Sponsored Review–EGTB Wycombe Air Park by Pilot Plus for MSFS

 

About This Sponsored Review

The product I’m reviewing today was provided to me at no cost in exchange for writing this review.  As with all my reviews, it is my intent to provide to you, the reader, a full and un-biased review of this product.

About The Real Wycombe Air Park

Wycombe Air Park (EGTB), also known as Booker Airfield is a general aviation airport located in Booker, Buckinghamshire, 2.4 nm southwest of High Wycombe, England.  The airfield celebrated its 55th year of operation on 25 April 2020.  Originally opening in ‘41 as RAF Booker it was primarily involved in training during World War II and remained an active military establishment until ‘65.   Today the airfield operates three runways consisting of one single asphalt runway measuring 2,411 ft (735m) (06/24) and two shorter grass strips (06G/24G & 35). 

Much like my real life experience with London City Airport (EGLC), I have also visited Wycombe Air Park on a few occasions back in the 2001-02 timeframe.  My wife lived just a little over one mile east of Wycombe Air Park.  From her third floor flat we could watch the GA aircraft fly over her flat as they approached the airport.  A few times my wife became just a little anxious while watching as she would hear the pilot practicing an engine out scenario as the aircraft was headed directly for her flat. 

Why Consider Add-on Airports

Microsoft Flight Simulator utilizes satellite imagery from Bing maps to create much of the airport scenery and surrounding area we see in the simulator, it’s far from perfect and generally leaves default airports lacking the same level of detail one would might see if visiting in real life.  While default type airports have been significantly improved in MSFS (compared with FSX or P3D), there’s still many reasons to consider purchasing/installing payware add-on scenery.

The Wycombe Air Park by Pilot Plus add-on includes full PBR textures of the air park including apron assets, buildings and ground. The scenery also includes local VFR landmarks such as Adams Park Stadium, St. Lawrence’s Church Golden Ball in West Wycombe and the BT Tower located in Stokenchurch.  Making this a truly wonderful VFR flying experience. 

Before & After Images

Default MSFS (left column) and Pilot Plus Wycombe Air Park (right column).  For these images, I’ve set the weather conditions for clear skies and the time is mid-afternoon.  Click thumbnail to view full-size image.  As you can tell between the before and after images, the Pilot Plus Wycombe Air Park scenery adds extra details which are missing in the default scenery.

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Additional Pilot Plus Wycombe Air Park Views.

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I’ve enjoyed watching the glider and GA aircraft from those picnic tables in real life back in the 2001-02 timeframe. 

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Yes, there’s an actual hangar which you can taxi through and park your aircraft.

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Pilot Plus Wycombe Air Park (EGTB) Review

As with my previously posted reviews, I always spend a bit of time enjoying, or in this case trying to enjoy the default airport.  I say trying simply because while it’s been 18+ years since I’ve visited this airport in real life, I still had memories of spending a nice Sunday fall afternoon here with my fiancé (now wife) and the default just didn’t provide me the level of immersion I needed to take myself back to that time before.  However, the wonderful job the Pilot Plus team did in recreating this beautiful air park allows me to go back in time to those visits.

From a overall system performance perspective, this add-on caused me no issues.  No major reduction in FPS and no lag.  With the scenery installed, I spent time flying during different times of the day and different weather conditions.  My FPS remained in the 60-70+ range.  As a point of reference, my hardware specs are as follows:  Intel 8700K, GTX1080Ti, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB M.2 SSD and I’m running on Ultra Graphics Settings in MSFS.

I’m very pleased with this add-on scenery and while I don’t typically spend a lot of time flying in the UK…I know this will become my favorite place to spend time flying VFR on this side of the pond. 

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Above: Adams Park Stadium

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Above: St. Lawrence’s Church and the Golden Ball

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Above: The BT Tower in Stokenchurch

How To Purchase

The Pilot Plus Wycombe Air Park (EGTB) can be purchased from Orbx for $18.99 AUD and installed via Orbx Central. 

About Pilot Plus

Pilot Plus is a technology company that builds virtual worlds with a mission to propel accurate digital experiences, creating breathtaking environments for hobbyists and leading software for businesses.  Please also visit their Facebook page to learn more about their products and join their community.

About GrizzlyBearSims

Jerry (aka GrizzlyBearSims) is an independent blogger and avid flight simulation enthusiast covering the flight simulation hobby for over 10 years.  He began flying computer based flight simulators in the early 80’s on the Commodore 64 and today enjoys both Prepar3D and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

I would like to thank Pilot Plus for the opportunity to review Wycombe Air Park and provide this review to the readers of my GrizzlyBearSims.com blog site.  If you have questions regarding this scenery, please visit the GrizzlyBearSims Discord server and let’s discuss.

Thank you for taking the time to read this sponsored review.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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:

Aircraft:
PMDG Boeing 737-800 (NGXu)
American Airlines Livery

Simulator:
Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v5

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

Weather:
ActiveSky 

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!

J

MUSIC CREDITS
________________

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

Sponsored Review–LOWI Innsbruck Airport

 

About This Sponsored Review

The product I’m reviewing today was provided to me at no cost in exchange for writing this review.  As with all my reviews, it is my intent to provide to you, the reader, a full and un-biased review of this product.

About The Real Innsbruck Airport

Innsbruck Airport (LOWI), is the largest international airport in Tyrol in western Austria.  The airport officially opened in 1925 and handles regional flights around the Alps and seasonal international traffic to many European destinations.  Winter is the peak season due to holiday ski travel to the region.  The airport features a single runway measuring 6,562 ft (2,000 m) (08/26) and can handle aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 767.  Innsbruck Airport is known for having a difficult approach due to surrounding terrain.

Why Consider Add-on Airports

Microsoft Flight Simulator utilizes satellite imagery from Bing maps to create much of the airport scenery and surrounding area we see in the simulator, it’s far from perfect and generally leaves default airports lacking the same level of detail one would might see if visiting in real life.  While Innsbruck Airport is one of Microsoft’s custom, hand-crafted airports available in all versions of MSFS, there are significant improvements which have been made to the Orbx add-on that may be of benefit to some users. 

Before & After Images

Default MSFS (left column) Orbx Innsbruck Airport (right column).  I’ve set the weather conditions for clear skies and the time is mid-afternoon.  Click thumbnail to view full-size image.  As you can tell between the before and after images, the Orbx Innsbruck Airport scenery adds extra details which are missing in the handcrafted default scenery.

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Additional Orbx LOWI Innsbruck Views

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Orbx Innsbruck Airport (LOWI) Review

I’ll be brutally honest and say that when I first heard Microsoft was going to include several custom, hand-crafted airports in MSFS I certainly had hoped they would be up to the same standards we’ve come to expect from many of our add-on airport developers.  After all, Microsoft certainly has a much larger development budget and resources to truly make each of these custom airports shine.  Upon getting MSFS installed back in August, Innsbruck was one of the first airports I loaded up in the sim and had a look around.  I did somewhat cheat a bit and fired up P3Dv5 to take a quick look around just to refresh my memory and soon realized there was a difference between what I could see in P3Dv5 compared to MSFS.  Thankfully, with the Orbx Innsbruck scenery installed in MSFS all is once again right in the sim world.

Much like I did with my first look of London City Airport review, I spent about an hour flying around and exploring the custom, hand-crafted Innsbruck Airport which comes standard in all versions of MSFS.  Compared to the standard default airport, the Microsoft custom, hand-crafted version is nice.  During my time exploring, I flew the default Cessna 172.  My FPS ranged from the mid 70’s to low 80’s in various areas of the airport scenery. 

With the Orbx Innsbruck Airport (LOWI) scenery installed and using the same default Cessna 172, my FPS under clear skies (around mid-day) held an average FPS in the low to mid 70’s.  Introducing clouds and evening skies did drop the FPS down into the low to mid 60 FPS range.  I did some circuit work around the airport and even flew down the valley about 15nm from the airport and then back with no stutters or freezes on approach.  As a point of reference, my hardware specs are as follows:  Intel 8700K, GTX1080Ti, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB M.2 SSD and I’m running on Ultra Graphics Settings in MSFS.

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Note:  As you can see from a few of the above screenshots, my FPS did drop down into the low 50’s.  This only occurred under cloudy, evening conditions.  Knowing that MSFS still isn’t fully optimized and for the most part I’ve never experienced FPS in FSX/P3D above 35 in these same conditions, I’m personally not troubled by this.  While the jury is still out on what may or may not happen when we start adding more complex aircraft into MSFS, the sim remain stable with no lag.  Remember, FPS is just a number.  You always want to tune your sim for a smooth and eye pleasing experience.  I believe this is exactly what I’ve done. 

In comparing the Orbx Innsbruck Airport runway 26 with that of Google Earth, I believe Orbx did a fantastic job in recreating the runway as you can see in the below images. Images from left to right: Google Earth, MSFS custom and Orbx.  Orbx even provided a much closer looking mowed grass texture.  Remember, it’s sometimes the little things like this that truly helps to add to the level of realism we experience when flying.

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Another area I’d like to point out which Orbx included in detail is the general aviation area.  Once again, from left to right: Google Earth, MSFS custom and Orbx. 

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How To Purchase

The Orbx LOWI Innsbruck Airport add-on can be purchased one of two ways.  Users may purchase directly from the MSFS Marketplace (see image below) or from Orbx direct.  If purchased from Orbx, you’ll need to install via the Orbx Central application.  The cost of the add-on is $26.99 AUD.

MSFS Marketplace

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Orbx Central

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I install in the Main Library

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Install Complete

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Once installed, just launch MSFS and select LOWI as your departure airport and enjoy!

About Orbx

Orbx has been the leading developer of scenery for flight simulation since 2006 and have published over 800 high-quality add-on products for Flight Simulator X (FSX), Lockheed Martin Prepar3D, Aerofly FS2, X-Plane 11 and now Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.

About GrizzlyBearSims

Jerry (aka GrizzlyBearSims) is an independent blogger and avid flight simulation enthusiast covering the flight simulation hobby for over 10 years.  He began flying computer based flight simulators in the early 80’s on the Commodore 64 and today enjoys both Prepar3D and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

I would like to thank Orbx for the opportunity to review LOWI Innsbruck Airport and provide this review to the readers of my GrizzlyBearSims.com blog site.  If you have questions regarding this scenery, please visit the GrizzlyBearSims Discord server and let’s discuss.

Thank you for taking the time to read this sponsored review.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Parting Shot

With the sun going down on my Innsbruck adventure, it’s time to shut down and head over and grab me one of those picnic tables and enjoy a cold brew.  Thanks again for reading.

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Sponsored Review– EGLC London City Airport by Orbx for MSFS

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About This Sponsored Review

The product I’m reviewing today was provided to me at no cost in exchange for writing this review.  As with all my reviews, it is my intent to provide to you, the reader, a full and un-biased review of this product. 

About The Real London City Airport

London City Airport (EGLC) is a small international airport located in the Docklands of East London, England near London’s Financial District.  The airport features a single 4,948 ft (1,508 m) runway (09/27) which allows for only multi-engine, fixed-wing aircraft capable of flying a 5.5 degree approach.  The largest aircraft allowed to conduct operations at London City Airport is the Airbus A318.  London City Airport is the 5th busiest airport serving the London area and in 2019 handled over 5 million passengers.

Over the past 18 years, I’ve had the opportunity to fly into and out of London City Airport numerous times on flights from London to Antwerp, Belgium. 

Why Consider Add-on Airports

Microsoft Flight Simulator utilizes satellite imagery from Bing maps to create much of the airport scenery and surrounding area we see in the simulator, it’s far from perfect and generally leaves default airports lacking the same level of detail one would might see if visiting in real life.  While default type airports have been significantly improved in MSFS (compared with FSX or P3D), there’s still many reasons to consider purchasing/installing payware add-on scenery. 

The Orbx EGLC London City Airport add-on includes a full PBR representation of London City Airport and the surrounding area with full HD textures throughout.  Includes the Excel building and the Tate & Lyle Sugar factory along with other nearby landmarks. 

Before & After Images

Default MSFS (left column) Orbx London City (right column).  I’ve set the weather conditions for clear skies and the time is mid-afternoon.  Click thumbnail to view full-size image.  As you can tell between the before and after images, the Orbx London City Airport scenery adds extra details which are missing in the default scenery. 

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Additional Orbx EGLC London City Airport Views.

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Orbx London City Airport (EGLC) Review

Before writing this review, I’ve spent a few hours flying into and out of the London City Airport in both the default configuration and also with the Orbx London City Airport installed.  During the default experience (flying in the default Cessna 172) my FPS ranged in the 60 to 70+ range.  Note:  during my default testing I also did not have the London City Pack by Orbx installed as I wanted a true default experience.   I’ll review the Orbx London City Pack soon. 

With Orbx London City Airport installed, and real time weather I witnessed no impact to my FPS as observed with FPS counter in upper left corner.  I was still maintaining an FPS ranging from 60 to 70+ during circuit flying in and around the airport with no lag.  My hardware specs are as follows:  Intel 8700K, GTX1080Ti, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB M.2 SSD and I’m running on Ultra Graphics Settings in MSFS.

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I compared the Orbx London City Airport details with that from Google Earth and noticed no irregularities with the airport including runway and taxiways. I enjoyed the added level of immersion the Orbx scenery has added to London City Airport and surrounding area.  As this is an airport I enjoy simulating flights to/from I regard this scenery as a must have for my collection. 

How To Purchase

The Orbx EGLC London City Airport add-on can be purchased one of two ways.  Users may purchase directly from the MSFS Marketplace (see image below) or from Orbx direct.  If purchased from Orbx, you’ll need to install via the Orbx Central application.  The cost of the add-on is $20.99 AUD. 

MSFS Marketplace

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Orbx Central

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I install in the Main Library

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Install Complete

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Once installed, just launch MSFS and select EGLC as your departure airport and enjoy!

About Orbx

Orbx has been the leading developer of scenery for flight simulation since 2006 and have published over 800 high-quality add-on products for Flight Simulator X (FSX), Lockheed Martin Prepar3D, Aerofly FS2, X-Plane 11 and now Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. 

About GrizzlyBearSims

Jerry (aka GrizzlyBearSims) is an independent blogger and avid flight simulation enthusiast covering the flight simulation hobby for over 10 years.  He began flying computer based flight simulators in the early 80’s on the Commodore 64 and today enjoys both Prepar3D and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

I would like to thank Orbx for the opportunity to review EGLC London City Airport and provide this review to the readers of my GrizzlyBearSims.com blog site.  If you have questions regarding this scenery, please visit the GrizzlyBearSims Discord server and let’s discuss. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this sponsored review. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

The Future of the Flight Sim Add-on Market

With the upcoming release of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020, many might be wondering what the future holds for the 3rd party add-on market.  In today’s FSX/Prepar3d and even X-Plane environments we must purchase, download and install dozens and dozens and sometimes even dozens more of extra add-ons to create an “As Real As It Gets” experience in our favorite simulator.  While some of the add-on content is freeware for X-Plane users, the vast majority of quality add-ons for FSX/P3D is payware.  All these extra components (while truly awesome) often present challenges in terms of compatibility and reliability of the base sim.   With MSFS2020, will we still need all this extra stuff?  The short answer is yes and no. 

No Longer Needed

While total immersion has always been my goal with flight sim, the eye-candy ranks right up there on my list of importance.  After all, much of what we perceive to be a full immersive experience comes to us through what we see.  Regardless of whether you fly low and slow or high and fast, the ground textures including roads, highways, rivers, lakes and railroads all add to the experience.  In the world of FSX/P3D all this level of detail has generally been provided through various add-ons from Orbx including the Global Base Pack, Global Vector, Global Trees, Global TerraFlora, Global Buildings and different OpenLC products for each region of the world.  Thankfully, right out of the box Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has us covered with their highly accurate and stunning auto-gen provided by real world satellite imagery.  However, don’t count Orbx out as there will be plenty of opportunity for them to continue to develop their awesome scenery add-ons specifically the smaller airports and perhaps some of the larger ones like KSAN (as an example). 

Another example of add-ons which I believe will be obsolete in MSFS2020 is all the weather, cloud and sky texture add-ons which generally come to us via Hi-Fi (ActiveSky) and REX.  Out of the box, the MSFS2020 weather engine along with the way sky and cloud textures are displayed appear to be as real as it gets. Of course the development teams at Microsoft has completely rewritten the book on how aircraft will experience changing weather conditions to a level not even available to us now with these 3rd party add-ons. 

Finally I believe all these add-on shader type products such as EnvShade, PTA and Tomatoshade will also be unnecessary in MSFS2020.  I truly believe that out of the box the visuals of everything including ground textures, aircraft textures, sky textures..etc. are all absolutely beautiful out of the box.  This is not to say that any of these shader programs won’t make it to MSFS2020…I just don’t think they will be necessary.  At least not necessary for my setup.

Needs Going Forward

Of course at the very top of the list will be all the wonderful add-on aircraft (study level and some not so much) from devs such as PMDG, FSLabs, A2A, QualityWings, Aerosoft and Carenado just to name a few.  The limited information I’ve seen on the default Airbus A320 tells me that while this will be a fun aircraft to fly in the short-term, it’s not going to tick all the boxes for the seasoned flight simmer.  At the time of this writing, only PMDG (to my knowledge) has provided any sort of timeline and that is looking like late Q1 2021.  So we could be talking 6+ months before we see any study level aircraft in MSFS2020.

While many of the top add-on airport developers have posted pictures and details about their plans to release their airport add-ons for MSFS2020, these too will likely not be ready for release until several months after the release of the new sim.  Of course, of the enhanced airports Microsoft is including in the release, it’s unclear to me how these would differ in quality from what the 3rd party developers will provide. 

Expected Add-on Costs

I don’t want to speculate on exactly what the pricing will be for any 3rd party add-ons other than to say that I highly doubt we can expect to see any discounts from previous FSX/P3D purchases and certainly no free upgrades.  While the FSX to P3D jump has been a similar platform and some add-ons purchased for FSX have received 100% free updates all the way to P3Dv5, MSFS2020 is a completely different platform and I believe all add-ons will also be practically brand new versions.  In other words, I don’t believe these will be simple port overs from previous versions. 

Additional Thoughts on Pricing

When P3D was first released, PMDG was the first to increase their pricing.  At the time the reasons provided by PMDG was due to licensing and the simple fact that Prepar3D was not licensed for entertainment purposes like FSX had been.  Here’s an old forum post discussing this (Jan. 2015).  Other add-on developers like FSLabs also introduced their products at a premium price due to the P3D EULA.  As Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 once again is marketed as a “for entertainment purposes” product, can we expect add-on pricing to drop?  Well….your guess is as good as mine at this point in time.  But I would guess if there is any price change towards a new EULA the change will be minimal. 

My Plan

As I’ve stated before, while I will most likely purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 near day one and I will spend some time flying and looking around, I don’t plan to make the move to the new platform until my favorite study level aircraft are available.  As I’m still currently unemployed (laid off in July after 22 years), I will also have to be frugal in my spending practices as I go along.  Most likely I will focus my attention first on aircraft and just make do with the airports that come with MSFS2020.  Then as time goes along and hopefully my job status will resolve itself in time, I can then purchase more things.  But these COVID-19 times are difficult for many and the priorities of my family must come first before anything else. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

COVID-19 Relief Flight Series #4

I hope you are enjoying this series of cargo flights.  As I indicated in the last installment, we’re going to be headed back to Belgium and will return the 738 Freighter back to her home base in Liege, Belgium (EBLG).   Liege is primarily a cargo hub for many different cargo airlines including Air China Cargo, Emirates Sky Cargo, Fedex and Qatar Airways Cargo just to name a few.  It is the 7th largest cargo airport in Europe and 22nd in the world.  While our Boeing 737-800 is branded Fedex, this particular aircraft is leased by ASL Airlines Belgium. 

Flight Planning

Our route today will take us pretty much due north from the island of Mallorca into mainland Europe and terminate at the ASL cargo hub in Liege.  

Route:

1

Our Flight

Holding short, runway 24R. 

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Off we go into the wild blue yonder….

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Perhaps some day we can get back here under different circumstances.

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Making our turn to join the departure.

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All calm at cruise

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The countryside of Belgium

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Just a tad high, but we’ll correct.

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That’s better.  Two white, Two Red

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Back at base for this bird. 

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Another successful flight in the books.  These flights are certainly helping me keep my mind off of the events taking place in the world and I hope these reports are helping you as well.  The next series of flights will be longer haul routes kicking off with a flight to Moscow, then down to Abu Dhabi.  Stay tuned.

Credits

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737 NGX
Airline: Fedex (FDX)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: LEPA Aerosoft, EBLG Orbx
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Immersion Effects – Parallel 42 737 Immersion
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.

COVID-19 Relief Flight Series #3

As mentioned in my previous installment, this is a continuation flight to ferry the remaining relief cargo which we picked up in Brussels on to the island of Palma De Mallorca (LEPA).  At the time of the breakout of the Coronavirus, the resort island was packed with tourists and unfortunately not all were able to get off the island and begin their journey home.  The supplies we’re bringing in will help for now and more is planned in the coming days. 

Flight Planning

Our flight this afternoon is pretty straightforward.  The only difference between our arrival and our departure is weather.  But we won’t let become a distraction.  We’ll depart runway 30 and make a right hand turn, then head across Spain to Barcelona.  Then proceed across the Balearic Sea to our destination.  Our total flying time is a short 1 hour, 10 minutes at an altitude of 33,000. 

Route:

1

Let’s Go

We’ve had a bit of weather move into Bilbao today.  But it should not be a factor for us.  The ground crew is getting a bit wet, but we’re dry on the flight deck.

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We’ve got some kind of weird greenish fog moving in as we move out.  Perhaps not the best depiction of fog, but I can live with that. 

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It’s dumping out there. 

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That’s better!

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Making our turn to join the departure and above the clouds.

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Smooth flying at cruise.

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Beautiful skies as we descend into our destination.

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The island of Mallorca just ahead. 

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On final approach and fully configured.

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Runway insight.  Landing in just a few minutes.

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Touchdown?  Almost

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We’ve parked at the military section of the airport where our cargo will be unloaded.  Once unloaded and refueled, we’ll be on our way back to Belgium and the cargo airport of Liege.  This flight will be covered in the next edition. 

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Once we arrive back in Belgium, we’ll say good-bye to our little 738 freighter and stretch our legs a bit with some longer flights as we continue moving much needed cargo around the world. 

Until next time.  Please be safe, take care of your family and stay home.

Jerry

Credits

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737 NGX
Airline: Fedex (FDX)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: LEBB (Bilbao) Orbx, LEPA (Palma De Mallorca) Aerosoft
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Immersion Effects – Parallel 42 737 Immersion
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.

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.  

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E13

Episode 13 picks up where we left off with episode 12 and is the final leg of our trip.  As always, thank you so much for reading. 

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 1031 with service to Atlanta, Georgia.  We’re in the same B737.  Our block time for this flight is 1 hour, 55 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 27 minutes.  Our planned fuel is 14,842 lbs. and our take-off weight is 132,041 lbs.  Our cruise altitude is FL380.

Route:  ARKES4 ARKES SEAZY MATLK Q77 WASUL Q77 SHRKS LAIRI LARZZ JJEDI2

1

Headed Back To Atlanta

This the final leg of a three leg journey will have us back in Atlanta before sunset.  We seem to be running slightly ahead of these storms and that’s a good thing.  We’re hoping to get out of Fort Lauderdale before a ground stop ruins our day.  With all passengers/bags loaded, the aircraft is ready to pushback for another on-time departure. 

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Taxing out to 10L.

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Blasting out of FLL

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Making our left turn to join the departure. 

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The view off the starboard side.  The combination of REX SkyForce, REX Environment Force and ActiveSky is doing an amazing job of providing the eye candy for this trip.

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ATC vectoring us around the strongest of storm cells.  We’re keeping the seatbelt signs on until we get above these clouds.  The turbulence is bouncing us around as we continue to climb up to 38,000 feet.

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Between cloud layers things have calmed down a bit.  Just a few more thousand feet and we should be in the clear. 

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Smooth skies at last.  We’ve turned off the seatbelt sign and released the cabin crew to begin cabin service. 

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I quite like the new Southwest livery.

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Beginning our descent into the Atlanta area. 

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Joining the approach for runway 27L

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Clear to land, runway 27L

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Touchdown imminent.

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Parking up at C6 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 

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Our day is done and what a day it’s truly been.  Once we turn the aircraft over, I have about 90 minutes to grab something to eat and head to gate C14 to take a jump seat flight to Chicago Midway.  Tomorrow I will serve as Sr. First Officer for a flight out of MDW to Detroit and back.  Then I jump seat out to Oakland where I’ll have three days off before another full day of flights on the west coast.  Fun times ahead. 

Before I close out this report, let me just show my APL progress thus far.  As you can tell from the image below, my total XP is 395.66 and climbing.  I have just over 254 XP to go before my promotion to the rank of Captain and the move over to the left seat.  As previously discussed, I’m earning $40.25 per hour at Southwest as a Sr. First Officer and now that I’m getting the hours I need, I’m content to stay at SWA for the near future. 

3

With the last payday, I purchased a headset which along with the mobile phone and flight bag is earning me an additional 25% XP on each completed flight.  While I really don’t think there is any right or wrong way to build your APL career, in my opinion (at this time) earning extra XP is more important than earning additional money bonuses.  So all my salary earnings has been going to building up the XP bonuses. 

4

See you next time.

Credits

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 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KFLL FSDreamTeam, KATL Imaginsim
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
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, E12

Episode 12 picks up right where we left off with episode 11.  After a quick turnaround, we’re set to fly the second of three legs today.  Thanks for reading…

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 2098 with service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  We’re in the same B737 we arrived in from Atlanta.  Our block time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 43 minutes.  Our block fuel is 15,480 lbs. and our take-off weight is 133,369. 

Route: DCT BLVNS Y290 BAGGS JINGL6

1

Let’s Go

I mentioned last time how quickly the MSY ground crew unloaded bags, they are equally as fast in getting them loaded. 

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With bags loaded, the catering crew is quickly dropping off drinks, ice and some of those wonderful Southwest FREE snacks.  Yum

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Push back underway.  We’ll be in the air again shortly. 

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We’re not wasting any time…..on-time departure? Check!

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Making our turn with the Mississippi River off the left wing. 

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We look to be running from another approaching storm.

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Climbing up to FL370.

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Leaving Louisiana direct Gulf of Mexico. 

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Watching and monitoring a storm over the Gulf. 

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Land ho…That’s Florida down below.

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More lightning down below.  Shouldn’t be an issue on the arrival.  However, this storm might be a consideration for our third leg up to Atlanta.  Time will tell….

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On final approach

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Short final for runway 10L

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On the ground in Ft. Lauderdale. 

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As was the case in New Orleans, we’re on a tight schedule to deboard our passengers and get the aircraft turned around and headed back to Atlanta.  Tune in next time for the 3rd leg of this journey.

Credits

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 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KMSY LatinVFR, KFLL FSDreamTeam
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
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.

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