Thursday, November 30, 2006

Finding things to do

I think I'm finally getting back into the groove. After tweaking, hardware upgrades, and more tweaking, and exploring the new bits, I'm getting back into just flying. Last night (Wednesday if Flying Night!) I chose to do a progressive cross country flight. For my route I decided to visit the state capitols of New England. I never spend much time planning these things--when I'm retired with nothing better to do I might get around to that.

I started in Hartford, CT in the venerable DC3. Set the time to dawn, and since I had trouble accessing real-world weather, I went for my favorite fall-back for interesting cloudscapes, Cold Fronts. The combination of time, weather, and FSX's drab seasonal textures gave the flight a somber peacefullness.

I got buffeted a great deal en route to Providence, but otherwise enjoyed the flight and made a decent landing (one slight bounce) which was satisfying because I haven't flown this plane much recently.

In Providence (actually, the city is Warwick, which I must mention because that is the city I grew up in!) I switched to the King Air. I've hardly touched this bird in either FS9 or FSX, but I found it took me into Boston in style.

After touching down in Boston, I hopped into the Baron, to head for Augusta, ME. After a while I determined that Augusta was not on my New York chart, but much farther away than I was counting on (see Planning, Lack of, above). After consulting the clock and realizing I only had 1 more hour to fly, I decided to bring the Baron down in Beverly, MA and try a mission.

That #@*!$ Amazon mission! I don't know how you are supposed to taxi the Goose in tight quarters. My first attempt a couple of weeks ago ended when I crashed into the dock on the second stop. I got further this time, all the way to the Temple Of Doom, but when the copilot said "Taxi over to that big rock" I must have taxied to the wrong big rock, because nothing happend when I got there. So in attempting to taxi to the next big rock, I had the accident you see here!

Finally, I was curious to check out active volcanoes. After a query on the Flightsim forum I got the following tip, courtesy of "Tomavis" . "Try this.Set the time and date.Dusk.Aug 6,1983.Go to map view.Set N19*25.06 W155*13.50 Alt 4500' HDG 239"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ok, now what?

Now that the dust is starting to settle from the FSX transition, I find myself at a loss about what do do when I have a spare half hour or so. I like the new planes and like the new views a lot, but find myself hard pressed to think up something new to try. Of course there are endless possibilities, but its hard to choose the Next Thing to Try.

I realize with FS9 my choices were usually dictated by the latest freeware addon that I chanced upon. I have no addons for FSX (apart from the recorder module) so that dynamic is not in play yet.

A large part of my "problem" is lack of time. When I do have a few moments I feel pressure to make the most of it. Maybe I just need to relax and just fly the pattern more, or fly rural areas where I can crank up the autogen and still have smooth flying.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Real flying, in FSX

Last night was the official weekly Flying Night, and I had a very good time flying the Cub over some islands off the coast of Maine. I discovered a trick for great framerates-- fly around small islands where there's nothing but water and trees. I love the dense forests-- my system can handle tress well when that's all there is. I had re-loaded my low settings config file, and started again to bump up selected sliders. The performance I was getting here was really nice, and I felt unrestrained the joy of flight again! I did not worry about the sim's performance, nor was I concious of being scenically deprived. However, I must say that when I flew to the mainland things got a little less smooth.

Just look at all those trees!

I set up my own weather with moderate turbulence and wind gusts, and that Cub kept shaking the whole time (even on the ground!). It was quite immersive, especially seeing the wing struts move in relation to the window frame (due to the pilot's point of view shifting). I really felt like I was inside the airplane, not looking at a two-dimensional representation. I found an ideosyncracy with the display however-- I got microstutters with all of the shaking, which I suspect may be related to the head latency feature. I switched the framerates from unlimited to 24, and that got rid of the stutters (normally, unlimited works much better for me).

I also figured out how to handle the Cub on the ground-- keep the stick back as long as possible to increase the effectiveness of the tail wheel. No ground loops last night!

I tried cranking the GA traffic up to 100%, since I wasn't flying into any large airports. I was quite delighted to see all this (last shot) at KIWI, which is a pretty modest airport as far as I know. A minute later someone came in for a landing.
I don't know this for sure, but I think they've increased the GA traffic in FSX, and I've seen parking spaces at airports that didn't have any in FS9.

Friday, November 10, 2006


WIBFL = What I've been flying lately. Actually, I haven't been flying too much. Life has been busy, and when I do have time to play, it's been mostly tweaking. I just did a serious hardware upgrade, going from a 128 MB Radeon 9600XT to a 512 MB Radeon X1600. This necessitated upgrading my power supply too, which is a fairly basic procedure but a little intimidating the first time you try it.
The new card hasn't made much of a difference in terms of framerates. From what I read on the forums I knew not to expect any noticiable improvement, but I did harbor a hope that maybe my configuration was an exception.
What did improve is what I call texture retention. I was always able to display the highest resolution textures, but they would frequently disappear into blurry land when the going got tough. Now they stay sharp--I have yet to see cockpit textures blur, and when the scenery blurs it is only momentarily.

So here's what I've been flying. The first shot shows my local neighborhood-- looks great with the 1 meter ground resolution. There is an actual golf course pretty close to this spot, though I think it is only a lucky guess on Microsoft's part. Next is another local scenery shot with my first glimpse of traffic (I've got that slider pretty low).

The third shot is from an actual flight (believe it or not). Last night I did some cross country flying, and this is me flying over Manchester, NH on the way from Sterling MA to Laconia NH. This was a "progressive flight", something I like to do from time to time. This means fly to an airport in one airplane, then at the airport hop into another airplane for the next leg.

Finally, I've started to dabble in the Missions. I would do a lot more than dabble, but I usually don't have the time to devote to doing complete missions. What little I've seen is quite impressive. Fascinating weather on the way to the oil platform, and the detail of th platform itself is amazing. I crash landed on the pad just as the well-know surprise was starting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Odds and ends

Just a quick post to keep my at-least-once-a-week commitment. Still fooling around with FSX settings. I'm finding some success with fairly medium settings, and flying in rural areas. The first shot shows me coming in for a landing at Laconia, where I had my real-life flight this summer. FSX looks prettier in the summer-- it's almost unfortunate that it was released in the fall, when much of the world is painted with that tan latent grass color. For me I get workable framerates in this area, good scenery, and only occasional blurries. Considering the aircraft is much improved, this makes it well worth the switch from FS9. I'd love to crank the textures up a little more, but that causes major blurrie issues.
The second picture is a test of whether you can land on bridges. As you can see, no. The ultralight passed right through the bridge deck. However, it didn't register as a crash either. Did it cause a crash in FS9? I think it did, but I don't remember.