A fun little payware GA file to look over today, as well as a few liveries too. First up however, a new video from Ramzzess showing newly his revised panel lighting and reflections in the Sukhoi Superjet, and this is something you’ll probably enjoy generally but if you have the SSJ you’ll want to pay close attention to the new lighting effects:
John from UrbanMAXX has an interesting screenshot contest up and running at the Org. for April, and the prize this month is an STMA OV10 Bronco. The general theme is: Military Aircraft!
Also in the news (and I mean who could resist this?): Snakes on a plane?
- A cargo pilot in Australia faced an unwelcome passenger when a snake slithered from his instrument panel across his leg while in the air. Braden Blennerhassett, 26, turned his Beechcraft Baron G58 back to the airport he had just left in Darwin, Australia. Blennerhassett was on a freight run for Air Frontier from Darwin to the remote town of Peppimenarti in the Northern Territory on Tuesday when the reptile appeared in the cockpit. He made a mayday call and landed safely back in Darwin. ”My blood pressure and heart rate was a bit elevated — it was an interesting experience,” Blennerhassett told Nine News. ”As the plane was landing the snake was crawling down my leg, which was frightening.” AFP
- Helen Collins, 80, took over the controls of a twin-engine aircraft after her husband collapsed while piloting the plane over Wisconsin. Collins called 911, and a local flight instructor radioed her to help her land the plane. “I’ve seen a lot, but I know I haven’t seen it all, because this was new to me: to see somebody with basically no multiengine experience to successfully, safely do what she did,” said Robert Vuksanovic, the flight instructor who helped her land. The New York Times
- A US Navy F/A18 went down in Virginia Beach, Virgina this afternoon. Here’s the preliminary report from CNN.
- Auburn University in Alabama has acquired a flight simulator to augment its flight training. “What I like about the flight simulator is the realism that it simulates and the ability to be in any weather situation — clear and sunny, calm winds or thunderstorm, horrible conditions — something you never really want to intentionally get yourself into as a pilot,” said student Joseph Young. Opelika-Auburn News (Ala.)
- The cafe at Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas offers a unique dining experience, writes reviewer Bret Shulte. “The cafe is charming in its simplicity, and its offerings are unpretentious,” Shulte writes. The City Wire (Fort Smith, Ark.
- Alaska Airlines plans to adopt satellite technology for its flights landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state. The NextGen technology will allow planes to trim about 30 miles from approaches to the runway, which saves fuel and increases efficiency. “This makes much better use of the airspace,” said Capt. Mike Adams, chief technical pilot at the carrier. The New York Times
- Philip Falcone is “seriously considering” bankruptcy for LightSquared. Falcone invested $3 billion in the broadband wireless company, but hit a roadblock when the company’s proposed network was found to interfere with GPS signals. The company is attempting to overturn a Federal Communications Commission ruling that prevents the service from operating. Forbes
- Executives at Hawker Beechcraft reassured customers that their orders will be filled as the company proceeds through bankruptcy. “Deposits and progress payments are secure,” said a letter from executives to customers. “All customer orders for available products will be fulfilled.” The Wichita Eagle (Kan.)
- NASA said it has reached a breakthrough in the design of supersonic business jets. “It’s the first time we have taken a design representative of a small supersonic airliner and shown we can change the configuration in a way that is compatible with high efficiency and have a sonic signature” that isn’t a boom, said Peter Coen of NASA. Aviation Daily
- Diamond Aircraft has performed the first test flight of its DA52 twin. “This is the best prototype aircraft I have ever made a maiden flight with, and the performance exceeded all my expectations,” said Diamond CEO Christian Dries. Diamond plans to display the DA52 this month at the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. AVweb
- MD Helicopters of Arizona is constructing a new single-engine scout helicopter, the MD 540F. “This aircraft will be a game changer for our company,” CEO Lynn Tilton said. “The commercial and military markets have long sought an affordable, light, single-engine helicopter that can perform exceptionally well at hot and high altitudes while carrying a larger useful load.” United Press International
- The Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, is scheduled to fly more than 1,500 miles from Switzerland to Morocco, its builders say. The flight is scheduled for May or June, and two pilots will switch off flying the plane. United Press International
- Wesley Blum, 16, who is taking flying lessons at Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in California, has completed his first solo flight in a Cessna 172. He plans to earn his private pilot’s license. “Anything you study in aviation just opens Pandora’s box. It’s endless — weather, collision reports, runway markings and engine systems,” Blum said. The Inyo Register (Bishop, Calif.)
- The Air Safety Institute put pilots’ skills at VFR-into-IMC scenarios to the test through a Redbird full-motion simulator at the AOPA Tent during Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. The goal was to convey the seriousness of VFR flight into instrument conditions and reinforce basic skills — aviating, navigating and communicating. AOPA Online.
Personally, I’m not sure if I could have stayed behind the controls of a Baron with a pissed off snake loose in the ‘pit. I might have taken up skydiving – and real fast, too – even without a ‘chute!
Texas Ranger, the developer behind vFlyte, sent along this interesting payware ACF – the Remos GX – a few days ago and we’ve been putting her through the paces ever since. This is kind of an oddly placed file too, as at first glance you might not really know this aircraft or what it was built to do, but it’s actually a very interesting aircraft in it’s own right and I think there are a couple of good reasons to consider this one for your hangar – and we’ll get to those in a minute. First, let’s look at the background of this little beasty and see what she’s made of.
The Remos GX is a German made, 2-seat composite structured ultra-light Sport Aircraft. Cruise speed is a healthy 1o7 kts, stall speed is listed at 38 kts, range nominally is 552 nmi (+/-6 hours), service ceiling 15,000, G-limits +4/-2, glide ratio 10:1 and max rate of climb of 1280 fpm. The first version of the aircraft, the G3 Mirage, went operational in 1999, the current GX version was introduced in 2006. Corrent price for a nicely equipped aircraft delivered in the US will be from 160K to 185K, depending on options.
The vFlyte ACF is, as mentioned, a payware file and now in v4.0, and the file is priced at a reasonable 14.95USD, which is somewhat less than the real aircraft. vFlyte has a video of their aircraft file in action, too:
Overall, first impressions count and the exterior of this aircraft file really wins you over, and while the panel isn’t going to challenge Carenado for ultimate realism it is more than serviceable at this point in time, and the developer seems committed to improving the project as his skills increase.
As long as you’re not making really long distance flights, this ACF ought to be quite fun. This is hands on flying too, and thankfully the ACF climbs nimbly and settles into cruise easily with minimal trimming necessary. Flying from Victoria, British Columbia to Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett, Washington, the aircraft cruised easily at 100 kts and we stayed just under the clouds at 1100 AGL. With turbulence dialed down the ACF just hummed along easily and even with no A/P I could sit back and tweak heading every now and then while the ACF cruised. Pitch trim was easy to establish and felt solid once established. Putting her through a number of stalls with different wing configurations, the file felt very responsive to corrective action and I think this bodes well for the project. Let me explain.
As a training tool and with this appropriate handling exhibited, this ACF delivers a nice set of predictable responses for instructors to use while orienting beginning to intermediate student pilots to the basics, and these students can take this file with them and practice at home. Point of fact, if just starting out and trying to find an aircraft to build hours in while starting out, you could do worse that to find a flying club that had one of these and get to it, then work on procedures and other skills at home in this SIM. This ought to be a nice combination to work with, for instructors as well as new pilots, and it’s worth looking into.
The panel is spartan, though reasonably well modeled – and certainly more than adequate for purposes outlined above. There’s a general flatness to the appearance of the panel and some instruments and controls are simple textures (and not full 3D objects), yet most primary instruments are well crafted 3D objects. In balance I’d say in some respects the panel is still a work-in-progress, but as the developer’s skills improve, refinements ought to trickle down to the panel. I’d say it needs depth and contrast more than anything else.
One more suggestion? As this ACF is targeted at the primary flight market, why not include the Lean Assist module on the panel. This would be a nice way to introduce new pilots to the intricacies of “mixture control” and related engine performance/management issues, and Carenado has implemented this feature in their F33A Bonanza. I think it would be a nice addition here, and useful, too.
Gauges and instruments were reasonably sharp in XP10 with texture res settings at “HIGH”, and I keep it here these days to ensure that framerates are really smooth, and they were with this file. I noted numbers between 35 and 70 FPS with objects set to extreme/insane levels, and with HDR ON. The night panel is well lighted and useable, and even though the real aircraft is targeted at the so-called “Sport Pilot” segment (or to those without a full PPL) night OPS are easily within the capabilities of the ACF. Night OPS are, BTW, not allowed under the Sport Pilot ticket, and IFR OPS are strictly verboten. Still, there’s more than enough instrumentation on this panel to get you home under deteriorating conditions if you have basic instrument proficiency.
So, what’s the bottom line here?
Well, this is at first glance a niche product. It’s an ACF conceived to satisfy the market for pilots either interested in the real Remos GX, or for those pilots who have one and want to practice piloting skills in their down-time. It seems to me that this file is perfectly suited to these flyer’s needs.
But what if you don’t fall into either one of these categories? Is the file for you?
Well, you probably already know the answer to that question, and in fact if you’ve read this far and not skimmed ahead you probably are interested enough to consider the file. So, who’s this file otherwise best suited for?
To put it simply, any sport flying under VFR conditions, and/or as a primary flight trainer. If you think there’s a reasonable chance you might someday take up flying, I mean real vinyl seat on the pants flying, this is a simpler if still fun alternative to the more complex Carenado files on the market, and even the default Cessna 172 in XP9 or v10. The purchase comes with versions for XP9 or v10 too, is a sweetheart to fly in either, and if you’re not totally ham-handed you’ll be able to learn a lot from this ACF.
If you’re an experienced hand, what about you? Well, the flight model feels very tight and accurate and the price isn’t going to dent your wallet, and if you feel like puttering along low and slow in something different this just might float your boat. If you yearn for Carenado levels of detail and won’t settle for anything less, you’ll probably grouse a little about the panel and move on quickly. I wouldn’t recommend this one to you unless the type interests you.
Still and generally speaking, for people interested in the real aircraft this is a no-brainer, a must have purchase.
For new pilots, new to XP or new to aviation in general, the docile handling and easy operation make this one a worthy addition to the basic, default aircraft collection in XP.
If you’re an old hand, you’d consider this one an interesting type to tinker around with on a Sunday afternoon – when flying a 737 from Istanbul to Cairo just sounds, well, ho-hum tiring. When you’re “in the mood for something different” this just might do the trick. We’d conditionally recommend it to this group because the panel is fairly basic and might not appeal to you as much as it will to the neophyte or to the dedicated Remos driver. If you just want something new and different, however, well, this aircraft is indeed different!
On a subjective level I enjoyed this file, and I found landings in particular to be easy, low stress affairs. Call this one a confidence builder and if that rings a bell for you then jump all over this one! As long as crosswinds are kept modest, to say less than 10 kts, this is an admirable teaching platform for landings, as well. I guess I keep coming back to that, so maybe this ACF is particularly well suited to teaching and learning the basics, or just touching up your old skills.
Again, the file is 14.95USD direct from vFlyte.
USAFR’s Ea-18G Growler has long been just about my favorite freeware pocket rocket, and moffetflyer has been turning out great paint for this ACF since it came out. The EA18G is an ECM platform designed to jam enemy radar and to take out SAM sites, and it replaces the EA-6B Prowler and A6D RanchHand that preceded it. Basically, it’s an F/A18 trainer variant with facilities for an EWO and all the gizmos needed to do the job at hand. It’s a mean machine that rides the front range, and USAFR’s ACF is a kick in the pants any night of the week.
Well, here we have a new paint for the Growler, for VAQ-130 – The Zappers. Electronic Attack Squadron 130 (VAQ-130), is an EA-18G Growler squadron of the United States Navy based aboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Part of Carrier Air Wing 3, the Zappers deploy aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). VAQ-130 is the oldest electronic warfare squadron in the U.S. Navy.
Let’s look at this bird in action in XP10:
I’ve always noted a few rough edges in this ACF, especially in transonic regions, but saving the file in PlaneMaker9.70 and opening in XP10 found a lot of these issues gone. There’s still a little flutter on the ground from about 0-3 kts but it settles out quickly. And pack lots of fuel when you load out, because this bird drinks hard and fast and it’s often tasked to fly down in the weeds. Consumption is wicked fast down there too, but don’t bother trying to go transonic down there. Lot’s of instability in the file with such super dense air. This aircraft gets tasked to come in low and fast then pop up and take out SAM sites in a cloud of jamming and chaff, then drop back into the weeds and scoot for the boat.
Rate of climb with a full load is surprisingly brisk, and handling is tight, if a bit “twitchy”.
Transonic sprints are best done at altitude in this ACF, too.
Now let’s go dark, where the EA18G was made to growl! This aircraft is, after all is said and done, an all-weather, day or night electronic warfare aircraft, and you really ought to work this file at night to get a taste of what the real drivers have to work in. Throw in some snotty rain and turbulence only if you dare!
Low speed passes over PryFly optional.
As mentioned, handling in XP10 feels razor sharp if the file has been saved in PM9.70, and wing vapor effects in XP10 are really well done, too.
Ah, two versions included. One for the CAG, don’t you know!
Highly recommended, and again, you can get it here.
maksim released this Aeroflot paint for the payware 787 DreamLiner this week, and it’s imaged at Keflavik.
This AeroMexico/ONEWORLD paint for the QPAC A320 is excellent – except that the LIT tail bleeds through and shows an underlying JetBLUE tail. The ONEWORLD paint is outstanding, I think. Hopefully the tail will get tweaked soon.
And that’s about all for the day, and thanks for coming along. We’ll seeya soon. C&S