WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 14

As the flight legs and miles tick on by, we continue to make good progress on our around the world adventure following the course the WorldFlight teams will be using this November.  If you’re just joining our little story with this posting, please make sure you start at the beginning to gain the full picture of what this tour is about and why I’m doing it.

With exception to one week in June, I’ve been releasing two blog postings covering two flight legs per week.  I officially kicked off the 2018 Worldflight tour from Sydney, Australia on the 6th of June and this blog posting is scheduled to be released on 28 July.  If I continue at the pace of two flight legs per week, then all will wrap up on the 5th of December which is a full month after the official WorldFlight tour starts.  So at some point I’m most likely to start releasing more than two legs per week so that I wrap up the tour around the same time as the official tour wraps up.  But time….sometimes (most of the time with me) there just doesn’t seem to be enough free time available.  But we’ll see how things go and for now, let’s just get on with this leg of our journey.

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History of City

Ikeja is the capital of Lagos State and settled by the Yoruba people. The locality was raided for slaves until the mid-19th century. Early in the 20th century it became an agricultural hinterland for Lagos; kola nuts were first grown in Nigeria in this area. In 1976, Ikeja became the capital city.

History of Country

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, commonly referred to as Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the West, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger to the north. It comprises 36 states. Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy. Nigeria has the 3rd largest youth population in the world, after India and China with more than 90 million of its 186 million population being under the age of 18. Nigeria is the world’s 20th largest economy.

History of Airport

Murtala Muhammed International Airport (DNMM) is an international airport in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria and is the major airport serving the entire state.

History of Airline

EgyptAir is the flag carrier airline of Egypt. The airline is based at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, operating scheduled passenger and freight services to more than 75 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. EgyptAir is a member of the Star Alliance.

Flight Briefing

MSR1066
FOOL – DNMM
Planned Fuel – 12,975
Planned Altitude – 38,000
Distance – 517
Flight Time: 1hr, 30min
Route: ARKO2S ARKOT UG856 SITPO UP685 LIREX UR603 NAROM NARO1N

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Flight Journal

Once again it’s time to leave and head to our next destination.  The weather (or should I say poor weather) has been somewhat of a theme with this tour.  But then again, so many of our destinations have been in and around the equator and this one is certainly no different.  Today we have poor conditions at both ends of our journey.  My first officer and I have been reviewing the weather forecast for Ikeja and are prepared for less than optimal conditions on arrival.  But more about that later.  We’re all ready to go here on the ground in Libreville.  We’re shuttling this EgyptAir Boeing 737-800 up to Ikeja.

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Let’s Go!

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Up, Up and Away!

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Making our turn to join the departure SID.

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The sun does exist after all as we break through the clouds.

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Cruising at 38,000 high above the clouds and weather.  We know this won’t last.

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A nice wing shot

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Beginning our descent into Nigeria.

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It doesn’t look too bad down there.  But looks can sometimes be deceiving as we’ll soon discover.

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Visibility ?

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Making our turn to join the ILS.  No visual approach today.

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What a mess.  Just after receiving our landing clearance, we were instructed to go around.  TOGA.

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Let’s try this again….

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The sun is doing its best to burn off all this fog.  But visibility is still poor.

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On top of extremely poor visibility, we also have a crosswind to deal with.

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My aircraft and full right rudder.

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Still managed a center line landing.

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Safely on the ground and parked up waiting for the bus to arrive.  This was a challenging, but extremely fun flight.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
PMDG 737-800  (EgyptAir livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

Our stay will be pretty short here and in just a few days we’ll depart for Senegal.  I’m pretty sure our travelers are ready to hit the European segment of this tour as we’ll be visiting some really cool places over the next few weeks as we continue our around the world tour.

Until next time….Happy Flying!

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 13

Of the twelve previous flight segments or legs, the longest flight has been just over 1,300 nm.  This leg from Capetown, South Africa up to Libreville, Gabon is the longest of the entire tour at 2,122 nm.  We’ll head from the southern tip of Africa all the way to the equator during this one flight with a flying time of 5 hours.

As I’ve pointed out before, most of the flights between our departure and arrival airports don’t have real world flights operating between them.  This segment is no different and I’ve tried to ensure a variety of both aircraft type and also airline livery.  On all segments prior to this one (with exception to the JANET flight) I’ve been using aircraft and airlines which do fly in and out of the airport pairs.  This flight is no different.  Ethiopian does in fact fly into Cape Town and they do fly into Libreville (just not between the two).  But hey…that’s all OK.

Ethiopian Airlines had a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Cape Town and it needed to be positioned in Libreville for a flight back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  So we offered to provide the ferry service in exchange of allowing our travelers passage.  Of course, we’re also transporting additional cargo which also needed to be taken from Cape Town to Libreville.  It’s a win-win situation and our passengers get to once again fly in a Dreamliner and they’ll certain appreciate the added comfort for this long journey.

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History of City

Libreville is the capital and largest city of Gabon, in western central Africa. The city is a port on the Komo River, near the Gulf of Guinea and a major trade center for the timber industry. The city’s economy mainly focuses on the shipbuilding, brewing and sawmill industries. As of the 2013 census, the population of Libreville was 703,904.

History of Country

Gabon is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. The area of Gabon is over 100,000 sq. miles and its population is estimated at 2 million people.

History of Airport

The Libreville International Airport, (FOOL) is the largest airport in Gabon and is located approx. 11 km north of the city. Built in the 1950’s, the airport is home to Nationale Regionale Transport and Sky Gabon. Flights depart daily throughout the EMEA region.

History of Airline

Ethiopian Airlines is Ethiopia’s flag carrier and is wholly owned by the country’s government. EAL was founded in December 1945 and commenced operations in April 1946, expanding to international flights in 1951. Ethiopian Airlines is headquartered at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The airline flies to more destinations in Africa than any other carrier. It is one of the fastest growing airlines in the industry and is the largest on the African continent.

Flight Briefing

ETH1066
FACT – FOOL
Planned Fuel – 70,000
Planned Altitude – 40,000
Distance – 2130
Flight Time: 5hr
Route: KODE1C KODES/N0489F390 UN186 ATUPI/N0489F400 UM436 ANVAG UN187 VNA UR526 IWONA EBRA1V

leg 13 fp

Flight Journal

Our “Around the World” journey has taken our tourists to some pretty exotic and fun places with a whole lot more to explore in the coming weeks/months.  But Cape Town seems to have been a hit with most of the crowd.  I believe the breaching great white sharks they witnessed was most likely the hit amongst the crowd and who can blame them.  But we must stick to our schedule and once again it’s time to move on.

As previously mentioned, this next flight leg will be the longest of the entire tour at a whopping 2,122 miles.  We’re busy readying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for an early morning departure out of Cape Town in the hopes of arriving into Gabon just after lunch.

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Just as catering is completing their task of stocking our aircraft with food and beverage, our tourists all arrive by bus from the hotel.

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The last of the ULD containers are being loaded into the belly of the B788.  A few of these contain all of our travelers luggage and others are freight we’re transporting on behalf of Ethiopian Airlines.

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With everything loaded, all doors closed…it’s time for pushback and engine start.  We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.

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Lined up and ready to go.

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The massive GE turbofan engines make light work of getting our heavy aircraft off the ground and into the skies.

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Our Boeing 787 Dreamliner turning to join the departure out of Cape Town.

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Love the wing shots.

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Climbing to 40,000 feet.

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Goodbye to the lush green of South Africa and hello to the desert sands.

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Look at that wing flex.

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As per our usual luck, the thick carpet of clouds blocks our view as we begin our descent.

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Making a turn along the arrival STAR into Gabon.

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On final approach into Libreville, Gabon

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Flaps Full

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Cleared to land

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Parked and waiting for the bus.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Ethiopian Airlines Livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

After a few days of exploring the area, our group will travel 500 miles to Nigeria then on to Senegal, Morocco and then into Europe.  While we’re making great progress, we’re still not yet a third of the way through the trip.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

A Whole Lotta Goodness

Virtual Farmers…are you paying attention?  There’s a whole lotta goodness coming our way this fall.  Yes, Giants is set to release Farming Simulator 19 for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 20 November 2018.  The ability to pre-order your very own copy is available directly from the Giants website, Steam and even places like Amazon.  At the present time, the going rate for FS19 is $34.99 on both the Giants website and Steam.  Amazon appears to want $5.00 more with their price set at $39.99.  If you want my advice, pick the Steam version and enjoy automagic updates and a carefree method of managing the install/licensing etc. But whatever purchase method you choose, I firmly believe the very best agricultural based simulator to date will be Farming Simulator 19.

Will you Buy FS19?

From all that I’ve read, from all that I’ve heard…Farming Simulator 19 will break a trend in which we’ve seen with past releases of this popular franchise.  It’s been argued in the past that the differences between versions have been minimal at best.  While I didn’t play FS11 or FS13, I did come onboard with FS15 after perhaps 2-3 months after initial release and of course I’ve played FS17 for over 800 hours.  Personally speaking, when I look back and compare FS15 to FS17 I see the value in upgrading.  After all, with FS17 we were introduced to the amazing Seasons Mod which truly changed the way FS17 is to be played and gave us a much, much higher level of immersion than we’ve had in previous releases.  Yes…even including the Soil Mod which truly lifted the imaginative game play on FS15.

Going out on a limb

I’m going to go right ahead and crawl my big ole bear butt right out onto the limb and state for all to read….Farming Simulator 19 will be the very best agricultural based simulation ever released by Giants AND will be the very best of all of these genre based games currently available to us at this time.

My Excitement

I’ll admit I found the Missions/Contracting options in FS15 and FS17 somewhat boring after a while.  I felt in FS17 more could have been done to make it more of a real job by allowing us to use our own equipment and also the ability to do tasks such as empty the combine.  In FS17 the combine could hold an infinite amount of whatever and this sort of blew the immersion out of the water.

In Farming Simulator 19, it appears they have reworked these missions and we will have the option to use our own equipment.  That’s Cool!  I’m also really  excited about the new modes of game play.  Actually, you can read more about these new game play modes by reading this thread on the PC-SG Forums.

Patience Grasshopper

Yes, we will need to find a way to contain ourselves until 20 November.  But I truly believe the extra few weeks we’ll need to wait will be 100% worth it.  Want more info on FS19?  The Giants website is always a good source, PC-SG will also have all the latest and greatest news and YouTube….There are a number of YouTube videos discussing all the wonderful new features FS19 will hold and I would expect we’ll all see preview videos from the usual suspects when they received their pre-release copies and showcase game play on their channels.  So get that popcorn ready, get your farms all tidy and ready to sell on FS17 and draw a BIG circle around the 20 November date on the calendar and be prepared to work hard.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

FlightSim Labs and why I changed my mind

Sometimes, we have the idea or the mindset that “I’ll never do ____________” (insert word or phrase) because of this, that or some other reason.  I suppose the phrase “Never, Say Never” comes roaring into my head.  By the way, did you know the first recorded mention of the words “Never, Say Never” was from Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers in 1837.  Anyway….I must say that I’ve recently purchased something which I’ve previously said I would never do.  I also recognize the topic of this posting is extremely controversial within the flight simulation community.  I’ll post some final thoughts at the end of this piece and will welcome any comments (pending they are civil) from my readers.  Also, will just remind anyone reading this outside of my blog website (GrizzlyBearSims.com), my writings are syndicated on a few different other websites and the opinions expressed in this piece belong to me and may or may not be the same opinions expressed by the owners of those other websites.

Before I get long-winded, let me just say right off the bat that YES, I’ve purchased BOTH the Flight Sim Labs Airbus A320 and their newly released A319 aircraft.  I’ll get into all the reasons for my change of opinions in just a moment.  First, let me just provide a little background history regarding both Flight Sim Labs (FS Labs) and their Airbus aircraft.

First Things First

I first heard of FSLabs several years ago when I was researching information regarding home cockpit building and specifically some utilities FSLabs had developed for some third party hardware add-ons.  Thanks for FSLabs as their solution helped me get my GoFlight hardware working with the older PMDG 747 in FSX.  This was all around the 2009-10 timeframe.

Of course, I’ve also been aware of their Concorde-X and their A320-X aircraft add-ons for many years.  I almost purchased the Concorde-X several years ago, but if I’m not mistaken…one of the reasons I didn’t was because I was transitioning from FSX to Prepar3D v2.x and at that point in time the Concorde-X was not compatible.  While the Concorde-X is now compatible with P3D v2 and v3, it’s not compatible with v4.

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Flight Sim Labs Airbus A320 in American Airlines livery.

If it’s not Boeing…

So you all know the saying, “If it’s not Boeing, I ain’t going”.  Yea…I’ve felt that way for a long time both in the real world and also in the virtual sim world.  But I have this little issue…perhaps some might say it falls into the superstition category…but typically when time permits I enjoy recreating my real world flights in the simulator.  A few years ago I was flying from Denver to Indianapolis on Frontier Airlines for a business trip.  The flight was going to be on an Airbus A319 and while I really had no experience with Airbus aircraft in the flight sim, I decided to do a little research.  I discovered FSLabs offered an A320 and Aerosoft offered a package including the A318, A319, A320 and A321.  At the time, it was sort of a no-brainer decision.  I had a desire to fly the real-world Airbus A319 Frontier flight and Aerosoft had the add-on aircraft which was compatible with the sim I was using at the time.

Time Keeps on Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’….

…Into the Future.   Yes, another musical lyric segue….but now as a few years have passed since my original purchase of the Airbus product, we find ourselves one year post Prepar3D v4 (64 bit) release and while many add-on developers were quick to release their P3D v4 compatible aircraft models, scenery and other add-ons….Aerosoft (as of the time of this writing) still haven’t released their Airbus series for P3D v4.  But let me just say that this blog article is not about the Aerosoft Airbus delays.

Back on Topic

And back to my opening sentence of this writing.  I’ve expressed my feelings towards the Flight Sim Labs PR debacle both here on my blog as well as in other corners of the web such as flight sim related forums and various Facebook flight sim groups.  If you’re not aware of all that has transpired and you don’t care to read my older posting linked above, I’ll just quickly summarize the happenings over the past several months below:

  • In an effort to prevent pirating of the FSLabs A320X aircraft add-on, FSLabs inserted a bit of malware which only became active if the software was an illegal, pirated copy.  FSLabs apologized, explained the  reasons and admitted the action taken was “a bit heavy handed”.
  • A few months later, it was discovered that the FSLabs A320X installer was directly writing files into the system32 and SysWOW64 directories.
  • Then a little spat began to brew between FSLabs and the folks over at Reddit.  Some threatening words and legal action were exchanged.
  • Finally, someone using the name “RandomRedditor” hacked the FSLabs website and forums.

While the actions taken by FSLabs was and is a major failure on their part, certainly two wrongs will never make it right.  Meaning, the individual referring to himself/herself as “RandomRedditor” is just as much in the wrong as FSLabs has ever been (in my opinion).

My Change of Mind/Opinion

Let me state once again for the record, I condemn the actions taken by Flight Sim Labs in their effort of preventing the piracy of their software.  However, I also recognize software piracy is wrong and as it relates specifically to our flight simulation hobby is directly damaging it by forcing developers to charge more for their add-ons.  In other words, here’s yet another example of honest, hard-working individuals having to carry the burden for those who would rather steal.

Last week I was watching one of my favorite Twitch Streamers from the UK, Chewwy94.  If you are unfamiliar with his channel I would encourage you to follow him.  He’s an excellent flight sim streamer, he runs a very positive and informative channel and as I said, he’s truly one of the best doing what he is doing.  Anyway, Chewwy (real name Matt) was showcasing a pre-release copy of the Airbus A319 from FSLabs.  I don’t always have time to catch all of his streams, but it just so happened that I was in Orlando for work and spent the evening watching most of the replay of this particular stream.

Yes, at the very beginning of the stream my attitude matched pretty much what I had said in the past.  More or less, that I didn’t plan on doing business with Flight Sim Labs due to their previous antics.  But the more I watched, I began to reflect back to my early days with flight simulation.  I’m often reminded just how far this hobby has come over the past 35 years that I’ve been flying computer based sims.  If you weren’t around in the mid-80’s, here’s a little video I’ve shared previously of about 60 seconds of recorded footage showing subLogic’s Flight Simulator II for the Commodore 64.

Even in the past 18 years (the VATSIM age) the level of added immersion and realism which has been given to all of us by the various developers, has truly helped to bring meaning to the old Microsoft Flight Simulator slogan of “As Real As It Gets”.  I had to take a minute to swallow my pride somewhat and realize that what I was actually seeing from my own two eyes on Matt’s stream was something I had never seen before.  Yes…truly the future of flight simulation and that future had been developed by Flight Sim Labs.

Two Choices, One Decision

The reality of it all after watching Matt’s stream was I had two choices to make.  I could continue down the path I was walking by simply avoiding doing business with FSLabs and hope that at some future time down the road some of the advancements FSLabs had coded into the A319 would make their way into other aircraft models.  OR, I could take a lesson from a man who is of far greater importance than anyone I know and show a little forgiveness.  After all, I tend to follow the advice of this man as much as I possibly can in my life and it’s worked out well so far.

In closing

Yes…I’m the proud owner of both the Flight Sim Labs Airbus A320 and the expansion A319.  I’ve been reading, studying and learning this truly “study level” aircraft and will admit that I’ve learned more and have been challenged harder than I have ever been with any payware, “study level” aircraft add-on to date and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The flight sim hobby is more than just about flying virtual aircraft around a virtual world.  While I have no interest in learning to fly in real life, I enjoy and very much appreciate the challenge of learning a complex, study level aircraft.  Doing so (in my opinion) gives a much deeper appreciation for flight and adds the level of immersion we all seek from our favorite simulation based games.  In time, I’ll write a review of the Flight Sim Labs Airbus A320 and A319 and share in greater detail all the immersion I feel should be celebrated by the community.

Finally, I will also add there are still very strong opinions and attitudes expressed by many towards both Flight Sim Labs and also towards those who use their products.  I’ve expressed my opinions and my overall reasons for changing my mind and attitude.  I welcome any comments on this subject, pending they remain civil and on point.  I will not tolerate any hateful comments regardless if they are directed towards FSLabs or directed towards me. My money, my opinions, my decision, my blog site.  Thank you for understanding!

Until next time….

Happy Flying!

Jerry

P.S.  I plan to write a more in-depth, review of the FSLabs Airbus A320/A319 in the coming weeks.

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 12

As mentioned in the last tour update, our travelers since leaving Australia, have been bouncing from one island to the next.  Most of their activities have been focused on various island style activities.   One might think our group has had enough ocean fun…but that’s just not true.  Our next destination is Cape Town, South Africa.  What’s so interesting about Cape Town (especially when it comes to the ocean)?  Well…it just so happens this blog posting (completely by luck) will drop on the day before the 30th installment of the Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week.  And just off the shore of Cape Town, you’ll find something very special.  The Great White sharks off the coast are some of the largest sharks on the planet and they do something a little different down here.  They breach and leap out of the water.  It’s truly an amazing sight…but you’ll really need a bigger boat with these guys.  If you’ve never heard of the breaching Great White Sharks, then check out this YouTube video.

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History of City

Cape Town is a coastal city in South Africa. It is the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg. Cape Town is the capital and primate city of the Western Cape province. Located on the short of Table Bay, Cape Town is the oldest urban area in South Africa and was developed in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for ships sailing to East Africa, India and the Far East.

History of Country

South Africa, known officially as the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa and includes over 1,700 miles of coastline stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the largest country in southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world by land area. The population of South Africa is estimated to be near 56 million and is the world’s 24th most populous nation.

History of Airport

Cape Town International Airport (FACT) is the primary airport serving the city of Cape Town and is the second-busiest airport in South Africa and the third busiest in Africa. Opened in 1954 to replace the previous airport, FACT provides direct flights to South Africa’s other two main urban areas of Joburg and Durban as well as to smaller airports with South Africa. The air route between Cape Town and Johannesburg was the world’s 9th busiest air route in 2011 with an estimated 4.5 million passengers.

History of Airline

South African Airways is the flag carrier of South Africa. Founded in 1934, South African Airways flies to 38 destinations in 26 countries in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australasia. The airline has a strong presence in Southern Africa. Their current fleet consists of an all Airbus passenger fleet including the Airbus A319, A320, A330 and A340. They do own three older Boeing 737-300 freighters which are leased from Star Air Cargo.

Flight Briefing

SAA1066
FAOR – FACT
Planned Fuel – 22,000 lbs
Planned Altitude – 36,000
Distance – 686nm
Flight Time – 2hrs
Route: RAGU3A RAGUL UQ10 CSV UZ26 ERDAS ERDA1A

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Flight Journal

Our travelers have spent the past several days exploring the Johannesburg area, including a safari tour and overnight stay in Kruger Park.  I believe all had an enjoyable stay, but it’s time to once again move on.  Up to this point in our tour, our routing has taken us northwest as we traveled through Singapore and Indonesia, then we turned southwest towards Maldives and have been traveling mostly a southwesterly direction.  This will be the last leg (for a while) that we head in a southerly direction.  Once we depart Cape Town, out progress will be northwest and northeast until we reach Norway.  But for now, our direction remain southwest so let’s get started.

We’re back in the Airbus A320 and shuttling a South African Airways aircraft down to Cape Town.  This happens to be a real-world flight.  Meaning, South African Airways operate an Airbus A320 between Joburg and Cape Town in real life.  It’s a late afternoon departure with a flight time of 2 hours, we should arrive in Cape Town just before dinner.

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Lined up and waiting for our take off clearance from ATC.

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Up, up and away and goodbye Johannesburg.

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Making our turn to the southwest to join the departure out of FAOR.

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Could be a stormy night for the residents of Joburg.

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A bit of a bumpy climb, but ATC were accommodating and vectored us around the strongest of the storm cells.

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Our livery shot as we’re just about above the storm and clouds.  The sun is setting fast.

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The sun has set.

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High above South Africa with the warm glow of the setting sun just visible along the horizon.

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The view from the office at FL360.

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The city lights of Cape Town, South Africa.

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On short final into FACT.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
FlightSim Labs Airbus A320 (South African Airways livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

Our travelers have a busy few days exploring Cape Town.  Soon we’ll depart and begin our northerly trek.  The next leg will be the longest leg of the entire tour as we travel from Cape Town, South Africa to Libreville, Gabon which is 2,122 miles away.  For this next leg, we’ll be in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which should help make the almost 5 hour, 20 minute flight breeze bye.

Until next time…Watch out for those jumping sharks!

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 11

A part of me is celebrating the fact we’ve just completed the first 10 legs of the 46 leg journey, but the other part of me realizes we still have 36 legs to go.  I began this journey on 2 June, the first post hit the interwebz on 6 June and I’m actually writing this blog post on Monday, 9 July.  Yes, I’ve been busy flying the segments….but pacing myself on writing/releasing the articles as I like to be somewhat consistent and this helps me ensure I can keep at the very least two blog updates each week documenting the journey.  As we’ve just completed our 10th leg (that’s somewhat of a milestone) let’s review some of our statistics of the journey so far.

Miles Flown – We’ve logged 8,667 miles of the over 36,000 miles it will take to complete our around the world trip.

Hours Flown – Just prior to starting the 11th leg, we’ve logged just over 25 hours of flying time.  Flying time is calculated from the time the parking brakes are released and the aircraft is pushed back from the gate of the departure airport to the time of landing, taxi and parking brakes applied at the destination airport.

Fuel burn – We’ve burned a whopping 138,460 pounds of fuel.  As a point of reference, a Boeing 747-400 flying between Denver and London will consume approx. 198,000 pounds of fuel.

In the real world, my wife and I are just returning home from spending a week in the mountains (11th wedding anniversary and US Independence Day holiday).  Between all the work stresses of the past few weeks…this was a much needed break.  I’m home the week of 9 July (the week I’m writing this) and head back to California next week.  But enough of all that…let’s get on with this story.

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Our updated map showing our progress thus far.

History of City

Johannesburg or Joburg for short, is the largest and most populous city in South Africa and ranks in the top 50 for largest urban areas in the world. The city was established in 1886 following the discovery of gold.

History of Country

South Africa, known officially as the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa and includes over 1,700 miles of coastline stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the largest country in southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world by land area. The population of South Africa is estimated to be near 56 million and is the world’s 24th most populous nation.

History of Airport

O.R. Tambo International Airport (FAOR) is a major international airport in Kempton Park located very near Johannesburg. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa’s busiest airport with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually. The airport handles non-stop flights to all continents except Antarctica. It serves as the hub of South Africa’s largest international airline and domestic carrier, South African Airways.

History of Airline

Comair Limited is an airline based in South Africa that operates scheduled services on domestic routes as a British Airways franchisee. Founded in 1943, Comair serves 11 destinations throughout the region and has a current fleet consisting of seven Boeing 737-400 and nine 737-800 aircraft.

Flight Briefing

CAW1066
FMCZ – FAOR
Planned Fuel – 24,000 lbs
Planned Altitude – 38,000
Distance – 1250nm
Flight Time – 3hrs, 15min
Route: DZP UM307 EPSEK UZ33 NESAG UZ7 OKPIT OKPI4B

leg 11 fp

Flight Journal

With exception to the first two legs of this long journey, we’ve been basically hopping from one island to another as we’ve made our way across the Indian Ocean.  Our travelers have seen some pretty incredible sights along the way, but I overheard one traveler speaking to another, and he said “once you’ve seen one island…you’ve seen them all”.  This perhaps is a very valid point and perhaps it’s a sentiment shared by most as there seems to be a level of excitement building to finally begin the African segment of this tour.  Over the next few weeks (including today), our travelers will complete six stops within the African Continent as we make our way north along the western edge.

Our passengers have arrived, all gear has been safely loaded/stowed on board our Comair Boeing 737-800 and we’re taxing out to the active runway for an on-time departure.

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With no time to waste, we’re off and away.

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Taking one last look of the island before making our turn to join the departure.

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OK…I lied.  Really…just one more “last” look at the island across the wing of the B738.

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Our “livery” shot.  Other than the fact that British Airways no longer operates the Boeing 737 (in any variant), the only differing markings I can spot is the Comair United logo on the front of the aircraft.

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Just off the starboard side, the coastline of Africa.

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Over land once again.  Just a few more miles until we reach top of descent.

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Another wing view as the clouds begin to develop.

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Airport just ahead as we take the visual approach for runway 21L.

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One last wing view of the Joburg area.

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Short final for runway 21L.

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After what seemed like a really long taxi (after all, this is the largest airport we’ve visited in a long time), we’re parked up at the gate and the Comair ground crew are doing a great job getting our aircraft unloaded.

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After clearing customs, our travelers and crew will board a bus for the quick ride to the hotel and then dinner.  We’ll explore the Johannesburg area for the next few days before departing to Cape Town where they’ll spend several more days exploring that area as well.

Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
PMDG 737-800 (Comair Airlines livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

I hope everyone’s enjoying the blog postings,  the tour and the variety of aircraft/liveries I’m presenting.  Up to this point it’s been a fun tour for me as I’ve learned a lot about the areas we’ve visited in my research for the story line.  Time to get busy planning the next leg of the tour.  Thanks again for reading.

Until next time…Happy Touring!

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 10

If you also follow along with my Discord channel, you know I mentioned just before the US Independence Day holiday that my wife had surprised me with a get-a-way to the mountains.  This was in celebration of our 11th wedding anniversary.  The few weeks leading up to the holiday were hectic both with work and at home.  We had a few home repair issues to deal with and I had two work related trips in June that were hectic and stressful.  July is no different from the work side of things.  But as we’re back from the mountains, it’s time to do a little flying and resume where we left off with our tour.

As we begin our 10th leg of this 46 leg journey, we now have two different Airbus airframes we can use.  I’ll mix in the A320 and the smaller A319 from time to time as we continue to also fly Boeing aircraft as well.  While I feel most comfortable in Boeing equipment, I’m starting to gain a better appreciation for the Airbus.  This leg we’ll be flying the Airbus A320.

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History of City

Dzaoudzi (don’t even ask me how this would be pronounced) is a commune in the French overseas department of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean and is located on the small island of Petite-Terre. The commune once held the recognition as being the capital city of Mayotte, but in 1977 the capital was moved to Mamoudzou on the island of Grande-Terre. The commune is the home to 14,311 people (as of the 2012 Census)

History of Country

Mayotte consists of one main island, Grande-Terre, a smaller island, Petite-Terre and several islets around these two. The area of Mayotte is approx. 144 square miles and has a population of 256,518 as of the 2017 Census. While Mayotte is an integral part of France, the majority of the inhabitants do not speak French as a first language.

History of Airport

Dzaoudzi-Pamandzi International Airport is located in the commune of Dzaoudzi. It is the only airport in Mayotte with scheduled services, mainly to destinations within Africa and to metropolitan France. The airport currently can service aircraft up the Boeing 777 size. A new runway (15/33) to the west of the current runway is being planned and will be 2,600 meters in length to accommodate aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.

History of Airline

Air Mauritius is the flag carrier airline of Mauritius. The airline is the 4th largest carrier in Sub-Saharan Africa and has an important standing in the European, African and Indian Ocean regional markets.

Flight Briefing

SEY1066
FIMP – FMCZ
Planned Fuel – 23,500
Planned Altitude – 36,000
Distance – 846
Flight Time: 2hr, 30min
Route: NIBIS1 NIBIS SOAVI

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Flight Journal

After a couple of relaxing days in Mauritius, once again it’s time for our travelers to depart on the next leg of the long, around the world journey.  We’re picking up a brand new Airbus A320 which had been ferried to Mauritius from the Airbus factory in Tianjin, China.  Yes, it still has that “new” airplane smell to it.  This is an early morning departure and hopefully we’ll get out before the storms open up. In the photo below, our Airbus A320 is being fueled for the journey.  The new update to GSX and the features of the FSLabs A320 handle fueling automagically with nice eyecandy to watch.

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Our passengers have just arrived by bus and will immediately board the awaiting A320.

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We can’t push-back until the last of the bags have been loaded.

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Finally, the last bag was loaded (I believe that was mine) and now the ground crew will push us back while I begin the engine start procedure of the Airbus A320.

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Small airports mean short taxi distances.  Looks like the sun might just burn off these clouds after all.  We’re ready to go on runway 14.

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The FSLabs A320 is a joy to hand fly.  I’ve found the learning curve to be just slightly more difficult than the PMDG 737.  But then again, I have spent the majority of my simming time flying Boeing aircraft.  So learning the Airbus ways of doing things is similar to learning a second language.

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The A320 offers two different types of engine variants.  This particular aircraft uses the IAE (International Aero Engines) V2500 and they are doing an excellent job.

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The beautiful Air Seychelles livery looks amazing on the A320.

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Another wing shot as we fly over Madagascar.  I wonder how those Penguins are fairing?

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Another view of the coastline of Madagascar as we’re beginning our descent.  Not much longer to go.

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Just off the portside, we see a smaller island with a mountain and the main island mentioned earlier.  The smaller island (one with the mountain) contains the airport.  Our approach will take us around that smaller island.

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The view from the captains seat of the larger island.

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Our turn to final is coming up very soon.  Note the PAPI lights of the airport behind us.

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Again, the FSLabs A320 is a joy to hand fly.  Admittedly, I rolled out of that turn just a bit low.  But no worries, there’s nothing but water under us and we’ll be just fine.

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Two reds, two whites…we’re alright.

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On the ground and it looks like it will be an awesome day.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
Flight Sim Labs A320 (Air Seychelles livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

Our travelers will depart the smaller island later today by ferry to the larger island where their hotel awaits them.  A few days here, then we’ll depart and travel the 1200nm’s to O. R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa.  Since departing from Broom, Australia…we’ve been hopping from one island to another.  The next half dozen legs will keep us on the African continent as we begin our eventual northern journey up the western coast of Africa and into Europe.

Until next time….

Jerry

FlightSimStore and a personal story

I’ll apologize in advance for interrupting whatever it is that you might be doing with a slightly off-schedule blog posting.  But before I get into all the details, allow me to say one simple thing.  This blog posting is NOT about me trying to get something for nothing.  The purpose of this blog posting is to simply alert my readers to a very important news story which has been bouncing the interwebz for a few days now.  As I’ve often said, my writings are typically not about news type stories.  I’m just one guy and I really just enjoy sharing my knowledge, sharing my experience and telling a few stories along the way.  I don’t always have the time to eat, sleep and breath all the happenings in the global flight sim community.  However, I don’t mind sharing information…especially when this information could help others.  Second, this writing is not an attempt to “name and shame” anyone.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to omit a developers name as it is not my intention to gain anything out of this.  I simply want to alert my viewers to some information which I have, hopefully help others in the process and finally….I’d love to be able to purchase the aircraft in question at the discounted rate.  Finally, to repeat my first point, this blog posting is NOT about me trying to get something for nothing.

The past week or so, the flight sim community has been made aware of some serious issues taking place with one of our popular online retailers.  A few months ago I heard some rumblings on some of the social media platforms I follow regarding issues with the FlightSimStore.com website being down, moving to different servers and issues with customers being able to download purchased items.  The issues with downloads were reported by customers who were trying to re-download files they had purchased long ago and even customers who had just completed the online purchase, with money changing hands…but no ability to download the software.  I’ve been a customer of the FlightSimStore for many years and were first introduced to them with a purchase of some Orbx scenery as the FlightSimStore (FSS) for many years served as the only online retailer selling Orbx scenery.  However, a little over a year ago, Orbx built their own e-commerce system (which is awesome) and removed their products from the FlightSimStore.

As I began to make the move from P3D v3 over to v4 (64 bit) I started the process of downloading the necessary add-ons as they became available for the new 64 bit platform.  I keep pretty meticulous records and had made a purchase of a popular add-on aircraft for FSX/P3D (32 bit) over two years ago.  But with all the issues I had been hearing from other users, I opted to just wait until the FlightSimStore corrected their website issues, moved their servers and basically just got control of their issues.  I’ll admit some time passed and in the course of this, I sort of forgot about this particular aircraft add-on.  Well….as I began building my new gaming PC (GBS Beast V), I started looking over my add-on spreadsheet and discovered that I had forgotten to update that one particular payware aircraft.

Now, as most of you will know…not all payware purchased for FSX/P3D (32 bit) can be upgraded/updated for P3D v4 free of charge.  Thankfully, 80% (perhaps more) has been made available at no extra cost and some of the balance is available at discounted prices and only a small handful of developers have charged full price.   The aircraft in question (which I had purchased from the FlightSimStore over two years ago) was discounted considerably and I was looking forward to purchasing the 64bit version to have in my virtual hangar.  But even around the May/June timeframe when I was getting all my add-ons reinstalled on the new PC, others continued to report issues with the FlightSimStore website.  So once again I paused just to be on the safe side.

Fast-forward to the present day

Just in the past week or so, many more customers and even other developers have reported major issues with the FlightSimStore.  A major flight sim scenery developer, Drzewiecki Design made an announcement last week via their website and their Facebook page (see below)

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Here’s a snippet of the various comments from actual Customers.

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Even other flight sim news media outlets are discussing this story and urging customers to be cautious or just simply avoid the FlightSimStore.  You can read these blogs from FSElite here and here.  Even the guys from the popular “On Approach” podcast spent over 14 minutes discussing the issues and their advice is to take screen captures of all your purchase transactions, download what you can and basically avoid the FlightSimStore for any future purchases.    You can watch/listen to the FlightSimStore segment via this link.  I will just caution my readers that the language used during this segment is NOT Rated G.    https://youtu.be/yFIKpnT4P54?t=12m52s

Back to My Story

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing this article as a warning to my readers AND just to share my story as it directly relates to the FlightSimStore debacle.  I’ll once again state for the record that I desire no special treatment, I am not writing this in an effort to obtain anything “free” from the developer of a specific aircraft I purchased for FSX/P3D of which I desire to upgrade to P3D v4 compatibility and yes, I’d like to do that at the discounted price.  Also, this writing is not designed to be a name and shame either.  However, I took the advice and reached out via email to the developer of the aircraft in question and here’s how that email exchange played out.

 

Email from Jerry to the Developer

I attempted to contact your group via your Facebook page and was told by

XXXXXXXXX to email you. I purchased your XXXXXXXX Aircraft from the

FlightSimStore on 30 May 2016. I made the move to P3D v4 last year,

but have been slow at updating all my various add-ons. As I’m sure

you are aware, the FlightSimStore has been experiencing various

challenges with their website, their files and haven’t been doing a

very good job in providing support to their customers. I’ve been

involved with the flight simulation hobby since the mid 1980’s and am

an active member of the community today and absolutely loving P3D v4.

 

Fortunately, the majority of my purchases from FSS were Orbx and of

course that is a non-issue now. But the XXXXX is one aircraft which I

would dearly love to have in P3D v4. I realize small developers such

as yourself may not be able to justify the day to day management of

your own retail site and therefore I’m sure selling your products

through 3rd party sites is helpful. But I feel (and hopefully you

agree) that developers should honor the purchases even in situations such as this.

 

I’ve attached a screenshot of the FlightSimStore XXXX aircraft purchase.

Hopefully you have a solution.

 

Thank you for your time and prompt attention to this matter.

 

Response from Developer to Jerry

Hello Jerry

Thank you for your message.

Yes, we know of the problem with Flight Sim Store.

However, your version is not compatible with Prepar3D V4 anyway, you would need to upgrade your copy, when Flight Sim Store restores the functionality. The upgrades are not free, although they can be made on discounted price if you use the same store where the original copy was purchased

If Flight Sim Store does not restore the XXXXXXX upgrades within the reasonable time, we will find some kind of solution for your case.

 

Reply from Jerry back to Developer

Please understand that I was NOT asking for anything free. I’m aware I needed to pay for the update and I’m aware the version I have is not compatible. Please let me know what a reasonable timeframe is to wait?

I’ll admit that I’m not really that pleased with your reply as I firmly believe that YOU as the developer of the product needs to stand behind your product regardless of what your online retailers do. While I may purchase something from the FlightSimStore, JustFlight or simMarket, it is YOUR product that I’m purchasing. You truly have an opportunity to help out and I realize my delay in updating is at my own doing…but to be honest the FlightSimStore has been having issues for several months and from all accounts, they very likely will not survive this.

But I do truly appreciate you getting back to me.

Jerry

 

Reply from Developer back to Jerry

Hello Jerry

Please understand, that as developers we are indeed responsible for the functionality of the product, but not for the commercial or marketing side of it.

The discount is done entirely by the stores, and it is not something that has to do with us.

If it happens that Flight Sim Store is definitely no longer selling our product, we will attempt to make an agreement with another store to transfer the customer base to enable to discounts for them, but since it was never attempted before, I can’t give a guarantee that this will succeed and the other store accepts such transfer

I am sorry I can’t assist you properly on this matter. But we do have an indication that XXXXX sales are coming back online at Flight Sim Store shortly.

 

My Not So Final Thoughts

While I’m not pleased with the answers/responses from the developer, I certainly can appreciate that perhaps they are only now coming to terms with this situation.  Hopefully, they are discussing it and they are researching their options.  I also would sincerely hope they are also working directly with the FlightSimStore as well.  But from a customers viewpoint, I believe they are wrong in saying they have no responsibility with the commercial or marketing side of the transaction.  Remember, I work in the IT software business and while software ownership/licensing etc. is a tricky area….one simply can’t just walk away and say your only responsibility is to support the functionality of the product and wash their hands of anything to do with the marketing, sales and distribution.  Said in another more direct way, ANY software developer worth their salt, would be bending over backwards to help their customers and I’m hopeful this is exactly what will end up happening.

I also will acknowledge this developer has stated multiple times they ARE willing to work with me at a point in time in the future.  I’m still not 100% clear just how much more time needs to pass before they are willing to help and just exactly what this help will be.  So I’ll continue to wait and see….but I’ll say this…unless I begin hearing that the FlightSimStore has resolved all their issues with product downloads AND are taking care of their customers, I’m not interested in spending any more money with this particular online retailer.  My gut tells me it will all be in vain.

Finally, I’ll be honest and say that I don’t understand how retailer discounts work in the flight sim world.  Especially when taking into consideration what the developer stated “The discount is done entirely by the stores, and it is not something that has to do with us”.  What does this actually mean?  If I’m a developer of a flight sim add-on and selling that add-on through an online retailer, would I not expect to receive X amount of money for each product sold?  Are the online retailers simply waiving the 30% fee they would normally charge the developer in these cases and passing these savings down to us the consumer?  In my mind, the discount is the developers way of saying, “I know you’ve purchased XXXX aircraft for FSX/P3D 32bit at full price, as the P3D v4 aircraft is not a 100% rewrite of code, we’re allowing you to purchase at a considerable discount”.  Sounds fair right?

So What Do I Want?

My goal is two fold.  First, I would like this particular developer to ensure that all customers of their aircraft product from the flightsimstore, who also fall into the same scenario as I’ve described…have the opportunity to update/upgrade their aircraft at the discounted rates being advertised by simMarket, JustFlight and FSPilotShop.  As for me, yes….absolutely I would also appreciate the same opportunity.

Mr. Developer….please don’t subject your customers to the potential of losing further money in dealing with an online retailer who appears to show no compassion or remorse to their customers.  Please take the actions necessary to have YOUR Customers license information moved from the FlightSimStore over to simMarket, JustFlight or FSPilotShop so we can all continue to enjoy your beautiful aircraft in Prepar3d v4.  For those that purchased it for FSX/P3D 32bit, allow us to benefit from the same discount at another online retailer.

Thank you for reading.

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 9

Moving right along with our WorldFlight 2018 tour, as mentioned in the leg 8 update, our wealthy (and very lucky) tourists were only able to spend a few hours exploring the island of Diego Garcia.  The tour was conducted by US DOD (Dept. of Defense) officials and unfortunately no photographs were permitted during the tour.  But once again we were provided photos of our aircraft for the purpose of this update.  But as you can see from the updated tour map below, we are just a few hops away from reaching the shores of the African Continent and I believe we’re making great progress.  I would just like to remind all of my readers why I’m doing this tour.  If you refer back to the article I wrote back in early June, I explained who was behind the WorldFlight organization and the purpose of that annual event.  It truly is a great cause and the event is fun to watch.  Stay tuned for future news and updates regarding the event for 2018 which is scheduled to take place in November.

Also, just to note.  Between leg #8 and this leg #9, an update to Prepar3D v4 was released.  I’m now running Prepar3d v4.3.  The upgrade was very smooth and the benefits are slightly better performance.  If you haven’t updated your P3D to v4.3 and would like to do so, I wrote a step-by-step guide which should help you complete the update with as little headaches as possible.

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History of City

Plaine Magnien is a village in southeast Mauritius located in the Grand Port District. According to the 2011 census, the population is just under 10,500. The village is the location of the only airport on the island.

History of Country

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean located approx. 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa. Formerly founded by the Dutch in 1638, then the French maintained a colony between 1715 – 1810, Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968. Mauritius is a major tourist destination and ranks 3rd in the region and 56th in the world. The tropical climate, clear warm sea waters, beaches flora and fauna make it a favorite destination for some. And if you’ve ever heard of the Dodo bird, this now extinct bird called Mauritius home until the last one was killed in 1681.

History of Airport

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, FIMP is the main international airport in Mauritius. The airport is located 26 nm from the capital city of Port Louis. The airport has direct flights to several destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe and is home to the country’s national airline Air Mauritius. The airport has one runway (14/32) measuring 11,056 ft in length and the airport terminal can handle aircraft as large as the Airbus A380.

History of Airline

Air Mauritius is the flag carrier airline of Mauritius. The airline is the 4th largest carrier in Sub-Saharan Africa and has an important standing in the European, African and Indian Ocean regional markets.

Flight Briefing

SEY1066
FJDG – FIMP
Planned Fuel – 24,800 lbs
Planned Altitude – 38,000
Distance – 1162nm
Flight Time – 2hrs, 50mins
Route: NKW R329 DUDIP GBY1

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Flight Journal

What a wonderful and very lucky experience our travelers had on the island of Diego Garcia.  While this entire trip could be summed up as “Once in a Lifetime”, the opportunity to visit a place almost a secure as Area 51 can only be described as “Once in a Lifetime”.  We only had a few hours to visit and as previously stated, we were under the watchful eye of the US DOD the entire time.  Our JANET airlines B737-600 departed out of FJDG shortly after we arrived headed to points unknown.  Fortunately all our bags and other supplies were loaded onto another Boeing 737-700 which was an older, retired Air Seychelles aircraft which had arrived a few days ago under “mysterious” circumstances.   I asked one of our handlers what happened to the passengers and crew, he politely said…”DON’T ASK”!  So I just zipped my lips and went on about my business.

Once all our passengers were safely on board the Air Seychelles B737, we were immediately given our clearance and instructed to depart without haste.  I really don’t think this means we out stayed our welcome, just perhaps we had too many eyes which could witness something they didn’t want us to witness.

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A very quick taxi to runway 13 (how fitting) and it was time to kick the tires and light the fires once again and get this bird in the air.

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The runway on the island of Diego Garcia as we climb out.

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Our departure couldn’t have come at a better time as weather was starting to move in.

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Clouds have somewhat been a theme for this adventure.  But then again we are in the tropical regions of the world.

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Nice views

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The Air Seychelles Boeing 737-700 (retired).

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We’ve managed to leave the clouds behind (for now)

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As I said, for now.  LOL  The clouds have returned just in time for our arrival into Mauritius.

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Speed brakes deployed to help slow our descent.

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You may have noted the lack of winglets on this aircraft.  Nice views as we get closer to our destination.

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A few afternoon storms are expected and we’ve asked ATC to vector us around a few strong cells.  But we’re still on-time for our arrival.

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Looks to be a thriving place down there.

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On final approach.

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It’s been a bit of a long day for everyone.  We’ll be glad to spend a few days exploring this area.

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Our Boeing 737 parked up.  Not sure what this old girl has in store for her.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
PMDG 737-700 Expansion (Air Seychelles livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

We’re due to stay here for a few days before departing to our next destination of Dzaoudzi, Mayotte, France.

Until next time…Happy Flying!

Jerry

To Build or Buy your next Computer

As my readers will know, a few months ago I experienced a total PC meltdown/failure of my  gaming PC.  I went through my normal process of designing, acquiring parts and building my new gaming rig.   I won’t deny that the timing of this build was not good, but it was necessary as I had no other PC capable of delivering the performance I need with the games I enjoy.

Question Time

I’ll share my thoughts, ideas, suggestions etc. on the very subject of this blog article shortly, but as with many of my writings, I like to get my reader thinking about a few things first.  So basically the main question you need to ask yourself is for what is the purpose of this new computer you are contemplating buying or building?  Now one might think the first and perhaps only question one might need to ask is whether you believe you have the ability to build your own PC.  While this is an important question to ponder, at least for now…this blog article IS NOT going to be about how to build your own PC, just whether or not you should (or at least consider the option).  So, for what purpose will you use this new PC?

Now one might think the only folks that may stumble onto my blog site or read my writings on other websites are gamers.  I’d wager to guess that gamers do make up 95% of my readership, but with the power of SEO….someone, anyone could perform a Google search and end up reading this article whose interest is not gaming.  Let me share a few thoughts about the non-gaming and non-performance driven user first.

Basic PC User

In the event you are a non-gamer, non-performance driven PC user and you’ve stumbled onto this writing…WELCOME!  Thank you for reading!  If you are merely in the market for a new PC simply for web use, word processing, accounting and stuff like that, then you may very well be a candidate for an “off the shelf” store purchased PC.  At the end of the day, you might actually save some money this way.  Brand named PC’s are available just about everywhere and often bundle deals can be found where you can walk out of the store with a new PC, monitor, printer and even bundled software options that when all considered together do make this the less expensive (and certainly less frustrating) option.

In the real world, I’m an IT Professional.  While most of the systems my group deploys are laptop computers, even the desktop PC’s we deploy are store bought models.  Yes, we get volume discounts….but the time saved in simply being able to open a box and deploy versus build just can’t be overlooked.  Do your homework, shop around and I’m sure you’ll find everything you need.

Another option for the basic PC user to consider is purchasing a laptop computer.  Many years ago, laptops were typically only for the wealthy business traveler.  But in today’s world, an excellent range of brands/specs can be found and if you would like the flexibility to user a computer just about anywhere, then a laptop PC might be the best choice for you.  However, I do invite you to continue reading.

Desktop versus Laptop for Gaming

Before I dive into the world of gaming PC’s and gaming PC components, let me just state the following.  While I just suggested a laptop PC might be an excellent choice for the non-gamer, non-performance driven individual, I simply can’t recommend any laptop for the serious gamer.  Even a “Gaming” branded laptop will have limitations in what can and can’t be done with that platform.  I’ve witnessed too many examples where an individual has shelled out thousands of dollars on a “Gaming Laptop” only to find out they can’t play their favorite games after all.  This is especially true if you are working on a tight budget and perhaps you can’t afford the top of the line machine.  Laptops offer very little upgrade opportunity and as a result, they don’t hold their resell value very well.

I fully understand budget constraints when planning a new computer purchase.  I also understand some folks just can’t afford to have two PC’s and often times a laptop purchase becomes a requirement (students etc.).  If this situation applies to you, then I suggest purchasing the very best gaming style laptop you can afford and just understand you’ll most likely have to compromise when it comes to graphic settings in order to get solid performance.  Remember, the bottom line between any gaming laptop and the equivalent desktop is portability over performance.

One final comment or perhaps a word of advice if you truly must go down the road of purchasing a gaming laptop.  Just because the word “lap” is used to describe this type of computer, don’t even think of trying to game with it in your lap.  You’ll need to place the laptop on a hard surface (table/desk) and I would also highly recommend purchasing a cooling pad.  Not only will this fairly inexpensive accessory help keep your laptop cool, it will also help to extend the life of the laptop.  Remember, heat kills.

Performance/Gamer User

The performance driven or gamer type user is a unique breed of user.  Computer based tasks such as video editing/video production, CAD Design and gaming have a very similar requirement.  Often the need for a lot more horsepower than what can be found in a brand name, store purchased PC.  Yes, there are some major brand computer manufactures designing, building and distributing “Gaming Machines”.  But in my opinion, these are much, much more expensive in the long run and often come bundled with a lot of extra software which really is never needed or even wanted.  This is why a custom built PC will almost always be the less expensive option.  In addition, a custom built PC might also allow the consumer to build something on a budget and down the road upgrade a few components.

A Real World Example

The new gaming PC which I recently built, is my dream build.  Perhaps for the first time, at least in a long time…the machine is exactly what I want it to be.  In other words, I’m not skimping on anything.  From a hardware perspective…this machine is state of the art with all the latest and greatest available hardware (at the time of build) and will serve me (as built) for hopefully 5 years.  Even my previous build I went with a lower end graphics card and upgraded to the 980Ti about a year later.  Not this time.

While I always planned to build this new machine myself, I’ve taken the time to do a little research just to see how much I’ve saved overall by building the machine myself.  I’m pleased to say (and my wife is pleased to hear) that I’ve saved over….(drum roll please) ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Yes…over $1,000 I saved by doing the job myself.

But time is money right?   It sure is.  I’ve invested perhaps 4-5 hours of my time planning, tweaking, researching my build, more tweaking,  ordering parts and perhaps another 3-4 hours to assemble and complete the hardware build.  So let’s call this 10 hours.   But for a geek like me, it’s been 10 hours of reading reviews, watching some videos and basically feeling like a kid in a candy shop.  Bottom line, it’s been a fun process.  It’s something I enjoy doing and I consider it to be an extension of the gaming hobby.

But you’re an IT Guy, I’m not!

In today’s world, even a non-IT person can design and build their own gaming PC.  YouTube and Google are both excellent resources in helping the non-IT Professional in this area.  There are also websites such as PCPartPicker which can assist you in designing the build and can help ensure individual parts compatibility.  After all, not all PC parts are created equal.   Another alternative is to copy cat another build.  For example, you can view all the individual hardware components I used in my recent build here.  I ordered all my individual PC parts from Amazon, CDW and Newegg.

Intel versus AMD

The Intel versus AMD debate may be as confusing as Coke v. Pepsi, Ford v. Chevy or Prepar3d v. XPlane.  Folks have their preferences and for the record my choices are Intel, Coke, Ford and P3D…but I digress.  Most of my readers may know that I’m a long time flight simmer and really have only branched into other simulation based games in the past 3-4 years.  But I made a really costly mistake about 10 years ago when I made the disastrous switch from Intel to AMD CPU’s.  While I can’t specifically speak towards AMD performance with games such as Farming Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2/American Truck Simulator, I can say that just about every flavor of Flight Simulation software I’ve ever used performs far, far better on an Intel CPU than the AMD equivalent.  So I would highly suggest you research this topic carefully and when in doubt, make sure Intel is inside.  You’ll thank me later.  Especially if you’re a flight simmer.

SSD versus HDD

I suppose I could have listed this topic in the above section when talking about debates, but really there isn’t much of a debate regarding SSD versus HDD performance.  If your budget allows, you’ll appreciate the performance gain when choosing an SSD over an HDD.  If your budget permits, go with multiple SSD’s and perhaps one HDD.  Install Windows on its own SSD (recommended 250GB) and on a second SSD install your games and any other supporting applications.  If you record your gaming content on a frequent basis, consider installing a fast HDD for this purpose.

Air or Liquid Cooling

As CPU’s have increased in speed over the past several years, the need for liquid cooling has become more important.  When I built the beast version 4 about four years ago, I installed an inexpensive water cooled CPU cooler.  This cooler only lasted about 6 months and nearly caused my CPU to meltdown before I realized I had an issue.  I replaced it with a air cooled CPU cooler as that was what I was used to using.  However, as I began researching the new build and specifically how best to keep the Intel i7 8700K cooled, one CPU cooler kept coming up in all the reviews and that was the Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2.  I decided I would give a liquid CPU cooler another try and I’m really glad I did.  I still frequently monitor my CPU temps just to be on the safe side, but it really keeps my CPU temps nice and low and as I mentioned before….Heat Kills!

Overclock???

The subject of overclocking is a highly debated topic.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve overclocked my builds in the past and rarely see a performance difference.  Especially when I weigh what little performance gain I might experience versus the added stress caused by the OC’ed components.  Remember, Heat Kills!

Budget Build Today, Upgrade later

As I mentioned in the laptop versus PC section, a laptop (gaming or otherwise) offers very little in the area of down the road upgrades.   Also, gaming laptops just don’t retain their value.  Also as previously mentioned, I’ve built gaming PC’s on a budget and upgraded components at a later time.  The issue with my last PC was a motherboard failure, but all other components were just fine.  I managed to sell my 980Ti for just a few hundred dollars less than I paid for it.  So keep that into consideration and if you are building on a budget and plan to upgrade some parts down the road, make sure you keep the original box.  You’d be surprised at how much more you can make from selling used parts when you have the original box, user manual and any other accessories.

In Closing

I know this article doesn’t cover everything you need to consider with regards to building or buying your next computer.  But hopefully I’ve addressed some of the key areas to consider and really I truly believe that just about anyone can build their own PC these days.   Just do your research and read the instructions.  Seek out assistance via YouTube and Google, take your time….and enjoy the process.  When it’s all built and you power it up for the first time, you’ll experience a level of satisfaction that’s hard to beat and just think about all that money you’ve saved which can be used to buy more games.

Until next time….

Happy Building!

Jerry

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