Let’s Talk About Landing Rates

You’re traveling to your favorite destination, on your favorite airline in your favorite aircraft.  Upon landing the captain and first officer fist bump each other at the –23 landing rate which is displayed on the flight deck.  The captain makes an announcement over the PA and the entire airplane erupts in applause. 

Now Back to Reality

Of course the above scenario doesn’t happen, so why do we as sim pilots place so much emphasis on this “landing rate” statistic?  What is a landing rate?  How is it calculated? What makes a good landing?  Sit back, relax and I’ll try to answer these questions and perhaps more during the course of this article.

2020-4-27_12-17-14-751

The Landing Rate

In general terms, when someone in the flight sim community discusses his/her or someone else’s landing rate, they are typically referring to the smoothness of landing by using the vertical speed (fpm = feet per minute) an aircraft is traveling at the time the landing gear touch the runway.  Within the flight sim community and especially within many of the virtual airlines (VA’s) this statistic is used as bragging rights and the top 5 or so “Best Landings” will be plastered on the homepage.  The calculated landing rate may also be used as a threshold to approve or deny PIREP’s (Pilot Reports) submitted by the VA’s members if the landing rate is above a particular number. 

The Nuts and Bolts of a Good Landing

There’s a lot that goes into what is considered a good landing and the actual smoothness of a landing is really only one factor and I wouldn’t even classify that as the most important.  When landing, a pilot will always strive to touchdown as early as possible and within the touchdown zone.  This allows for the maximum distance needed to slowly and safely decrease the speed of the aircraft so the pilot can vacate the runway in a timely fashion. 

The next consideration is position of the aircraft in reference to the centerline of the runway.  Just as important as the touchdown zone, keeping the aircraft as close to the centerline of the runway will ensure the aircraft wings won’t clip any obstacles and in the event of strong wind currents will allow plenty of time to correct. 

Finally, yes…smoothness certainly does play an important role in the mechanics of a successful landing.  After all, we certainly don’t want to pay for any unnecessary aircraft repair bills and/or insurance claims from passengers requiring a chiropractor.  But there is such a thing as too smooth of a landing.

Aircraft touchdown mechanisms (especially tubeliners) that trigger the action of the spoilers and autobrakes will not activate unless a certain amount of pressure has been applied.  In other words, a smooth as silk landing most likely will not provide enough G Force to activate the spoilers and this can also have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the brakes when slowing and stopping the aircraft.  Finally, a super smooth landing will (in most cases) require a lot more runway as the aircraft floats and increases the roll distance. 

Of all the above points which make up the nuts and bolts of a good landing, the various ACARS systems which calculate the landing rate in our simulators will still only use the FPM the aircraft is traveling at the time the landing gear touches the ground.  Note I didn’t say runway.  As the ACARS system will not penalize you if your landing is so technically bad that you’ve used the entire length of the runway just to get that super low landing rate which will earn you bragging rights up and down the virtual hallways in your virtual airline. 

A Good Landing

There is a quote which possibly sums up this article and it goes a little something like this.  “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing.  If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.” 

As for my own landing rates, well these numbers are as useful to me as frame rates.  Meaning, I refer to them only on occasion and really couldn’t care less about them all the other times.  On average, my landing rate in jet aircraft will range between –175 to –300.  It really depends on the aircraft.  The PMDG Boeing 737NGXu is my most flown aircraft and the one I feel most comfortable with.  The exact opposite can be said for the Airbus A319/A320/A321.  The ProjectFly app tracks all my flights and also logs my landing rate.  I’ve logged 336 flights in ProjectFly, totaling over 740 hours and my average landing rate is –211 fpm.  Which in my opinion is the sweet spot.

Practice Makes Perfect

So if you want my advice, instead of striving for the super low, super smooth landing rate…instead focus on touching down in the touchdown zone with the aircraft as close to the centerline as possible.  When you can’t meet these conditions, then go-around and try again.  But don’t let some arbitrary number determine your landings. 

Until next time….

Happy landings!

Jerry

Return to Aerosoft A319/A320/A321

Earlier this week I made the decision to return back to using the Aerosoft Airbus versions of the A319, A320 and A321 and thus (for now) grounding my FSLabs A319 and A320.  While I truly believe the FSLabs versions of the popular Airbus aircraft are certainly more immersive and also more study-level, I’ve been battling some issues with the FSLabs which I’ve not be able to fully address. 

Since COVID-19 has me working from home since mid March, I’ve been using the time to enjoy flight sim.  No, I’m not constantly flying all day when I should be working.  But I do generally start up a 3-4 hour flight in the morning and time it to land during my lunch break.  I will often depart for a second flight during lunch and time that to land just after my day has finished.  Alternatively, I’ve loaded up a long-haul with a duration of 9-10 hours in the same fashion.  During the in-flight time my capable first officer (auto pilot) is flying the aircraft.  I’ve been doing this on an almost daily basis since the beginning of the quarantine and as a result have racked up a few hundred hours of flight time this way. 

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Aerosoft A321 American Airlines

When flying any of my PMDG aircraft (B738, B777 or B744) or the QualityWings B788 the autopilot just quietly controls the aircraft and there are no issues.  However, when wanting to fly either of my FSLabs Airbus aircraft, the same can’t be said.  Almost every time I fly the FSLabs aircraft I will experience constant auto pilot disconnects.  These disconnects (unless I’m paying attention) usually end in with my aircraft doing a nose dive into the ground or water below. 

The FSLabs forums do offer pointers on how to control this behavior.  The main cause for this is turbulence and I’ve adjusted ActiveSky exactly how the info on the forums suggest.  So much so there’s almost very little observed turbulence, yet the AP continues to disconnect.     Short of flying without Activesky, I’m just not sure how else to try to resolve this issue.  In reading the forums, I’m not the only one that (even when following the recommended settings) continue to experience this behavior on almost every flight. 

Most say, this is just the behavior of the Airbus.  I’m not a real world pilot and I don’t personally know anyone that is.  But none of my Boeing aircraft (and the PMDG aircraft I own are just as study level as the FSLabs) behave in this way.  So what I come away with is the tolerances within the FSLabs are just too restrictive as compared to what I’m used to. 

So having said all this, I’ve returned to using the Aerosoft versions of the Airbus.  In doing so, I’m quite surprised at just how much this aircraft has matured.  The last time I seriously used the Aerosoft versions I was on P3Dv3.  At that time they were pretty basic, certainly so when I compared them with the FSLabs.  I still prefer my PMDG Boeing aircraft and I’m also enjoying the QW Dreamliner. But from time to time I do enjoy flying the Airbus series and for my Monday – Friday flights, the Aerosoft will work just fine.  I may even pickup their A330 soon.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

The Real World

Taking a short break from writing about the flight sim world just to document some thoughts I have towards the real world.  Specifically the real world of aviation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is experiencing.  

Like many avid flight simulation enthusiasts, I’m also an avid avgeek.  It’s somewhat funny if you think about it.  As much as I enjoy the hobby of flight simulation and enjoy the real world of aviation, I’ve never had any desire to obtain my private pilots license.  The amount of money I’ve spent on the sim world could have gone a long ways towards paying for lessons.  But either I was too busy in my younger days or now it’s just too expensive.  Either way, time (or lack thereof) still plays an integral part I guess.  But in any event, I still very much love everything about real world aviation.  It might just be plane spotting from my back deck or even travel…I love it all.  But the future of aviation is really uncertain at this point in time. 

Sure, we all must keep a positive outlook on this.  As my long time readers will know, my wife and I usually travel to Europe every other year or so.  We were just over last summer and while we had no plans to travel this year (2020), I’m sure we’ll make the trip again sometime in the future. 

State of the Airlines

Within the aviation industry, airlines are struggling.  Most major airports around the world look like airplane parking lots with multiple runways and taxiways being closed and used for storage.  Those airlines still flying are only operating a small fraction of their fleet and routes.  These flights may contain a few passengers, but mainly are flying cargo.  It’s unclear whether carriers will be able to weather this storm.  While we’re starting to see a re-opening of the world’s economies…I’m not sure how long it will be before we see a return of pre-COVID-19 air travel.

The Demise of the Jumbo

Airlines were quick to begin grounding their fleet of aircraft around the world.  As previously mentioned, some airlines are storing aircraft at their hub airport locations while others are flying them out for longer term storage in the many desert storage locations.  As airlines begin to predict their return to service, the jumbo jet doesn’t appear to be part of their plan.  Virgin Atlantic made the decision to retire their Boeing 747-400’s in early May.  Delta will retire their entire Boeing 777 fleet by end of the year.  Of the approx. 234 Airbus A380’s, not a single one is flying at the present time and just yesterday I heard that Emirate’s has plans to retire some 46 of their A380’s approx. 10 years ahead of schedule. 

Long Live the Queen

My trip to London last summer was onboard British Airways Boeing 747-400.  A truly magnificent aircraft and my favorite to travel on.  While I can’t be certain, but I suspect that flight will go down in my personal history as the last time I was able to fly on the B744.  Most of the 744’s are in the 20+ year age range and just simply may not survive this crisis.  But of course that’s not to say we’ll never see another Boeing 747 flying into our favorite airports. 

Both the Boeing 747-400 and 777 will continue to fly as cargo aircraft for many years to come.  While some passenger variants may end up in the airplane graveyard, many will be retrofitted and return to service flying cargo all around the world.  This of course won’t be the case for the Airbus A380.  Unfortunately, the A380 (passenger variant) wasn’t designed to have an afterlife as a cargo hauler. 

Not Just Widebodies

The impact of COVID-19 isn’t just hitting widebody aircraft.  While one can argue that Boeing certainly had major issues before COVID-19 was even heard of, the global pandemic certainly isn’t making it easy on the aircraft manufacture and specifically for the Boeing 737 Max.  In recent days, orders totaling just over 100 aircraft were cancelled and of course the worldwide fleet of this variant has been grounded for more than a year.  It’s truly difficult to predict when or even if the 737 Max will ever fly again. 

Switching Gears

While not aviation related, I’ve heard that RV sales are at an all time high.  At least for now, people are changing their attitudes about travel and will opt to take their entire house with them where ever they may roam.  This might be wise for some as everything you need is all self-contained in your RV. 

Final Thoughts

As I said at the top of the piece, the future is simply unknown.  As I write this, I’ve been self-isolating/working from home for just over two months.  I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.  Many tech companies have decided not to attempt to bring their workforce back until sometime next year.  Other companies are planning to continue with a work from home policy indefinitely.  While I personally believe we’ll continue to see a drop in the infection/death rate due to COVID-19 throughout the summer, I believe we may see it climb once again later this fall as we enter the typical flu season.  Again, while the future is unknown…we all need to be prepared for the impacts of COVID-19 (in one way or other) to continue to impact us well into the decade. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll be sure to return shortly with a P3Dv5 setup update.  Until then, please continue to take care of yourself and those around you. 

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Looking Good

Actually….it’s looking REAL Good!  The updates from Microsoft over the past few weeks have been extraordinarily awesome.  Just this week more news was made available to us regarding the Airbus A-320 and the Boeing 747-8i which will be just two of the default aircraft made available in the new simulator.  You can read more about this here

Video Killed the Radio Star

Yes, it’s time for one of my 80’s music references which I do tend to use from time to time and also time to interject my opinion.  Remember, my opinion is just that.  It’s my opinion!  It belongs to me.  We may or may not agree and that’s OK.  I’ll respect you and your opinion and likewise, I hope you’ll do the same.

I’ve been discussing MSFS2020 on this blog site since the news first broke almost a year ago.  As a matter of fact, this news surprised absolutely everyone in the flight sim community.  No one saw this coming.  At the time Microsoft made this announcement the FlightSimExpo in Orlando was taking place and before we learned about MSFS2020 the community had two clear (and mostly equal) platforms to saddle their horse to and of course I’m talking about Prepar3D and X-Plane.  But should we begin planning the funeral of these two major players?

Rock You Like A Hurricane

I personally believe Microsoft learned a very valuable lesson from their “Flight” experience, or should I say fiasco from 8 years ago.  I believe Microsoft knew in order to truly catch and captivate the attention of the flight sim community they needed to step up to the plate, swing and hit the ball out of the park.  They did just this and they’ve kept hitting home runs since. 

Is This Love?

The “Flight Fiasco” I mentioned earlier scarred the community.  Many of us we were wondering what the heck was Microsoft thinking?  I will also admit that I too was first skeptical about MSFS2020 when I learned MS also planned to make this available on the Xbox platform.  But over time we’ve heard from add-on developers like PMDG, FSLabs and Aerosoft have plans to release add-on aircraft for the new platform.  I’m sure others like A2A, TFDi, QualityWings etc. will follow suit.

Only time will tell exactly what the impact will be to both Prepar3D and X-Plane.  After all, there are still a lot of FSX and even FS9 users in our community.  I personally believe the impact won’t be known until we learn more about the pricing strategy with MSFS2020.  Many (including myself) believe there most likely will be a base price cost along with a monthly subscription.  As I’ve stated in previous postings about MSFS2020, the monthly subscription doesn’t scare me away pending it’s reasonable.  Of course what is reasonable to me, may not be so to others.  But as I’ve also pointed out before, I don’t expect any add-on from FSX –> P3Dv5.x to be made available for MSFS for free (as we’ve seen in the past).  I believe any add-on developed for FSX –> P3Dv5.x will require a significant amount of re-development efforts to justify a fee of some kind.  We’re even seeing some developers take this position with their P3Dv4.5 –> P3Dv5.x work.  Anyway…..

Feels Like the First Time

While my journey from P3Dv4.x –> P3Dv5.x hasn’t required any hardware upgrades, I do remember the days where each time Microsoft released a new flight simulator I was always a day late and a dollar or three short when it came to hardware requirements.  However, most who have built systems over the past few years and beefed them up should be OK when it comes to MSFS2020.  After all, so much of the underlying code of even P3Dv5 is still built on the original FSX code.  So I’m hopeful my hardware will allow MSFS2020 to perform even better than how my P3D versions are performing. 

Final Thoughts

There’s still so much we really don’t know about the Microsoft Flight Simulator.  While I’m not sure COVID-19 will play a part in the release schedule, I would estimate a late fall/early winter release to coincide with the 2020 Christmas holiday.  As for everything else, I believe Microsoft will continue to release chunks of information over the next several months and build up the anticipation and hype. 

Of course, much like my current experience with P3Dv5….after initial release of MSFS2020 I would anticipate it will be a few weeks (or even months) before study level aircraft are available and it be ready for VATSIM use.  But I’m sure I’ll do exactly what everyone else will do within 5 minutes of install.  That is to fire up the sim, load myself up near my closest airport (KAPA) and fly over my house.  Smile

Until next time…

Happy Flying and be safe in all that you do.

Jerry

P3Dv4 Panic and Learning Something New

As I’ve stated a few times, my Prepar3D v4.5 setup is pretty stable.  In the past several weeks, I’ve logged an estimated 200 hours of flight time without a single hiccup.  This all changed a few days ago.  Let me explain.

I had been running P3Dv4.5 with hotfix 2.  When Lockheed Martin released their hotfix 3 back in mid April I made the decision to hold off on updating.  I really had no reason to update as I wasn’t experiencing any issues.  This decision even became more apparent after I began the process of setting up P3Dv5.  However, when I began using the new beta version of ActiveSky (for P3Dv5 functionality) I had been using it for both v4 and v5.  After the latest beta update was released it was expecting my P3Dv4 instance to include the hotfix 3 updates.  So I decided to go ahead and update P3Dv4.5 to the hotfix 3 update. 

BOOM

I installed the hotfix 3 update to P3Dv4.5 and departed Bermuda for Dallas/Ft. Worth.  All seemed to be working fine, but began noticing some major performance issues.  I began watching my FPS and it would drop from my standard 30ish FPS down to 2, then spike back up and then back down.  I dismissed it and finished the flight. 

The next day, I departed KDFW for Bozeman and realized this issue didn’t want to resolve itself (not that they ever do).  So I began troubleshooting. 

The first decision was to update my graphics drivers and software.  It had been sometime since I had taken an Nvidia update.  I thought…well perhaps this hotfix 3 needed the update.  After performing a clean install, I fired up the sim again and still had the same issues. 

Next I decided Plan B was in order and I deleted my shaders folder and the P3D.cfg file.  This normally chases away all gremlins.  However, this time it didn’t.  I still had an unusable sim. 

Google has ALL the answers

I decided to take to Google and see what I could learn.  Of course I found lots of information discussing the steps I had already taken.  I kept looking and finally discovered something new.  A new tip about deleting the SceneryIndexes_64x folder in conjunction with also deleting the shaders and p3d.cfg file. 

Once I completed those steps, I rebooted my PC and fired up P3D.  All was once again golden.  Actually, I think the sim is performing much better as well.

I’ve documented the details about how to locate the SceneryIndexes_64x folder on my FlightSimHelpers.com website.  You can find that info here

Hopefully my P3Dv4.5 (with hotfix 3) will continue to perform until such time as I move over to P3Dv5. 

Until next time..

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Prepar3D v5 More Progress

I spent several hours over the weekend downloading new installers for most of my major airport sceneries.  I learned a long time ago that it was worth the effort to keep an Excel spreadsheet of all my add-ons.  This way I know what I have and when it comes time to redownload or even update, I won’t go stir crazy in the process. 

At the present time, sceneries from Drzewiecki Design, FSDreamTeam, FlightBeam, FlyTampa, LatinVFR, ImaginSim, Orbx and UK2000 all have new and updated P3Dv5 installers.  This represents about 85+% of my add-on collection.  Once these approx. 100 items have been downloaded and installed I will be that much closer to making the move to P3Dv5 full-time. 

Just Need Aircraft

As mentioned in a previous update, the delay to truly making P3Dv5 my full-time sim will be aircraft.  While PMDG released their B747 QOTSII (see this post), I don’t fly it very much.  The PMDG 737NGxu is not only my favorite add-on airplane, it’s also my favorite and gets the most work.  I’m truly in no hurry to make the move.  Prepar3Dv4 is working like a champ and I’ve recently been flying out of Miami into the eastern and western Caribbean. 

A2A To The Rescue

This week A2A released their Cessna 172 with a P3Dv5 installer.  This has been a welcome addition for me.  As I mentioned in an earlier update, I do enjoy spending time in the near vanilla simulator just flying around low and slow.  The A2A Cessna 172 is the perfect study level GA aircraft for this task.  I’ve spent a few hours flying around the Orbx regions of the Pacific Northwest, Southern Alaska and even nearer to my own backyard the Central Rockies.  Prepar3D version 5 is showing excellent progress.

Continue as Filed

The next several days will be much the same.  Install sceneries, test, install sceneries and test some more.  I’m still heavily using P3Dv4 for my everyday flying.  But generally take 30-60 minutes each day to load up the A2A C172 for some fun. 

That’s it for now.  It’s time to begin my descent into Bozeman, Montana on a American flight out of KDFW on VATSIM.  Life is good!

Jerry

Bad News from REX

As many are awaiting news regarding whether their favorite add-ons will be compatible with Prepar3D version 5, the development team over at REX posted a status update on their Discord.  I’ve included the announcement below, but will first share my own thoughts with their decision.

My Use of REX

Since P3Dv4 first arrived on the scene, I had experimented with various shader applications.  The first I tried was PTA.  While I liked what I saw, I wanted more.  I moved to ENVTEX/ENVSHADE by TOGA Projects and was pretty happy with the eye candy it provided.  Then pretty much everything changed when REX released their SkyForce 3D and Environment Force products.  From many in the community REX had developed and sold to the community the “holy grail” of all things environment producing eye candy.  What I fell in love with was the simplicity of its use.  While I did some tweaking, I found the fully automated settings gave me exactly what I wanted.  I was happy.

While the two products combined can offer the flight simmer a complete weather and environment system, I deactivated the weather component within SkyForce and chose to use ActiveSky.  But bottom line, I was very happy with this setup and was looking forward to the continued use in Prepar3D v5.

Reasons?

I can only guess the reason REX has decided not to bring their Environment Force application to P3Dv5 is due to the enhanced shaders and cloud textures within the sim.  Yes, the sky and cloud textures in P3Dv5 are better than we’ve had in previous versions.  But at this stage, I’m not entirely sure

Other Shader Choices

As I began writing this posting, I decided to do a little digging to see what other shader choices were available or what news I could learn regarding P3Dv5 Compatibility.  It appears Tomato Shade (which I have no experience with) won’t be coming to P3Dv5 anytime soon.  Also, PTA (at the present time) is of unknown status.  As previously mentioned, REX will not be bringing their Environment Force to P3Dv5 so that leaves ENVTEX/ENVSHADE as the only one currently ready to go with P3Dv5. 

Final Thoughts

Many may ask why these shader add-ons are as popular as they are in the flight sim community.  Immersion is the answer.  For me, the eye candy is an important element in my flight simulation experience.  I’d even say it’s just as important as the level of immersion I get from flying a study level aircraft such as those from PMDG or FSLabs. The flight simulation hobby has come a very long way since my early days on the Commodore 64 and I truly love every minute I can spend in the sim.

As I do own ENVTEX/ENVSHADE from TOGA Projects, I will most likely use this product in my P3Dv5 setup.  I’ve read many improvements were made to the product over the last year.  But I think I’ll first experience P3Dv5 in its native state and see for myself the improvements Lockheed Martin made to the sim. 

Thanks for reading.  The REX announcement is below. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

REX Announcement

SUBJECT:
REX Product Compatibility with Prepar3D v4.5 HF3 and Prepar3D v5+

TYPE:
NEWS

LEVEL:
HIGH

DATE ISSUED:
Monday, May 11, 2020

EFFECTIVE DATE/TIME:
Monday, May 11, 2020
END DATE/TIME:
Monday, June 1, 2020

NEWS TOPIC:
*
Over the past few weeks Lockheed Martin released Prepar3D v4.5 Hotfix 3, Prepar3D v5, and Prepar3D v5.0 Hotfix 1. We wanted to take time to inform you of the status of our product line compatibility with each simulator.

Prepar3D v4.5 Hotfix 3:
The following REX products are 100% compatible with Prepar3D v4.5 Hotfix 3:
•    REX 5 – Environment Force
•    REX 5 – Sky Force 3D
•    REX 5 – Worldwide Airports HD
•    REX 4 – Texture Direct with Soft Clouds
•    WX Advantage Radar

Prepar3D v5 or Prepar3D v5 + Hotfix 1
Currently none of our products are “officially” compatible with Prepar3D v5+. However, since we are part of the beta team for Prepar3D, we have been actively testing and evaluating each product. Here is the current status of each:
In Development:
•    REX 5 – Sky Force
•    REX 5 – Weather Force (Add-on to Sky Force)
In Process:
•    REX 5 – Worldwide Airports HD
Under Review:
•    REX 5 – Environment Force
Will not be made compatible for Prepar3D v5+
•    WX Advantage Radar

We will keep you updated with the status of each product as we progress. Thank you for your patience during this time.

PMDG Is First

The development team at PMDG was the first to ready one of their payware, add-on aircraft for P3Dv5.  The majestic Boeing 747-400 Queen of the Skies II is now 100% 99% compatible with P3Dv5.  Unfortunately, she isn’t 100% as there was a last minute change with the way the new ActiveSky P3D handles weather.  Specifically the way aircraft needs to be coded to interpret weather from ActiveSky P3D so the weather radar functions correctly.  Unfortunately, PMDG were not aware of this change and only learned about it after releasing the QOTSII.  While the PMDG Dev team have moved onto the next aircraft (hopefully the 737NGXu), they will circle back and make the necessary corrections to the Queen.  Most likely I will wait and install the 747-400 after PMDG has provided the new updated installer. 

Speaking of the Queen

While not flight sim related, Friday 8 May marked the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.  VE Day also known as Victory in Europe Day was the day in which the Allies of World War II accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.  Queen Elizabeth II spoke on Friday and was quoted as saying, “Never Give Up, Never Despair”.  In these trying times we’re now finding ourselves living, those words could never be more important.

The Work Continues

As I mentioned in my post on Saturday, I have successfully installed P3Dv5, ActiveSky P3D and FSUIPC.  I’ve now moved on to installing all my Orbx sceneries and airports.  I’ve always had the best luck in doing this in a particular order. 

First and obviously you need to install P3Dv5.  Next install Orbx FTX Base and Libraries.  It appears Orbx will not be making their FTX Vector for P3Dv5, so for now skip that. Then I begin installing the Orbx regions and finally all Orbx airports.  Once this is done (and it will take some time) I generally spend some time in a GA aircraft and go out and enjoy the beautiful Orbx regions.  My all time favorite is Southern Alaska and Pacific Northwest.  The very first add-on Orbx airport I purchased was 7S3 Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark which is a Bill Womack classic.  I just love flying around this area. 

Still Not Ready for Prime Time

P3Dv5 still isn’t ready to go for me.  While it’s coming together for GA, VFR, low and slow flying…it’s not yet ready to take the place of P3Dv4.  Most likely it will still be a few weeks away from that timeframe.  To me this is a very methodical process and as I’ve stated before, I DO NOT install anything into the new sim that hasn’t been made compatible.  So my favorite aircraft, the PMDG 737NGXu will have to wait for the PMDG team to provide a new installer.  Whether that is a few days or a few weeks, the wait will be worth it. 

For now, I’ll continue installing the rest of the Orbx airports and then begin downloading other “ready to go” payware airports.  I have a lot of add-ons so stay tuned.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Prepar3D v5 Update

Yesterday I discussed the latest version of Prepar3D.  Within about 15 minutes of publishing that article, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on P3Dv5 along with FSUIPC 6.  If you’re not familiar with FSUIPC (and many flight simmers are not), well FSUIPC is a little utility which allows many add-ons to connect to P3D and also allows for better external flight control support in the sim.  Most users can get by with the freeware version of FSUIPC.  However, if you are like me and want to customize your 3rd party add-on hardware (throttles, joysticks, yokes etc.) then you need FSUIPC.  But I digress…

It Is EVERYTHING and a box of chocolates

Of course, at this very instance the only thing installed into my new P3Dv5 setup is of course P3Dv5, FSUIPC and ActiveSky.  As a matter of fact, ActiveSky is the main reason I went ahead and pulled the trigger on P3Dv5 now.  Currently, ActiveSky for Prepar3D v5 is available as a beta at zero upgrade cost.  The new version of ActiveSky is called ActiveSky P3D and if you owned the previous version for P3Dv4 (ASP4) then for the next 2-3 weeks you can upgrade to ActiveSky P3D at no cost.  ActiveSky P3D will work for both P3Dv4 and P3Dv5. Once installed, it will prompt you to choose which simulator you want to use.  Pretty slick.

But back to my statement,  “It Is EVERYTHING and a box of chocolates”, the new Prepar3D v5 is truly amazing.  While even in its vanilla state, I can see the benefits of the upgrade and I’m very pleased to have made the purchase. 

One Step at a time

As I’ve mentioned before in other blog postings.  If you truly want the best out of your sim experience, only install 3rd party add-ons which have been ported over by the developers.  Don’t try to hack something into P3Dv5 which hasn’t been updated as you’ll likely only cause yourself issues and a lot of headaches. 

All major developers are working as quickly as they can to get their add-ons available for P3Dv5.  Spend some time just enjoying the vanilla sim and as add-ons are made available, install them.  Until that time…continue flying in P3Dv4.  This is my plan. 

If I were to guess (and a lot of this is based on my move from P3Dv3 to v4) it could be several more weeks before we have everything available from the devs.  Just be patient. 

If you yourself are currently making the move to P3Dv5 or planning to, FSElite has a really good P3Dv5 Compatibility Database.  They are documenting everything from add-on aircraft, airports, scenery and utilities.  

More to Come

I’ll provide updates as more add-ons have been made available to P3Dv5.  I’ll also share my settings as well.  Currently, I have my P3Dv5 settings adjusted to mirror what I have set in P3Dv4.  I figure this was a good starting point.  I’ll tweak to get the very best performance and will share them. 

Of course, at this very moment my FPS is phenomenal.  But this is expected in a vanilla sim.  As more add-ons are installed including scenery, airports and aircraft…the FPS will drop.  As I’ve always said….don’t drive yourself crazy chasing 60FPS.  I’ll be happy if DX12 and the enhancements made to v5 will give me a solid, smooth experience.  This is what I have with v4 and it’s all I need in v5.  Once I have made my tweaks, I’ll not pay much attention to FPS. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog postings. 

Until next time….

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Prepar3D v5

Most avid flight simmers will most likely know that Lockheed Martin released their newest release of Prepar3D.  Yes, P3Dv5 is out and at the time of me sitting down to actually write this blog post, I’ve yet to pull the trigger on the purchase.  I’ve changed my mind on the idea of moving to P3Dv5 about as many times as I’ve changed my socks.  At this point in time I’m leaning yes. 

Just Say No

Last year when we all learned about Microsoft’s plan to return to the flight simulation market I had said I would purchase no new add-ons for P3D.  Period!  I held to this plan for many months.  After all, from what we know about MSFS2020 (or at least believe we know about it) there will be very little need for all the Orbx ground texture add-ons, perhaps even 3rd party airport add-ons and even weather add-ons won’t be needed.  Again, I believe all this will be baked into the new sim.

I have very little hope that any 3rd party payware aircraft add-ons for P3D will be offered at zero cost to move to MSFS2020.  While I’ve heard PMDG and FSLabs are both planning to release aircraft for MSFS2020, these most likely will be brand new purchases.  Same will most likely apply to all my GA favorites as well. 

Out Of No Where

A few weeks ago, Lockheed Martin announced P3Dv5.  While most of us believed a P3Dv5 might be released in the future, we had no idea it was coming this soon.  Some speculate Lockheed was simply trying to get ahead of the new Microsoft release, but I don’t think that is the case at all.  Remember, contrary to popular belief….Prepar3D IS NOT geared towards our community.  P3D has been and always will be a commercial product.  In other words, Lockheed Martin DOES NOT market this software to the home simulation community.  Period!

Anyway….as I mentioned earlier, I’ve changed my mind about making the move to v5 many times over the past few weeks. 

Dialed In and Perfect

My current installation of Prepar3d v4.5 is dialed in and running perfect.  You can review my P3Dv4.5 settings here.  Over the past few weeks of being in the COVID-19 lockdown/quarantine, I’ve logged over 150 hours in the sim.  I’ve had absolutely zero issues.  No crashes!  No performance issues!  Nothing but absolute fun. 

I did break my rule of not making any purchases after catching some really good sales during this “Stay At Home” period and also picked up some awesome scenery being offered for free.  I figured I wanted to do my part in helping these developers during this time and the new scenery are airports I’ve wanted to fly into and out of. 

Back to V5

At the present time, my cost to make the move to Prepar3D v5 and have everything I have currently in v4 will be less than $100.  This includes the cost of the Academic license version of v5 and just a small handful of add-ons that require an “upgrade” price.  In my opinion, this is a small price to pay to take advantages of the improvements made in v5.

I would estimate about 25-30% of my current flight sim investment was money spent well before I made the move to P3D v2.x.  In other words, 25-30% of my add-ons (mostly Orbx, FSDreamTeam and FlightBeam purchases) were all made when I actively used FSX.  This was well over 10 (or more) years ago.  95% of my current total investment will be updated/upgraded by the developers at no cost to get them into P3Dv5 (including PMDG and FSLabs aircraft).  So I believe for less than a $100 investment, it’s money well spent for a hobby I truly enjoy so much.

As for MSFS2020.  Yes, it is still a planned purchase for me.  But we have no idea exactly when MSFS2020 will be available to purchase and we have no idea of the exact pricing scheme.  At the time of this writing, I’m not sure how COVID-19 will impact the release.  Once MSFS2020 is available, it could be weeks or even months before the sim is ready for me to begin using it with tubeliners on VATSIM. 

Purchase of v5 Imminent

I’ll make the purchase of Prepar3D v5 soon and begin the process of getting it installed and configured.  As developers release installers for v5, I’ll begin the painstaking process of installing them.  Like with v4, only add-ons which have been made compatible to v5 will be installed.  If all goes to plan, v5 will be just as stable as v4 is now, but obviously a better performer with the advances made in v5. 

Going Academic

With P3D versions 3.x and 4.x I purchased the professional level license.  While the only difference between the Academic license and that of the Professional was a small watermark in the upper right hand corner of the screen, I made the decision to purchase the professional license since at the time I did make occasional YouTube videos and monetized those.  Going forward, I have no plans of making videos and if I do they won’t be monetized.  Perhaps I’m getting more frugal in my older years….but I see no reason in spending the extra $$$ for the pro level.  After all, I generally learning something new each time I fly …so in my book that will count towards my “academic” use of this software. 

Final Thoughts

Well that just about does it for this posting.  I’m approaching my two month mark of being in self-isolation and still 100% healthy.  I still have a job and still managing to keep the cupboards stocked with food and yes, even toilet paper.  I filled the gas tank on my 2017 Ford Escape over two months ago and still have a half tank of gas left.  The wife and I have been doing a few projects around the house and enjoying the mild Spring weather we’ve had.  I think it’s been more than two weeks since our last snow and according to the long-range weather forecast, the snow is done until next Fall.  Just gotta keep a watch out for those darn Chinese “Murder Hornets” now.  I wonder how much toilet paper I should purchase for this situation? 

Until next time…

Stay healthy and Stay Safe for all threats, foreign and domestic….

Jerry

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