm not sure if you can see it from the airport in real life:

Here is an American Airlines hangar modeled in Flight Simulator. I thought it looked kind of cool:

Welcome to Texas! Yee-haw!

Flight time: 2:08

Next stop: Orlando

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Travelogue: Day 12 - Cincinnati, Ohio (almost) to Tampa, Florida

For the next leg of our world tour, we jet back to Florida once again! This time, we find ourselves heading to Tampa. Tampa will be the third Florida city we plan to visit, with Orlando coming up soon after that. Having four of the nation's busiest airports represented in Florida is a clear testament to Florida's status as one of the nation's fastest-growing states (well, prior to the current recession anyway), its enduring popularity as a sunny vacation spot for snow-weary visitors from the north, and its favorable location as a gateway for international travel, particularly for the Caribbean and Latin America.

We start out today at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which is actually located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati near the town of Covington, Kentucky. This quite possibly makes Cincinnati unique as the only major city whose main airport is located within another state! Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky serves as a major midwestern hub for Delta Airlines, although Delta has been scaling back its presence here in recent years, due to the fuel shocks of 2008 and the recession. The merger with Northwest (picking up relatively close by hubs in Detroit and Memphis) will probably not help Cincinnati in the long term, but perhaps this will create opportunities for other carriers to move in.

Nonetheless, Delta planes are still a very common sight at Cincinnati. Delta recently changed its livery, and is in the process of repainting its entire fleet. Now that Delta is absorbing Northwest, many former Northwest planes are now getting the new Delta treatment, too. Here, My Traffic X faithfully recreates both old and new Delta liveries on various planes here:

And some more Delta planes here, for good measure:

This time, we are directed to the crosswind runway for a departure on Runway 09. Here we head that way:

And we're off! The Cincinnati skyline sits along the north bank of the Ohio River to our left, in Ohio:

We climb over eastern Kentucky and Tennessee enroute to Tampa:

Here is McGhee-Tyson Airport, serving Knoxville, Tennessee down below us:

The vast expanse of the Atlanta metropolitan area spreads out before us here:

Here is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport below. We visited here not long ago, as you may recall:

Over southern Georgia, there really isn't a lot to see here:

Now we have crossed into northern Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico is visible ahead. We shall begin our descent into Tampa soon:

St. Petersburg, Florida (on the Pinellas peninsula) and Tampa Bay loom ahead as we descend:

At this point, I seem to have tripped over an interesting, yet apparently harmless bug in Flight Simulator. I was directed to an ILS approach on Runway 15R! Huh? A quick check of the charts for KTPA (Tampa International Airport) quickly reveals that there is no Runway 15R at this airport! Clearly the game got confused, and thought we must have decided to go somewhere else. Fortunately, I was able to manually request an ILS approach for 18R at Tampa, and we begin to line up for final:

Ah, happiness is being cleared for an approach to land in the same direction you were traveling, is it not?

On final for 18R here:

We land without incident! Here are a few scenes of the terminal buildings and skyline at Tampa:

Next stop: Dallas/Fort Worth

Friday, March 6, 2009

Travelogue: Day 11 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Cincinnati, Ohio (almost)

From sunny south Florida, we move on to Cincinnati today. Well, not quite. Cincinnati's major airport happens to be located just over the river in Covington, Kentucky -- hence the name: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. But if you're feeling blue about leaving Florida behind, not to worry -- we will be back yet again very shortly.

We start off this trip at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. Fort Lauderdale is a very popular airport with low-cost carriers serving the south Florida market. Vacation-oriented airline Spirit Airlines uses Fort Lauderdale as a base, and the airport also happens to be a major focus city for several airlines, including Allegiant Air, JetBlue, and AirTran. Southwest Airlines has also rapidly expanded to become a significant presence at the airport as well. Located only 20 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International is a viable secondary alternative to Miami International Airport in south Florida.

We are directed to taxi to Runway 9L for takeoff. We will briefly fly over the water before we swing back to the northwest on our way to Cincinnati:

And we're off!

We do a U-turn back to the west. The airport and downtown Fort Lauderdale are right below us:

Initially, our routing is somewhat similar to the Miami-Atlanta leg of a few days ago. Here is Lake Okeechobee:

Flying along Florida's Atlantic coast:

Jacksonville, Florida is below us here. The airport is, of course, Jacksonville International Airport:

Over southern Georgia, there isn't much to see here:

Over northern Georgia, the terrain gets much hillier and more woodsy:

Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky aren't much different than this:

Finally we begin our descent into Cincinnati. We have been directed to circle around and land on 18L. We will do a nice little flyby over the city as we come in:

Downtown Cincinnati is visible here:

Here we are on final for 18L, touching down soon. We are actually over Ohio here, but we will cross over the Ohio River back into Kentucky again just before touching down:

Looking east, we can see the Cincinnati skyline while we are on short final:

Ahead, the Ohio River and the airport:

We touch down on 18L just fine!

Welcome to Cincinnati, also known as the "Queen City!" It's actually rather nice. Lots of hills and scenic views of the Ohio River abound.

Total flight time: around 2 hours.

Next stop: back to Florida again! Tampa, this time.