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Author Topic: Returning to MS FSX with a new toy....[56k no-no]  (Read 2787 times)
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Booner
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« on: November 20, 2009, 04:30:20 PM »

I'd been hankering for a little civilian flying in FSX now I have a rig that's capable of running it pretty well, but after having such a great payware stable of aircraft in FS9, the stock FSX planes were really letting me down. I have some nice environmental add-ons that make the 'world' look nice, yet even though the stock cockpits are far better than FS9s, they're still kinda bland in relation to some of the excellent payware you can find.

So last weekend I started doing a bit of research on FSX payware...and once again it came down to the Level-D 767 and the PMDG 747. I was just about to take the upgrade on my Level-D 767 due to the cost being fairly low, but then I saw that PMDG had a boxed version (published by Aerosoft) available at Best Buy, for $30. I've always been curious at how good the 747 was after spending 100s of hours in the Level-D, so I grabbed it at a local BB on sunday and spent the remainder of the day plus most of that evening between the manual and quick test flights. The systems are all similar enough to the 767 that I was able to get it up and running quickly enough, program the FMC (flight computer), and get it in the air.

Heh. I had no business hand-flying this beast at all. Big, heavy, and sluggish...very easy to get behind in. If you let something get out of whack during take offs or landings, it can go south really quickly. It took a couple days of practicing take offs/landings, reading some online tips, and several aeronautical disasters before I finally found little hints that helped me get it under control.

It's not for the beginner or the faint of heart, but if you enjoy flying the 'heavies' and all that's involved in learning to operate one...this is a fantastic add-on for FSX. You will take a performance hit, yet if your machine can run it, it's worth having.

Now that I have a good feel for it, I've taken a few long flights. Because I work from home on a separate PC, I'm able to pre-program the flight plan, get up to cruising altitude, then just monitor the radio until it's time to descend to land. Hell, it'll even land itself. Granted, you have to give it some information to work with by changing some settings and flipping a few switches, but you don't need to have you hands on the controls.....it makes a much smoother landing than I can at this point.  confused

Pics over the past few flights...

Crossing over the Atlanta metro area.


Switch city! Very little of it does not function. Most over the overhead panel is used during pre-flight and startup, and the lower panel is mostly radios and where the flight is pre-programed...


..while the panel in the center, right below the windscreen, is where you do most of your 'flying'. Then the rest is where you get your info, making sure the plane is doing it's job. smile


Somewhere over Queensland Au after flying up through some nasty storms. It really doesn't show in standard flight, but the exterior model is as detailed as the interior...when you open up the gear doors or move the control surfaces, the textures have all kinds of electrical and hydraulic lines shown. Even the wings flex under load and sag when on the ground, laden with fuel.



Night landing in Hong Kong after 8.7 hours.


Well, the plane is landing while I... Bring your own!


Anyways...now that I can get it through an entire flight, I'll start setting up my flights to have random failures. I wonder how many smoking holes I'll create.  paranoid





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Razgon
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2009, 04:34:32 PM »

wow - that looks cool! I used to play flightsim a lot back on the C64...they've come a long way since then. Thanks for sharing - makes me want to get back in the cockpit.

Whatever happened to the genre btw - there used to be tons of these kind of games, both combat and non-combat games
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Gromit
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2009, 07:08:12 PM »

Jerk.

Now you're making want to reinstall.   icon_lol
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kronovan
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2009, 08:01:08 PM »

Quote from: Razgon on November 20, 2009, 04:34:32 PM

wow - that looks cool! I used to play flightsim a lot back on the C64...they've come a long way since then. Thanks for sharing - makes me want to get back in the cockpit.

Whatever happened to the genre btw - there used to be tons of these kind of games, both combat and non-combat games

I started on Sublogix's Flightsimultor for C-64 too - I used to love the little, cheesy WW1 arena. slywink

In answer to where did it all go; the genre started to collapse in the late 90's and hasn't really ever recovered. There's lots of theories why, but probably the biggest was that the demographic moved out of PC gaming or onto other genres; i.e. RTS's. There was a survey conducted in the the late 90's at one of the more popular flightsim sites - the majority of respondents were technological industry employees, while the average age was in the 30's. So the conclusion was that the steep learning curve and high difficulty, made the genre appeal to early adopters of PC's and the PC savvy. By the end of the 90's that demographic was having families or busier with other things; i.e. less time to play complex games.

Another problem was that in 98 there was an explosion of titles, which proved to be more than the market could sustain. As a result the fsim studios publishers started cutting back. First Microprose dumped the famous skunkworks (Janes flightsims, Falcon and European Air War), and EA, who picked them up, soon after deep-sixed most of the IP's. Poor sales of Flight Unlimited 3 was also one of the contributing factors to Looking Glass Studio's demise. Empire and the remnants of a number of studios owned by Hasbro, soon followed suit. Meanwhile MS shutdown the Flight sim dev team a year or so ago.

The good news is that a few smaller studios (1C Maddox, Eagle Dynamics, Third Wire, etc) have either risen out of the ashes of closed studios or been created a new to fill the void. The genre however, will likely never again be what it was in the 90's. As a genre it's also not alone; racing sims and naval sims when through a similar downturn in the late 90's for similar reasons.

BTW I love the look of those FSX screenshots. I wish I could move up to X, but my investment in add-ons and my aging gaming rig, has kept me on FS9.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2009, 12:03:16 AM by kronovan » Logged
Daehawk
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2009, 11:33:18 PM »

Ive always wondered if a hard core player of these civilian flight sims could actually land a jumbo jet if something happened to the pilots. I dont play these but I do play WW1,WW2, Vietnam , and Falcon type games. I wonder if I could do it if talked through it from the tower? Ive flown IN a 2 small planes but never been in a large plane cockpit.
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kronovan
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2009, 12:24:18 AM »

I've personally never been in the cockpit of anything bigger than a Cessna 182, so can't say for sure. I think under ideal conditions a person very familiar with civilian jet simulators might be able to do it under ideal conditions. The key would be "talked through it", as they'd need someone doing that to really have a chance. The system of communication protocols alone is a lot for commercial aircraft, and I personally wouldn't want to attempt it without being handheld. Even from my time behind the stick of a 182, I can say there's a number of things that aren't modeled too well in FS -  i.e ground effect and cross winds. Just the rudder corrections that are required for a safe and successful landing in less than ideal conditions, would probably really screw up a lot of virtual sky jockeys.
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Booner
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2009, 01:59:45 AM »

I know what you mean about moving away from FS9. I had several payware addons that I thoroughly enjoyed. I bought FSX, flew it for a bit and went back to my dolled up FS9. When my old rig suddenly kicked early this year along with my FS9, I'd just installed FSX and took the chance to update the old addons that I could or purchase the less expensive environmental ones. My aircraft collection was pretty much shot, but I was able to get Active Sky/Active Graphics, Ultimate Terrain X (USA), and Shockwaves 3D lights into FSX. Other than all the Aircraft, I miss Ultimate Traffic and FSPassengers...they both added alot of atmosphere IMHO.

Now that I finally have a nice heavy, I guess I'm going to be in the market for a mid-sized, multi-engine, prop job. I spent tons of time in the Aeroworx B200 KingAir, it was great for little 1-2 hour flights. Something you really can't do in an Airliner. smile

Quote from: Daehawk
Ive always wondered if a hard core player of these civilian flight sims could actually land a jumbo jet if something happened to the pilots.

Quote from: kronovan on November 21, 2009, 12:24:18 AM

I've personally never been in the cockpit of anything bigger than a Cessna 182, so can't say for sure. I think under ideal conditions a person very familiar with civilian jet simulators might be able to do it under ideal conditions. The key would be "talked through it", as they'd need someone doing that to really have a chance. The system of communication protocols alone is a lot for commercial aircraft, and I personally wouldn't want to attempt it without being handheld. Even from my time behind the stick of a 182, I can say there's a number of things that aren't modeled too well in FS -  i.e ground effect and cross winds. Just the rudder corrections that are required for a safe and successful landing in less than ideal conditions, would probably really screw up a lot of virtual sky jockeys.

It's a tricky and often debated question.

After years of simming and being around aircraft in general, I found lots of things to be easier in the real thing when working on my PPL than they were in simming. You get so much tactile information from the aircraft, what you get from your peripheral vision, and what you hear, that you're far more aware of what's happening and able to react better.  The hardest parts for me were precise navigation and radio work, the scariest were stall and spin recovery...because you're also far more aware that you're actually in a tin can buffeting around a few thousand feet above terra firma. icon_lol

During initial training, my instructor had to really get me to focus my attention outside the aircraft. I fell into the trap that most simmers come into real world flying with...spending too much time watching the panel and not enough looking to see what I might run into. He kept telling me that my most important instruments were my windows.

Anyways, that was my experience, YMMV.

On one hand, I honestly think that someone might have an easier time being 'talked down' in a modern jet liner than something similar to a 182 due to the amount of automation...but as you said this would be under ideal conditions where the Pilot/FO were somehow disabled during a non-critical phase of flight. I don't say this to somehow diminish what the men flying these massive machines do, because if there was any real emergency with the aircraft itself...I don't believe that someone has a real chance at recovery.

With smaller aircraft and seat of your pants flying...it's all you. There are no banks of redundant computers backing up your moves, the only real warning you'll get is a stall horn. Yet things happen slower in small A/C, and it does make a difference. I was initially freaked out by the speed things happen after going from the slow and docile Cessna 172 to getting my high-performance/complex endorsements in a Beechcraft Bonanza. Not only was the aircraft faster in general, but there was more to do, so it was a real workout to just perform pattern work. By the time I'd get configured from take off to flight, I was already halfway on the downwind leg and had to start setting it up for landing.

I guess in both instances the flying part could likely be accomplished, but the landing...Hmmmmm, not so sure. Then you have the pressure on all those lives in your hands with an airliner, where it's wouldn't be but you and a couple buddy's in a recreational aircraft.

But this hypothetical all depends on if said savior can find the PTT button in the first place.  paranoid
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2009, 05:42:28 AM »

Here's a nice comment. Wasn't quite paying attention when I was reading the first post, and got the idea in my head that he was posting pictures from a trip... the images, particularly the external shots of the planes, are so realistic it fooled me at first. Very nice.

Atomic
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DonD
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2009, 12:58:28 PM »

I remember a Mythbusters episode where the 2 hosts were able to be successfully talked through landing of a commercial airliner (in one of those massive simulators they use for that sort of training).  I would expect that someone that is actually familiar with the instrumentation on the panel would be able to do it, and perhaps understand a bit better what they are doing as well.
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TK-421
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2009, 01:07:37 PM »

Quote from: Daehawk on November 20, 2009, 11:33:18 PM

Ive always wondered if a hard core player of these civilian flight sims could actually land a jumbo jet if something happened to the pilots. I dont play these but I do play WW1,WW2, Vietnam , and Falcon type games. I wonder if I could do it if talked through it from the tower? Ive flown IN a 2 small planes but never been in a large plane cockpit.

Damn, beaten by DonD.  smile

Quote
Talked Into Landing
Myth: An airplane passenger can be talked down into a safe landing

In a scene familiar to fans of Airplane!, the pilots of a plane are incapacitated and one of the passengers is forced to fly the plane into a safe landing.

However, in real life, this has never happened: no passenger has ever been talked into a landing. Also, modern planes have autopilots that are capable of landing the plane. All a passenger would have to do is turn a couple knobs and press a couple buttons.

For their tests, Jamie and Adam used NASA Ames' Advanced Concepts Plane Simulator -- it was too dangerous to land a real plane. Terry Rager, Facility Manager at NASA Ames, ran the simulator and talked them in.

Landing without assistance
Jamie broke plenty of FAA regulations on his unguided attempt to land the plane: he couldn't even find the landing gear and landed at twice the recommended speed. All were dead. Adam did little better, skidding into farmland 10 miles from the airport.

Landing with assistance
Under Terry Rager's guidance, Jamie and Adam each took turns at landing. Terry had an flight controller's view of the plane: he couldn't see their controls as he talked them in.

•Jamie: Jamie landed the plane safely, even with the tailwind and turbulence that Terry sent his way
•Adam: Adam also landed the plane safely, this time with headwind

Conclusion:  plausible


How not to do it.


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Brendan
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2009, 01:13:23 PM »

Salon has a weekly column by a pilot that's pretty good - this week, he takes exception to the idea that planes fly themselves (and that novices could land a 747):

Quote
They were given some false confidence back in 2007 when the popular show "MythBusters" tried to find out if a nonpilot could land a plane. They got themselves a NASA simulator stripped down to represent a "generic commercial airliner" -- which is to say a rather unrealistic one. A seasoned pilot, stationed in an imaginary control tower, carefully instructs the hosts via radio. On the first try, they crash. The second time, they make it.

But all they really did, essentially, is land a make-believe airplane in a contrived, tightly controlled experiment.

To be fair, the question of whether a nonpilot could land an actual jetliner depends somewhat on the meaning of "land." Do you mean from just a few hundred feet over the ground, in ideal weather, with the plane stabilized and pointed toward the runway, with someone talking you through it? Or do you mean the whole full-blown arrival, from cruising altitude to touchdown, requiring all sorts of maneuvering, programming, communicating and configuring?

You've got a fighting chance with the former. The touchdown will be rough at best, but with a little luck you won't become a cartwheeling fireball. But the scenario most people envision is the one where, droning along at cruise altitude, the crew suddenly becomes incapacitated, and only a brave passenger, who has perhaps a little desktop sim time under his belt, can save the day. He'll strap himself in, and with the smooth coaching of an unseen voice over the radio, try to bring her down.

Try this a thousand times and I reckon you'll have a thousand crashes.
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2009, 02:31:15 PM »

What is the best environmental/graphics payware package?  One that makes the ground more accurate and realistic?  I was thinking of reinstalling FSX this past week and this thread has really got me interested! 
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Booner
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2009, 03:37:50 PM »

For Sky and Clouds, I could recommend Active Sky X with X Graphics.

Active Sky takes over the stock real-world weather reporting and gives you a far more accurate depiction of actual sky conditions...rather than one or two layers of clouds, you can have a sky full of clouds. Plus storms become more than just a bunch or rain with a few clouds....in my original post, for that first Quatas shot, I took off from beneath those storms and it was just flat nasty, but it felt like a real storm.

X Graphics is texturing program that accompanies Active Sky, it contains all the nice clouds and sky textures. It also has better textures for runways/taxiways, airport lighting, water, roads, railways, sun and moon. It's quite flexible as there are several variations of all the components, so you can go from a very natural look (which I try to shoot for), to very dramatic, or something in between. You can also pick and choose which components to use or not use, which is great if you're running several add-ons and want to pick and choose textures between programs.

You can buy them together, or seperately...but it's not cheap. That said, it's the first add-on I installed into FSX, before any ground upgrades. If I had between the 2, I'd take Graphics X first and let the stock engine build the weather with the nice clouds.

There are other products out there that others might recommend, the only other one I would be interested in in Real Environment Extreme...it looks damn good too, and gets tons of praise.

The tough part about ground add-ons is that it is so broken down into regions and so many companies have offerings, so I honestly wouldn't know what to recommend. You have mesh replacements for elevation detail, then texture replacements. I only have Ultimate Terrain X for the USA, but I'm still kind browsing around for better textures that would cover more landmass.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2009, 03:46:42 PM by Booner » Logged
Huw the Poo
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2009, 04:50:43 PM »

Cool shots, Booner.  FSX is on my Christmas wishlist; after reading this thread I think I'll bump the priority to 'high'. smile
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2009, 06:07:03 PM »

Thanks for the info Booner.  Looking into them now.  Is it easy to mod FSX, especially with a few of these pay mods?
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Booner
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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2009, 08:58:29 PM »

Quote from: Vinda-Lou on November 21, 2009, 06:07:03 PM

Is it easy to mod FSX, especially with a few of these pay mods?

Yep...

In my case, I had to make sure that I didn't have one add-on overwrite another in a couple instances, but most of them have an outside program that will allow you to set up your preferences on what to change and what not to change.
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Booner
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« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2009, 07:26:53 PM »

Damn if the payware bug didn't bite me again this weekend.... 'tarded!

I grabbed a plane that has ended up exceeding my expectations by a long shot. It has so much charm due to the little details they've added in, that it's likely to become my favorite for quite a while.

The Piper Seneca II by Carenado.




I've got to run out for a while, but I'll give some more details about this thing later.



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kronovan
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2009, 07:37:14 PM »

Quote from: Booner on November 22, 2009, 07:26:53 PM

The Piper Seneca II by Carenado.

I have their Skyhawk II float and V35 Bonanza for FS9. Very nice planes with outstanding modeling. slywink
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Darkstar One
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« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2009, 08:04:53 PM »

You all have my curiosity piqued.  Can someone play with one of these with a relatively inexpensive joystick, or do you really need one of the super-duper rudder-joystick combos?
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kronovan
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:16 PM »

Quote from: Darkstar One on November 22, 2009, 08:04:53 PM

You all have my curiosity piqued.  Can someone play with one of these with a relatively inexpensive joystick, or do you really need one of the super-duper rudder-joystick combos?

The game allows you to play without a rudder, but for realism you're much better off using one. Since a big part of the fun is the realism, I'd recommend as a minimum a joystick with a twist rudder. If I was to recommend a stick; the PC Aviator from Saitek works well, can also be used with a 360 or PS3 - depending on the model- and it only costs about $50. It also has the added advantage of having a split throttle, so if you want you can individually control the engines on dual engine aircraft or assign one of them to prop pitch or fuel mixture. I personally don't have anywhere near top line gear for FS, but I do use a throttle quadrant and rudder pedals.
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Booner
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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2009, 12:14:26 AM »

Quote from: kronovan on November 22, 2009, 07:37:14 PM

I have their Skyhawk II float and V35 Bonanza for FS9. Very nice planes with outstanding modeling. slywink

This is my first from Carenado. I've was looking for a twin engine propjob, and seeing this offering sold me after hearing nothing but good things about the company in the past... and if their other planes are as well done as this, I can see why they've gotten such high praise.

After loading up it's first flight, I was instantly stuck at how comfortable it felt...it's kinda dirty, with mix-mashed gauges, and even paint missing off the yolk...it all felt like something I might could get a hold of, instead of the usual fresh from the factory ultra-sterile cockpit. It's a pretty basic aircraft, steam gauges, old school autopilot. It does have a Garman GPS, but I haven't used it because I wanted something that excelled at more traditional navigation, and it fits the bill perfectly.



Next thing I noticed what the level of detail even applies to the passenger area. As with the cockpit, it feels used. That said, the textures and interior lighting for both are some of the best I've ever seen...if not the best.



As I said in my earlier post, it's just all these little details that give it it's charm. Working window curtains for the passengers and things like flipping down a sunvisor and finding this...



...performance charts on the sunvisor. I climbed the flight up to 10,00 feet and set the engines according to this chart and what do you know...it worked like a champ.

I spend very little time outside the aircraft, other that to take screenshots, but the exterior is as nice as the interior. Lots o' rivets and wonderfully reflective skins, you can see in the earlier posts pic, how the interior lighting bleeds to the exterior. Even the pilot model is super detailed.



The belly is dirty..in all the right places. smile



Great looking all around model.



Anyways...I see myself putting tons of time in this plane. I'm already planning a series of flights down the west coast of north america...from somewhere around Vancouver Ca, down the Baja peninsula.

I'm super pleased that I took a bit of a chance on this one. It's a great performing hand-flyer, that seems to be lovingly crafted by aviation enthusiasts. Carenado has a Beech Bonanza for FSX coming out sometime soon, and I'm most definitely grabbing that one too.  

« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 12:16:49 AM by Booner » Logged
kronovan
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« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2009, 01:21:27 AM »

Damn, those screen-shots of the Seneca II look great and make me want a rig that can run FSX all that much more.

Quote from: Booner on November 23, 2009, 12:14:26 AM

Anyways...I see myself putting tons of time in this plane. I'm already planning a series of flights down the west coast of north america...from somewhere around Vancouver Ca, down the Baja peninsula.

For a different experience in the Vancouver area, I'd recommend flying out of CYXX (Abbotsford) on runway 07. Climb to about FL110 and turn right to about 200. That should put Mt Baker -an impressive looking semi-active volcano- on your left. It's been a while, but that bearing should put you close to a route for KSEA. CYKK is an international class airport so it'll be very easily taking off in a Seneca. If your going to make a habit of flying around Vancouver, CA, I couldn't recommend John Patch's Vancouver+ scenery any higher. It's outstanding scenery and mesh and very amazing to gaze at, especially around the Whistler area where the Olympics will be taking place in a few months.

Quote
Carenado has a Beech Bonanza for FSX coming out sometime soon, and I'm most definitely grabbing that one too.

If it's at all like their Bonanza for FS9, it'll be well worth owning. I went with the V because I like my smaller aircraft to be on the unusual side of things. slywink
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« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2009, 04:50:48 AM »

Quote from: kronovan on November 23, 2009, 01:21:27 AM


For a different experience in the Vancouver area, I'd recommend flying out of CYXX (Abbotsford) on runway 07. Climb to about FL110 and turn right to about 200. That should put Mt Baker -an impressive looking semi-active volcano- on your left. It's been a while, but that bearing should put you close to a route for KSEA.

I saw this post as I had just gotten myself to cruise alt. I'd taken off from Langley, just to the NW of CYXX, and turned towards Mt. Baker...it was pretty socked in and I could only see the summit poking through the clouds, so I turned back towards the south and my first VOR at Whidbey Island. From there I pretty much followed the sound to Olympia then made a left to Astoria where I was going to just follow the coast until I was tired or out of gas.

Well, the weather was pretty spotty in general and ended up VFR on-top for about 50% of my flight. I'd already forgotten to turn on my pitot heat and had some wonkey airspeed readings, so I decided to just land at Astoria and take up the tour sometime tomorrow. Rather than go around the clouds, I decided to just go through em...bad idea. All of a sudden my EGT falls flat on both engines, I'm just unable to get good manifold pressure, plus I'm descending into a cloud layer over semi-mountainous terrain....Friggin' Engine Icing!?!? I'm a southeasterner, I don't do icing! At first I though I may have been out of gas, but nope. Took me a bit to grasp what was happening, but once I closed the cowl flaps, enriched the mix a hair, and flipped over to alt air, it sputtered back to life.

Jeez, I obviously need to pay more attention to outside temperature on this trip, or I won't make it to Cabo.

On another note...I really wish the kneeboard in FSX was as flexible as the one in FS9. You could easily add a web browser to it and use sites like skyvector to look up sectionals as you flew along. I really miss it, it gave you tons of freedom to make it up as you go.

That said, I do have two PCs and can look up things as I need to...and damn if the new Skyvector beta isn't just awesome for flying the US.

I just used it for the first time on this flight. Not only are there zoomable sectionals, but you can hover reporting stations for weather...and if you click on an airport it will bring up all the information you could ever need about it. Comm frequencies, runway information, Airport Diagrams, IFR/VFR charts, even approach plates. You can even build a flight plan and have all this pertinent information quickly available. You'd never need to use the FS in-game map except to file a flight plan.

http://beta.skyvector.com

Good stuff!  nod
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kronovan
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« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2009, 05:45:04 PM »

Quote from: Booner on November 23, 2009, 04:50:48 AM

I saw this post as I had just gotten myself to cruise alt. I'd taken off from Langley, just to the NW of CYXX, and turned towards Mt. Baker...

LOL you took off from Langley, do you know the Greater Vancouver area or something? That's one of the smallest airports in the area, but also one of the most popular for private pilots and flight schools. Now if you had John Patch's scenery you would have seen the 150 year old fort beside it - that's Fort Langley and the surrounding residential area is called "The Fort".

I fly in and out of the smaller Greater Vancouver airports frequently, as I often run an add-on called Freight Dogs. It lets you pick up a cargo load from a designated freight zone and fly it to another within a specified time. You have to make it within the allotted time in order to keep your ratings up. It also supports water ports and works really well with float plains - lots of fun and I highly recommend it.

Anyhoo...sounds like you're having a good time in the skies. BTW I've never used the web browser ability on the FS9 knee board - didn't even know it existed. I'll have to check that out.
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« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2009, 06:57:14 PM »

Quote from: kronovan on November 23, 2009, 05:45:04 PM

LOL you took off from Langley, do you know the Greater Vancouver area or something?

Nope. I've always done tons of simming around that area though, it's got varied and interesting features plus tons of all types of airports.

Quote
BTW I've never used the web browser ability on the FS9 knee board - didn't even know it existed. I'll have to check that out.

The best one I used was FSBrowser. You can try this link, http://library.avsim.net/download.php?DLID=50760 It's on AvSim if that doesn't work.




I've also ran across a nice little .dll package that allows HDR in FS9 and FSX as long as you're running dx9. You can edit the .ini file to flavor to taste. I've set it up to desaturate the colors, and add a bit more contrast so that it looks a bit more natural to me....plus the HDR is just cool. smile

Here are a few pics...

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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2009, 10:12:31 PM »

A quick update...

Earlier someone had asked about environment add-ons and I'd recommended ActiveX with Xgraphics, but had also mentioned REX as something you might want to look into. Well...I looked into REX myself and can easily recommend it too. I think it has better overall cloud/water/sky texturing. It's not nearly user freindly, and it takes a damn long time for it to set up your textures if you want to change things around, but it is a quality product.

I'm also starting to dabble in uploading video.

This is my first. A pretty sloppy approach while doing touch and goes at night. It's really just a test run for future uploads...and damn if I'm having a tough time getting my sound settings right. Turn your volume way down if you watch this thing! I'm really not sure what's causing the sound to come out like this, so I'm still experimenting.

Once I get this thing to work right, I'll see if I can get some more interesting videos up.



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« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2009, 11:17:34 PM »

Nice vid!  I'll look forward to watching more of these until I get my copy at Christmas! smile
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« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2009, 02:40:01 AM »

Thanks Huw.

I just uploaded another one for testing.

It's a day time take-off from Reno, where I'm heading towards Salt Lake for a bit of airborne exploring. I'm getting better sound quality, but still a bunch of crackling and popping...the other thing is that it's making the video a bit choppy.

I'm going to have to fool with the video programs a bit more to get better video quality too. It looses so much because it's getting reduced half-size by the recording program, locked down to 30 frames a sec, then resized again to get within YouTube's requirements, then compressed down to keep 'em manageable.

PS...post when you get your copy installed so I can send you a bunch of links. There are tons of tweaks out there that really improve performance, without them it can be a bit frustrating to get decent performance.
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« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2009, 10:43:10 AM »

Making me all nostalgic for simming again. I had a blast when "FLY" was first released. And the community for that sim over on AVSIM was great. One of the main guys behind FLY use to post there all the time and the information and insight you'd gain from just reading posts was amazing. Sadly he got cancer and passed away. But his wife posted after the fact and just wanted us all to know how much he loved the community and his baby, FLY.
Some great mods came out for the game from the community as well. SKY package added unbelievably realistic sky environments(for the time). On and on it went. A very dedicated bunch.

I remember one guy was a Private pilot and invited people in his area regularly to take them up for a short flight when ever he was able. I miss those days of simming. I learned so much and had a blast doing it.

Any talk of another flight sim from MS ever again? Or any other?

Oh, and I didn't spill a drop of coffee on that take off. Very smooth.   nod
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« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2009, 01:18:30 PM »

Quote from: Arclight on November 30, 2009, 10:43:10 AM


Any talk of another flight sim from MS ever again? Or any other?

Oh, and I didn't spill a drop of coffee on that take off. Very smooth.   nod

Microsoft's official stance is the next version of Flight Simulator is due to be released towards the end of 2010.  I have FSX wrapped and under the tree now...can't wait to crack it open as it's been a long time.
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« Reply #30 on: November 30, 2009, 06:45:38 PM »

I've always been into MS Flight Sim, but mostly just to screw around. I just reinstalled the game and purchased those recommend graphics additions along with some others. I haven't actually loaded it yet, since I need to get a small joystick and I will probably replace my broken track ir as well.

If i wanted to learn the basics of navigation and radio communication and such, where would I start?
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« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2009, 07:17:53 PM »

Quote from: Punisher on November 30, 2009, 06:45:38 PM

If i wanted to learn the basics of navigation and radio communication and such, where should I start?

First off, beginning with FS9 some radio comm was included, albeit it's very minimal, and even though it was improved for FSX it's still not great. Pro Flight is the best add-on IMO. It handles all the different stages of communication from taxi -to- flight center. The dev team that made the original shutdown, but an indie dev picked up where they left off and released a new version about a year or 2 ago. The 1 caveat is, due to licensing, if you don't own Pro Flight 2000 you need to purchase it as well as the new version. I think the 2 of them come out to about $50 US. There's a forum and info on avsim.com. There's also Radar Contact, but I've personally never liked it as much as Pro Flight.

Something else; there used to be a volunteer org that placed controllers at larger, virtual airports. If you had the required software you could do comm's with the volunteer in the tower. IIRC the org's anacronymn was VATCOIP or something like that. I don't know if they're still around, but it's worth checking into.
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« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2009, 07:39:57 PM »

Quote from: ericb on November 30, 2009, 01:18:30 PM

Microsoft's official stance is the next version of Flight Simulator is due to be released towards the end of 2010.  I have FSX wrapped and under the tree now...can't wait to crack it open as it's been a long time.

They've actually closed the ACES studio (responsible to MSFS), so there are no plans to continue the series. frown Some former members of ACES have formed a new company...Cascade Games Foundry, but there's now telling if or when they might be able to produce a new civilian sim.

Quote from: Punisher on November 30, 2009, 06:45:38 PM

If i wanted to learn the basics of navigation and radio communication and such, where would I start?

This page should cover all your navigation questions.

This is also a good page out of real world training that could help navigation.

This page could be useful in understanding radio work, but it also covers the lighting and other symbology on the airfeild, taxiways, and runways.

The sim really simplifies the radio work and takes care of most of that for you, but if you know how to read the charts and an airport/facility directory you can have your channels pre-tuned and ready to go on your own. You don't need to do this, but I do it just to for authenticity.

I wouldn't worry about instrument approaches too much, other than to know what channel the localizer is on and the actual runway heading..as the ATC dosn't specify which approach to use and gives you instructions all the way down until you intercept the localizer.

I may whip up a quick primer of my next short hop, show how I use SkyVector, navigate in flight, set my my radios, etc.



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« Reply #33 on: November 30, 2009, 09:19:19 PM »

Quote from: Booner on November 30, 2009, 02:40:01 AM

PS...post when you get your copy installed so I can send you a bunch of links. There are tons of tweaks out there that really improve performance, without them it can be a bit frustrating to get decent performance.

Will do.  Thanks matey!
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« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2009, 04:44:18 AM »

Alrighty then, heres a quick rundown of using charts to plan a quick round trip flight. This was one of my first actual solo flights during training, so it's fairly easy, but gives you an idea of how to use VORs, NDBs, and Intersections. This is just planning, I'll cover flying it as close to how I'd actually do it as FSX allows. It's ATC doesn't handle instrument approaches and communications when arriving into airspace quite right, but it get's most everything else right.

For some quick definitions to help understand things:
-The VOR is your primary navigation aid. They are ground based VHF radio stations that basically emit 360 beams (for 360 deg.), which are called radials. They are spread out all over the place and help define airways.
-A NDB is a non-directional beacon. It transmits a signal that you can pick up to point you in the right direction, but doesn't give you the precision of a VOR.
-An Intersection is what it implies...the intersection of two or more radials, from separate VORs.




So....let's look at the aeronautical chart for the flying we'll do. This type is often called a sectional, and is used for 'Visual' flying. Ignore the bright pink markings, as they are just part of SkyVectors flight planning and not the actual chart.



What we have here is a flight from Columbia Metro Airport (lower right), out to the Greenwood VOR (upper left), down to the BLANE intersection, back to the Columbia VOR and airport. I realize it looks to be an absolute mess to read....a bunch of numbers, lines, and assorted text. I'll just go over the pertinent info that should give you enough of a primer to get around on your own via radio navigation, but every chart has a legend printed on it...so if you can browse over them if your like.




So let's take a closer peek at the Columbia Metro area. Where we will start and finish.



In the very center of those magenta colored rings is a dark blue symbol that looks like a 'T' turned on it's side. That's the airport, the symbol itself is a representation of the actual runway positions, the magenta rings indicate it's airspace. Right below it is some text that reads:

Columbia Metro (CAE)
CT-119.5 ATIS 120.15
236 L 86 122.95


What it means:
Columbia Metro (CAE) is the proper name for the airport as well as it's unique 3 letter code name. Most US airports' code would be preceded by a K, so it would be known worldwide as KCAE.

CT-119.5 This is the radio channel for the Control Tower. ATIS 120.15 would be the radio channel for Automatic Terminal Information Service. This channel is unmanned, but provides non-control information about what is happening at the airport, such as weather conditions, barometric pressure, which runways are being used, and the like.

236 is the airports elevation above sea level. L means the airport is lighted. 86 is the longest runway in 100s of feet. 122.95 is the unicom radio channel, which you really don't need at an airport with a control tower. We'll talk about the Unicom in a bit.

Now note the large round blue ring that's centered off to the south south-east of the airport that looks like a compass rose. In the very center of this ring is a six-sided symbol with a solid blue line extending out to the compass rose. This is your VOR station, and the circle around it represents 360 degrees. The dark blue line that extends from the center to the ring is magnetic north.

On the southwest side of this ring is a blue rectangular box with some text in it, don't worry about the text along the outside, but the parts you want to use are COLUMBIA (the VORs full name), 114.7 (the channel it broadcasts on), and ends with CAE and some dots & dashes, which are the identifying morse code it transmits.

You'll be able to discern the VOR symbology a bit better in this next chart.





Now that we know whats happening at Columbia, let's look at Greenwood...our first waypoint.



Greenwood's VOR is located on it's airfield, and the info for the VOR is read the same. Even though we don't plan to land at Greenwood airport, lets look at the info here. It looks more or less the same as the info shown back in Columbia with a couple differences. First off, the airport symbol is magenta, which means there isn't a control tower here. This is where the UNICOM channel is used...you basically talk to the other pilots and guys on the ground to make sure you don't hit each other. It also notes ASOS instead of ATIS, which means you get weather information only.

Also note the little magenta circle surrounded by a fuzzy circle, just to the east of the airport. There's a NDB, and just to the east of that is it's info box showing it's name, channel, as well as it's morse-code. We won't need this in flight, but I'll cover how to use this simple thing once we're flying.

All we really need from this area are the channels for the VOR, the ASOS, and the UNICOM. 115.5, 121.125, and 122.8




OK, go back up to the first chart, follow the pink path south of Greenwood until it turns back east. You should see a pair of arrows crossing and the text BLANE, this is the Blane intersection. As I mentioned earlier, it's just the intersection of the radials of two or more VORs. The arrows point in the direction of the VORs used, if you follow them along the light blue lines (which are airways) you'll see that one points back to Greenwood VOR and one to Columbia. As those lines meet up with it's compass rose, you'll see where it tells you the radials to use. In this case it's the 182nd radial from the Greenwood VOR, and the 275th radial from the Columbia VOR.



The last thing I'll show in this post is what happens when you click on an airport with SkyVector.



Ahhh...you get even more information! icon_lol

It tells you every thing about the airport itself as well as provides access to all the other charts and approach plates. The parts you may want to use are the "airport communications" section, where it lists all the radio channels used here, and maybe the 'airport diagram', which will help you get around the taxiways/runways.


So that's some basic chart reading and flight planning. If anyone has any questions about this stuff, ask away and I'll answer in the next post where I show how to actually use this stuff in the cockpit.
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« Reply #35 on: December 01, 2009, 07:31:42 AM »

Now...let's look at how to use that stuff.

First thing we'll look at is cockpit diagram where I'll explain what does what and how it relates to navigation. We're not even going to touch the GPS, and are going strictly by radio.



A, B, and C together are usually referred to as your Radio Stack.

'A' is the control panel where you are able to control which radio(s) you will be listening to. It also lets you listen for other beacons and markers that we will not be covering. A real one has some other basic functionality, but it has no bearing in the sim. The only buttons you really need to be concerned with now are the four buttons closest to the left marked C1, C2, N1, N2. The C prefix is communication and N for Nav. Punch C1 to listen to Communication radio 1, N1 for Navigation radio 1, etc.

'B' is your first radio or NavCom. The left half is the comm channels and the right is navigation channels. Each half of this radio has an active channel and a standby channel, which is why you see four channels actually shown on this one radio. The left channel is your active one. In case, 120.15 is active comm, 121.90 is standby....115.50 is active nav, 113.70 is standby. You tune the standby channel with the knobs below it, while the white button will flip between active and standby.

'C' is your secondary radio...in this plane it's an old school, single channel version, still with the left half being comms, and the right being nav.

'D' is your HSI, or horizontal situation display. This is your most used instrument for navigation after your eyeballs. It works the same as a compass and will show your magnetic heading as well as navigational info that we'll cover in a minute. The knob on the lower right controls your heading bug (the little yellow triangle). This is nothing more than something you set for reference or to tell the autopilot where to go. Now the left knob controls the yellow arrow that stretches across the whole thing...this is your course arrow and works off of the navigation half of radio 1 (B). You set this to the radial you want to follow from the VOR you have tuned in. You can tell it's not currently picking up the VOR because there is the red/white striped flag in the upper left corner.

'E' is a CDI or Course Deviation Indicator. This references your second nav radio. The outside portion of this is set via it's knob. You are basically setting which radial you need, while the needle will show you how close you are to being centered on that radial.

'F' is your DME or Distance Measuring Equipment. This will let you know how far you are from a VOR as well as how fast your ground speed is. This has a white button that shift from measuring nav1 to measuring nav2.

'G' is your transponder. When you have ATC tell you to 'Squak XXXX', this is what they are getting at. Dial up that number here. This allows the controllers to know who you are in relation to all the other aircraft around. Once out of their airspace, or told otherwise, 1200 is the code you want to use.

'H' is your ADF or Automatic Direction Finder. This is where you dial in a NDB.

'I' is something I cannot remember the name of.  retard But it's what points to the NDB you've dialed in on the ADF.

Equipment will vary a bit in different aircraft...some don't have an HSI but have two CDIs, some only one NavCom radio, no DME, etc, but the basic principles are all here.



Now, let's look at why I have things set up here as they are before even moving from the parking spot.

On the control panel I'm listening to Comm1 and Nav1.

For the Comm radios, I have 120.15 (Columbia ATIS), 121.90 (Columbia ground) on standby for radio1, then 133.40 (my expected departure channel) on radio 2.

ATIS/ASOS is the first channel you should always tune. You get your weather, what to set your altimeter to, as well as which runways are active. In this case I'm informed that runway 23 is the active, so I've noted that by rotating my heading bug on the HSI (D) to 230 deg...it also helps me track straight down the runway after take-off. I've also set my altimeter to the barometric pressure...though we already knew that the field was at 246ft from the chart, so we just want to make sure it matches.

Ground on 121.90 will be next channel we need, so I just hit the flip-flop button to make it active, and get my taxi information. FSXs progessive taxi will show you the way, or you can always refer back to the airport diagram at SkyVector. Ground will tell you to contact the tower when you get to the Runway...so you can go ahead an tune that into the standby channel.

For Navigation, I have 115.5 active on radio1, this is for the Greenwood VOR. I've dialed the course to 295 degrees into the HSI (D) as this will be the radial I intend to follow. Because we're on the ground, we're not picking it up due to ground interference...this can also happen in mountainous terrain. This is also why I am listening via the control panel to N1. Once I can pick it up, it will start beeping it morse-code and let me know if I haven't noticed that the HSI is active. Once I hear it beeping, I'll punch N1 on the control panel to turn it off. It's still will affect your instruments, but you wont hear it.

On radio2, I have the Columbia VOR already tuned in for later as well as having it set to read the 275th/95th radial for the BLANE intersection. Technically I should have it set to 275, but I was obviously being lazy.

So, then it's time to fly.


Almost as soon as we're airborne, we start picking up the Greenwood VOR.



See how the needles on the HSI are now active and moving around. The center portion of the course arrow is telling me that the 295th radial we want to follow is just to the left of where we are. If it was right, we would have already passed by it. The little white triangle in the HSI is showing me the direction of the VOR along that radial. Also note that the DME (F) is giving us ground speed and distance.

Here I want to turn to fly a course that will keep the two portions of the HSI needle lined up. This far away for the VOR the needles will move at a slow pace, but when you are close, you really need to make your turns early because they move quickly.

When you are flying directly to a VOR, you can adjust the course needle to get there. Just line up the needles with the knob and fly the new course. You will drift some because of the wind, but our goal is just to reach the VOR.

Once we're getting within 20miles or so from Greenwood, I go ahead and dial in the ASOS to get the weather there, change my altimeter if needed, then start listening to the UNICOM channel to see if there is anyone flying around once I get close...without a control tower, it's up to the pilots to keep from smacking into each other.




And we're there, just a few miles away from Greenwood.



At this point we know we need to take the 182nd radial outbound towards the Blane intersection, so turn the HSI needle to 182 and and make a turn to start getting lined up...remember that the needle will line up fast this close to the station. If you over shoot it, don't sweat it, just turn back further into the course you want to take and wait for them to line up again, then try to hold them together with gentle corrections. If you can get them lined up this near to the VOR, you'll be in great shape after a few minutes of flying...



...and look like this.



So after the turn on to the 182nd radial, you're going outbound from the station and the white direction triangle on the HSI should show that the VOR is behind you now. As we've gone down this radial the, CDI needles (E) will start to center up the closer we get to the 275th radial from Columbia. When this needle is centered, you are at the intersection and can turn directly to 275.

Also, I'd tuned the NDB just east of Greenwood into the ADF (H), just to show how it relates to nameless gauge (I)...it just points to it.

As you see, needles on both the HSI and CDI have centered up...we're at BLANE so it's time to make that last turn towards home.



We've switched the NAV1 channel to the Columbia VOR on 114.70, turned the course knob to 275, and just have to follow the needles in

One thing to keep in mind is that the VOR is south east of the airfield, so adjust once you start getting close.

About 20 miles out, tune in the Columbia ATIS, change the altimeter if needed, see which runways are active, and get a hold of the tower about 15 miles out. They'll give you landing instructions.



And that's how basic radio navigation works...all the charts, radio stations, VORs, NDBs, etc are all represented correctly in FSX. I've flown this little Seneca from Vancouver CA, down the Baja to Cabo, and back up to Salt Lake City in the past couple weeks in about 2 hour flights, just like this.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2009, 02:24:28 PM by Booner » Logged
DonD
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« Reply #36 on: December 01, 2009, 12:34:37 PM »

That was an excellent primer on reading the sectionals.  I've always been kind of intimidated by the jumble of colors, numbers and symbols on those charts, but you deciphered that incredibly well.

I didn't get a chance to read the 2nd part of your posting (in the cockpit), but look forward to reading that later today.
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Booner
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« Reply #37 on: December 01, 2009, 02:47:22 PM »

Quote from: DonD on December 01, 2009, 12:34:37 PM

That was an excellent primer on reading the sectionals.  I've always been kind of intimidated by the jumble of colors, numbers and symbols on those charts, but you deciphered that incredibly well.

Thanks, I wondered if it might have made any sense. smile

There are a couple things I feel I should mention about them though.

First, the little upside down blue triangles that are all over the place are obstructions such as cranes, smoke stacks, and mostly radio towers. The number beside them are it's elevation above sea level. Not only do you prefer not to hit them...but they make decent landmarks.

Secondly, you see how it's broken down into lat/long lines, while somewhere in the center of each block of this grid there are bold light blue numbers, the first being a larger, the second smaller...Such as 15. This is telling you the maximum height of any terrain or structure in this grid, big number for thousands of feet, small for hundreds....so just plan your altitude accordingly.
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« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2009, 03:14:04 PM »

Wow.. That's a lot to take in. Much different from my method of just taking off from the first runway I see, pick a direction to fly in, then land at the first airport or major road I see. smile

I'll have to take it slowly I guess.

Are there any FSX addons that would help a complete newb with learning all of this and making actual flight plans/directions, setting the radios, etc... easier to understand? Will I need Skyvector or some other program to actually get all of this info, or is it in FSX somewhere?
I saw you mentioned a GPS thing, would this be a lot easier?
Lastly, Could you make a PDF version of this for me to print out? smile

Thanks.
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« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2009, 03:15:13 PM »

Also, for those of you that have used TrackIR. Has anyone used both version 4 and 5?
I currently have V4 and need a new Pro clip thing, but have been thinking about going V5. Is it much better/worth it to upgrade?
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