Welcome Aboard KPHX to KLAS

SnapShot_aal777 Hello and thank you for stopping by.  For several years I have wanted to produce more cinematic flight sim productions.  However, the amount of time required hasn’t always been something I’ve had a lot of.  But times are different now.  Of course I love flying and this video was a lot of fun to put together.  There will be more soon….

Welcome Aboard to American Airlines flight 777 with non-stop service between Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Airport and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.  Your captain for this flight is JT.  Please sit back,
relax and enjoy the flight.

Addons used:

PMDG Boeing 737-800 (NGXu)
American Airlines Livery

Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v5

(2) ORBX OpenLC North America
(3) Flightbeam Studios KPHX
(4) FlyTampa KLAS
(5) FSDreamTeam GSX Lvl 2
Camera Effect:


I hope you enjoy watching my videos.  If you do, please hit that “Like” button!  Also, if you are new to the channel, please SUBSCRIBE.  It really does help!

Please visit my blog site https://grizzlybearsims.com  You’ll find my complete mod list and various articles and reviews on many of the simulation based games I enjoy playing.

Thank you for watching!



Inflight Music
Dreaming in 432Hz by Unicorn Heads (YouTube Music Library)

My Top 10 Payware Airports for Prepar3D v4

I recently compiled a My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4 listing where I ranked my favorite ten (plus an honorable mention) payware aircraft and why.  This list will be similar in style, but will obviously focus on payware, add-on airports.  I would encourage you to read my latest article titled “Why Consider Payware Airports” as it answers some of the questions as to why we spend the extra $$$ to add extra scenery to our flight sim.

For the record, I have a fairly large amount of payware add-on airport scenery.  Sometime last year I compiled a Google map so I could (at a glance) see what I owned and where I might want to fly so I can enjoy this add-on scenery.  At the time of this writing, I own a total of 63 add-on, payware airports and over the course of this article, I’ll give you the rundown of my favorite ten or so.  Let’s get started!

#10 – UK2000 London Heathrow (EGLL)

Actually, Heathrow is one of my favorite places in the world.  I absolutely love to plane spot here.  Both my wife and I enjoy our time we spend in the English Countryside and arriving at Heathrow is truly an awesome experience.  Generally on our way back home we’ll arrive a bit early so I can stand in awe and watch Boeing 747’s, 777’s and Airbus A380’s land and take-off to/from destinations all over the world.  I’m always amazed at just how efficient this airport operates with the volume of traffic and only two runways. 

#9 – FSIMStudios Cancun International Airport (MMUN)

Cancun is one of the newer add-on airports to land in my collection.  While I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Cancun in real life, it’s certainly a place I wouldn’t mind going.  The team at FSIMStudios have done a fantastic job with the scenery and I’m looking forward to their future work. 

#8 – Imaginsim Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS)

Austin-Bergstrom is another newly acquired add-ons which I picked up a few weeks ago.  This is a great airport in real life and it’s nicely modeled in the sim.  I really like the work Imaginsim puts into their sceneries and also own Atlanta KATL.

#7 – Captain 7 & 29 Palms Nuremberg Airport (EDDN)

The second largest airport in Bavaria, Nuremberg is beautifully done and is a great airport to pair up with flights from London Heathrow or London City.  For the level of detail this add-on also performs really well with little to no impact on sim performance. 

#6 – Drzewiecki Design Seattle Airports X (KSEA, KPAE, KBFI and KRNT)

If you’re like me and often enjoy taking delivery of your favorite Boeing aircraft direct from the manufacture, then you’re going to want to add Seattle Airports X to your inventory.  Obviously Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) KSEA is the primary commercial airport servicing the greater Seattle area.  A major hub for Alaska and Delta airlines, you’re sure to find lots of flight opportunities into and out of KSEA. 

Paine Field, KPAE is the home of Boeing’s Everett Assembly Plant and home of the largest building in the world and where the largest planes in Boeing’s fleet are born including the 747, 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner. 

Boeing Field, KBFI is where Boeing conducts final preparations for deliver of the 737 aircraft. 

Renton Municipal Airport, KRNT is located adjacent to the Boeing Renton Factory that manufactures 737’s.  KRNT is the initial point of departure for airplanes produced in the Boeing Renton Facility. 

#5 – My Dangerous Airport Collection EGLC, LPMA, LXGB, LOWI and TNCM

I’m grouping these five airports together and calling it “My Dangerous Airport Collection”.  Each of these five airports have very unique landing criteria and in the real world some of them require special certification and frequent training. 

London City, EGLC Along with Heathrow, this is another airport my wife and I use every 18 months or so as we connect from London to Antwerp, Belgium.  Much like Heathrow, this is a great airport to plane spot.  London City Airport features a single 4,900 foot runway and only certain aircraft are certified to operate here.  This includes ATR 42, ATR 72, Bombardier Q400, BAe 146/Avro RJ, Embraer ERJ 135/170/190 and the Fokker 50.  The largest jet aircraft that can operate here is the Airbus A318 which British Airways operates from London City to New York, JFK (with a brief fuel stop in Shannon, Ireland).  The return flight operates non-stop from JFK to London City.  Aircrew must be certified to fly the 5.5° steep approach.  If you’ve never flown into London City and never in that steep of an approach, let me assure you that you can feel the difference.  London City, EGLC is developed by UK2000.

Madeira Airport, LPMA this airport is ranked 9th in the world of Most Extreme Airports due to its location and spectacular runway construction.  Much of the 9,124 runway is built on stilts.  The cross wind action at this airport will test your skills like almost none other.  Madeira Airport, LPMA is developed by Aerosoft.

Gibraltar International Airport, LXGB is another one of my favorites.  Gibraltar was ranked 5th in the Most Extreme Airports of the world.  Just like Madeira, you have the possibility of strong crosswinds, terrain all around you and to top it all off, Winston Churchill Avenue intersects the short 5,511 ft runway and consequently has to be closed every time a plane lands and departs.  Gibraltar, LXGB is developed by Aerosoft.

Innsbruck Airport, LOWI  The Innsbruck airport offers something for everyone.  The airport can handle aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767 but you’ll most likely see smaller aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319/320/321’s operating in and out.  The approach can be both difficult and also breathtaking.  Innsbruck, LOWI is developed by Orbx and they have done a fantastic job with both the airport scenery as well as the surrounding area.  Of course it blends in with the Orbx Global products. 

Princess Juliana International, St. Maarten, TNCM  You’ve probably watched videos of aircraft departing and arriving into this extreme airport.  Folks hang onto the fence just behind runway 10 and try to keep from being tossed backwards from the jet wash.  TNCM features a 7,546 ft runway and until just a few years ago handled Boeing 747’s operated by Air France and KLM on a regular basis.  Perhaps today the largest aircraft flying into TNCM is the Airbus A340.  St. Maarten, TNCM is developed by FlyTampa.

#4 General Aviation Favorites by Orbx 7S3, WA56 and WA79

Another, but the last grouping of favorites.  This one is some of my favorite general aviation favorites by Orbx.  I just love loading up my A2A Cessna 182 or Cherokee and exploring the countryside.  Each of these airports is within the Orbx FTX regional system so the everything just blends in so nicely.  Plus each have a little extra eye candy to enjoy.

Stark’s Twin Oaks, 7S3 is located in Oregon and is a privately owned, public use airpark.  I believe this was the first of these I purchased.  Developed by Bill Womack, it’s a classic. 

Israel’s Farm, WA56 is located in Washington State and you’ll certainly experience the thrill of skimming over the trees, avoid clipping the fence and stopping before you run out of grass. 

Walter Sutton’s Private Strip, WA79 I often fly between Israel’s Farm and Walter Sutton’s place and it’s only a short hop from Stark’s Twin Oaks.  Another grass strip airfield which will certainly test your skill and nerve.  

#3 FlyTampa Las Vegas McCarran International Airport KLAS

When I began identifying the payware airports I owned for this “Top 10” list, Las Vegas wasn’t included.  Keep in mind that it may take me a few days to write an article and I often find a creative burst and I’ll start the framework for many articles at one time and then work on them a bit here and a bit there.  In the meantime, a new version of KLAS was released by FlyTampa and OMG…it’s amazing.  If it weren’t for the reasons I’ll later mention for my #2 and my #1 entries…this airport scenery would be #1.  Without a doubt.  FlyTampa has completely raised the bar and in my opinion snatched KLAS away from FSDreamTeam.  I love FSDT scenery, but what FlyTampa has done with Vega is just simply amazing.  Buy it!  You’ll thank me later.

#2 FSDreamTeam Dallas/Ft.Worth International Airport KDFW

If I had any way to track the number of flights into or out of a particular airport, I would honestly believe KDFW would be at the very top in the ranking order.  In the real world and starting at the age of a young boy, I have very fond memories of going plane spotting at DFW.  I saw the Concorde back in the 70’s when it was being operated by Braniff Airways and I’ve watched the airport grow (and the surrounding area) into what it is today.  As I became older and began my IT career, DFW was a common sight for me on Sunday afternoons and late Friday evenings for many years. 

In the virtual world, FSDreamTeam’s KDFW was one of the first add-on airports I purchased and the first from FSDT.  In my mind, FSDT’s KDFW has stood the test of time and is still pretty accurate.  One of my favorite routes to fly in the sim is between #1 and KDFW. 

#1 FlightBeam Denver International Airport KDEN

For those who know me and/or those who are regular readers of my blog content, it should come as no surprise that I would list Denver International Airport (DIA) as my #1 payware airport.  After all, DIA is my home airport and I fly out of DIA both in the real and virtual world often.  In just a little over two months, my wife and I will board a British Airways 747-400 and travel to London and I frequently fly out of Denver on American and Southwest.  If I’m not careful, I may surpass the number of flights into/out of KDEN in the virtual world as I do enjoy simulating both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines flights.  As I previously stated, my favorite route is between Denver and Dallas/Ft. Worth flying the PMDG 737-800 for American Airlines. 

In Summary

Most likely (and just like “My Top 10 Payware Aircraft for P3Dv4” list), I could re-write this posting a year from now, two years from now…perhaps 5-10 years from now and items #10 – #3 would/could change.  But I wouldn’t anticipate either of these top 10 lists changing the #2 and #1 items. 

While it was easier to compile the aircraft list, it was truly difficult to pull this list together.  When I began the framework for the article, I had noted over thirty different airports and through process of elimination I began whacking that list down to what you see here.  It truly was a struggle as I own so many really top-notch airport sceneries.  

Why Consider Payware Airports

It’s sometimes funny how articles are born here on my blog site.  I began the framework to a “My Top 10 Payware Airport Scenery” article which more or less started off with a question as to why we purchase payware airport scenery and showing examples.  I realized this would become a seriously long article, so I decided to split them into two different writings.   So let’s get the why out of the way first, then in a few days I’ll release my top 10 list.

Why purchase payware airport scenery?

If you are new to the hobby of flight simulation or perhaps a complete stranger to it, you might wonder why we spend additional money on airport scenery.  After all, this is both a valid question and a very good question. 

Unlike other simulation based games in my library (FS19, ATS, ETS2) Flight Sim (and this includes FSX, FSX: Steam Edition, All versions of Prepar3D and even XPlane) does include the entire map of the world.  As is the case with American Truck Simulator where we either have to wait for SCS to release a new US state DLC or rely on a mod developer, Flight Sim includes an open world to explore.  This means that out-of-the-box, you can start up at just about any default airport in the world and fly to just about any other default airport in the world.  Most default airports will include all runways, taxiways and buildings which exist in real life.  Some of the buildings may even very closely resemble their real-life counterparts.  However, as is the case with FSX/P3D…these airports (including runways, taxiways and terminal buildings) are seriously outdated.  Let me give you an example of just how outdated some are.

Example – Chicago O Hare International Airport – KORD

As you can see from the chart below which is dated 2006 versus the second image which is more recent, a lot has changed.  By default, even in Prepar3D v4, KORD is outdated by over 10 years. 


As you can see, Chicago O Hare looks much, much different with some runways removed and others added. 


But by default, if you fly into KORD you’ll be landing on runways which may not exist today and this truly confuses things when you are flying online with other pilots and ATC.

To overcome these obstacles, many of us will purchase add-on airport scenery which will update the airport based on what it looked like at the time the add-on was developed.  Of course, even these add-on airports can become outdated rather quickly as KORD is once again due to make changes in 2020.  So as you can see, it’s almost a never ending struggle to stay 100% current. 

Unfortunately, as is the case with Chicago O Hare…the FSX/P3D community finds itself in a holding pattern awaiting an updated version of this awesome airport.  The best current add-on version available today for KORD is based on what the airport looked like in 2011 timeframe.

Maximum Immersion and Eye-Candy

While the main reason to update might be to ensure airport accuracy, another reason is what I refer to as maximum immersion and eye-candy.   Denver International Airport (KDEN) by default is modeled based on what the airport looked like around 2006.  It’s recognizable in FSX/P3D by its iconic tent looking main terminal.  But DIA has undergone some radical changes since it first opened in 1995, replacing the old Stapleton Airport.

Is the image below real or a screenshot from P3D?  Hard to tell the difference huh?  It’s a screenshot compliments of FlightBeam who developed the most recent version of my home airport.  This image is from the vantage point of just north of terminal A.  Overlooking the international arrival/departure gates used by Lufthansa and British Airways.  You can see the iconic tent roof structure over the main Jeppesen Terminal building and directly in front of that the newly opened Westin Denver International Airport Hotel.  Maximum immersion – CHECK!  Eye-Candy – CHECK!

Image result for FSX KDEN default images

Photo Credit: FlightBeam KDEN

More than just the airport

Sometimes payware airports come with a little and some with a lot of additional features other than just a detailed airport.  As is the case with the brand new Las Vegas McCarran Airport (KLAS) which was recently released by FlyTampa.  In this example, not only do we get a highly detailed representation of the Las Vegas airport, but we also get bonus bling of the Vegas Strip.  I personally can’t wait to do a nighttime approach into KLAS with this beautiful scenery.  Can you say “Viva Las Vegas”?

Photo Credit: FlyTampa KLAS

Photo Credit: FlyTampa KLAS

Photo Credit: FlyTampa KLAS

In Summary

I recently read a Facebook comment from someone who said something along the lines of “This isn’t airport scenery simulator” when commenting on a post regarding payware scenery.  The great thing about this hobby is there’s literally something for everyone.  One can simply purchase the flight simulator platform of their choosing and have a ton of fun flying around in the vanilla or default state.  Or you can enhance the immersion and take it to a completely different level.  The flight sim world is big enough and welcoming enough for all types of individuals.  Enjoy the hobby on your terms.

Until next time…

Thank you….Thank you very much (read this in an Elvis accent).


A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E8

Our new San Francisco adventure starts now and I’m really excited about this new opportunity.  My first flight out of SFO will be a trip over to Vegas and back in the 737-800.  I’ve flown into and out of SFO many times, but there’s something a little different about this first flight out, as now I’m based here.  The good news is I’ve been really made to feel welcome by all the SFO based team and I’m starting to settle into my new home. 

Flight Details

Today I’m serving as Sr. First Officer on Alaska flight 1932 with service to Las Vegas.  Our flight today is in the Boeing 737-800.  Our block time for this trip is 1 hour, 40 minutes and we require 14, 650 lbs. of fuel and our take-off weight is just over 148,000 lbs.  This is a late afternoon flight and will be arriving into Vegas just around sunset. 



Let’s Go Already

Our 738 is at the gate and being prepped for the flight.  As Sr. First Officer, it’s my job to perform the walk around. 


We start at the front and make our way around. 


Inspecting the engine and control surfaces.


Making sure all lights are working as they should.


Then to the rear of the aircraft.


Tires and gear all look good.  It’s time to head back inside.


Some things are still branded with Virgin America, but that will soon change I’m sure.  Time for push-back.


Push-back and two successful engine starts.  It’s time to taxi out to 01L.  Don’t worry…it’s a short taxi. 


Line up and wait.  We’re waiting on a United B788 landing on 28L. 


Blasting off 01L at KSFO on our way to Vegas.


Making our left turn to circle around SFO and join the departure out of the Bay area.


Climbing up to FL370. 


The sun is setting and the moon is rising as we enter our cruise phase. 


Beginning our descent on the Las Vegas SUNST4 Arrival.


The view from my office window.


Beautiful sunset


The Vegas strip just off our left side.


On final approach.


Cleared to land


Parked at the gate and deboarding.  We’re set to return to SFO tonight.



If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-800
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
Airport Scenery: KSFO Flightbeam, FlyTampa KLAS
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E6

Hello and welcome back to another installment of my “A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series”.  As you might recall when we were last together, we landed in Las Vegas (Alaska Flight 634) and were due to return back to Seattle that afternoon/evening.  Let’s get right into the action.

Present Day

I’m still contemplating my options as it relates to my career with Alaska.  I will admit that a change of scenery will do well for me.  My contract with Alaska is up and in reviewing the job offers out there, I do have options. 

As you can see below, Alaska has offered me the option to move to San Francisco and work in what was the old Virgin America division.  The pay is a step forward as my current pay rate is $39.39 per hour and Alaska is offering me $39.55.  The next best choice for me would be to leave Alaska and of that list, Southwest Airlines is the most attractive.  Southwest has offered me a job before and each time they up the ante.  So I’d rather keep moving up if at all possible.  Decisions…decisions.


Flight Details

This is the return flight from Las Vegas back to Seattle, Alaska flight 635.  Our planned fuel for this trip back to Seattle is 19,640 lbs and our TOW is 161,731.  Our cruising altitude will be 34,000 with a total block time of 2 hours and 36 minutes. 


Are you Ready?

We’re running slightly late as we had a passenger who hadn’t boarded, so their bags had to be removed from the aircraft as standard procedure.  The ground crew needs to move a cart out of the way and then bring the tug around.  We’ll be pushing back in just a few minutes. 


Push back underway and along with that is engine start. 


Tug disconnected and we’re given the all clear. 


Leaving Las Vegas


Climbing out on our departure SID. 


A noticeable Washington landmark just above the clouds off the right wing.  (Mount Rainer)


Typical cloudy afternoon as we make our way along the arrival route.


The view from my office window.


Almost home as we fly near downtown Seattle. 


Hello Boeing…..



Safely back where we started about 6 hours earlier.


I’m not scheduled to fly for a few days and need to give Alaska Airlines my decision by end of the week if I want to consider the move to SFO.  I’ll admit, I’m certainly leaning in that direction. 


If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
Airport Scenery: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, KLAS FlyTampa
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E5

Good morning, good afternoon and/or good evening and thank you for returning to our 5th installment in this Storyteller series focusing on A Pilot’s Life.  A few things to catch you up on.  In the last installment, we traveled from Ketchikan back to Seattle.  This was the last flight of the month as I completed it on 31 May. As I get paid monthly, I received a nice paycheck on 1 June and have already made a few strategic purchases which will assist me in gaining more XP per flight.  As you can see from the screenshot below of the main APL program screen, my bank account has had a nice $2,253.60 in it.


After purchasing two items in the APL Shop which consisted of a mobile phone and a flight bag, I now only have $983.60.  These two purchases will earn me an additional 15% XP per each flight and help me to gain my promotion to the rank of Captain just a little quicker. 

While I could have purchased the headset instead of the mobile phone and gained a total of 20% XP, I’m trying to be somewhat practical with these purchases.  After all, who doesn’t own a cell phone in this day and age.  Next month I’ll make additional purchases.


Present Day

I’m hearing about an opportunity I may soon have to transfer down to San Francisco.  As a Sr. First Officer who will soon be moving up and over to the left seat as Captain, I suppose Alaska is looking to ensure I stay both motivated as well keep from burning out by flying back and forth from Sea-Tac.  I must admit that I do like the idea of a change of scenery.  SFO was the main hub for Virgin America and after the merger, Alaska kept SFO as a hub. I’ll be sure and keep you informed if this move becomes reality. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating Alaska flight 634 with service from Seattle down to Las Vegas.  Our flight departs at 10:30 AM.  Our planned fuel for this trip is 31,335 lbs and our take off weight is 162,046 lbs. with a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.  Our block time is 2 hours and 38 minutes. 



Let’s Get Going

This will be a turnaround flight for me.  While I enjoy the overnight stays in Vegas, my bank account can do without the possible gambling losses which might be incurred if I were to not have the best of luck.  Let’s face it, my luck in Vegas the past few trips hasn’t been the best.  I lost BIG TIME at the roulette table and ended up falling off the mechanical bull.  But as they say….what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Today we’re flying the Boeing 737-900 with the special 100th year Boeing livery.  ServAir is stocking up the aircraft galley.


Next of course comes the bags.  We’re set for an on-time departure. 


A little help from our friends…


Holding short at 16L


Blasting off and on the way to Vegas.


Just a little hazy this morning.  We’re now above the clouds of the Seattle area.  Nothing but clear skies to Vegas.


Ladies and gentlemen, if you direct your attention to the left side of the aircraft you’ll see the Vegas strip where I’m sure all of your hard earned money will be left.  Welcome to Vegas Baby!


Typical Vegas weather has us landing on the 26’s. 


Lake Mead in the background. 


Easy does it.  I personally love this photo.  The sky, the shadows. 


Some Southwest aircraft parked at LAS.


At our gate and shutting down.  The ground crew needs to get us turned around in less than an hour. 


That’s all for now.  Tune back in next time for the flight back to Seattle. 


If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
Airport Scenery: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, KLAS FlyTampa
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

Duplication of Effort – Is it a bad thing?

While I’ve been thinking about this subject for a few weeks, I really was prompted to actually sit down at the computer and pour my thoughts into WordPress for you all to read.  The subject of this writing has to do with add-on developers duplicating each others efforts.  Understand, I’m not referring to stealing, copying or anything underhanded. 

Earlier today the flight simulation community learned a brand new Las Vegas, KLAS airport scenery had been released by scenery developer FlyTampa.  I’m familiar with FlyTampa and own two of their add-on airports including TNCM (St. Maarten) and KTPA (Tampa).  On my wish list I have Amsterdam (EHAM), Chicago Midway (KMDW), Boston (KBOS) and with the word MAYBE beside it I now have Las Vegas (KLAS). 

For the past 8+ years I’ve owned the add-on scenery for Las Vegas from FSDreamTeam.  For the most part, I’ve been very pleased with their scenery.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been so pleased with FSDreamTeam that I own a total of 16 of their add-on airport sceneries.  The only developer which tops them in the number of products I own would be Orbx.  Anyway…

Back to the Question at Hand

Generally speaking, as consumers, we see duplication of effort everywhere we look.  Go to the grocery store and you’ll find multiple brands of products that essentially do the exact same thing.  Out on the highway, you’ll see different types of automobiles which all do the exact same thing.  Even in the very industry we simulate through flight simulation we have Boeing versus Airbus and American versus United.  Let’s also not forget we have Prepar3D versus XPlane.  I think the saying, “Variety is the Spice of Life” comes to mind here.  Also, competition is always a good thing. 

But is competition such a good thing in our hobby?  I’d say YES and NO! 

In the example of FSDreamTeam’s Las Vegas, it’s been out for about 10 years.  Originally developed for both FSX and FS9 (Flight Simulator 2004) and made compatible for Prepar3D (including v4) it is starting to show its age.  Having said that, much of the other FSDT scenery I own (with exception of KMEM and KSDF) were all purchased for FSX and FSDT has updated them for P3Dv4 at no out of pocket cost.  Said in another way, the vast majority of the 16 products I own from FSDreamTeam were purchased 7-10 years ago and the developer has worked to make them compatible with P3Dv4 and I didn’t have to spend any money.  This is one reason why FSDT has remained one of my favorite developers and why I try to support them every chance I get. 

Back to the competition question and why I say it’s both a good thing and a bad thing.  First let’s get the bad out of the way.  When I hear of an add-on developer creating airport scenery for an airport which already exists via another developer, I think to myself just how many other airports in the world which we don’t have represented with accurately detailed add-on scenery?  In other words, instead of recreating an airport that already exists by an established developer…why not select another airport? 

As for the reasons why it can be a good thing, well in the case of FSDT’s KLAS which was developed for FS9/FSX, FlyTampa’s KLAS is 100% P3Dv4 including PBR textures which of course is the brand new buzz word around the P3D community.  LOL  No, PBR doesn’t stand for Pabst Blue Ribbon…it stands for Physical Based Rendering and in simple terms PBR offers lighting techniques that treats light the way it really behaves in the real world.  When applied to an aircraft (as an example), the materials which make up the aircraft look more realistic. 

As I said…

Competition is a good thing.  Not only can it help to keep the cost to the consumer low, it also can assist in keeping everyone on their toes.  But if you blink….then bad things can happen.  In the case of FSDreamTeam and their KLAS scenery…THEY BLINKED and FlyTampa pounced. 

Like any other piece of software, FlyTampa didn’t decide last week or last month to develop their version of KLAS.  Most likely it’s been in the works for some time.  As I’ve stated before in other writings, compared to other gaming communities…the flight simulation community is rather small.  These 3rd party development teams are also small in size.  The PMDG wiki page states there are 8 employees.  So these things take time.  But in the case of FSDT, I see no signs they were planning to make any major updates to KLAS and with the recent hype around FlyTampa’s version, I’m most certain FSDT won’t bother.

Bottom Line

There’s very little brand loyalty in the flight sim community.  If my wife sends me into the store to purchase a cold soda, I better come out with a red can in my hand.  In other words, she drinks coca-cola or she’ll go without and I’ll get one of those looks if I even think otherwise.  You know the look I’m talking about.  Right?

On a related note, FSDreamTeam has been in the process of developing a version 2 for Chicago O Hare KORD.  I believe it’s been in the works for almost two years.  As is the case with most projects like this, no release date is known at this time.  FSDT’s KORD will be amazing and it’s badly needed.  However, another relatively new developer called Skyline Sim announced they were working on their own KORD (and other airports as well).  Time will only tell…

For now, I plan to pull the trigger on FlyTampa’s version of Las Vegas.  I’ll uninstall FSDT’s version and continue moving forward. 

Until next time…

Viva Las Vegas!


It’s been a while….

Yep, I know it’s been over a month…Oh who am I kidding.  It’s been over two months since I last posted a blog update.  January was a busy month for virtual flying…but February not so much.  I believe I logged over 60 hours of virtual simming in January and only about 3-4 in February.  Bottom line is February was a busy month for me in my job and we all know that jobs come first and hobbies come last.

I’m still flying with American virtual Airlines and still managing the training hub.  It keeps me busy.  On average we have 20+ new pilots join each month and again on average about half that many are terminated for inactivity.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone would take the time to join a VA and not fly.  Sure we have a few rules that must be followed and we also conduct a very brief quiz over VATSIM and our own policies….but this quiz is not difficult at all.  Also, you must fly 5 hours as a student pilot before transferring to a mainline hub.  But we don’t require a check ride and the quiz is done on-line and we even tell you where to find the answers.  Oh well. 

There is something possibly big going to happen with me at AvA.  I won’t talk about it now, but will be certain to come back and blog about it just as soon as I can.  It’s all good.

The FSX machine is still running incredibly well.  I finally got around to installing all the FSDTsceneries I had purchased a few months back.  I purchased about a half dozen on a special deal FSDT was running.  I installed KDFW and KFLL but had never got around to installing KORD, KFJK, KLAS, PHNL.  Anyway….I had all but forgotten I had KORD and had been having issues with the terminals showing up correctly.  Basically when I would land in Chicago and taxi to the terminal area all I would see were hanging jet bridges and no buildings.  Well..I’m glad to say that the FSDT KORD scenery fixed that issue and I went ahead and installed the rest.  I’m planning on flying from KMSP to KLAS on Sunday evening for an AvA event. 

Speaking of sceneries.  I also purchased the FlyTampa scenery for St. Maarten, TNCM and for Tampa, KTPA.  I’m really impressed with FlyTampa’s quality. I know many of you own this scenery and I’m really not sure why it took so long to purchase it.  I think Boston KBOS will be my next FlyTampa scenery. 

Back to the subject of FSDT.  Have you heard about the newest product they are currently developing?  It’s called Ground Services X and is pretty darn cool looking.  I’ve provided the video showing some of the things it will do.  It’s cool.  You can learn more about GSX in this forumthread.

FSDreamTeam GSX Preview

What else?  Oh….I also purchased and have been using FS Passengers in my VA flights.  It’s pretty cool and it has made me a better pilot.  I do think the lead flight attendant is flirting with me.  She keeps popping into the cockpit asking me what I’m going to do this weekend.  Ha ha

Well…that just about does it for this update.  I promise to get back to the blog and provide an update real soon on more of my flight sim adventures. 

Until then….

Happy Flying!



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