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

FlightSimStore Follow-up and Closure

Just a little over one month ago, I wrote about the FlightSimStore, their demise and my own personal story regarding an issue I had been experiencing in attempting to upgrade a flight sim add-on aircraft.  If you happened to miss this article, I encourage you to read it first as it will provide much of the backstory which I’ll omit from this follow-up and closure article.

One thing I do want to reiterate from the previous article.  My decision to write about my struggles with the FlightSimStore was not in any way meant to name & shame the add-on aircraft developer (who I’ll name in just a minute).  In addition, my intention was to not an effort to get something for nothing.  I simply wanted to alert the flight sim community to be careful about making future purchases from the FlightSimStore and to also protect their investment by downloading their purchases and making copies of their purchase receipts/transactions.

Our Community

The flight sim community is small and I believe we’re a special breed of simulation gamer.  While I’ll always argue that flight simulation is NOT just a game, it’s a simulation….but to the outside world it is just a game.  But I believe our community which is comprised of those of us who enjoy flight simulation and those who develop the add-ons are a very special breed of gamer.  I would wager to guess that nearly each and every developer of flight sim add-ons are also flight simmers.  While capitalism and the free enterprise system makes it possible for those developers to operate a business, employee others and market their creations….I believe they also do it because they love and care about the hobby of flight simulation.  After all, it shows in their finished product and it shows in the way they support their customers.

Thank you Majestic Software

Yes, the aircraft add-on which all this has been about is the Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400.  I originally purchased this aircraft from the FlightSimStore back in May 2016 for Prepar3d v3.x.  Again, I direct you to my published article from early July for all the backstory details.

As I explained back in July, I reached out to Majestic for their help.  While it took a few weeks for Majestic Software to provide a solution, I certainly don’t fault them for the delay.  Majestic Software relies on their online partners/retailers to market and sell their add-ons to the flight sim community.  Other than technical support, this partnership handles all the rest.  For a small business, this usually a fantastic relationship as it allows the developer to do what they do best, while leaving financial transactions, bookkeeping etc. to someone else.  While some developers may sell direct and also market through online retailers, Majestic Software only utilizes online retailers.  So naturally Majestic needed a few weeks to work with their other online retailers on a solution.

The Solution

If you are like me and originally purchased your Q400 from the FlightSimStore and either need to download your aircraft again, or wish to upgrade it to the 64 bit version for P3D v4, then just follow the steps below.

+++ATTENTION FLIGHT SIM STORE CUSTOMERS+++

Over the past few months there has been some difficulty for Flight Sim Store Customers who purchased the download versions of the Majestic Software products. We are now making the downloads available to customers who have originally purchased the Q400 from the Flight Sim Store.

1. Acquire the full installers for your originally purchased Q400 Edition:
Since FSS no longer allows users to download products, we now provide the full installers of the MJC Q400 to all customers who purchased the Q400 from Flight Sim Store.

2. Where can Flight Sim Store users gain access to the new installers?

The new installers are accessible via the USER AREA which can be found on the Majestic Software website.

3. The Flight Sim Store customers who would like to upgrade their existing Q400 edition, can write to our Support Department (support (at) majesticsoftware (dot) com). Be sure to include supporting credentials used for the purchase of your original Q400.
a. Order Number
b. Vendor
c. Email address used with purchase
d. Full name used with purchase
e. Indicate which 64 bit version of the Q400 you are interested in upgrading to

Please note:
This announcement is applicable ONLY to owners of the Majestic Software PILOT and PRO Editions of the Q400.

The Majestic Software Team

Final Thoughts

I’m once again a very happy virtual pilot.  I once again have the Q400 in my virtual hangar and I can’t wait to install a few liveries and fly it once again.  Of course, it’s been well over a year since I’ve flown it and it’ll be a few weeks before I get the chance to start the learning process all over again.  I must state for the record, the Q400 is perhaps the most difficult aircraft I have in my virtual hangar.  As a reminder I own a lot of add-ons including all PMDG offerings for P3D v4, the QW787, CS757 and many others.  The Q400 challenges me in a good way and I look forward to flying this beautiful aircraft and learning even more than I knew before.  Thank you Majestic Software!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

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