Friday, February 27, 2009

Helicopter Autopilot and trim for fs2004 and FSX

I like flying helicopters in flight simulator but I hate the fact that you need to keep contant presure on the joystick to keep the helicopter level. I already broke one joystick due to this. Searching the web lately I found to gauges taht can amke helicopter flying in FS easyer and close to reality.

First one is the Heli trim found on Avsim which adds a trim similat to the one from fixed wing aircrafts which can be operated by the same keys or joystick buttons as the normal trim. The isntalation is vey easy, just copy the gauges in apropriate folders, enable the neede axes in the .cfg file you will place in main FSX folderand add a entry in panel.cfg. Just jump in the helicopeter and use the trim commands as on any aircraft in FS.

Second one, as easy to install as the first one is Dirk Fassbender&Antti Pankonen Helicopter AUTOPILOT for FSX and FS9, which adds a fully functional autopilot to the helicopter of your choice. It is modeled after the autopilot found on the Cougar and works ok with a wide range of helicopters. The helicopter gets a little shake when using it but nothing too annoying.

The two above work perfectly togheter (not in the same time off course) and can be installed in aproximatevly 20 minutes or less.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great airports and great freeware sceneries - Napulevola LIRN 2006

Some of the best freeware sceneries for FS2004 are of Italian airports so I have started with high expectations this flight to Naples Capodichino airport (LIRN) using Napulevola LIRN 2006 scenery available for download here. My expectations were fulfilled when I arrived over the huge photoreal map and made the final approach to the airport.

LIRN is wonderful by itself due to the extraordiary position on the coast, left to Mount Vesuvius, one of Italy simbols. The high terrain around the airport makes the approach unique. What I liked at this scenery is that, if you install all the packages available on the website (photoreal, buildings, airport), you get a lot of landmark objects positioned around the flightpath to the runway.

If you watch this movie showing a real approach to LIRN and go to FS2004 and recreate it you can spot a lot of buildings and objects perfectly modeled after the real world counterparts.
But enough talking let's go see some images.

Downwind to runway 06 with the airport and mt. Vesuvius.

ILS established to rwy 06
A high hill with lots of 3d objects

Some bridges and landmark buildings

The port on the right side

Large density of buildings on final approach

On ground

Sunday, February 22, 2009

110 knots headwind

Verys strong headwind as we were getting back from Damascus (OSDI). And a picture with the airport during the SID.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Operation Mayday - Search and rescue excercise for flight SYR4711

I just completed the flight for this nice event hosted by IVAO Syrian division. The scenario was simple, an A300 aircraft lost both engines and crash landed somwhere in the desert. Everyone on board is fine but the location is unknown. Rescue aircrafts departed from a nearby airbase to search for the downed airplane and carry the passnegers to Damascus (OSDI).

Located the aircraft in the desert

Landed and picking up the passengers.

During the stay the weather got worse with some havy rain, no problem for our Seahawk.

An Belgian F16 circling the area.

Aproaching Damascus

Landing on the main apron where ambulances are awaiting.

Damascus to Sayqal Airbase

This Saturday I am going to participate in a Search and rescue excercise held by IVAO Syrian division. Two days ago I made the flight to Damascus but unfortunately due to some technical issues I couldn't post pictures here. Today is time to test the brand new joystick and fly to Sayqual airbase, the starting point of the excercise.
Damascus terminal.
Over the desert.

Landing at Sayqal.

Speed Link Black Widow Flightstick - new joystick

As my previous joystick broke and I realy needed to fly helicopters this weerkend for an event I will tell you about in detail in the next posts, I was forced to go early morning to the store and buy a new joystick. I found a pretty decent one at around 20 euro called Black Widow Fligtstick from Speedlink.

For it's price I can say I made a pretty good deal, it has vibrations, 8 buttons, good grip and a very nice throtle with rudder on it. It has a prety decent ergonomic design and the exterior of the stick and throtle is made of rubber for good grip.

I still couldn't make the vibrations work in Vista but probably I didn't tried enough.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Avionic-Online interview with PMDG CEO

Avionic-Online published an recent interview with Robert S. Randazzo, founder and CEO of PMDG. The interview is in French and can be read here.

The interesting points I found in this interview are that PMDG is close to finish development on a secret project, still no indication of which airplane thant might be but PMDG promises to be a nice surprise to the community. Second point is that there is still some ammount of work to be done on the 737NGX edition.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What can you do in Flight Simulator except flying? Try some skydiving!

Now it's possible to do realistic sky diving in FS2004 or FSX thanks to the addon released by Delivery Guy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

End of Aces, end of Flight Simulator?

I think all of us is asking this question since Microsoft took the unfortuante decision of closing Aces Studio. Will this be the end of Flight Simulator?
I saw some rather disturbing comments on the web during the past couple of weeks, coments that stated that yes, with the end of development on the FS series, the end of our hobby as we know it is near.
In my opinion this is far from the truth, this great flight simualtor comunity will continue to exists even if there will be no Microsoft (or any other company) Flight Simulator 11. You don't beliveve, take Counter Strike as example. This simple game captivated gamers since it's introduction around year 1999 and the big number of fans is still playing more or less the same version of the game (which had only 1 version and six variants lates introduced was 1.6 in 2003). The graphics didn't changes much, gameplay remained the same, but the comunity keeps creating better and better maps and addons.
As long as we will be able to purchase FSX and we will be creating addons, our world will remain the same, because mostly WE, the fans, are the ones making Flight Simulator a star!

Mountain delivery

With my system back online and a few new purchases it's time to get back to flying. A sunny Sunday and a group of skiors eager to go to the mountains proved to be a great oportunity to practice my helicopter skills.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why things have to be so complicated!?

As I spent all night and couldn't trouleshoot what is causing the low framerate in Airbus I decided the only thing I can do is to reinstall the whole OS. It took me over 7 hours to install all back and I'm still having a couple of items. Curently I'm installing updates to the OS.

Things are so complicated and you need so many programs. Imagine, after reinstalling FS, the airplanes, IVAP, MTL, textures, Mesh, addons... I even had to install nhancer and delete profiles in Safe mode as Nvidia's driver is playing tricks with my antialiasing. I can bet I will get a new problem after installing so much software.

If by any chance all goes well after the updates to OS next thng on my list is a backup program to create a full image of my C: drive, os next time I could restore it in less time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Help! My framerates!

One month now since I upgraded my flying rig and I was really happy on the framerate I had in fs2004. Much better than before.
Unfortunately last weeks all was ruined.It's almost two weeks since I tried every little trick I know to make the framerate playable again but I cannot figure out the cause. As I reinstalled FS2004 from scratch along side all addons it is porbably something to do with my OS.

Although installing the OS is just a 45 minutes job I'm afraid that I'm going to loose more than 1 day to get all the programs I need installed once again so I'm not giving up yet. I will probaly go on and do some updates, maybe reisntall some drivers.

Windy day

Weather in Europe has been pretty bad last couple of days, signs that the winter doesn't let go without a fight. Lot's of snow and high winds in multiple countries. I experienced some during my landing at LOWW today. Metar at Viena was indicating 20kts wind gusting at 39.

50 persons killed after a turboprop plane crash near Bufallo

Bad news in aviation world, an Bombardier Q400 aircraft has crashed near Bufallo killing all 49 people on board and one on ground after it plunged over a house. There is yet no official theory regarding the cause of the crash but multiple pilots in vicinity reported ice acumulation over their aircraft. The aircraft (flight 3407) was new and presented no safety issues.

Read more on MSNBC.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

GREECE GAP MEGA KERKYRA 2009 scenery review

One of my favourites airports in Europe is Kerkyra (or beter known as Corfu), so I was happy to see during last week the launch of this wonderfull scenery made by GAP (Greek Airports Project) team. Just today I found some time to make a flight and test it and made a couple of screenshots to help you make an opinion about it.

Kerkyra Ioannis Kapodistrias (LGKR) airport is located on the island of Corfu(Greece), on the banks of the Ionian sea, close to the border with Albania. The airport offers domestic flights with Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines, but the vast majority of traffic in the summer season is charter flights for holidaymakers, Corfu being a well known holiday destination.

LGKR has a single runway (17/35) which is 7,792 ft (2,375 m) long and as instrument approach aids runway 35 features a VOR DME. The location, scenery and runway lenght makes it a perfect destination for the thrill seakers.

Let's proceeed to the scenery :) It contains a big part of the modern features present in payware scenerys like custom ground textures, animated vehicles, boats, custom mesh, landclass etc. but it comes at the best possible
As you can see from the image below the gound texture contains skid marks which can also be found on the runway itself and the airport buildings are completly modeled along side a lot of vehicles and objects present on the airport.

The sorounding island is custom made including landclass and realistic shorelines. In the image below a monument can be seen on top of the distant mountain.

The ground marks are realistic and introduce you in the atmosphere of the airport.

I did not observed any framerate issue while I did a VOR DME approach to 35 folowed by a circle to land for runway 17 despite the large ammount of custome objects found on the island.

What would have been good to see is a photoreal texture for the ground but taking into consideration the scenery is free ans such image are worth money it doesn't make that big diffrence. The custom landclass and shorelines compensate for it.

Even from this heigh the amount of objects is pretty high for a FS2004 scenery, but if you like to fly low and slow then you wil lbe amazed of the detail the team designed it.

Overall I have only good things to say about this scenery and I can easily compare it to some payware models. It is perfect for both the IFR and VFR flyer. If you want to see it even closer maybe take a boat and sail around the airport.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mamba Games - rights to release six addons for Flight Simulator X

Acording to Gamasutra the newly formed company, Mamba Games, plans to realese six new addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator X over the next two years.

It's always good to see new players in flight sim addons field.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First steps in aviation

While posting on X-Plane topic, I remembered about my first days of flight simming. Why X-Plane made me think about that is because it was the first commercial aircraft simulator I ever used and induced my "addiction" to virtual flying.
As I couldn't find to buy the full version I used only the demo and was taken only short 10 minutes flights untill the joystick became disabled. Sometimes I was using the autopilot, trims and even differential throtle to land the airplane after the 10 minutes demo . I have to admit I was very curious what is outside the demo area (San francisco and LAX area). The happiest moment trough came some weeks later when I finally bought FS2002 and had the entire world under my keyboard.

If it is to talk about my passion for aviation I have to admit it's hard or even imposible to remember when it started. As small child I was building toy airplanes out of everything I could find (my favourite were float planes) and assmebled entire airfields. When I grew up a bit older (primary school), before I had the first contact with computers or internet, I filled up a room with airplane made out of paper which were modeled after real types. The biggest problem was that after 150 or so I didn't knew any other model to add to my colection and was looking all day on Discovery Channel, maybe maybe I can spot any new show where I can see an airplane that is not yet in my collection.
From Discovery I got crazy ideas (that I put in practice) of creating rockets and jet engines, but unfortunately my skills in calculations and design haven't been that good to make any fly. Fortunately for my parents I wasn't too bad either...I can be proud with the performance of not buring the house during flight testing although I burned the fuses one time trying to power an electical engine :)
Next came computers, first simulator I ever used was F22 Lightning, then X-Plane, FS2002 and FS2004. During FS2002 I joined Avsim, IVAO and got involved into scenery design.
I started studying Airspace Engeneering in college and I'm taking every opportunity I can find to fly for real. My first flight was in a 40 or 50 year old Antonov AN2, pretty cool experience.

X-Plane 9 promotional price for the former MS users

Since we are on the X-plane topic I will post one interesting promotion on their website. It comes like this:
"X-Plane 9 (temporarily $39.00 to let in all the new MS

This is X-Plane 9.00 on DVD for Mac, Windows, AND Linux
platforms! This
version runs on all 3 platforms and ships with SIX
dual-layer DVD's! (To hold
all the scenery from -70 to 74 degrees
As well, this purchase
includes free net updates through the
entire X-Plane 9.xx run!
(NOTE: Some
stores carry X-Plane, but they do
NOT have the Mac, Windows, and Linux versions
all on the same DVD, and they
may be selling only an older version as well. If
you want the Mac, Windows,
and Linux version all on your DVD, latest version,
then you should only buy
here, from This is the only place
where you can get X-Plane
directly from it's creators, with the most complete
installer and latest
version of the sim).

If you decided it's time ot try something diffrent than Microsoft Flight Simulator, Laminar team has also posted a short guide:

and also one if you are a user of the Microsoft ESP:

As soon as I have some time on my table I will be back with a review of the latest version of X-Plane to get an ideea over how the simulator behaves and looks like.

X-Plane Xtreme for Iphone

If you are getting bored during those long flights, Laminar Reaseach has the perfect solution. Why not taking a flight with your Iphone or iPod touch.

X-Plane Xtreme is the low featured version of the famous X-Plane designed especially for Apple's gizmos. IT features aircrafts like B-1, B-2, F-22, and SR-71 plus aircafts for you to chase :) It is priced under 10$ (9.99$ at the time this was writen) and can be downlaoded from Apple Store. Besides Xtreme there are also Airliner and Helicopter versions for the peace time pilots.

More details on X-Plane website: .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ariane Boeing 737 for FS2004 review

Since I started this blog I have tried to convince my friends who owned some payware software to write me a short summary of the product they bought, to post it here, in order to start a series of post dedicated to commercial reviews.
This week my friend Bob was kind enough to share with me his impressions on Ariane's Boeing 737 NG aircraft and a couple of screenshots from a flight.
As a brief intro, Ariane has the newest 737NG on the market and after looking on their website it seems it is also the most technological advanced taking into account that it's only competitor is PMDG, who is having a 4 years old product but is still widely used in the community.
Here goes his review:

"Being a Boeing Officially Licensed Product and looking on the websites, I had great expectations on the quality of Ariane's addon. I have to admit the expectations were fulfilled and I am enjoying the aircraft very much. A lot of detail has been put into the visual model and instruments creating the best virtual cockpit available for a FS2004 new generation 737. Almost every button and switch is functional although some key elements like FMC keyboard are missing. The aircraft does not have a 2d panel so every action is taken from the Virtual Cockpit. An addition to the virtual cockpit and a new thing in fs2004 is the presence of a menu (accessible with CTRL+S) from which certain views can be activated (jumpseat, copilot, flight attendant station). The postion of the viewpoint in VC can be also saved from that menu.
The quality of the lighting is extraordinary and I could count more than 6 different light switches, opening and closing lights on diffrent areas of the cockpit. Below can be seen an example of the powerfull dome light.
The exterior model is also well done and contains numerous animations.
Systems are realistically modeled and the aircraft is featured with a fully functional IRS system. As it can be seen from the screenshot below the instruments are waiting for the IRS to be allign in order to show the map and location info. Before jumping to IRS alignment I recommend reading the documentation as there are exact steps that need to be followed.
One disappointing thing is the frame rate of the gauges which I found to be pretty low during flight even if the plane is very framerate friendly. Even if I had some troubles configuring the FMC during approach, the autoland worked very well excepting a couple of times when the aircraft slipped below glideslope and we had the aural system alerts.
A view from the flight attendant station, both the cockpit door and the airplane doors can be opened and closed using the mouse. There is even a cockpit door lock button on the pedestal to lock the door, according to the procedure.
The FMC and IRS systems can be opened as a popup window along the displays and MCP.

Inside there are a lot of animations such as windows, switches, working windshield whipers, dors, etc., improving the realism of the product. Another special feature is an head shake effect during taxi and roll.

The price of this product is in the upper sector of the market and there are different addons to the base aircraft that need to be purchased separately (e.g. sound). The navigation database for the FMC is not the most recent either and at this point it is not available on navdata as for PMDG or Wilco planes."

Monday, February 2, 2009

NDB Approach

Today I had my first NDB approach in the Babybus on a small local airport. The weather was a "lovely" winter day, so I was almost about to deviate to the alternate, but decided to give it a try anyway, even if the metar didn't seemed very promising. Fortunately I managed to see the runway before the DH (around 700 feet RA) so the alterante has to wait for another evening.

The wind gave some toruble but nothing a good pilot can't handle. 60 passsnegers will get to sleep in their beds this evening rather than being carried by bus 60 nm.

US Airways Flight 1549 Crash in the Hudson River - Simulation in FSX and in A320 simulator

I found a couple of nice simulations of the US Airways Flight 1549 plane crashing in Hudson river.

Cockpit view in an real A320 simulator

Outside view

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's snowing

I have to admit I didn't see much snow this winter. I flew mostly to warm places and my country isn't that rich in any kind of snow during the winters. Today, during the returning flight from Vienna the snow finally apeared. I took this pictures as I was apporaching the holding point rwy 11 at LOWW. An Austrian 767 was waiting it's turn to take off as an Alitalia aircraft just landed. It's nice to be on a busy airport from time to time.

Winter at Vienna

Busy Sunday afternoon at Vienna - LOWW airport. ATC is using two runways today, we chose runway 16 which offers one of the nicest apporaches to the airport due to the highway and river that croses the flightpath just before landing. We had a prety steep descent due to the FMGC's bad calculations as well as some aplications eating up frames during the descent but all was ok and we did a pretty good landing, although we were forced to rush things.
It is never good to rush things, especially when flying an airplane, as there are biger chances to forget things that way. I just saw a good example to this this morning while watching the Air Crash Investigations episode dedicated to Flight965 where one of the reasons for the crash was the fact that the pilots choose an aproach that was forcing them to descent faster thatn they should have and adding a lot more workload in the cockpit.