My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4

Hello Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages…  I truly appreciate all who take the time to read the content I publish in written format on my blog site.  I realize the written word is so prehistoric in terms of all things new media.  After all, we have podcasts, vlogs, livestreams etc.  But the old blog site continues to received many thousands of visits each month and I very much enjoy writing and sharing…so thank you all for taking the time to read the ramblings of a middle aged man. 

Pay special attention to the subject line and notice the use of the word “My”.  This list hasn’t been compiled using some scientific method to include every single payware aircraft available for P3Dv4.  It’s just my very own Top 10 list of my favorite payware aircraft for Prepar3D version 4.  Yes, I own each of these and try to fly them on a regular basis.  The operative word in that sentence is “try”.  I’ll explain that later.  Let’s get started with MY Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4.

Honorable Mention – CaptainSim 757

I’ve opted to list an 11th listing which I’ve thrown into the honorable mention category and it somewhat pains me to do so.  In my long history of flight sim and my nearly as long history of payware aircraft, I’ve had a somewhat contentious relationship with CaptainSim.  But I so much adore the Boeing 757 that when no other options were available, I plopped down my hard earned money and purchased their rendition of the aircraft.   While I had a terrible, terrible, terrible (did I say terrible) experience with their version of the 777 and I still believe their 777 flies like a brick, CaptainSim has come along way to improving the 757.  While I don’t agree with their pricing strategy, CaptainSim (at this time) is the only option for a 757 in P3Dv4. 

Note:  In between the time I actually wrote this article and published it, QualityWings did release their Boeing 757 which was originally developed for FS9 and FSX.  So technically there are now two B757’s for P3Dv4.  

#10 – Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with Cargomaster Expansion Pack

While Carenado may not be known for developing truly study level aircraft, usually their attention to detail in producing both a beautiful aircraft and one that handles well in the air is good enough to give me several hours of fun.  The Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with the Cargomaster expansion pack was perhaps my 2nd or 3rd purchase from Carenado and it remains one of my favorite aircraft to fly.  I enjoy loading it up in the Fedex livery and doing some Caribbean island hopping.  While I own a variety of Carenado aircraft and soon plan to add their latest release of the ATR 42-500 series aircraft.  I think this one will also be a fun plane to fly around the Caribbean in. 

#9 – Carenado Fokker 50

Just like I stated with the Carenado Grand Caravan, the Fokker 50 is beautifully detailed and flies well.  This aircraft has made the list due in part to the fact that I’ve flown on this same aircraft so many times between London City Airport and Antwerp, Belgium.  Unfortunately, when my wife and I were in Antwerp last summer (summer of 2018) the airline, VLM shut down operations just after we landed back in England.  Talk about timing!  So now we’ll most likely go by rail via the Eurostar which will be a brand new adventure I’m sure. 

#8 – Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400

I would suspect this aircraft would rank much, much higher on other’s lists (if they were to compile one).  There are a few reasons why this aircraft ranks where it does on my list and it really has nothing to do with the aircraft itself.   You’ve heard the saying…”It’s not you, it’s me” right? 

So I was a bit late acquiring the Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400.  When I did purchase it, it was for P3D v3.  Soon after purchase my life got busy (as it sometimes can do) and I never really got around to learning the aircraft.  Then when P3D v4 came out, I tried to upgrade but that was during the time when the FlightSimStore was having their issues which I discussed here and again here.  I finally managed to secure the upgraded version of the Q400 for P3D v4.  I’ve just not dedicated the time required to learning this awesome aircraft.  Perhaps if I can learn to fly this beauty properly, she would rank much higher on my list.  But until then….here we are!

#7 – QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner

This is one aircraft which in the real-world I’ve yet to have the opportunity to fly.  The 787 ranks lower on my list simply due to the fact the other seven are more of a favorite than this one.  While it took the team at QualityWings a mini-lifetime to bring this beautiful aircraft to Prepar3D v4, it was worth the wait.  With the recent updates, the QW Dreamliner is truly a dream to fly and one I do enjoy flying every chance I get.  Now before I leave the subject of QualityWings, I truly wish they would hurry up and bring their Boeing 757 to P3D v4.  As soon as they do, I’ll purchase it and drop the CaptainSim in a heartbeat.  

#6 – PMDG Boeing 747-400 v3 (Queen of the Skies II)

While it only took me a few minutes to jot down ten aircraft (11 if you count the honorable mention), it’s now getting down to the truly difficult part.  Really from the Dreamliner all the way down to the #1, it really all boils down to just how frequently I fly these aircraft.  As I truly love the immersion experience the flight simulation hobby gives to me, I also enjoy simulating real world flights.  It’s just really, really hard to consider flying the magnificent Boeing 747-400 on a two hour flight.  But then again…there’s always cargo operations. 

The Boeing 747-400 will always be a very special aircraft for me.  In my lifetime, I’ve flown on several.  The first was on a United Airlines when I flew from San Francisco to Tokyo.  I’ve since flown on a British Airways 747-400 another three times with a fourth coming up this summer when my wife and I will once again travel across the pond from Denver to London Heathrow on the British Airways 744.  While she’s starting to get really long in the tooth, it’s still the most magnificent aircraft I’ve ever had the chance to fly on. 

#5 – PMDG Boeing 777

I recently counted the number of trips across the pond (US to UK) which I’ve completed in my life.  That number is eleven with my twelfth crossing coming up later this summer.  The Boeing 777 holds a special place in my heart (and on this list) as it was in an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 that I made my first transatlantic crossing back in 2001.  It was this trip which introduced me to my beautiful wife.  Since that first trip, I’ve flown on British Airways 777 several times before they began using the 747-400 on the Denver to Heathrow route. 

Of course, the 777 ranks here for much the same reason as the 747.  But I do tend to fly a lot of domestic Fedex routes and they are always fun to fly.  I truly love this aircraft.

#4 – FlightSimLabs Airbus A320/A319

Longtime and regular readers of my blog postings will certainly recall a time where I actually said I would never own the FlightSimLabs Airbus aircraft.  A few months later I changed my mind and wrote about the reasons for changing my mind.  I’m grouping the FlightSimLabs Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft together as they are very much the same aircraft, just slightly different variants.  Both are awesome to fly and both get taken out of my virtual hangar from time to time for shorter routes when I want to simulate flying for American, British Airways etc.  While I’ll always stand firm in the frustration felt with their earlier business practices, I firmly believe they have turned that corner and this team of developers are doing some really awesome things.  I look forward to their A321 variant and will add it to my virtual hangar upon release. 

#3 – Milviz DHC-2 Beaver

I  absolutely love flying in the wilds of Alaska with this awesome looking and equally performing aircraft.  An aircraft like this allows me to appreciate the shear beauty of the wonderful Alaskan scenery and with the float plane variant, there’s no place I can’t go.  Just as it says on the Milviz website, the DHC-2 Beaver embodies the ‘can-do’ attitude that’s made this iconic bush plane a symbol of hard work for nearly 70 years.

#2 – A2A Cessna 172

The finest study level general aviation aircraft available for Prepar3D v4 (also for earlier versions and FSX) which you’ll find on the entire interwebz is the A2A Cessna 172.  I’m really not sure you can call yourself a flight sim enthusiast unless you own this aircraft.  While A2A also offers (and I own) the Cessna 182 and Piper Cherokee 180, the Cessna 172 is aircraft I truly love to fly.  I will often load it up at Centennial Airport (KAPA) which is only a few miles from my home and office and fly around the Denver area. 

#1 – PMDG Boeing 737

There’s a reason why both #1 and #2 on this list also appeared in my “Top 5, Must Have Add-ons for Prepar3D v4” article I wrote last fall.  I must also admit that while I do very much enjoy flying low and slow in the above mentioned A2A Cessna 172, my main flight simulation passion is and has been for a very long time with jetliners/tubeliners.  As it happens, the PMDG Boeing 737 happens to be my favorite, my go-to and my workhorse aircraft of choice and for many reasons.

First, versatility.  This aircraft can practically go anywhere pending you account for fuel usage.  As it’s popular with many different airlines, you’ll find a wide range of liveries available to simulate your favorite airline.  It’s also a really easy and forgiving study level aircraft to start with.  I can literally load up P3Dv4 with any variant of the PMDG 737 and within 10-15 minutes I can be taxing toward the active runway with everything running/programmed and ready for flight.  Last, but certainly not least….the PMDG Boeing 737 is easy on frames which means you don’t need to have as powerful of a PC to still be able to enjoy a payware, study level aircraft.   

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it.  My Top 10 plus an honorable mention just for the heck of it.  Really with the exception of the #1 (PMDG 737) and #2 (A2A C172) the other listings could just about fall in any other order.  Meaning, they all are top-notch payware aircraft and a whole lot of fun to fly.  When asked, or even when I’m not asked…I always recommend both the A2A Cessna 172 and the PMDG Boeing 737 to those who are just starting out in flight simulation.  As previously stated, both are truly awesome aircraft and both will give you that “As Real As It Gets” experience.

I think I’ll work on a “Top 10” Airport Add-on list next.  Stay tuned…

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

A real world adventure simulated…Part 1

For about as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed simulating my real world flights on flight simulator.  This probably started in the mid-90’s with the introduction of Flight Simulator 95 (FS 6), but I may have been doing it as early as FS5.  Generally the way I do it is a few days or a week or so before a real-world flight, I’ll simulate it on flight simulator.  Now during my several year hiatus from the hobby I didn’t simulate many of the flights but having now returned I’m back in the habit.  I find it fun and perhaps even a bit superstitious about it now a days.  But I also don’t remove the previous check baggage tag UNTIL I reach the ticket counter.  Ha ha

Anyway, this simulated flight is a true real world adventure that my wonderful wife and I will be taking very soon.  We will fly from Denver, Colorado to London’s Heathrow Airport on British Airways.  We will transfer from Heathrow to London City Airport via the London underground to then fly a CityJet (now owned by Air France) from London City to Antwerp, Belgium.  If you read my initial review of the Captain Sim Boeing 777, then you know that I planned to fly that aircraft in my simulated adventure as that is the equipment British Airways operates between Denver and London.  However, after two attempts to get the Captain Sim T7 off the ground at KDEN, even using that massive 16000 foot runway which I’ll talk about again in a minute, the CS 777 struggled to take to the skies and maintaining airspeed just didn’t happen.  I’m superstitious enough about this sort of thing and put the CS 777 back in the virtual hangar.  She just isn’t ready for prime time and certainly a workout under a heavy load.   I have resorted to go back to the POSKY for this round-trip flight.  I know she is up to the challenge. I’m just thankful I didn’t send her out to the desert to retire.

I really have no rules for these flights.  I will fly the BA legs on the VATSIM network and will fly the CityJet flighs offline.  This is keeping in the rules of my virtual airline, American virtual Airlines.  Because British Airways is in the oneworld alliance, I can fly those flights as codeshare and file the PIREPs for hours.  However, since Air France is in that other codeshare system I won’t be able to log those hours.  But no worries.

Our journey begins at the beautiful Denver International Airport (KDEN) on a warm almost summer evening.  The daytime temperatures have been soaring the past few days with daytime highs topping out in the upper 80’s to low 90’s.  This of course is not always the best situation for a large, heavy aircraft full of fuel and passengers.  This is one of the reasons why KDEN built the massive 16R/34L measuring in at a whopping 16,000 feet (that’s over 3 miles long).  This new runway (completed a few years ago) helped put the Mile High City into the record books as this is the longest commercial (non-military) precision instrument runway in the US.  This runway would allow KDEN to handle the new Airbus A380 should any carrier decide to add it to their route. 

Our journey begins with our British Airways, Boeing Triple Seven (777-200) parked at terminal A, gate A37.  The flight had arrived earlier and is currently being serviced, re-fueled, cleaned etc. for the long journey back to London’s Heathrow Airport. 

Taking a look at weather conditions both local, along the way and even at our destination some 9 hours away, all appears to be smooth flying.  I’ve ordered 194,618 pounds of fuel which gives us plenty of reserves for holding, diversion and contingency planning.  We have a full flight and our overall gross weight is just over 540K. 

2011-6-15_8-53-17-941Our route tonight will take us out from KDEN via the Plains four departure, Hayes Center transition then out across Iowa, Illinois and in a general northeasterly direction through New England.  Since we are simulating a evening departure from KDEN, North Atlantic Track data isn’t updated so I’m using the data for the real world flight that departed yesterday.  It will be close enough.  Our flying time will be just a little over 8 hours at a distance of 4135 nm at an altitude of 35,000 feet.  As we departed on-time, the Colorado sunset is just about to drop out of sight behind the Rocky Mountains as we climb through 17000 for FL350.

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Flying the downwind leg parallel to London Heathrow off the port side.  Weather conditions in London were partly cloudy and light rain.  Basically a good typical English day.  Flight Attendants, prepare for landing.

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Making the left base leg turn to intercept the ILS for runway 27L, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are shown just in the background.

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Completing the rollout from the base leg turn.  BAW100 has joined the ILS. 

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A “short final” shot for my friend Al.  BAW100 inbound ILS runway 27L, Number One for landing. 

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Thrust reversers and speed brakes deployed.  The Posky T7 slows to exit 27L at London’s Heathrow Airport.  Taxi to to terminal 5.  The journey is only partially complete.  Return soon to read about part two.

Until next time….Happy Flying!

Jerry

Captain Sim 777–A First Look

This is not going to be an official review of the new Captain Sim Boeing 777-200 as it basically is an exterior only model which incorporates the default B747 panel and B737 sound at this time.  Now I know what you must be thinking, especially if you are not familiar with the Captain Sim product and the way they have released products before.  From what I understand they have released products in the past in a piece by piece fashion.  Meaning it starts with the exterior model and then sometime down the road they will release an interior model etc.  While I’ve known about Captain Sim for a while, this is the first time I’ve installed and flown one of their aircraft.  Thankfully they start with the exterior as it would look funny flying around just a shell of an airplane.

At present time, the Captain Sim Boeing 777-200 (exterior model) is available 9.99 Euro ($14.56 USD).  Now if you’ve read several of my recent blog posts you know I’ve purchased several new aircraft for my virtual hangar.  First, about a month ago I purchased the iFly 737NGX and that was followed by the LVLD 767.  I’ve blogged about how much I enjoy flying these aircraft and that I’m hooked on the payware aircraft modeled closely after their real world counterparts and have truly enjoyed the realistic procedures required to get these aircraft into the sky and safely back onto the ground.  So why did I pay nearly $15.00 for an exterior model that only that acts and behaves like a default or freeware model? 

Well…the answer to that question is I didn’t pay for it.  I won it.  Yes…I won something and I’m tickled about it.  I haven’t won anything in years and wasn’t expecting this at all.  It was given away as part of the raffle for our AvA 10th Birthday bash event.  I actually could choose from any Captain Sim product and I chose the 777.  Why?  Well this one of course is easy to answer.  Since I already had the B737 from iFly and the 767 from LVLD, it made sense to select either the B757 or the new B777.  I decided against the B757 as I’m really looking at the Quality Wings 757 if they can ever get their GoFlight hardware integration working.  Once this happens then I’ll gladly give them my money.  So I figured I really had nothing to lose on the 777.  I decided if all else fails, I would just fly it like I would my POSKY B777’s until I found a payware model that I liked.  Plus, the FSX Flight Sim community (in my opinion) is really lacking in the quality payware 777 department.  We have awesome 737 models out now (and soon to be released PMDG) and we have great 747, 757 and of course my new pride and joy the LVLD 767.  But 777’s???  Nah….not really.  So I’m hopeful this one fills a very important void for all of us FSX users.

I had just wrapped up a KDFW to PHNL flight in the LVLD 767 (wow what a treat to fly) and had some time before dinner to install and check out this CS 777.  She installed with no issues and when I fired up FSX she was listed right there in the aircraft menu.  Where else did I expect to find it?  I was pleased to find that out of the box she comes in the following liveries American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air France and Singapore Airlines.  This is great because three of the seven are members of the oneworld alliance (AAL, BAW and JAL) and I’m planning to simulate my real world trip to London from Denver in a few days.  I can fly any of the oneworld codeshare flights with AvA.  This is great by the way as it allows for such diversity in aircraft.  When I have a need to fly a Boeing 747 I can jump in and fly a BAW flight.  Now I have a saying (which you’ve all heard I’m sure) and that is “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”.  So…while I could jump in an Airbus A380 as Qantas I haven’t done so just yet.  Anyway you get the idea.

cs777_baw

So I started the Captain Sim Boeing 777 in the British Airways livery and took her for a lap around DFW.  We departed on 17R and headed east around and out of the way of Dallas Love Field and then came around from the NE to land on 17C.  For a default, freeware aircraft I have to say she handled great.  Yes..I had just finished an almost 8 hour flight to Honolulu in the awesome LVLD, but this wasn’t bad.  Considering she is lacking in the interior and flight dynamics like the LVLD.

From the outside the “eye-candy” is fantastic and the image above doesn’t do her justice.  I can tell you this B777 will be moved front and center in the virtual hangar in front of the POSKY models I have.  The POSKY’s look great, but there are some visual issues (like a hole in the fuselage) which sort of stick out.  I’ve tried to find a fix, but gave up.  I just make sure I take on extra oxygen and blankets and life is good.  Smile

Again, this is just a first look. Please….Please…Please keep your 9.99 euro in your pocket for now (unless of course you just want an exceptional looking exterior visual modeled aircraft in the liveries I mentioned before.  You can also find additional liveries in the usual places such asAVSIM.net.  I plan to take this beautiful aircraft on a round-trip long-haul from Denver to London Heathrow and back to simulate my real world trip I’ll take in a few weeks.  I will make sure to provide more information in the form of an update so you can better decide.

Finally, I am entitled to the additional packages once they are made available by Captain Sim.  I’ll do a full review of the Captain Sim Boeing 777 at that time.  Time will tell if she’ll work with myGoFlight MCP when all is said and done.  I sure hope so.

In closing, I’ve really enjoyed providing this first look into the Captain Sim 777.  I think I’ll review a few other items I have in my flight deck in the near future.  I know I promised some information on the VRInsight CDU I purchased a few weeks ago.  Perhaps that will be the first review item.  We’ll see. 

Until next time,

Jerry

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