Review: Advanced Flight Modeling M20 Collection

Review: Advanced Flight Modeling M20 Collection

Readers and viewers know that I’ve been flying the Alabeo / Carenado Mooney Ovation around the PilotEdge coverage area for the past several months. During that time one of my flight sim buddies has told me to keep my eyes on the forthcoming Ovation from Advanced Flight Modeling (AFM). This is actually a collection, as the package includes the Ovation II, Ovation III, and the Acclaim. I signed up for the early release of the package, and while it flew great the interior textures weren’t polished enough yet for me to enjoy it in VR. The official release is out, though, and I have to say this is a spectacular aircraft. I recorded a VR tour and review of the plane, which you may view below (including the random engine failure shortly after takeoff), but the short story is, “Worth every penny.” You may get it here.

RealSimGear GNS 530 Video Review

My video review of the RealSimGear GNS 530. Summary: a great piece of gear that I can highly recommend. Build quality is excellent, setup was a snap, and with the RealityXP GNS 530 running on it it’s as close to the real thing as you can get. If I were starting from scratch I would prioritize this unit well ahead of any Saitek radios. And if you don’t have a home cockpit, this self-contained unit can sit your desk and provide a fully-functional GPS running alongside your monitor and keyboard. Lean more about it at http://www.realsimgear.com.

RealSimGear GNS 530 Unboxing

Jarrod of RealSimGear was very kind in sending me a beta unit of the new GNS 530 he is offering. Unlike other GPS 3D-printed build-your-own kits, the RealSimGear unit is complete and ready to plug into your X-Plane sim. Here’s the unboxing, and I’ll have a full video review up as soon as I’ve got it in the sim and have given it a few flights. Already this morning I’ve plugged in and configured the unit. I can tell you that this unit running the RealityXP GNS 530 plugin is JUST LIKE the real thing. I’m mounting it in the panel now and a full review will follow, and I hope to use the unit during the PilotEdge flight later today.

Video Review: KHAF Half Moon Bay By Rising Dawn Studios (In VR)

The good folks at Rising Dawn Studios were kind enough to send me a promotional copy of their Half Moon Bay (KHAF) scenery for X-Plane 11. I was able to spend some time flying there today, first in a live-stream GoPro physical cockpit flight to Sacramento over lunch, and then in streamed VR flight (a video of which I post below) after work where I really tried to show the details of this very cool scenery. The scenery is available here at the .ORG store and here at FS Pilot Shop for $19.90 US.

It’s a pretty remarkable little field with a ton of detail. The designers have modeled all the on-airport buildings, including the cell towers and the on-strip cafe (which, cleverly, has open shutters and an “open” sign out during the daytime and closed shutters and a “closed” sign out during the night). They’ve also modeled landmarks from the surrounding area, including the nearby hotel, harbor, and radar installation. Possibly the neatest feature is your own “home” hangar which you can customize with different paint textures and different art on the walls (you can even import your own). Even the user manual is clever, designed as a throw-back aviation magazine. It’s smart and well-done.

This field is a nice piece of work, and visually quite impressive (the tarmac textures, in particular, are great in HDR and I wish all X-Plane ramp textures looked like this). See the video below for the tour, including a few laps of the pattern and a “walking tour” via VR teleportation. If you want to make a small GA strip your X-Plane home base (especially in PilotEdge) this is an excellent choice and, in my view, worth the $19.90 . I found it reminiscent of ORBX GA strips, and the more of this we have via professional developers for X-Plane, the better. Looking at Rising Dawn’s Facebook page it appears they’re working on more fields, and I can’t wait to see the coming lineup.

How I Mount The iPad To The Yoke

I get this question quite a bit here and at YouTube, so I thought I’d post about it. I use two items from MYGOFLIGHT: their Flex Yoke / Universal Clamp and their iPad Kneeboard Sport which connects the iPad to the clamp (and which can also strap around your leg). Those are Amazon links if you want to go to their respective product pages. A bit pricey, but they work extremely well and are for real-world aviation, where I also use them. Highly recommended.

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A Quick Video Tour Of World Traffic 3

I’ve been getting familiar with Classic Jet Simulations’ World Traffic 3, and I have to say I really like it. It’s worth spending a little time reviewing some of the tutorials for how to use the software, and YouTube has plenty of them. Once I understood the basics I found it an excellent addition to the sim. Here’s a quick video tour. It’s not meant to be a how-to, nor a full review of my settings etc. But it should give you a feel for how the software integrates with X-Plane, the ease with which it generates traffic, the quality of the AI models, and its ability to generate GA traffic (which is excellent).

Jason Chandler’s Piper Aircraft (X-Plane)

For the past several weeks I’ve been using Jason Chandler’s PA 28-161 as my trainer in the sim. I train in  a Warrior II in the real world, and in P3D and X-Plane I’d never found a simulated aircraft that had quite the right flight characteristics, especially in the pattern. I’m happy to report that Jason’s Warrior III has the flight model nailed.

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Even better, Jason sells this bird as part of a Piper Package that includes 14 Piper aircraft (with Archers, Arrows, Saratogas, and more) for $15. Yes, you read that correctly. All look great and, from what I’ve read online, have flight models that are dead-on. While they may not have all the cockpit sounds etc. that you might find in a Carenado or other “corporate” payware aircraft, they all look great, fly right on the numbers, and were easy to modify for my cockpit layout in Planemaker.

In our hobby there are few places you can get solid aircraft for $1 a piece, but this is one. If Piper’s aren’t your thing, Jason makes several other aircraft, including several jets, a series of Beechcraft birds, and a set of Cirrus SRs that are good enough to be used by Cirrus for training. I do think I may be getting one of those as well. See all his aircraft here.

xOrganizer Is A Must Have X-Plane Utility

As I’ve been downloading more ortho scenery to my X-Plane library I started needing a map of what tiles I’d downloaded so I could focus on areas where I really want to fly and not duplicate efforts. I couldn’t find a simple solution to this, so I started making my own map, when I got a tip in the .Org forums to check out xOrganizer. It’s a Windows utility that tracks all your custom scenery, LUA plugins, mesh, libraries, overlays, ortho scenery, airports and more. It also shows your scenery on a map, scans for duplicates, allows you to activate or deactivate scenery and plugins with a click — and perhaps best of all — automatically organizes your scenery config file so the order is appropriate (and tidy). It’s a great utility, and like so much in the X-Plane world, it’s free. You can get it here.

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Review: Desktop Aviator 1015 Cessna Combo Panel

A few months back I replaced my Saitek Switch Panel with the 1015 Cessna Combo Panel from Desktop Aviator. It’s a great product, very much like the real thing, and one of the best units I’ve bought for the sim. Here’s a short video review, and thanks to Bob at Desktop Aviator for making such a great unit.

“Where Did You Get The Stickers?”

“Where Did You Get The Stickers?”

I get that question often, with people wondering where I came across the very real-world-looking placards and stickers that I have on the dash, the throttle quadrant, and elsewhere. The answer is Screaming Aero Graphics, which sells interior and exterior placard sticker kits for a large variety of aircraft. I purchased mine on eBay, but they have since opened a full-service website where they sell all sorts of aviation decals (including striping, registration numbers, and more).

I purchased the Cessna 182 kit, and it was easy to use. Just peel and stick, and where a sticker didn’t quite fit my panel (like the flap detents on the throttle quadrant) I just trimmed it. Easy. Service was quick and correct and pricing was fair. Check them out.

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