I’ve often commented on how much I enjoy the Steam gaming platform update process. Of the Steam games I enjoy (Farm Sim, Truck Sim etc.) when a patch or update becomes available, the Steam client seamlessly (for the most part) installs that update and I don’t need to worry about anything. Likewise, both ATS and ETS2 have even simplified a portion of their mod update abilities via the Stream Workshop. While some gamers might not understand just how wonderful this concept is (for Steam games), it’s only recently made it’s way into the flight sim world.
Historically speaking, anytime we’ve needed to update something in the flight sim arena (FSX and early versions of P3D) it’s been somewhat of an arduous task. Many times applying a service pack or updating scenery would/could lead to issues downstream. I would often forgo taking updates until such time I felt I really either had no choice or perhaps it was time to do a complete and full re-install of everything including Microsoft Windows. But as the title suggests, things have become much, much easier with regards to updating certain elements within Prepar3D v4 and yes….it’s the way it should be.
The P3D update process really couldn’t be any easier than how Lockheed Martin have made it for us. Unless you are absolutely brand new to P3D and only purchased v4 AFTER the latest update (4.1) became available then you probably already know just how easy it is to apply updates. By the way, this same update process existed within v3 (perhaps earlier but I just can’t remember). Essentially you can update P3D by uninstalling only the component you desire to update, then simply install the new updated component. Typically this would be the “Client” component. Complete and easy to follow instructions are available on the P3D website and YouTube also offers dozens (if not more) tutorials on how to safely update the P3D platform.
How we did things yesterday, is not always how we’ll do things tomorrow
Change can be a really good thing! And this is really why I decided to write this article. Upon initial release of P3D v4 some folks began to lose their mind regarding how developers began to change the way add-ons would get installed. Since the dawn of time (as it relates to flight sim) add-ons would get installed in the same directory structure of the sim. This concept worked fine (I suppose), but did present its own set of challenges when it came time to applying updates to the sim. Starting with P3D v4, add-on developers began to utilize the “Documents” method of installing add-ons.
For years the philosophy behind how to build the perfect sim PC consisted of at the very least two hard drives. One HDD which contained the Windows operating system and other applications not related to flight sim. Then a second HDD (preferably SSD) for the sim software. The idea behind this was one could get away with a smaller HDD for Windows and invest their money on a larger/faster and preferably SSD drive to contain the sim and all things related to the sim (scenery, aircraft etc.)
When I built my current gaming machine, I took it one step further and even included a third SSD drive for my Steam games to run on so I could truly keep flight sim separate on its own SSD drive. But with more and more developers moving to the “Documents” method of installing software, things started to get a little tight on my main HDD. Thankfully, if you are also experiencing (or starting to experience) congestion on your main HDD due to more and more add-ons being installed into the “Documents” folder, there is hope for you. You can simply relocate the Documents folder to another drive. As I’m a fan of giving credit where credit is due, I’ll just simply direct you to an already existing YouTube Video which discusses just how to safely accomplish this task.
Now back to the update process discussion….
But it truly gets better…
Oh yes it does! I can’t remember who did it first…perhaps it was PMDG or perhaps it was Orbx, but these were the first two I noticed including a control panel update process for installing incremental updates to their products. Since that time, other developers such as FSDreamTeam and FlightBeam have also moved to this concept and it’s truly amazing.
Specifically speaking about Orbx, I own a lot of Orbx scenery. When I say a lot, I mean….A LOT! Thankfully, Orbx has never charged a fee to upgrade any of their scenery from FSX up to P3D (including P3D v4). Because Orbx has a really large catalog of wonderful scenery, it was somewhat of a daunting task to constantly venture out to their forum site to check when a particular scenery title had made its way to being updated. But through their updated FTX Central client, it knows every piece of Orbx software I own and tells me when that particular title has been updated for V4 or includes an incremental update. As you might have guessed, it really is just as simple as point and click to install scenery or scenery updates.
As I mentioned, both FSDreamTeam and FlightBeam have also developed a similar control panel and it couldn’t be easier to keep everything updated. Thank you to all who have moved to this process.
One can only hope…
that others will follow. I’d love to see developers like Carenado, FlyTampa and others follow suit. Maybe they will….maybe they won’t, but I do feel the developers who have moved in this direction have set the bar which others will be measured against.
Hello to all. Life has been quite busy for me the past few months. I must apologize to my readers as in typical fashion, my busy schedule has had an impact on my blogging. It’s been several months since I posted an article to my blog and for that I must apologize. I had the best intentions of writing more and of course writing about flight simulation. After all, it was flight sim which caused me to create this blog site over 10 years ago.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Orlando, Florida where I’m on my third business trip in the past five weeks. I just got back from dinner (I’m stuffed), turned on the TV (boring) and decided to check my email. One of my long time readers messaged me asking if I had spent any time with the newly released QualityWings 787 Dreamliner and what my impressions were. Well…unfortunately, I had to answer his question with a short answer of no, followed by some additional comments I’m going to share here.
I believe the last time I wrote about the QualityWings 787 was back in June of this year. At that time I had read a Facebook message stating the aircraft was expected to be released in the Summer of 2017. Unfortunately, QualityWings missed their mark slightly. The season of summer came to an end on Friday, September 22nd and the QW Dreamliner was released in early October. Now I realize I’m being a bit cheeky with pointing this out….but details matter right? OK….perhaps not. The good news is the much anticipated QualityWings 787 Dreamliner is available, but the bad news…it’s only available for FSX!
Of course, we knew this would be the case and I even touched on that in my previously mentioned June blog post. QW explains this decision is due to the fact the 787 has been in development longer than Prepar3D v4 (or even v3 or v2) had been in existence. While I understand this fact, I must also mention that I’m of the opinion that QualityWings really have never fully embraced the Prepar3d P3D platform. While it is true they did FINALLY update their Boeing 757 for P3D v2.5…but their treatment of P3D could be likened to that of a “red headed step-child”.
While I fully realize many flight sim enthusiasts still fly FSX and FSX Steam Edition, surprisingly there appears to still be a large number of FS9 users….but I’m of the opinion that FSX (in all forms) is just simply dead. But I must again say that I don’t blame or fault QualityWings for releasing the Dreamliner for FSX. But I’m curious how long it will take them to bring this wonderful aircraft to P3D v4?
I know some might say, “but the QW development team is small” and “these things take time”. I get all that. But I will remind everyone that PMDG was able to update their older Boeing 737 NGX which was released in the 2011 timeframe (if I’m not mistaken). So in theory, the same can be said of PMDG that they began development on an aircraft prior to Prepar3D, but was still able to update/release the NGX for P3D v4 within a few weeks of release.
So….to answer my readers question. Unfortunately, when Prepar3D v4 was released earlier this year I made the decision to embrace it as my flight sim platform and I’ve not looked back to earlier P3D versions or FSX since and I don’t plan to.
But having said that. Just as soon as this beautiful aircraft is released for P3D v4.x, I will purchase it and I’m sure I’ll have more than a few things to say about it here.
I’m exhausted after a long day and ready to turn in. I’ll post this sometime on Wednesday or Thursday. So until next time….Happy Simming!
Much of these early “How To” blog articles are dedicated to understanding some of the basic knowledge required, as we progress I’ll include some additional and more advanced “How To” information. At this time I’m assuming you are still very much new to the hobby of flight simulation. If you have been following my “How To” articles, you may recall I’ve suggested on more than one occasion to start with the default Cessna (or some other single engine, light aircraft) and work your way up. In my opinion, this is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. As in the real world, an individual just doesn’t walk off the street and learns to fly a Boeing 747. They start off in a much, much smaller aircraft.
The principle of flight is the same regardless of aircraft type. Regardless if you are flying a Cessna 172 or a Boeing 747, you must taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, descend and land the aircraft. Again, the process is much the same….but one major difference is in the speed at which you accomplish these tasks. It’s easier to learn the basics in a slower and more forgiving aircraft like the default Cessna 172. But certainly as you master these tasks in the Cessna it really is just a matter of applying the same principles as you progress to larger and more complex aircraft.
I know there are some (perhaps many) who have no desire to fly the heavy jets. Likewise, many of you once you get the hang of flying may never fly anything smaller than a Boeing 737. This is of course the beauty of our hobby. There truly is something for everyone.
At some point if you want to try to fly the heavy jet aircraft, I would suggest you start with the default Boeing 737. The Boeing 737 has been a featured default aircraft of Microsoft Flight Simulator since FS95 and is an easy aircraft to learn.
Tip – When starting to learn how to fly the heavies, stick with the default aircraft. While these default aircraft models may lack the sophistication of their real world counterpart, the up side in learning is that they lack the sophistication of their real world counterpart. Said another way, the default aircraft modeled in Flight Simulator are more forgiving and much easier to fly than the study-level, payware models such as PMDG.
Much as I did in the article titled “Your First Flight”, I suggest you load up the default Boeing 737 and head out to KEDW (Edwards Air Force Base). Our goal is to spend time getting to know the flight characteristics and differences of the Boeing 737 (compared to the Cessna). I highly suggest following the same steps of concentrating on taxi, takeoff, climb and cruise at first. As you’ll quickly get the hang of that (since you’ve been practicing and mastering the Cessna), then add the descent and landing phase. Just follow the pattern shown in the image below until you get it right.
Could the wait be almost over? It certainly appears so. Looking back through my archives of blog articles, it appears the first time I mentioned the QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner was way back in February of 2013, so yea….over four years ago. What I said back then (and I quote myself) “QualityWings Simulations currently has a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in development and if it is anything like their 757, I’ll certainly make the purchase pending it has the upgraded batteries”. Of course, the battery remark was referencing the issues Boeing had been experiencing during that timeframe on the real Dreamliner aircraft.
Anyway…according to this Facebook post directly from QualityWings, this awesome aircraft is expected to roll out of the QW Hangar sometime in the Summer of 2017. This truly is great news for those who are Boeing fans (like me) and are looking for a little variety.
FSX Rollout First
I suppose the news stating that initially the B787 will only be released for FSX doesn’t come as a big surprise. After all, with a development spanning over four years and their initial reluctance to support P3D….those still on FSX will get to have the first level of fun. But don’t fear…the QW787 will also be supported on FSX-SE (Steam Edition) and Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D v4. Unfortunately there is no mention if they also plan to support the older P3D v3 (or even v2 for that matter). I would certainly hope QW would at least consider releasing and supporting it for P3D v3.
QualityWings have announced their QW787 will be sold separately for FSX (including SE) and P3D. This is become more and more common with add-on developers and the price will be $69.95 USD for each platform. Purchasing the product for FSX will not guarantee operation in P3D and vice versa. Finally, the QW787 will be sold through Flight1 and will include a 30 day refund policy.
More about the Dreamliner
Boeing announced the development of the 787 Dreamliner in 2003 and the first test flight occurred in late 2009 with the first production model being introduced in 2011. The Dreamliner is a long-haul, mid-size widebody, twin engine jet liner. It offers variants seating anywhere from 242 to 335 passengers in a typical three-class configuration. The Dreamliner is approx. 20% more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767 which it was intended to replace. Airlines are using the Dreamliner for both long-haul and shorter high-density routes.
Saying Goodbye to an old friend
With my move to Prepar3D v4 (and not looking back), it appears I’ll need to say goodbye to my old friend the QualityWings 757 as QW has no plans to make it available in P3D v4. At one point in time, the QW757 was my favorite aircraft. But much like the Level-D 767, they both really began to show their age in a post FSX world. Fortunately, according to the latest news from FSELITE, the folks behind the popular Level-D 767 have finally announced their 757-200 which is reported to be approx. 80% ready and in beta. Of course, time will tell just when and how this will be released. Rumors are also going around that Level-D is looking at what it would take to get their 767 into P3D v4.
My Hangar Needs
When (if) the QW787 is available for Prepar3D v4, it’ll fit in nicely with my PMDG Boeing 737NGX (800/900 and 600/700), Boeing 747-400 (Queen of the Skies II) and the wonderful Boeing 777 (200 and 300 variants).
As I just don’t have time for many long-haul flights, I would suspect I’ll use the Dreamliner in the shorter-haul high density passenger route configuration (2-4 hour) both in North America and Europe and continue using the 777 and 747 to simulate freighter operations across North America and Europe. My 737NGX will continue to be my workhorse.
If you are curious as to what add-ons are currently compatible with the 64 bit version of Prepar3D v4, then look no further than this extensive spreadsheet list which is updated frequently as more add-ons are released for this awesome sim.
The highly anticipated 64 bit version of Prepar3D (P3D v4) was released only one week ago, but already dozens of 3rd party add-ons have been either made compatible or confirmed to already be compatible with P3D v4. On the very first day of release, many 3rd party developers already had released new installers and the list continues to grow.
Over this past weekend, PMDG released their almost new Boeing 747-400 Queen of the Skies II for P3D v4. While I own the PMDG 737 NGX and the beautiful Boeing 777, I had yet to pickup the 747. But I’m excited to say that the Queen now lives in my hangar and here’s a recent flight image of this beautiful airplane.
I can also report that on the above mentioned flight using the PMDG 747-400 (flying as Atlas Air Cargo), I departed from Denver KDEN (Flightbeam add-on scenery) and arrived in Dallas/Ft. Worth KDFW (FSDreamTeam add-on scenery) with all graphics settings maxed out and P3D v4 performed like a dream. I simply could not do that in P3D v3.x without an Out of Memory error crash.
Over the next few weeks, I will continue to get more of my large collection of 3rd party add-ons installed and configured into P3D v4. At the present time I’m also working on a video review of the new Dovetail Games Flight Sim World and will also begin showcasing some flying action from the new P3D v4 on my GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel along with Farming Simulator 17 “Let’s Play series”.
Thank you for reading my blog and thanks for subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
Look at the calendar. It’s not April 1st and this is no April Fools Prank. Yes…finally we have the much anticipated news regarding Dovetail Games official entry into flight simulation with Dovetail Games Flight Sim World. I’ve frequently blogged about this very subject for what seems like eternity. From the very early days of learning that Microsoft had authorized Dovetail Games to market and release FSX on Steam, we’ve been hearing about Dovetail’s plan to develop the next generation of flight simulation software. Actually, this is a direct quote from a Dovetail Games press release dated 2014 Dovetail “is currently investigating new concepts in this area and is expecting to bring a release to market in 2015”. OK…so they’ve missed their mark by a few years….but ladies and gentlemen….please sit back, relax (and turn off those darn electronic devices) because things are about to get interesting.
If you are new to my blog site, please take a moment and read an article I wrote back in November 2016 titled “Flight Sim News”. If you are not new to my writings, then you can skip that as you’ve already read it. Yesterday, Dovetail Games announced their new flight simulation platform they have titled “Flight Sim World” (I guess to line up with their new Train Sim World franchise) and I couldn’t be more excited. Now time will tell exactly what all this means, but the one really important element is this will be a 64 bit application. To date, the only 64 bit flight simulation based platform is X-Plane. The old Microsoft FSX (boxed edition), FSX Steam Edition and even all version of Prepar3D is only 32 bit. If you want to learn more about the challenges of trying to run an 32 bit application as complex as Flight Sim built, then read an article I wrote in February 2014 titled “Out of Memory (OOM) Errors”.
Importance of Early Access
Dovetail Games Flight Sim World will be released this month (May) via an early access process. This is also really great news and all the proof is coming direct from Dovetail Games Executive Produce Stephen Hood when he says, “We’re bring Flight Sim World to Early Access, we believe it makes no sense to work in isolation…so we wish to work with the community, engage with them, to shape the future of Flight Sim World over the coming weeks and months”. He further states, “We intend to develop a platform that stands the test of time over the next 5-10 years”.
Under the Hood
With the launch of Dovetail Games Flight Sim World, they have moved away from the old DirectX 9 to DirectX 11 and moved it from a 32 bit to 64 bit platform while also working to rebalance the usage between the CPU and GPU. This is also a very important change as today both FSX and P3D is very CPU dependent and doesn’t take advantage of today’s modern and powerful GPU’s. The hardware technology of today far exceeds what FSX and P3D can do with it. These older applications just don’t touch the full capabilities.
Third Party Opportunities
One of the unknowns from years ago was just how Dovetail Games would work with 3rd party developers. Over time, and as they continued to work with their FSX Steam Edition, we saw evidence that Dovetail Games was serious about working with the various 3rd party developers like PMDG, Orbx etc. Simon Sauntson with Dovetail Games leads up their Third Party division and mentioned Dovetail has actually engaged with many 3rd party developers to develop content which is part of the core application of Flight Sim World.
Simulation, Simulation, Simulation
Stephen Hood, acknowledges the importance of an “As Real As It Gets” experience as he states “As a Pilot you care hugely about the environments around you, it has to be accurately portrayed in Flight Sim World in order for you to fear it”
Want more information regarding Dovetail Games new Flight Sim World, visit their website, visit the Steam page, visit their Facebook page and watch the video below.
Jerry’s Final Thoughts
Dovetail Games….Just Take My Money and take it now! Honestly, I’ve had my doubts Dovetail could, would create the truly “Next Generation Flight Sim Platform” and not just pickup where Microsoft left off with Microsoft Flight. Which in most everyone’s opinion WAS NOT A FLIGHT SIM PLATFORM, but more of an arcade game. Of course, time will tell and not much else is really known at this time regarding which 3rd party developers are onboard with Flight Sim World. Honestly, I’ve not really done much with X-Plane. Meaning I’ve not spent much money on add-ons and such. I still find that old habits are so hard to break and trying to un-learn the Microsoft way which is still very much engrained in P3D. I’m hopeful that some of the “Microsoft Way” will be a part of Flight Sim World. Of course, not so much of it that it chokes the new application down. But as I have stated many times, some people may not openly embrace Flight Sim World as it will mean (most likely) replacing add-ons which had been previously developed for FSX/P3D (32 bit) with newer 64 bit versions. But this is how we move forward….
I’ll keep you posted on any new news I learn from this.
I purchased the Milviz 737-200C about two years ago before I cut ties with FSX. At the time I was primarily running FSX and slowly starting to get my feet wet into P3D. This was circa P3D v2.4 timeframe. When I made the move to P3D v3, I also took the time to completely rebuild my system and in doing so I forever cut ties to FSX. The Milviz 737-200C was one aircraft that I was prepared to just say goodbye to forever. Remember I also made the decision to only install flight sim add-ons that had P3D v3.x installers in an effort to keep my system running top-notch. I think the only thing I made an exception to was EZDok. Unfortunately, once you use Ezdok…there just is no going back. But I’m getting off subject now….back to the Milviz.
If you are a registered owner of the Milviz 737-200C, you should have received an email this week regarding the immediate availability of the –200C for P3D v2.x and v3.x. This means Milviz have complete installers for all all variants of flight sim including FSX Classic, FSX Steam and Prepar3D. This is very cool. Best of all, the updated –200C for P3D is available at no additional charge. Thank you Milviz.
Please note: I wrote this blog post approx. 6 months ago and for whatever reason it failed to publish. I just realized it was stuck in draft mode and while I’ve changed my mind about some aircraft developers and also own a couple of excellent payware models that work flawlessly with my GoFlight hardware, some of the ideas expressed are still very much valid in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t know about you, but I think we need a better “try before you buy” system for flight simulator software add-ons. Yes I get the whole issue around software piracy. In the “real-world” I work for a large enterprise software company. We take software piracy very seriously and so should the creators of flight sim software and add-ons. But in most cases the “trial or evaluation” method in flight simulator add-ons is extremely limiting.
As many of you who follow my blog know, I’m an avid GoFlight Customer. I love this hardware and I love that for the most part I can conduct the majority of my flights with limited use of the keyboard and mouse. I have over a thousand dollars invested in GoFlight gear with the very idea of not needing to click with a mouse during flight. However, with this comes some restrictions that I’ve only learned about since coming back to the hobby.
During the 2001 – 2005 timeframe, most of the aircraft I operated were either the FS default variety or those based on the default variety and shareware type aircraft available from sites likeFlightSim and AVSIM. Today most of what I have flown have been the same type of aircraft. However, I did purchase a few Carenado models which I dearly love.
Part of my on-going frustration with software add-ons and the lack of a decent trial system stems from a PMDG purchase I made a few months ago. The product in question is the PMDG 747-400X. I had heard about and seen images of this beautiful aircraft and decided to purchase it. Once I downloaded and installed the aircraft I discovered it would not work with my GoFlight GF-MCP Advanced auto pilot module. While I researched and found forums from years ago talking about a software fix available from PMDG to correct the issues, the fix is no longer available. I essentially spent $54.99 on an aircraft that will sit in my hangar and never be flown.
Initially I didn’t understand why the PMDG 747-400X wouldn’t work. I had a lot of experience with the default aircraft and the shareware type from Flightsim and AVSIM. I’ve never run into any issues with the compatibility of my GoFlight equipment and these models. I even had purchased from Flight1 an MD-80 model and experienced no issues using that aircraft and my GoFlight hardware. So why is this PMDG model not working?
From what I now understand, the GoFlight GF-MCP Advanced is compatible with all MSFS default aircraft and any freeware/payware aircraft that model their MCP/autopilot functions the way the default aircraft are modeled. After spending $54.99, I realized PMDG DO NOT model their aircraft autopilot functions the way that MSFS modeled the default aircraft. This means if I want to fly the PMDG 747-400X that I own, I would need to fly it with my mouse and keyboard to control the autopilot/MCP functions. Not cool.
To explain the above paragraph differently. The GoFlight GF-MCP Advanced uses the standard Microsoft FSX keyboard commands to control the aircraft. When I turn the heading knob on my GF-MCP, it sends the corresponding keyboard commands of Ctrl-Shift-H followed by = or – depending on which direction I’m turning the knob. The PMDG aircraft uses a completely different keyboard mapping per function setup. It’s this difference which prevents the PMDG aircraft from working correctly with the GF-MCP.
Many will argue the PMDG aircraft is far superior to any default and shareware aircraft available today. I do admit the flight dynamics, the look, the feel of the PMDG models are truly amazing compared to the default and shareware models I own. My reservation to flying it is simply the lack of support for my GoFlight GF-MCP Advanced.
Now before I forget, yes I have talked to tech support for both PMDG and GoFlight. Both sort of point their fingers back to each other as being the responsible party. However, I will take the side of GoFlight in this argument. GoFlight creates their hardware to work with the default and shareware models. GoFlight also makes their SDK available to any aircraft developers free of charge.
What I’ll admit to not fully understanding is why PMDG (and others) code some of the aircraft functionality different from the default aircraft. I’m not a software developer….but I would think it would be possible to create an aircraft model just as wonderful as the PMDG 747-400X, yet stay with the basic functional requirements as what the default aircraft uses.
Now I certainly do not hold PMDG responsible for me spending $54.99 on something that I may never fly. As a matter of fact, the aircraft isn’t installed any longer. I should have conducted better research. However, back to the original subject of this topic, PMDG does not offer any sort of trial process. But even if they did, I would imagine it would be lacking in the functionality available.
As an example to the lack of functionality available in a demo model. I looked into the Captain Sim Boeing 757. I downloaded and installed it. But the demo model is so locked down in functionality, I couldn’t make a conscious decision to buy. Here is what the Captain Sim website states about their demo model “We hope this Free Demo will help our customers to make more informed purchase decisions and thereby enhance their satisfaction with the 757 Captain product.” Further down the page, this is how it reads to inform you of what doesn’t work in the demo:
Please note, the following features are not included in the Free Demo: • Extensive Systems Programming (ADI, HSI, EICAS displays inop) • Flight Management System (CDU inop) • Realistic Flight Model (flight controls locked in the Demo) • Custom system sounds and crew voice messages • Authentic Sound Set – PW and RR engines (alias to default 737 sounds in the Demo) • Collins WXR-2100 Weather Radar • Aeronautical Data including Terminal Procedures • Repaint Kit
I don’t know about you….but how do you make an “informed purchase” with the above mentioned restrictions? I couldn’t even find a way to contact the Captain Sim folks to ask if their aircraft would work with my GoFlight hardware as the only way it appears to reach their forum is with an order number. Sorry….you’re not going to get my money before I can find a way to review your support forum.
Now I realize I’ve picked on two aircraft manufactures. Here’s my thoughts on how some scenery developers handle their trial periods. I own several FSDreamTeam sceneries. They offer a try-before-you-buy method. But the scenery demo only works for the first 5 minutes. Yes, you can restart the timer, but only if you exit and restart FSX. 5 minutes? One can’t explore the complex scenery of KDFW in 5 minutes.
Another small beef I have with some vendors is what appears to be the number of times I can activate a particular product. I believe if I purchase a software product, I should be able to install this particular software product over and over and over (as long as I’m not running it on multiple systems). In other words, if I feel the need to rebuild my FSX computer every 6 months, I shouldn’t have to worry in a year or two running out of the number of install/reinstalls I’ve performed. This appears to be an issue in our hobby.
As I stated near the beginning, I fully understand the issues software vendors (all software vendors) face with software license piracy. I understand (and appreciate) that a lot of hard work goes into the development of quality software. While I don’t have the answers, I believe in the examples I’ve provided that a better solution must exist. There must be equal parts of trust built into the license protection so that honest customers like myself can determine if the product is right for them and the software developers can protect their IP or intellectual property.
In closing, I want to make it clear that I do not hold any bad feelings toward PMDG or any developer of Flight Simulator add-ons. Yes I called out my experiences with PMDG, but I only hold myself responsible for purchasing something that I may never use. I may never fully understand why PMDG and others develop aircraft add-ons that differ in the primary functional aspects from the default aircraft. Yes I get the need for better flight dynamics etc. But why change the autopilot keystroke combinations which is basically why the PMDG doesn’t work with GoFlight? To me and my flight simming experience, it is more accurate to turn a knob on my GF-MCP to control autopilot functionality than to use my mouse.
This is not going to be an official review of the new Captain Sim Boeing 777-200 as it basically is an exterior only model which incorporates the default B747 panel and B737 sound at this time. Now I know what you must be thinking, especially if you are not familiar with the Captain Sim product and the way they have released products before. From what I understand they have released products in the past in a piece by piece fashion. Meaning it starts with the exterior model and then sometime down the road they will release an interior model etc. While I’ve known about Captain Sim for a while, this is the first time I’ve installed and flown one of their aircraft. Thankfully they start with the exterior as it would look funny flying around just a shell of an airplane.
At present time, the Captain Sim Boeing 777-200 (exterior model) is available 9.99 Euro ($14.56 USD). Now if you’ve read several of my recent blog posts you know I’ve purchased several new aircraft for my virtual hangar. First, about a month ago I purchased the iFly 737NGX and that was followed by the LVLD 767. I’ve blogged about how much I enjoy flying these aircraft and that I’m hooked on the payware aircraft modeled closely after their real world counterparts and have truly enjoyed the realistic procedures required to get these aircraft into the sky and safely back onto the ground. So why did I pay nearly $15.00 for an exterior model that only that acts and behaves like a default or freeware model?
Well…the answer to that question is I didn’t pay for it. I won it. Yes…I won something and I’m tickled about it. I haven’t won anything in years and wasn’t expecting this at all. It was given away as part of the raffle for our AvA 10th Birthday bash event. I actually could choose from any Captain Sim product and I chose the 777. Why? Well this one of course is easy to answer. Since I already had the B737 from iFly and the 767 from LVLD, it made sense to select either the B757 or the new B777. I decided against the B757 as I’m really looking at the Quality Wings 757 if they can ever get their GoFlight hardware integration working. Once this happens then I’ll gladly give them my money. So I figured I really had nothing to lose on the 777. I decided if all else fails, I would just fly it like I would my POSKY B777’s until I found a payware model that I liked. Plus, the FSX Flight Sim community (in my opinion) is really lacking in the quality payware 777 department. We have awesome 737 models out now (and soon to be released PMDG) and we have great 747, 757 and of course my new pride and joy the LVLD 767. But 777’s??? Nah….not really. So I’m hopeful this one fills a very important void for all of us FSX users.
I had just wrapped up a KDFW to PHNL flight in the LVLD 767 (wow what a treat to fly) and had some time before dinner to install and check out this CS 777. She installed with no issues and when I fired up FSX she was listed right there in the aircraft menu. Where else did I expect to find it? I was pleased to find that out of the box she comes in the following liveries American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air France and Singapore Airlines. This is great because three of the seven are members of the oneworld alliance (AAL, BAW and JAL) and I’m planning to simulate my real world trip to London from Denver in a few days. I can fly any of the oneworld codeshare flights with AvA. This is great by the way as it allows for such diversity in aircraft. When I have a need to fly a Boeing 747 I can jump in and fly a BAW flight. Now I have a saying (which you’ve all heard I’m sure) and that is “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”. So…while I could jump in an Airbus A380 as Qantas I haven’t done so just yet. Anyway you get the idea.
So I started the Captain Sim Boeing 777 in the British Airways livery and took her for a lap around DFW. We departed on 17R and headed east around and out of the way of Dallas Love Field and then came around from the NE to land on 17C. For a default, freeware aircraft I have to say she handled great. Yes..I had just finished an almost 8 hour flight to Honolulu in the awesome LVLD, but this wasn’t bad. Considering she is lacking in the interior and flight dynamics like the LVLD.
From the outside the “eye-candy” is fantastic and the image above doesn’t do her justice. I can tell you this B777 will be moved front and center in the virtual hangar in front of the POSKY models I have. The POSKY’s look great, but there are some visual issues (like a hole in the fuselage) which sort of stick out. I’ve tried to find a fix, but gave up. I just make sure I take on extra oxygen and blankets and life is good.
Again, this is just a first look. Please….Please…Please keep your 9.99 euro in your pocket for now (unless of course you just want an exceptional looking exterior visual modeled aircraft in the liveries I mentioned before. You can also find additional liveries in the usual places such asAVSIM.net. I plan to take this beautiful aircraft on a round-trip long-haul from Denver to London Heathrow and back to simulate my real world trip I’ll take in a few weeks. I will make sure to provide more information in the form of an update so you can better decide.
Finally, I am entitled to the additional packages once they are made available by Captain Sim. I’ll do a full review of the Captain Sim Boeing 777 at that time. Time will tell if she’ll work with myGoFlight MCP when all is said and done. I sure hope so.
In closing, I’ve really enjoyed providing this first look into the Captain Sim 777. I think I’ll review a few other items I have in my flight deck in the near future. I know I promised some information on the VRInsight CDU I purchased a few weeks ago. Perhaps that will be the first review item. We’ll see.
When I began flying computer sims back in the early to mid-80’s all I really could do was get the Cessna off the ground at Meig’s Field in Chicago. If I was lucky I could return to Meig’s field and land within a 5 mile radius of the airport. Most times I ended up in Lake Michigan. As time went by and with the help of my Uncle who once had his PPL, I was able to narrow it down from a 5 mile radius to a 4, then a 3, then a 2 and before I knew it I could depart Meig’s fly around for a while and return and land….YES on the runway.
As the flight simulation software evolved into what it is today, I’ve slowly been trying to learn more technique and follow procedure more accurately. While I have no aspiration to become a pilot in the real world, I do continually push myself to be a better pilot in the virtual world. After a stressful day in the office….this is my stress relief. Of course, I’ve had more stressful days flying my computer sim….but that is a different story and I know you understand what I’m saying.
My friend Al (who is a flight sim blogger and inspired me to start by blog) will often ask me “What MD-80 are you flying?” By the way, check out his blog here. Anyway, I will usually answer…Oh that is a freeware model I found somewhere. With exception to some GA aircraft I own from Carenado, all the heavy iron I fly is freeware. Oh wait….I do own a PMDG 747 but she never leaves the hangar, but more about that later.
Back in around late 2001 – 2002 timeframe I heard about a company called GoFlight. I’ve talked about GoFlight before. They make various hardware modules for those wanting to build a home cockpit. My goal when I began purchasing these hardware modules was to make every attempt to avoid having to use the mouse and keyboard in flight.
The modules aren’t cheap in price, but as I’ve said before…all hobbies have a cost and I even blogged about that here and I simply do not mind paying for quality and quality is what you get with the GoFlight gear. Anyway, I began buying a few here and a few there. At the time I sort of mothballed my equipment and took about 5 years off, I had about $1000 invested in GoFlight hardware and only needed to use mouse and keyboard about 60% of the time. I had moved the needle, but I needed to move it more.
The Fall of 2010 came around and the Flight Sim bug bit me again. I pulled out all my gear (I also have the CH Yoke and Peds) and I built a new PC worthy of running FSX with sliders all the way to the right. I plugged all my GF gear in and started flying.
Sometime between the time I semi-retired from the hobby and the five long years it took me to get back into it, I forgot (perhaps never knew) that a lot of the payware companies don’t factor into their aircraft programming design to incorporate external hardware like that of the GoFlight gear. The difficulty comes in around how a payware company designs the auto-pilot functionality. If they get away from the Microsoft default key assignments then most likely the add-on payware aircraft won’t work with the GoFlight MCP. This is what happened and why I own a PMDG 747 FSX model that never leaves the hangar.
Now let me briefly explain what happened. I am a sucker for eye candy (have been since I was a teenager) and I fell in love with how the PMDG 747 looked and all the features. I spent about 2.5 minutes researching and found a thread talking about a software patch available from PMDG (for free) which would allow the PMDG to work with the GoFlight MCP. Credit card in hand….BOOM…there she was…the Queen of the Skies. But that excitement was short lived with the GF-MCP wouldn’t work. I calmly researched and after about 10 minutes or so of digging around I found another thread stating that PMDG was no longer offering that patch. However, I could purchase it, but it only worked with the GF-MCP Pro. I had the GF-MCP Advanced.
This experience left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It would cost me several hundred dollars to get to the point where I could fly the PMDG 747 without having to use mouse for MCP functions. I took a stand and said I wasn’t going there. I would not fly an aircraft and not be able to use the hardware that saved me 40% of the keyboard and mouse interactions. I remembered freeware/shareware companies like POSKY who make some nice looking aircraft and they all work with my setup. So that is what I’ve been flying.
A few days ago I began reading about a new payware aircraft that was soon to be released. It was the Boeing 737NG and everyone was talking about it. Yes, everyone is also talking about PMDG’s soon to be released product….but this company beat them to it. iFly just released their Boeing 737NG for FSX and let me tell you she is as beautiful as she is functional. When I saw the images some of my FS friends had captured and watching the videos I forgot about my past experiences with PMDG for about 2 minutes.
But like a giant hand coming from no where, I was slapped back into reality. This probably won’t work for me. Oh…by the way, in the past 2-3 weeks I’ve spent another $1000 in GoFlight gear. The needle has been moved even further. I only use the mouse and keyboard about 25-30% of the time. So there was no way I was going to just give my hard earned money away so this 737 can sit next to the 747 and collect dust.
I quickly started researching but I couldn’t read everything in their forums about add-on hardware functionality. Thankfully my virtual airline CEO purchased the 737NG earlier that day and was setup with forum access. I asked him to look through the forums to see if there was any mention of GoFlight compatibility. Bada-Bing-Bada-Boom he sent me a message through our AvA forums saying to get on TeamSpeak. A very long story short, he told me there was support for it and I nearly started a fire with the friction created by taking my credit card from my wallet so fast.
I installed and set her up for a quick flight and took her for a lap around KDFW. She handled beautifully and just launched off of runway 35C like being launched from an aircraft carrier catapult. I was flying her in her base iFly livery colors. I couldn’t sleep last night with the excitement of flying her again today.
So I got up and installed an Alaska Airlines paint on her (American Airlines is not available yet) and am flying an AA Codeshare from KDFW to KSEA then on up to PANC. She handles better than I could imagine and I’m learning a lot from flying a more complex aircraft than the default or freeware models. I also flew the return trip from PANC to KSEA then on down to KDFW.
(Alaska B739 at KDFW during an afternoon rain shower).
Now…if you are a GoFlight user and own the GF-MCP Pro (which I now do) there are some very minor bugs. Most all functionality works with exception of a few lights do not illuminate. I’m told GoFlight is currently in beta testing for a new GF-Config software (this is what makes all the GoFlight hardware work with FSX) and it should be available soon.
To fly this aircraft the way she needs to be flown, I’ve probably moved the needle backwards on my quest for no mouse and no keyboard interaction. But most will be just on the ground. I’m OK with that for now.
It has taken me a few days to write this blog post and I’ve now owned the iFly 737NG for FSX for a little over 4 days now. I’m learning more about her each and every day. I won’t say I’ve not had my frustrations with this bird, but each one I walk away a little smarter and a little happier.
I won’t say I’ll never fly the old freeware models I have….actually I will fly them as I do enjoy a variety when flying for AvA. But I do really enjoy this new airplane and glad to say iFly the Boeing 737NG.
Next time I’ll share with you my experience with a new flight simulator add-on called FS2Crew. I purchased the FS2Crew version for the iFly B737NG and it has helped by adding a virtual second pair of hands in the cockpit.