Thrustmaster Airbus Captains Pack

Those of you who know me and have been reading my blog posts for the past 13+ years, know that I enjoy the immersion which the flight simulation hobby provides to us.  I’ve spent time, money and a lot of effort to build up my home simulator with various controllers from GoFlight (which sadly went bust a few years ago) and when flying my PMDG 737 I rarely need to use the mouse and keyboard during any phase of flight.  However, the same can’t be said for the Fenix A320.

Immersion Killer

Yes, ladies and gentlemen….I’ve been flying my Fenix Airbus A320 (and even the FSLabs back in P3D) with a yoke versus a sidestick or joystick controller.  But this is about to change as I recently gifted myself the Thrustmaster Airbus Captains Pack which contains the sidestick controller, the throttle quadrant plus to two additional add-on quadrants which control the speed brakes and the flaps.  Additionally, for the record….I did attempt to use an older Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick, but just found that I preferred the feel of the yoke versus the stick.

Finally, while I’ve spent the better part of the last 5-6 years flying an Airbus with a yoke, as I’ve been flying computer based sims for well over 40+ years….I only purchased my first yoke about 25 years ago.  Before that I had always used a joystick to control whatever aircraft I was flying as yokes really weren’t available way back when.

Why Change Now

Good question!  I suppose the really honest answer to this question boils down to the simple fact that I really wanted the same level of immersion with the Fenix A320 (and someday soon the Fenix A319/A321) that I have with the PMDG 737.  In addition, a few weeks ago I signed up for the pre-order release of the new WinWing FCU unit which once that is setup I’ll be more immersed into the world of Airbus and not need my mouse and keyboard nearly as much.

But there’s another reason

I’ve found I need to use different sensitivity settings on my old CH Products Yoke when controlling the Fenix A320 than what is needed with the PMDG 737.  Half the time I forget to adjust them and when they are setup for the 737, I really struggle with the flare in the Fenix and usually slam harder than I would like onto the runway.  The reason I’ve put up with this so long is I tend to fly the PMDG 737 about 75-80% of the time.  But I have a feeling I’ll fly the Fenix A320 a lot more now.

Unboxing, Setup and first Use

I must say, I was really impressed with the packaging.  The simulated “Red Tape” that reads remove before use made me chuckle.  I quickly unboxed it and began setting it all up.  In the box you’ll find two long USB cables and two shorter ones.  The shorter cables, about 3 inches in length will connect both the flap controller and the speed brakes controller to the main center throttle quadrant.  Then one of the longer USB cables can be used to connect this complete unit to your PC and same with the sidestick.  Depending on your configuration, you can use the sidestick as somewhat of a USB hub and connect the throttle quad to that.  But I have plenty of USB ports and just connected both to the PC.

Once that was done, it was time to download the drivers from the Thrustmaster website.  I initially had difficultly getting Windows to recognize the sidestick as by default it is set to work with an Xbox.  But there is a switch on the back to change that to PC and once done, Windows detected it just fine.  I quickly went through the calibration steps in Windows just to make sure everything worked.

Fenix Calibration

This caused me to pull a few hairs out at first.  Obviously I’m only going to use this setup when flying an Airbus.  I’ll revert back to my yoke and other hardware when flying a Boeing.  But it took me a few minutes to get the throttle quad to function correctly with the Fenix.  Thankfully, they have some good documentation on the Fenix website to assist in this effort.

After some additional time in removing some of the mappings which automatically get applied and which I don’t need, it was time for my first test flight.

Pros and Cons

Naturally there will always be some pros and cons to any hardware add-on.  While the Thrustmaster TCA hardware is plastic, it does appear to be well made.  The sidestick is the heaviest of the kit and does have a nice feel to it.  The buttons and leavers all appear to be smooth in their operation.

However, there are a few drawbacks that I’ve discovered after a few flights.  For example, the speed brake is just a lever and will not pull up as it does in the real aircraft to arm the spoilers.  However, I just mapped one of the buttons on the engine start panel to arm the spoilers.  Also, not really sure what the engineers had in mind when they planned the auto-brake switch as it is a rotating knob versus the push button controls found in the real Airbus A320.

Finally, if you suddenly lose all your Windows and MSFS sounds, it’s most likely because the sound settings have switched over to the TCA Sidestick audio device.  This is because the TCA Sidestick has a built in audio device where you can attach a headset if you desire.  As this is not something I’ll use, I just changed my audio devices back to my PC soundcard.

Final Thoughts

I really didn’t mean for this to become a review of the Thrustmaster TCA Airbus Captains Pack, but I guess in a way it turned out to be just that.  So far I’m pleased with the purchase and am certainly looking forward to receiving my Winwing FCU.  I believe the combination of these two pieces of kit will allow me to enjoy the Fenix A320 as much as I enjoy the PMDG 737 from an immersion point of view.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

P.S. I’ve actually been looking very closely at the Thrustmaster Boeing Yoke to replace my 25+ year old CH Products yoke.  When/If I do decide to pull the trigger on this purchase, I’ll certainly let you all know.

Reader Question – Help Me Please!

Hello to all my wonderful readers and followers of my blog site.  I hope you are doing well.  I received the following message from a new, young sim pilot who received Microsoft Flight Simulator for Christmas.  This is his first introduction virtual aviation and simulation and he’s desperate to get some help.  The reason I’m sharing his email and my responses with you is I believe the trap he’s fallen into is one that many others who are new to the hobby also fall into.

Hello Jerry!  Can you help me please?  For Christmas I received Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I’m 14 years old and hope to one day become a real world airline pilot. But my hopes and dreams are somewhat being smashed in my inability to fly in the sim.  I just can’t seem to control the airplane like I see others on YouTube and Twitch.  While I can takeoff semi OK, my landings are really all over the place.  Can you help me?  Peter

For added context, over the past few days I’ve been having an email exchange with young Peter to try to understand his dilemma better.  During this exchange of emails I’ve learned that he is mostly flying the default 747 as that is what he dreams of doing and this back and forth has allowed me to provide both Peter and anyone else in his situation some much needed, solid advice.  So here goes…

Walk before trying to run

While I do not remember my parents teaching me to walk and certainly don’t remember my first steps, as infants we must first master the slower art of walking before we can ever attempt to run.  The same concept is important to remember when attempting to fly an aircraft in the sim.  The Boeing 747, while she’s an awesome aircraft to fly…the Queen of the Skies requires isn’t very forgiving towards brand new pilots.  Just as in the real world, someone who decides they want to fly a Boeing 747 doesn’t just go out to their local airport’s flight school and say please teach me to fly the 747.

Learn the Basics First

Peter, or anyone like him should first learn the basics of flight in a much, much smaller aircraft.  What I advised Peter to do, and this is solid advice to anyone else who is new to the world of flight simulation is to start with the Cessna 172.  While there are other default aircraft such as the Cessna 152 or the CubCrafters XCub which would certainly be suitable to learn the basics in, I just really prefer the Cessna 172.  After all, most likely this type of aircraft will be what he begins with when he goes out to his local airport to sign up with a flight school.  Spend the necessary time to learn this aircraft inside and out.  While the Cessna 172 may not initially scratch the itch Peter has to learn the 747, it will make the process much, much easier and much, much less stressful.

A Recommended Tutorial

Way back in 2017, I wrote a tutorial article which titled Your First Flight.  While it’s a pretty basic tutorial in nature, I provide some information in that article which I’ve discussed with Peter.  The reason why I suggested this route with Peter and suggest the same to anyone new to sims is because the Cessna 172 is a very forgiving aircraft and it will allow the new sim pilot the opportunity to learn the basics.  These basics will carry forward to any other GA or even tubeliner aircraft one may want to fly.

Peter’s Progress

As is the case with a lot of the blog articles I write, it does often take me a few days or so to write, polish and publish.  This one has been no exception, and from the time I first received Peter’s email to the point in time I’m wrapping this article up and publishing, it’s been about 3 weeks.  I’m truly happy to report that Peter is taking my advice to heart and is spending time in the Cessna 172 and seems to be progressing well.

Additionally, on my advice Peter installed Volanta by Orbx.  Volanta (if you’re not familiar with it) is a free flight tracker which is super easy to use and Peter has shared a few of his circuit training flights with me and he’s really doing a fantastic job.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to provide Peter with some short cross country routes I’ve come up with and he’s excited to try these.  While I’m certainly not a flight instructor, I’m capable of serving as a mentor to help Peter and others in situations like this and certainly enjoy doing so.

Final Thoughts

Yes, I almost always have a few words to close out my posts and this one is certainly no exception. The discouragement Peter experienced with his struggles of trying to fly a complex aircraft like the Boeing 747 almost caused him to stop using his new sim.  The progress he’s making in the C172 has revigorated his new found love for virtual aviation and I know this basic knowledge he’s learning now will certainly corelate into other aircraft I’m sure he’ll also enjoy flying.  I think the same will apply to anyone else new coming into the hobby.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question – What is CTAF?

Hello to all my loyal readers.  We have a question regarding the use of CTAF on the VATSIM network and I felt it was worthy to share with everyone.

Hello Jerry, I occasionally fly on the VATSIM network and have been curious about the use of the CTAF frequency versus just the standard unicom frequency of 122.800.  Why the change?  And can you share any tips on finding the correct CTAF frequency for any given airport?  Thank you, Dennis.

Well Dennis….you bring up a very good question and one I should have probably addressed long ago.  VATSIM announced back around the first of the year that beginning on 1 March 2024 they would be trialing a new procedure for uncontrolled airspace whereby VATSIM pilots would need to tune into the local CTAF frequency versus just using the old standard UNICOM frequency of 122.800.

What is CTAF?

Let’s first explain what CTAF means.  CTAF stands for Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.  It’s a real world process for carrying our airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport without an operating control tower.  Each airport will have a unique CTAF frequency which is published on charts for pilots to use.

Why is VATSIM making this change?

As discussed in the VATSIM announcement from earlier this year, VATSIM is trialing this change for North American starting 1 March 2024.  This change is to more closely align with real world operating procedures and to better reduce radio chatter.

When to use CTAF versus 122.800?

Essentially, the use of the published CTAF frequency is only needed when an airport isn’t staffed by an online VATSIM controller.  However, if an airport controller isn’t online, pilots should use the CTAF frequency for their departing or arrival airport.  What I’ve found to work for me is to use the CTAF frequency within a 30-40 mile radius of the airport.  So when departing an uncontrolled airport, I will tune to the CTAF frequency for that airport and announce my intentions.  Once I depart and am above 10,000 feet, I’ll then switch to the old UNICOM freq of 122.800.

How to locate CTAF Frequencies?

There are many different ways to locate the CTAF frequency for a given airport.  Charts are certainly one way.  However, there’s an even better way and that is to type .ctaf xxxx (dot ctaf and airport ICAO) into the VATSIM client message box and hit enter.  A few moments later, you’ll receive a response with the correct CTAF frequency.  Alternatively, you can also use the VATSIM AIP site to search for the correct CTAF frequency.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, not everyone is catching onto the new CTAF process.  The trial is well into its 3rd month and many pilots are still using the old UNICOM frequency of 122.800 when they should be using CTAF.  So…my advice, when flying on the VATSIM network do your best to stay informed to all the current processes and use CTAF.

I hope this helps explain the new CTAF frequency process for VATSIM.  If you are flying on the VATSIM network and doing so in North American, I would encourage you to follow the correct procedures not only for your full enjoyment, but also that of others.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Some Real World Stuff

As many of my longtime readers may know, I am originally from the Great State of Texas.  There’s actually a funny saying that I’m reminded of that goes something like this, “If a man’s from Texas, he’ll tell you.  If he’s not, why embarrass him by asking?”  Anyway, yes….born and raised in Texas as they say.  I moved to Colorful Colorado back in 1998 for a brand new job and adventure.  A lot has happened in these past 25+ years.  In 2001, I met the love of my life.  Together we bought our house where we’ve been living for 20 years.  In 2007 we got married and of course in 2020 I officially retired.

My wife and I have been contemplating where we would live as we grow in our years and we’ve decided for us, the best place to do this is back home (at least back home for me) in the Great State of Texas.  While we’ve absolutely loved living and playing in Colorado, as one grows old the cold winters are just not a thing we enjoy anymore. While Texas does have brutal summers, we feel that is the better alternative to the Colorado winters.

Our relocation back to Texas may not happen for several months.  Actually, it may not even happen this calendar year.  We’re going to visit family this August and tour a few potential neighborhoods in the North Georgetown area.  Beyond starting to do some organizing and cleaning up of unneeded junk that we don’t plan to move to Texas, the real planning for the move will occur sometime after this trip takes place.  Naturally this will include placing our current home on the market.

The housing market (especially in our current neighborhood) is very strong at the moment.  But in addition to selling our current home, we have to find a new home in Texas, which we may or may not find during our visit in August. The longer we wait (after the August timeframe) the closer we get to the end of the year and the holidays.  Things tend to slow down and almost stall towards the end of the year as most people don’t tend to move or change locations at this time.

Having said all that, I’m excited about this move back to my home state.  We will be downsizing as well.  Our current house is almost 5,000 sq. ft of living space including finished basement and upstairs.  We’re looking for something in the 3,000 – 3,500 sq. ft. range all single level as my old knees won’t tolerate stairs in the coming years.

While this blog post has nothing to do with simulation gaming, I have always strived to keep my loyal readers involved as much as possible or as much as I want you to be involved in my personal life.  This is a big step for my wife and I, and will certainly mark a brand new chapter in our lives together.  I’ll occasionally update you on our progress as we make this journey together.

Until next time….

Jerry

MSFS Routine Cleanup Steps

A common question I often receive has to do with maintaining solid FPS and overall performance within Microsoft Flight Simulator as time goes by.  It’s true, even my beast of a PC tends to slow down over a period of time.  I built my current gaming machine about a year ago and it performed well the first 6 months or so, but over time I began experiencing micro stutters within MSFS and also noticed a slight reduction in my overall FPS.

My MSFS Settings and Hardware Specs

Before I get into all the nitty-gritty details of what I do from time to time to increase performance and keep my system running in tip-top performance, allow me to say this. Unfortunately, not all PC’s are created equal.  I made a sizeable investment when I built my gaming machine last May.  It features the Intel 9th Gen Core i9 13900KF CPU and the amazing 24 GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.  This powerful combination allows me to run MSFS at near max settings with an overall smooth experience.  But as I said, overtime I noticed a very slight reduction in performance and began experiencing those pesky micro stutters (especially on final approach).  In an effort to help you, I’ve documented the steps I take every few months to keep everything running as smooth as possible.

Clear MSFS Cache

The first thing I do is clear out the MSFS Cache.  To do this, start up MSFS and go to the General Options page.  Once on the General Options page, go to Data.  Scroll down to the Rolling Cache Settings section and click the Delete button, then click Apply and Save.  Once done, completely close out of MSFS.  You are ready for the next step.

Nvidia Control Panel

The next area we’re going to work on is within the Nvidia Control Panel.  On the Manage 3D Settings page, then scroll down to the section that reads Shader Cache Size and select the Disabled option and Apply.  You can close the Nvidia Control Panel.   We will return to this setting in a moment.

Delete Files

Navigate to your AppData Windows folder by typing %localappdata% in the address bar and navigate to local, then scroll down and double-click on the Nvidia folder.  Here you’ll see two folders named DXCache and GLCache.  Open up each of these folders one at a time and delete the contents of each while leaving the folders DXCache and GLCache remaining empty on your harddrive.

Disk Cleanup

Next, type in Disk Cleaner in your Windows search bar to bring up the Disk Clean-up utility.  Once open, make sure DirectX Shader Cache is selected and click OK. This will delete these files.

Restart PC

Before we go any further (and we’re almost done), do a full windows restart.

Nvidia Control Panel

Once you have restarted Windows, we need to navigate back to the Nvidia Control Panel and scroll back down to the Shader Cache Size section.  Re-enable that option back to Driver Default and click Apply.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully your experience is the same as mine where after you complete these above mentioned steps your MSFS performance will return back to normal and all those pesky micro-stutters will go away.  I tend to do this process every few months or when I begin to notice a drop in performance.  I also tend to do this after any major update to MSFS.  So while I just completed these steps in early May, I’ll most likely repeat them once SU15 is released, if that ever happens.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator SU15 Update Postponed Yet Again

Yes, the news broke yesterday that due to some issues found during the latest beta build for SU15 (1.37.15.0) which was supposed to originally release back in March, then postponed to 7 May has once again been postponed.  At the time of this writing, there is no new date available.

The issues found have to do with WASM “Missing Content” errors and stuttering/freezing on the Xbox platform.  A new beta update (1.37.17.0) which addresses the WASM “Missing Content” errors as well as a handful of other issues.  As for the Xbox issues, this continues to be under investigation with the hope of a fix being issued sometime next week.

PMDG 777-300ER

Of course, one has to wonder if the highly anticipated release of the PMDG 777-300ER isn’t caught up in these SU15 delays.  While PMDG have stated multiple times that their release strategy for the 777-300ER isn’t dependent on SU15, one still ponders this possibility.  If I’m honest with myself, and if I were responsible for the release of the most anticipated payware aircraft add-on in the past two years….I think I would delay it as well just to be 100% sure there were no undiscovered issues.  Especially considering the number of beta build releases that have been part of the SU15 cycle.

Bottom Line

Someday….perhaps later this month…perhaps early June SU15 will get released and someday after that…perhaps June, perhaps July, perhaps ???? the PMDG 777-300ER will release.  We all just have to wait and see.

Until Next Time….

Wait and See and Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024

I mentioned a little while ago when I wrote about the recent delay to system update 15 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that I would take the time to write about the new version of MSFS2024 which is due to release sometime this year. While we don’t have a release date at this time, if history repeats itself (as it often does) we could expect a end of summer timeframe release.  But considering (at least in my opinion) MSFS2020 is absolutely fantastic and should get even better once SU15 drops the wait for me is a non-issue.

A New Sim Really?

Like many, when I first learned that Microsoft/Asobo were working on a brand new sim I was surprised.  Of course if you’ve been around the flight sim world as long as I have, you’ve seen many iterations of the sim.  After all, Microsoft released six different versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator between the years of 1996 and 2006.  Each of these new versions contained new features and functionality from their predecessors and in many ways they each took advantage of the quickly developing PC technology of the day.  I firmly believe this is also why we’re seeing a brand new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator some four years after the successful release of MSFS2020.  Let’s face it, while MSFS2020 released to us on PC in August of 2020, the planning and actual development began many years before.

Most Popular Sim?

As I’ve said before in other blog posts, when MSFS 2020 released, the flight sim community expanded immensely almost overnight.  This is especially true when MSFS2020 became available on the XBox platform almost a year later.  While the flight sim community might still be relatively small and niche compared to other game genres, we have proven to Microsoft and Asobo that we’re here, we’re active and we want the very best flight simulation that can be developed for the home flight simulation enthusiast.

We may never really know if at the time MSFS2020 was released, whether Microsoft had the plans at that time for MSFS2024.  While they may have speculated it would be a popular release, I think the direction the flight sim community wanted Microsoft to take the franchise has proven to be worth their efforts in continuing the franchise for many decades.

All The Benefits

There are many, many benefits to us as consumers of flight simulation add-ons (including both software and hardware) for Microsoft to continue updating the sim for hopefully decades to come.  While the software add-on market has always been relatively strong, the hardware market is also making a huge comeback.  The hardware market had sort of become a bit stale in the last few years before the release of MSFS2020.  Today we have many different hardware developers creating everything from yokes, joysticks, pedals, throttles and all the various components to truly become free of needing to use the mouse and keyboard.  I firmly believe this increase of the number of software and hardware developers is testament to the success of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

MSFS2024

I’m sure everyone has already viewed the teaser videos Microsoft released around the time of the announcement last year.  Much of the new mission content are things I’m really not interested in.  True, while I will probably spend time doing some of them…it’s just not something I’m overly excited about.  For me, what I enjoy about any flight sim is the open world opportunity to fly what I want to fly, wherever I choose to fly it.  But what might we expect to be included in MSFS2024 that we don’t have available today?

New Aircraft

I would expect much of what we consider the default aircraft included in MSFS2020 today will be made available in MSFS2024.  But there are a few new aircraft which should make their way into MSFS2020 such as the Beluga Airbus and Airbus A300M.  But again, these are probably aircraft that I will rarely fly in the sim.  But wait…there’s more to MSFS2024.

Weather Data Capabilities

Asobo have commented in a few of the developer streams of late that MSFS2024 weather data is going to get some changes from what we know about weather in MSFS2020.  Could we finally be able to import historical weather into the sim?  Again, time will tell and this is one of the reasons I’m holding out on purchasing ActiveSky FS which I discussed a few weeks ago.

Freeware Marketplace

Now this I’m potentially excited about.  The amount of good, quality freeware add-ons that we have witnessed come onto the scene with MSFS2020 is exceptional.  While I own a great deal of payware airport sceneries for MSFS2020, I’m using several freeware airport sceneries in some locations as either there is no payware available or the freeware looks and performs better than the payware.  But Microsoft have noticed the demand of freeware content and may one day offer it to be available in the Microsoft Marketplace.  Like I said, I’m really excited about this as while I keep track of all the scenery I have installed in my sim (which you can see here), having this ability to install from Marketplace and hopefully be notified of any updates is a game changer for me.  This of course will also be HUGE for those on the XBox platform.  But we’ll see if this comes to fruition.

Release Date

As I’ve previously stated in this article, at this time we do not know when MSFS2024 will be released.  While history can always be a good indicator of things like this, we really just don’t know.  We may learn more after the FSExpo taking place in June (21-23 June), but I’m going to take a huge guess and say that MSFS2024 will release sometime between August and the end of the year.

Future of MSFS2020

I’ve spoken to many fellow flight simmers and currently it’s about a 70/30 split on whether they’ll move to MSFS2024 once released.  This being approx. 70% saying yes to MFSF2024 and approx. 30% have said they’ll stay on MSFS2020 for now.  But what is the future of MSFS2020?  Well we do know that sometime in 2025, Microsoft/Asobo will release SU16.  With SU16 Microsoft/Asobo might bring some of the features that will be available in MSFS2024 into MSFS2020.  How much or how little just isn’t known at this time.

800lb Gorilla

I can’t close out this article without addressing the 800lb Gorilla in the room and that of course has to do with all the purchased add-ons from MSFS2020.  What will be available?  When will they be available and what will it all cost?

Unfortunately we really don’t have an absolute set of answers to those above mentioned questions.  What we do know is the vast majority of 3rd party developers have publicly stated while they are just as much in the dark as the rest of us concerning when MSFS2024 will release and the amount of changes required to make their add-ons available into the new sim, they all have plans to make them available for MSFS2024 just as quickly as possible.  In addition, most have stated that any already purchased MSFS2020 add-on will not require a full repurchase once available for MSFS2024.  However, depending on the level of effort to bring them into MSFS2024 is simply unknown at this time and therefore I suppose there could be a minimal charge necessary to offset any of this development work.

Once again, if history repeats itself….most 3rd party developers will not have access to MSFS2024 until we all have access to it.  So the clock starts on any work required on these 3rd party add-ons the very same day we all can make our purchase of MSFS2024, download and install it.  While some in our community will be absolute idiots and begin posting in 3rd party developers forums, Discords etc. about when XYZ will be available…I urge everyone to be patient and just wait.  It will happen and it will happen just as soon as possible.

In Summary

For me, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 will be a day one purchase for me.  I will take the same, exact approach I did with MSFS2020.  I will install it and I will experience it most likely in a default Cessna 172.  I will continue to use MSFS2020 as my primary sim, utilizing the PMDG 737, (hopefully the 777-300ER), the Fenix A320 (and hopefully their A319/A321 as well) and patiently wait.  At such time these aircraft are available in the new sim, I will add them and progressively utilize MSFS2024 more and more,  Then at some point down the road MSFS2020 will be uninstalled and simply forgotten about just like P3Dv5 was.

Oh, One More Thing

Join me in crossing your fingers, toes etc. and perhaps even going so far as asking St. Joseph of Cupertino (Patron Saint of all things aviation) to intercede on our behalf, that from day one, MSFS2024 will open up their camera API functionality so that third party developer //42 can finally bring Chaseplane to MSFS.  While over the past couple of years I’ve managed to get somewhat used to the MSFS default camera system, for those of us that used Chaseplane back in P3D this would be a true game changer if it could be developed for the new sim.

If you’ve made it this far, Thank you!  My apologies for the lengthy blog post, but there was a lot that needed to be shared.  I will continue to share what information I can find on MSFS2024 as soon as more is known.  Of course, I’ll blog about all my experiences in the new sim once it’s on my PC.  What an amazing time this is for those of us involved in the hobby of flight simulation!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question – Rotten Attitudes

Your reader emails/questions have been flying in of late. Thank you!  If you have a question for me regarding flight simulation or just an opinion you would like to share, please consider contacting me.  You can use my “Ask Me A Question” form which can be found under Information (at the top).  We do have a fresh question from Jason regarding rotten attitudes within the flight simulation community.  Here’s his comment.

Hello Jerry.  My name is Jason and I’m relatively new to the flight simulation community.  I came aboard with MSFS 2020 (the PC version) about 18 months ago and I truly love the hobby.  Being brand new to flight simulation and also somewhat new to the world of aviation in general, I joined many forums and other social networks dedicated to the hobby.  However, I’ve found the vast majority to be made up of rude and condescending individuals.  Most of the questions I’ve asked have been met with responses such as “Did you do a Google Search” or “Google is your friend”. I’ve also watched hours, upon hours of various YouTube videos and Twitch Livestreams, but find most of these flight sim content creators to be just as rude.  I scratch my head and wonder why on earth they are spending time producing content if they are not willing to help?

Fortunately, I’ve found your website and your tutorials have been instrumental in helping me grasp the basics and you’ve also been very helpful with my email questions.  You might remember I emailed you about 18 months ago when I was struggling with configuring my controller.  Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for all your efforts.  I’m truly loving the hobby and most of that is down to you.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!  Jason

Sadly, the observations Jason makes in his email to me are so very true.   As most will know from reading my blog over all these years and by the way, this September will mark 14 years that I’ve been blogging about the hobby of flight simulation (and other things), I’ve truly tried my best to help as many people as I can.

In the Beginning

Of course for me personally, my start to this awesome hobby was way back in the early 1980’s. I was a teenager with a Commodore 64 and so wanted to learn how to fly and land my little aircraft.  This was well before the Internet Age we live in today.  But I was fortunate that I had an Uncle who had his PPL and while he knew nothing about a computer, the advice he gave me helped me learn how to depart Meigs Field and fly around Chicago and return back and land.  It was a game changer.  I went back home and one of my friends (who also had a C64 with flight sim) started a crude virtual airline where we tracked our flights on a Big Chief tablet and once a week compared notes.  What I didn’t know then was this was the virtual airline concept that we all know and love today.  But I digress…

Curmudgeons Everywhere

Ha Ha.  First let me define the word Curmudgeon for those who might not be familiar with the meaning.  According to the Webster Dictionary (yes I have a copy on my desk), a Curmudgeon is a bad-tempered person, especially an old one. It’s truly a sad state of affairs that this awesome hobby is chocked full of Curmudgeons.  They literally are everywhere….within all the forums, within all the social media platforms and within many of the Virtual Airlines I’ve come across over the years.

The Dawn of MSFS

Before Microsoft released MSFS 2020 back in August of 2020, the number of brand new flight simmers I encountered through VA’s, forums etc. was relatively low.  However, once MSFS released, the numbers of new simmers entering the hobby exploded beyond anything I had ever experienced before or even could have imagined.  By the way, this explosion of brand new blood into our hobby is extremely good news for the longevity of our beloved hobby.  All these brand new members are spending their hard earned dollars (or their parents hard earned dollars) on the sim platform and all the various add-ons that enhance their experiences.  Many young people are gaining an interest in aviation and will become aviation professionals as a result.  It’s all very good news!

Taking a Step Back

The issue Jason points out in his email to me is valid.  The problem with dismissing questions with a response like “Did you search before asking your question” or “Google is your friend” will often lead individuals to the wrong answer.  Sometimes….a person really doesn’t know or understand the exact phrases or terms they should be searching on to begin with.  This leads to even more frustration and like I said, will often lead to a wrong answer.

Now with that said, I am a firm believer in doing one’s own research as much as possible.  But as I just mentioned, someone new to the hobby might not understand exactly what they need to search on and let’s face it, some of these online forums/communities search features are not the best in the world.  As for Google, yes….Google can certainly be your friend….but it can also lead you down the wrong path.

Purpose of a Forum/Community

I’ve owned and managed many different forums and other online communities over the years.  Regardless of the type of platform the community is operated on, the main and primary purpose of any community should be to unite likeminded individuals and help foster growth within the community.  This includes helping those who desperately need help.

Final Thoughts

At some point in time everyone involved in the flight simulation community was new to the hobby.  Even if an individual is a real world pilot and understands the inner workings of a real world Cessna, Airbus or Boeing aircraft, they might not understand initially how all that knowledge corelates into the world of flight simulation.  So always be kind, be helpful and be respectful.

For those in the community seeking answers to questions, Yes…absolutely do your best to search the various forums, communities and Google can also help find a lot of information.  But when your searching doesn’t provide the fruit of your labor, then ask the question.  But perhaps as you ask your question, formulate the question in such a way that you have searched this, than and the other and still you are left with a question.

As I said at the top of this blog article, if you have questions please consider using the “Ask Me A Question” form.  If I know the answer, or if I can find the answer I’ll be perfectly happy to assist you.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS Sim Update 15 Postponed Again

Yes ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, the highly anticipated SU15 or Sim Update 15 has yet again been delayed.  Microsoft announced just a few days ago that while SU15 had been delayed from the original date of March something or another to the end of April, they now believe they need another week or so to get it all polished up before it is ready for our PC’s.   While I’m just as excited and looking forward to SU15 as much as anyone else is, I certainly applaud Microsoft/Asobo on their actions.  The last thing we want is a half-baked update that will cause us more problems.

The Final Update

Unless something changes, SU15 will be the final update to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that we’ll see this year.  Yes, that’s right!  Once SU15 is released (and pending that meets everyone’s expectations), we won’t see another system update for MSFS2020 until sometime in 2025. I think the reason for this is perhaps two-fold.  First, we’ve known for some time now that Microsoft and Asobo believe they have developed MSFS2020 just about as far as it can be developed.  Second, of course MSFS2024 is just around the corner.  While Microsoft and Asobo will continue to support MSFS2020 for some period of time after the release of MSFS2024, their focus after SU15 will be focused mainly towards the new sim.  Of course at the present time we do not have a release date for MSFS2024.  Perhaps we’ll learn more during the FSExpo in June.  But until more is known…we’ll just focus on MSFS2020.

Worth The Wait

Yes, I do believe SU15 will be worth the wait.  As I previously stated, it is truly best that Microsoft and Asobo takes all the time they feel they need to get it right.  But if you’re like me and have somewhat forgotten all that we can expect from SU15, here’s a little mental refresher for us all.

Stability and Performance Improvements

Microsoft and Asobo believe the SU15 update will bring us better sim stability and overall better performance with memory utilization.  Hopefully these changes will reduce the amount of stuttering we sometimes experience on short-final.

Better Ground Handling

SU15 promises a bit better friction and rubber simulation with a more realistic feeling when the aircraft is on the ground.  We do know that the developers of the Fenix A320 are eagerly awaiting this update to further enhance the ground physics of the A320 and hopefully other 3rd party developers can take advantage of this in the very near future.

More Live AI Traffic

While this one is not that important to me as I either fly on the VATSIM network or I use the FSLTL traffic injection, but SU15 will include more live AI traffic at the default level.  Of course this will come with a possible cost with performance.  But hopefully the performance improvements already mentioned will counter this impact.

Better land/water masking

SU15 will do a better job with how the water and land meetup and hopefully all the blocky textures and color differences around where water meets land will be a thing of the past.

iniBuilds A320

Yes, for those who are eagerly awaiting the new iniBuilds A320neo, that should finally be available with the SU15 update.  While again this isn’t something I’m that bothered with as I do absolutely love the Fenix A320, for those on the XBox platform you should be getting a really good aircraft in your virtual hangar.  Especially considering those on the XBox platform do have have access to either the Fenix or the FBW versions.

Final Thoughts

I’m hopeful SU15 will deliver all these wonderful things and I’m looking forward to the future to see what MSFS 2024 will bring.  I know a lot of people are still confused as to why Microsoft is releasing another brand new simulator and not just further developing MSFS 2020.  I plan to write about all this in the very near future and share some of the things I’m looking to see in the new sim.  For now, let’s be thankful for what we have and hope SU15 makes things even better until the new sim is here.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question – Intermediate GA Aircraft Recommendations

As I’ve been doing more VFR GA flights in the last few weeks, I felt I would turn this latest reader question into a blog post for all to learn from.

Hello Jerry.  Another new reader of your awesome blog.  I’ve learned so much and truly appreciate the level of effort you put into your tutorials and your willingness to help so many with our questions.  I’m fairly new to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Many years ago I enjoyed Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and spent a few years in FSX then life got in the way.  I retired last year and bought myself a copy of MSFS and have been slowly getting back into the hobby. Anyway….
While I’m interested in simulating/flying all aircraft types, I’ve really been concentrating on flying the default general aviation aircraft in the sim.  But I think I’m ready to take things up a notch and would like to dip my toe into a little more complex GA type aircraft and was wondering if you had any recommendations for me?  Also, what are your opinions of Carenado? Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.  Thomas

Well Thomas, I absolutely applaud your desire to take a step up in your GA or General Aviation fun.  The timing of your email couldn’t be any better as I have just taken a similar step in MSFS and made a purchase which I can highly recommend to you.  But before I do that, allow me to make a few points for other readers that might be nearing the conclusion as yourself.

For most who are new to any flight simulation platform (MSFS, P3D, X-Plane etc.) I always recommend spending time flying the default aircraft before spending any additional money on payware aircraft.  While I’ve enjoyed this hobby for well over 40 years, some people may quickly lose interest after a few months and go to something else.  When MSFS was released back in August of 2020, I even spent the first year only flying the default GA aircraft while I still spent the majority of my time in P3D.  But if one continues to keep an interest in flight simulation, it’s natural to want to take things to the next level and that is where payware aircraft comes into the picture.

For Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS 2020) the absolute best general aviation aircraft available at the time of this writing is going to be the A2A  Comanche with Accu-Sim.  While I don’t own this aircraft just yet, I have owned several A2A aircraft back in my P3D days including the Cessna C182 Skylane, Cherokee 180 and the Comanche 250.  All three were amazing aircraft.  So I have no doubt the new Comanche for MSFS is just as good.  For GA aircraft, A2A is what PMDG or Fenix is towards tubeliners.  These are highly detailed and somewhat complex aircraft to fly.

As you specifically asked about intermediate GA aircraft, I really think you can’t go wrong with the JustFlight Cherokee family of GA aircraft or more specifically the PA-28R Arrow III.  The reason I said the timing of your email couldn’t be any better, is just a few days ago I wrote a somewhat light review of my most recent GA aircraft purchase and that was the JustFlight PA-28R Bundle.  I’ve been flying these aircraft almost exclusively the past week and really love them.  While I still tend to spend 75% of my time flying tubeliners in the sim, I truly do love the “low and slow” element of flying with a single engine light aircraft.

From my experience over the past few days, the JustFlight PA-28R offers a lot more immersion than what you’ll find with the default GA aircraft or even something like a Carenado payware aircraft which you asked about.  In my opinion, while Carenado creates some truly stunning exterior models the flight dynamics are going to be fairly basic and comparable to any of the default aircraft.

But bottom line and please understand that I am saying this from my own opinions and not being paid or influenced by JustFlight in any way.  But I’ve really been impressed with what they have done with the Cherokee PA-28R family of aircraft.  I’ve owned a few other JustFlight aircraft dating back to FSX and P3D and was not as impressed as what I’ve seen in the PA-28R for MSFS.  It’s a truly fine general aviation aircraft and I’m truly pleased with my purchase and highly, highly recommend it to others.

If you have a question you would like my help with, please drop me a message.  You can easily do this by clicking Information at the top of the page and then click “Ask Me A Question“.  This will open up a form where you can submit your question to me.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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