Manhattan X, VRS F-18E and some ships..

Pardon me for an absence of posts lately – I’ve been a little distracted!

The VRS  F-18E, available here, is verily marvellous, deep, complex and has an excellent flight model/feel, as verified by real pilots. I’m in love, so have neglected you all!

I bought the Manhattan X scenery from Aerosoft, as well as the FSDreamteam KJFK airport, which is situated nearby. Thought I’d really test my i7 920 system to the max. Pleasantly pleased with the results, with the airport allowing over 20-25 fps and the dense city 25-28 fps. At night it gets lower, and just as you take off you get a second or two at 18, but it’s hardly noticeable.  The FSDT airport is pretty good, I think overpriced for the relative lack of detail compared to Orbx’s efforts, but it’s still worth it for anyone like me who will make this a regular destination. The Traffic X traffic works very well with it to boot.

I’ve never been to NYC, always wanted to, so I’m flying around the area a great deal, enjoying the dawn/dusk and marvelling at how dense this area of humanity is, let alone the confusing array of airports. Manhattan X is famous, and justifiably so. Never seen so many scenery objects in my life. And now we modern PC users can get more than 10fps – Maybe I should have said Manhattan X is ‘infamous’ for that reason.

With the F-18 being carrier capable, I did my research and found this amazing freeware carrier package by Javier Fernandez. Dare I say better than the payware Xplane version? Only problem is that it does not have a rolling deck, so landings are too easy..sort of. A handy free ship placement addon,  AICARRIERS,  makes things even nicer, you can have 10 ships all around you, brilliant.

These are the best of the shots I took along the way. I had taken some video, but wasn’t happy with the stuttering result, which I’ve now fixed by using Nvidia Inspector to force my GPU to control antialiasing rather than FSX.

I’m finding the F18 deep, with landings and takeoffs a challenge to perfect. I still miss the feel of a moving mass of air under you in Xplane, but that loss is negated by the other good stuff, like the scenery and the stupidly detailed reflections on the livery of that 18!  All a great diversion while waiting for Xplane10 to get out.







X+S+R 015: PMDG and AEROSOFT panel images

Mateus has passed along the following imagery from the PMDG x737 and Aerosoft’s Airbus A320, and after flying the two for a while leans toward the Airbus as the more engaging ACF of the two. Let’s take a look at his images now.

  • In his first image, the panel feels expansive and accurate, and even the floor/rudder pedal area is cleanly modeled, and with no rough edges between meshes evident;
  • Hard to say from this angle, but the top edge of the front windshield should line up with that of the side glass, unless interior details makes the lines not match up;
  • The slotted Fowler flaps seem to reach a full 40 degrees. By contrast, the EADT x737 in X-Plane seems to have flaps that on extend to about 20-25 degrees, visually anyway;
  • And the interior aspect of the leading edge slats is remarkably well detailed;
  • While the night panel images look quite muted and dim, this is more in line with real world cockpits than some of the garishly lit versions of the 737 we’ve seen in XP,
  • and the center quadrant just appears about perfect in this light.

Now let’s compare the 737 to some Airbus images:

  • In dim exterior light even details snap to, and shadowing around the throttle is just very nice indeed;
  • The slide out laptop desk is well done, textures very subtle;
  • Overhead? Too muted?

  • Exterior shadowing excellent;
  • Note the beacon illuminating the interior aspect of the right landing gear in the second image.

LIT panels seem well provided for too, but there’s a fair amount of difference seen between this 320 and Peter Hager/Ramzzess’s effort for the A380, with color and clarity the two big differences I see.

Mateus also included these images of an F16, which look decent, and with a nice sense of 3D “space” in the working environment. Text in the HUD is legible too, which is not always the case.

Very nice LIT panel too.

One thing again strikes me: the efficiency of large teams making ACF. One or two vs five or six, or more. How many people are working on an ACF at PMDG? With development cycles of three to four years now looking more and more like the norm, especially with smaller teams working on ultra complex ACF, if the ACF is less than well received developers will have no product depth to fall back on. That’s a very risky development model.

Well, more next time. Fly safe, and we’ll see ya soon.

Xplane 9 Versus FSX – Helicopters & Gibraltar + UTX

A picture is worth a thousand words so they say – I’m sure a video is worth a billion? You’d never read that many words in any case

One of our regular readers and commenters asked us to more thoroughly compare his own freeware Gibraltar scenery for Xplane with our recently purchased Aerosoft Gibraltar X for FSX, so this is the result, a fairly comprehensive comparison. I didn’t show the buoy in the water before the 09 runway, but I can assure you it’s there in the fsx version.

Both the Xplane Dreamfoil Bell 206 and the FSX Dodosim are excellent rotorcraft. As ever, the xplane version feels quite a bit ‘touchier’ and I feel really needs pedals (especially to correct that torque, boy my right wrist is sore today! NO JOKES pls….). The Dodosim, as I have raved on about before, feels wonderful to me and I seem to be flying it most of the time. It certainly takes a fair amount of practice, but I’m enjoying the learning curve and beginning to feel much more confident with its controls. The 3d pit of the Dreamfoil is superior, especially the adjustable night lighting, but I really didn’t notice the difference when flying the birds. I prefer the sound of the Dodo, it has much more impact. As you’ll see, you can’t beat Xplane’s physics, especially in exterior replays.

I’ll save you the guesswork – yes, of course Aerosoft’s $20 payware is superior to Robert’s freeware for Xplane.

At 4:22 you’ll see the addon “Ultimate Terrain X” for Europe in action, at night at least. I’ll be doing a followup article on this impressive product. It certainly adds another dimension to both day and night flying – night in particular. A warning though, it does hit your FPS at night, but if you have a good system, you shouldn’t notice it much.

Ha, so that means that Chip shouldn’t have an issue. He’s still waiting for his PC to be assembled and manufactured. He’s buying it online from DARPA, one of the few places that sells the GTX590!! 🙂

As I side note, I actually bought Conex’s Dreamfoil from the Aerosoft store. An excellent, trouble-free purchase, and slightly cheaper in Aussie dollar terms than the Org store.

Thanks for stopping by the BBQ, see you in the soup next time!







X+S+R 011: Perry’s First Look at the Carenado HD Series Cessna 210 for FsX

Carenado CT210M

by Perry Wagner

After buying Carenado’s Cessna Caravan a few weeks ago and seeing how impressive their new HD Series products are, I wanted to get another ACF and see if they’re really onto something with this new line of ACF.  I had been looking at the Cessna 210 for a while because I’ve been interested in getting a Cessna single with retractable gear. I was also looking at ORBX’s Lancair IV-P, which looks to be an excellent aircraft as well. Already leaning towards the 210 and having Chip tell me how much he thought I would enjoy it, I decided to go with the 210, and I think after having my hands on her for a day now I made the right choice!


This aircraft is amazing, and in my opinion outdoes even their Caravan! That says something because the Caravan is still probably one of the best GA’s for FSX available. This HD series does in fact appear to be getting better and better…

The aircraft’s sounds? Amazing! I’m usually not a freak about “sound” files, but this one is great, and totally immersive. It’s very obvious that a lot of hard work went into sound quality.


It’s a Carenado aircraft, and it’s one of the latest products in their HD series, so you bet it has a great cockpit!

Oh, did I mention the instrument reflections?  These are well implemented and dynamic, and below you’ll find two comparison shots of this feature. Very cool implementation, if subtle…

  • With reflections…

  • And with no reflections…

I love how Carenado products have pop-up menus where you can select certain features in context. Not absolutely necessary, but one that adds an extra “that’s pretty cool” factor! And of course the night panel is about what you’d expect! WOW! Excellent work and one of the best features of this ACF…


So how does the exterior stack up? Just as flawless as the interior! Here are some images, and take note of all of the rivets and reflections in the image at the top of this post…


The gear retraction sequence is very detailed. Below are some pictures of steps in the process. It’s obvious Carenado didn’t just throw this the animation together haphazardly. Everything happens in a certain order, and beyond the accuracy it reflects the whole sequence is simply interesting to watch.


I have never flown a Cessna 210 and have had about 1 hour in the left seat of a Cessna 172, so I don’t feel very comfortable judging this or any other flight model. I can say that it is trickier than the 172, which I didn’t expect as they look very similar – superficially anyway. Don’t make that mistake because the 210 is a whole different animal. The flight model is more challenging than some smaller GA’s, and I like this added complexity and challenge. Anyway, that’s all I can say about the issue. I’d like to hear the opinion of a real Cessna 210 pilot…

This plane does have some extra features. Like many Carenado planes and as mentioned above, there are menus that allow you to easily control different settings and objects. You can open a small menu that lets you control instrument reflections, windows, and static parts like covers, chalks, etc. You can also open the checklists within the sim by pressing Shift-2, which I really like having. No more jumping between Adobe Reader and the sim. It’s all there now!

Well, that’s it for now. Head over to Carenado’s website and check things out for yourself! Hope you enjoyed this “First Look” and if you have any questions just fire away in the comments section below…

…and thanks for coming along! Perry

The ACF is available at the Carenado e-store, currently 34.95USD.

Battle of the Helicopters – FSX Versus Xplane

Ok, I’ve had time to survey the new world of FsX helicopters for awhile now, and feel confident in reporting back to you all with a moderate level of experience.

Searching through the various flightsim retailers, I can certainly appreciate the huge variety of helos available for FsX. Many look great, but when you dig deeper and go searching for opinions in the forums, it seems that there’s not many truly great helos.

Funny about that, it’s probably similar in Xplane land. What does it have? Well of course, the high achiever is Nils Danielsson’s BK-117, a seriously detailed work of art, with an excellent flight model/feel. Then we have the Dreamfoil 206, which is quite well-regarded. Then what else? Mainly just high quality freewares. Nicola, one of Xplane’s recognised helo specialists did a great post just today, recommending the best helos to a newcomer, here.

In the first week of my FSX exploration, I bought the Nemeth Designs MD500. Why? Well I’m an avid listener of the Fsbreak podcast, and recalled Mark Stewart being very impressed with their models.

Not sure if I picked the wrong model, but as you’ll see from the pictures below, the 500 is not that visually impressive for a $26 payware. Ok the commandos look cool, but the 3D pit is almost 2D compared to Xplane’s average models, and Nils’ 117 virtually pokes your eyes out with it’s beautifully constructed gauges.

I also found the flight model very disappointing. Far too easy to fly, I did some perfect takeoffs and landings straight away. Helos are MEANT to be frustrating, like learning to ride a bike or drive a car for the first time. You are meant to jump with glee IF you actually land without leaving a 2 ft crater where your $2million craft used to be. Reading some of the review of the other helos from Nemeth, I’m afraid everyone is complimenting them on how easy their models are to fly. Maybe I’m wrong? I’ll never know if you don’t chime in..

Here’s a quick video I just did of the MD500. Watch how smooth the takeoff is – I can tell you, it’s not coz of my skillz!

Before I gave up on FSX for helo flying, I posted a request for good quality recommendations over at the Avsim forums. Success, I received a few consistent recommendations (Wow, they’re really helpful over there). One recommendation that stood out was the ‘Dodosim’ (gotta love that name) Bell 206, available here.

Another that was well-respected was the Seahawk/Jayhawk from Aerosoft, as well as the Bell 412 from Cera Simaircraft.

Ha, well I might eventually try those 2 but I also hear that Dodo is working on a Huey to be released this year…

Due to the common acclaim for the Dodosim, I went for that, and did not regret it. For a taste of how deep this sim is, here’s a link to their publicly available manual:

Let’s just say that I’m yet to start manually, indeed progress from sim mode 1, ‘baby bottle suck mode’, to 2, 3, 4 and 5! I feel like I never need to buy another helicopter, this is something I can slowly grow into and appreciate all its subtleties. Sheesh, it feels real enough at level 1, god knows what it’s like at full sim level 5.

Below is a video featuring the helicopter. I hope it captures some of the ‘feel’ and randomness for you.

As a comparison, here’s an earlier video of the BK-117:

For the Dodosim, I can tell you that I had an absolute ball doing little ferry trips from Diamond Point to across the bay and back. I had multiple ‘pinch me’ moments, where it just felt so real, with the sound, the control, the views, the sky, all combining to make it feel so wonderful and just ‘right’. I can also tell you that I have NEVER felt such a buzz and air of reality with Xplane 9. I hear that Xp10’s weather and cloud simulation is going to be something really special – it’ll have to be for me to stick with it.

And the sound, oh the sound! As one of my YouTube commenters said, that rotor slap is so cool! I find the sound superior to even the Dream Engine enhanced sound of the BK117.

I had the most manic grin you can imagine flying this 206 baby! I’m in luurrrrve.

But what about the video and pictures below? Isn’t the BK-117 just so much better looking? Look at those gauges, a work of art! The night lighting is so much better! Well, the xplane model does look heaps better, and it has more complex systems. However I never really got into it, having ended up trying so many other aircraft later down the track. I NEVER went for long flights in it. So it turns out that the most perfect 3D modelling does not count when it comes to immersion. If the flight model is spot on, combined with great eye-candy scenery, weather and clouds, a slightly simpler, but still 3D cockpit, is quickly forgiven, or frankly, hardly noticed! You’re too busy flying…

The Dark Horses – Conex’s 206 and R22

I’d all but written off Xplane, with my newfound joy at the Dodosim flightmodel. Then I came across the incredible Hovercontrol forum, one that is chock full of VERY SERIOUS helicopter sim enthusiasts, many doing real life training.

I’ll be hanging out there every now and then, especially given their multiplayer facilities (free) and obvious expertise.

It’s interesting that many of them love the Dodosim, in fact from what I can see, it appears to be the only decent model for FSX in their opinion. The good news for Xplane fans though, is that a number of real life pilots swear by Xplane’s ability to accurately model real life flight characteristics very well.

I fell across THIS THREAD, where very nice comments about Conex’s new R22 project are being made.

And THIS ONE has people raving about his fantastic Bell 206. Many say the Dodosim is the better procedures sim, with the xplane model having the higher fidelity flightmodel.

My own initial opinion

As I hoped, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Dodo’s flight model. I’ve always criticised FSX for its flight model, with Xplane generally having a much more satisfying feel of flight/randomness. I can officially retract my criticisms. As ever, FSX addon developers have proven to be expert at circumventing FSX’s shortcomings, creating wonderful programs to add nuances to the bland flightmodel, to turn it into something thrilling. It’s a pity that it means that the addons seem to be more expensive than Xplane, but in the end it’s all worth it. We can all marvel at the quality of simming we are doing now compared to, heck, 3-5 yrs ago. What is that quality worth?

As I am not doing real-world training, and I see that most of the gurus are happy with the FSX Dodo, I shall be too.  I may buy Conex’s 206 for xplane soon, just to get a true taste of what a real one feels like! Fantastic references Fred!!


  • Both sims have their dross, bulk quantities of blandware. FSX may be more dangerous for those with deep pockets.
  • Both sims have very select, elite quality helos, you need to pick carefully. Don’t hesitate to seek opinions!
  • I’ve always said xplane has the better flight model, with FSX just being a ‘game’. I have to retract that, for certain products at least..
  • Therefore, to me, the combo of a very good flight model and superior scenery makes the FSX solution compelling, ‘Immersion City’.
  • For pure authenticity of handling, apparently the Hovercontrol gurus say that Xplane is the best. If I was spending thousands on training, I’d certainly be spending time with Conex’s creations and Xplane.
  • With such deep and quality simulation, fewer helo addons are needed – this one will keep me busy for 6 months at least.

I now formally open up this blog to a hailstorm of debate and conjecture. Please be aware that I may not reply right away, as I’m very busy ferrying more tourists around PNW, while progressing to level 2 on the Dodo…


Below are some comparison pics – you can definitely observe the superior presentation of the Xplane models. The first 9 shots are the Dodo, the latter being the BK-117.

XSR007: First PMDG 737NGX Video

Just a short coverage of the 737’s exterior mainly, nothing too arty, as at the time I hadn’t bought the Ezdok camera addon. Sheesh, this FSX caper is gettin expensive, $30 just for a (very good) camera addon! No wonder piracy is rife.

Speaking of Arty, I know ‘Arti’ is always emphasising the importance of sound in Xplane and other sims, so hopefully he’ll like this if he sees it! You can seriously close your eyes and lap up the varied and high quality sounds of this aircraft.

Yes, I am very happy with the PMDG. I’ve just read up a bit on CPUs and apparently, for a CPU intensive sim like this, the Core i5 2500k that Perry has is heaps faster than my old i7, and apparently it’s not that much slower than the new i7, that is only really useful for heavily multithreaded applications (which FSX is NOT). My pc still handles the pmdg pretty well, only groaning slightly near high-res YMML Melbourne, so there’s no excuse for y0ur new $1000 pc not to run this like a dream!

My landing (come on, it is my first) was pretty crap, but youll see from my subtle adjustments that the plane has great ‘feel’ and flight dynamics, and is certainly NOT on rails.

As you’ll see, it’s a dream flitting inbetween the wispy clouds of your own airport and locale. Plenty to distract you on landing as well, even if this is FSX default boxy Essendon Apt.

A large and growing variety of high quality liveries is available here. This vid was taken with Virgin Australia’s new, ‘bland but it’s growing on me’ livery.

Hope you enjoy. Coming up will be a bumper comparison of Xplane and FSX helicopters. It’ll be controversial as ever! So see you next time, thanks for popping into our little clubhouse..


X+S+R 006: Perry Takes On FsX

Well, here’s our latest “position report” with Perry, who advises he has FsX installed properly now on his new PC and is getting used to the ins-and-outs of working with the new SIM, so let’s hear what he has to say:

Flight Simulator X Experiences

Well, I finally get a chance to share my MSFS experiences with you all!

Installation wasn’t too bad. After figuring out that all I had to do was run the .exe that shows up when you put the disk in, it was a breeze. Well, until I started getting a ton of errors after opening the sim. Turns out, you should never install FSX to the Program Files X86 folder, because it causes a number of issues. I reinstalled it to C:/FSX, and all was well!

FSX’s settings are a whole different animal. Being an X-Plane user since 2009 (if I’m correct), I was very acquainted with how to tweak settings within the sim, but FSX has you setup everything BEFORE you actually enter a flight, forcing you to end the flight if you want to go to a different location or switch aircraft. There is, however, a much wider range of settings available in FSX. You can set the amount of traffic, the aircraft detail setting, the scenery mesh resolution, autogen density, and much, much more completely separately, allowing for more precise tweaks.

Performance? I haven’t done any big tweaks yet, but it’s running pretty good on my PC. X-Plane wins the FPS battle, but FSX is more visually appealing. Here are my specs if you want to know…

  • Intel i5-2300 @2.8 GHz
  • ATI Radeon HD 6570 1GB
  • 8GB RAM

Let’s talk about addons real quick! When I purchased FSX at Fry’s, they had the box version of the PMDG 747-400 for only $30! Obviously, I bought. It looks great externally, but you can really see how aged it is by looking at the VC. A lot of the text is blurry and the 3D just isn’t very crisp like it is in Javier’s CRJ-200 for X-Plane. So, the normal $60 is WAY overpriced and I think this particular product is hyped up too much. If I were you, I would get some of the newer PMDG stuff because I’m sure that would show their full potential. They have improved a lot with the 737NGX. The 747 came out a few years ago, so it is a very dated product, so you can’t criticize it too much. Maybe a re-construction of the 3D cockpit would be a good idea in order to get up to date though?

My second add-on I bought was the Carenado Caravan. I have been waiting and waiting for a really nice one to come out for XP, but Carenado still hasn’t done it and Tom Kyler is busy working with Laminar, so his Caravan has been put on hold for a long time now too. Anyway, wow! That plane is a lot of fun! I would recommend it to any GA enthusiast. BTW, that one costs $35 for the basic pack, and $10 for the cargomaster add-on pack. I haven’t bought the cargomaster pack yet, but it’s on my list for the future…

Here are some shots of the Caravan in action!

The third and latest add-on a bought is the A2A simulations Piper J-3 Cub. It costs $25 alone and another $15 if you bundle it with accu-sim, which is a must! Accu-sim creates its own physics to replace and/or add on to those present in MSFS in order to simulate a particular aircraft.

So, why is this important with a plane as simple as a Piper Cub?

Well, accu-sim simulates water behavior, ground behavior, and of course very detailed and realistic flight behavior. Other features include a passenger you can take flying. She has different personalities to choose from, and will comment on your flying. Engine wear is also simulated. If you don’t take care of it and use it well, performance will decrease forcing you to get an overhaul. What I have explained above is just a small fraction of what this aircraft can do in FSX. Go check out their site to see a much more detailed description.

Oh, and it simulated water-assisted landings! This is a technique used by bush pilots which utilizes the big tundra tires skidding over the water to slow the aircraft down. CHECK THIS OUT!!!

Here are some screenshots of the Cub in action!

A trend I did notice in FSX is the price of the addons. They are sky high! Be ready to spend at least $35-50 on a single plane!

Well, here are the links to everything mentioned above, and, well, there you have it!