A BRIEF DISCLAIMERI might be an AVSIM moderator, in fact, the last time I checked I still was - either that or Tom just thinks my name looks good in red - but I'm also a sim enthusiast like everyone else here. My most recent acquisition, the Eaglesoft Cessna Citation CJ1 for FSX has filled a major void in my virtual hangar, so I thought it would be fun to take a stab at reviewing this bird. I'm not trying to make the AVSIM review staff or get my name in PC Pilot Magazine, but rather simply put my thoughts down on paper for others to read.......yes, I wrote this out by hand first, not sure why. A brief disclaimer before we get started to ensure adherence to the rules of this forum:-This review discusses a commercial product available to the general public, and as far as I know all files I have are the same as every other owner of this product. If Eaglesoft gave me a "special" version, they forgot to tell me.-Evaluation of this product was done using my typical FSX in-game settings. No settings were increased/decreased to be more or less favorable to this product.-I have absolutely zero affiliation with Eaglesoft or any of its members with the exception of ensuring that they adhere to the rules of the forums like everyone else. Well, that and constantly hounding them to develop a Baron for FSX, which I'll try to sneak into this review.- This review has been submitted to two unbiased AVSIM staff members for evaluation prior to posting.......must have checked out okay.-If anyone finds any misstatement of facts in this review, please let me know in this thread or by PM and I will make the necessary corrections.- And finally, I'm not a reviewer, I don't want to be a reviewer, and I have no intent of even trying to pretend that I know the first thing about reviewing a product. I'll leave that up to the skilled review staff here at AVSIM. Every single word in this review is mine, and in no way, shape or form is intended to reflect the opinions of anyone on the AVSIM staff, or anyone else for that matter. - In the event anyone actually cares, my credentials do not include any left seat time in a real CJ1. I am a retired U.S. Navy P-3C driver, former Skybus A319-112 F/O, current Lear 35 driver for Galaxy Aviation, and former (soon to be again) Baron G58 owner. The only experience I have in a CJ1 is actually in a CJ2 from the right seat as an observer. And that's the bottom line folks. Nothing official here, just a half-baked attempt to share my thoughts on this product, reinvigorate my enthusiasm for this hobby, and maybe have a little fun in the process. I won't leave you in suspense - that is assuming that a poorly written review from a guy who can barely spell his own name could actually leave you in suspense - I like this product a lot, and have plenty of praising compliments for it. But I also have a few marginally notable criticisms that I will fairly point out, solely from my point of view. And now the moderator hat comes off, so let's get this show on the road before my head gets cold.WHY THE CJ1?They say that opposites attract, which may explain why my wife is smart, thin and pretty. It may also explain why I have taken an interest in adding this aircraft to my virtual hangar. It doesn't really fit into the type of simming that I do. Most of my alloted sim time is spent in twin props like the Seneca, usually recreating real-world flights that I've taken or intend to take here in Florida and throughout the southeast. In fact, I can't think of the last time I flew anything or anywhere else in FSX. But in the real-world I'm most certainly not unfamiliar with other areas and other aircraft types, including corporate jets, which make up 8 of the 10 aircraft my employer owns.......no CJ1s on the ramp though. I've neglected this type in FSX for far too long, though I have recently evaluated the Xtreme Prototypes Lear 20 series and quickly put them back in the hangar. The point of the Eaglesoft CJ1 for me was to find an aircraft that I could use to hand fly difficult, and sometimes dangerous approaches by the numbers, a sweat inducing task in FSX, especially when you don't let the autopilot take some of the workload. I was turned on to this aircraft by a fellow sim enthusiast and Lear 35 driver here in the forums who was impressed with the CJ1 flight model and insisted I take her for a spin. So I did, and sure enough this aircraft fit the bill and turned out to be almost exactly what I was looking for, with only a few rather minor discrepancies that certainly are not insurmountable, and in no way lesson my enthusiasm for this well crafted bird.
HERE'S WHAT I GOTA CJ1. Okay, I'll try to fill this section up a little more than that. What I actually got is a native FSX CJ1 model with VC, 2D panel, six liveries, original sound set, and all of those pesky little .cfg thingies that you need to make it work. I also came across some paperwork, the kind you can read with Adobe Acrobat. I like when an aircraft comes with detailed manuals, in fact, I've even sent a few off to Kinkos for printing to read at my own leisure.......usually when the in-laws are in town. This package comes with some goodies too, but nothing like some products that spend 400 pages covering the APU. Instead you get a 37 page manual that covers the basics, but in good enough detail to get a novice off the ground, and maybe even back down again in one piece. There is also an 8 page spec guide, a 2 page pre-flight utility description, a pair of TO/GA thrust charts, and a flaps chart. Not bad, maybe not quite was I was hoping for in terms of information, but a good start. In all fairness to Eaglesoft, a lot of the manuals included with addons discuss items not simulated, or spend half the manual tyring to keep your attention with horribly overused humor.......sound familiar? Figured I might as well take a few cracks at my own review before everyone else does. I wouldn't have minded reading a little history on this aircraft that I didn't have to find a the notoriously accurate Wikipedia (insert sarcasm emoticon here), and maybe getting a bit more in-depth on aircraft ops, but I'm plenty content with what I got, and glad that I can dive into this bird without spending weeks with my nose in the manuals and still not look like I've got my head up my aft end, though I suspect my weak attempt at humor will counter that.SHINY CURVESI think I'm a typical guy, that is to say I like shiny curves, legs, thighs and breasts just like any other guy. Of course I do eat things other than Kentucky Fried Chicken - it's a family forum guys, get your heads out of the gutter. And as a typical flight simmer I like to see shiny curves on my aircraft too. The external model of the CJ1 has most of what I was looking for in this department, especially when it comes to the exceptional modeling. The model is proportional, as true to life as I could possibly expect in FSX and animated accurately all the way down to proper degree of control surface deflection, at least as far as I can tell. I'm not quite as enthused about the texturing, but that's more of a .dds complaint of mine than criticism towards Eaglesoft. The textures do get a bit blurry up close, but more so the stipes and numbers than the typical wear and tear texturing. Of course I don't see a whole lot of pilots flying corporate jets while somehow magically suspending themselves in mid air three feet from the fuselage, so it really only matters to me during the two minutes I spend in pre-flight outside the aircraft. I don't recall seeing any original effects, other than the lighting, but once again I just don't care. The last thing I need is more authentic tire smoke highlighting my rough landings. Here's a few screenshots of the external model:http://i873.photobuc...0-25-20-664.jpghttp://i873.photobuc..._3-20-9-761.jpghttp://i873.photobuc...2-39-54-630.jpg2D PANEL AND POPUPSI don't fly using the 2D panel in any aircraft, haven't since FS9 and TrackIR. But if you like to, than I don't see any reason why the included 2D panel won't get the job done. It's crisp, realistic, and still leaves a bit of room to see what's in front of you.......which is usually the wrong runway in my case. There's a host of pupup panels, some of which may be accessible with click spots; I don't care, so I didn't bother to check. Actually, I do know that the pre-flight utility has a click spot, so I'll assume there are others. If memory serves me, there are popups for just about every number on the keyboard, maybe even a few more. I recall seeing the FMC, default GPS, an autopilot panel, electrical panel, oxygen panel, and I think they threw in a throttle quadrant popup in there too. I know there's more, but I fly from the VC and don't use them, so I have little interest. I told you I'm not a reviewer, we'll let the pros get in more detail. There's not much to the FMC, which Eaglesoft makes no attempt to hide if you read their product page for this aircraft. I don't use it because I think it's dependant on the default flight planner, and I'd rather just hunt for VORs. I've grown used to the more in-depth FMCs, like I got with the MD80, so I would consider this one very basic and in need of replacement for the button pushers out there. On a side note, I would imagine it could probably be replaced by one of the FMCs from Friendly Panels, though I haven't bothered trying yet. Here's a day and night shot of the 2D panel without any popups:http://i873.photobuc...0-29-58-263.jpghttp://i873.photobuc...0-32-30-862.jpgFINALLY INSIDE (THE FRONT OFFICE AND CABIN)Right off the bat I was ecstatic that there was no need for me to spend hours trying to get the default viewpoint set up right in the virtual cockpit. The only problem I found is that the default view is a bit too far back, which means that when I'm playing pilot and turn to the right to pretend my co-pilot is praising my skillful piloting, I end up looking in the middle of the seat. I brought my default zoom to 0.50, scooted my seat forward just a shade, and now I have a great view of everything I need to see. This is easily accomplished in the "views" section of the aircraft.cfg file. This viewpoint allows me to have a clear view of the pilot's PFD and MFD, radio stack, everything else I need to access on the panel, and a quick flick of the hat switch lets me access the center console quickly. I'd use my TrackIR, but I just found out that a 250 pound man rolling over it in his office chair will render it unusable.......who would have though that? The CJ1 uses a PFD/MFD/PFD configuration of the Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, which is one of the real-world available options amongst a few others I've seen, including a single PFD configuration as well as other avionics suites. The VC looks good, but there are a few areas that I would like to see in a bit more detail. The annunciator panel comes to mind, which I can't make out very well no matter how far I zoom in. I like to know why my passengers are screaming, and unless you memorize what each light is for, you might end up going to your virtual grave without ever knowing for sure what step of the manual you missed. To resolve this issue until I convert and reconfigure the textures, I've simply printed out the annunciator panel image from the manual. I have no problems making out anything on the PFD, MFD, radio stack, console, or anything else except for the autopilot buttons above the PFD and the lables for the lights, both of which are easy to memorize and can be seen clearly enough if you zoom in for a quick look. Speaking of those light switches, Eaglesoft did a very nice job on the lighting. There are separate switches to light different parts of the panel, and they all look great when the sun goes down. The virtual cockpit looks good, but of course I can't just look at a plane and expect it to go where I want it. The systems integration is better than default aircraft, but not demanding enough to disorientate a novice simmer who takes a few minutes to read the manuals. As aforementioned, the FMC won't amaze the hardcore crowd, and there's not going to be a lot of muscle building button pushing, but it's not exactly a CTRL + E aircraft either. The cabin is modeled rather well, which is nice for those who like to pretend there's someone back there. Eaglesoft didn't bother putting a polygon passenger back there, and I thank them for that. There's something about pax that look more like Legos than humans that I could just do without. Not taking a shot at Eaglesoft here, I've never seen there work on virtual humans. It's just that I have seen many others, and it's usually an immersion killer for me. I think there's some animation(s) back there, maybe a tray table and something else, but I couldn't possibly care less, so I haven't bothered to check. Actually, I just went ahead and took a look, and I did find two stowable tables and the seats recline as well. I guess that is pretty neat. One thing that is missing, at least I think, is a curtain so that I can cutoff the passengers from seeing me sweat when those annunciators start lighting up. Maybe it's there, but I couldn't find it.Some day and night VC and cabin shots:http://i873.photobuc...0-28-29-318.jpghttp://i873.photobuc...2-41-34-275.jpghttp://i873.photobuc..._0-29-22-73.jpghttp://i873.photobuc...2-40-37-517.jpgFLIGHT MODELThis, my friends, is where the CJ1 really shines, and what I care most about. I don't think this aircraft gives a rat's aft end who's flying it. From the novice simmer still trying to master the C152 all the way up to the most advanced 747 driver, the CJ1 will be an easy transition up or down from your current comfort level. Trimmed properly, this bird practically flies itself, which I suppose is sort of the point of trim, but my point is that it's very easy to hand fly. That's exactly what I was looking for when I practice some of the tricky approaches and have other things to worry about than an out of control aircraft. I get bored letting the autopilot and FMS do all the work, and the CJ1 allows me to take control back from the computer without feeling over-burdened. Because it's not over-sensitive to pilot control input, it's a pleasure flying through a thick haze on short final without worrying about looking down at the attitiude indicator and noticing you're in a nose dive. Many aircraft of this general type that I have experimented with in FSX tend to require an unrealistically nose up, high speed approach in order to keep the ground from getting closer faster than it should. This flight model is not like that, in fact, I can't recall having ever flown an aircraft of this type in any simulator that felt so right. In the interest of full disclosure, there are a few out there that I haven't tried yet, including the Citation X, which is next on my list. The pitch and roll axis', which are all too often overly sensitive in a slew of aircraft in my virtual hangar, have been modeled perfectly to reflect the aircraft's performance at any given thrust, weight and balance. Of course, unlike the extra notches I keep adding to my belt, this aircraft does still require you to stay within a certain weight and balance tolerance in order to fly as pretty as she looks. I found the CJ1 easy to keep from over-correcting, something that plagued me as I tried to master the Lear 20 series. I don't mind being a little left of centerline, so long as my co-pilot is a little right of it, which is difficult with some of the flight models in my fleet that like to sway back and forth like the sun and moon are having a gravity contest and I'm caught in between. I don't recall off the top of my head how much hard stuff this thing needs to get off the ground, but I can tell you that it will get up in a hurry when properly configured for takeoff, and you can just about stop it on a dime if you have a couple thousand feet of runway to work with.......which I guess would be an awfully big dime. Just make sure you have 3,000 feet to land and you won't have to take the expressway back to the airport. As I mentioned, what I really wanted this bird for is practicing difficult approaches, and thanks to its authentic flight charicteristics I have found it a pleasure to fly, and even try new things with, like plopping it down in places it's not supposed to be. I'm not frequently challenged by light aircraft, and it's not a good idea for me to make a fool out of myself trying to put a 747 down in ruthless conditions with my wife standing behind me wondering why she let me spend all that money on a new computer when I could have looked just as stupid with my old one. This bird fits perfectly in between, and even makes me look like I know what I'm doing from time to time.......though looks can be deceiving. In short, it's a great flight model, an easy transition for any simmer, and you won't be wondering if you landed or got shot down.A couple of quick points before moving on. One thing that impressed me is that whoever worked the flight model obviously paid attention to the fact that dropping flaps at the correct speed(s) isn't supposed to shoot this aircraft's nose straight up in the air like a fish jumping out of water. It's much more subtle, and applies a convincing effect of drag and increased lift as appropriate for each increment of flaps without unrealistic horizontal sway and excessively sensitive pitch. I'm not sure if the flight model reacts appropriately to leaving the gears down, pretty much because I never felt the need to try it. Not sure how authentic the effects of the spoilers are in flight, once again because I don't think I've needed to find out out. If I recall correctly, the CJ1 can get up to about 41,000 feet, or thereabouts, and can climb awfully steep, at least until you get up around 20,000 feet, at which point she don't like her nose pointed too high. I remember my first flight to FL300 took me quite some time to get there, but not unrealistically so. Step descents are fun because all you have to do is cut a little throttle and it holds attitude pefectly, or of course you can just use the autopilot. It takes time getting used to the throttle controls, though. It was a touch more sensitive than I'm used to, and it doesn't take long to find yourself well over, or under speed if you don't pay attention. You don't want to overshoot a turn either, because it's not the fastest aircraft into a bank, but once again, very accurately modeled. So, I'm done rambling about the flight model. Let's just say it flies great, shouldn't be a problem for anyone to get the hang of, and if I'm not mistaken I think some real world type drivers did some beta testing on it and gave it the go ahead.
MORE RAMBLINGS (FROM THE ENGINES THIS TIME)I always love when the bizjets spool up at my FBO. You can look up at the FlyBy cafe and watch everyone go inside until they takeoff. Meanwhile I'm standing 10 feet away with a big grin on my face, probably looking like a complete idiot who will be deaf by the time I'm.......well, older than I am now. They all have that similiar high pitched whine to them, and some get that throaty groan as they spool up a little. This CJ1 does a great job recreating that atmosphere from all views, but especially outside. Inside a real CJ1 you might hear a variety of ambient sounds. There's the engines, the air conditioner, maybe that guy peeling out in the luggage cart as my bag falls off and ends up in Hawaii as I deboard in Jacksonville. You don't get that here, but you do get some quality, though perhaps just a shade loud, sounds of the beautiful engines, which I'm assuming are the FJ44s. That being a bit loud thing that I was talking about might not have anything to do with the product itself. I've messed around with my sound settings so much that it's probably my own fault. Either way, it sounds great, which is not exactly easy to put into words. I'll put it this way, I have no desire to look for a replacement sound set, though it would be nice to hear some idiot in the cabin complaining how cold it is, or throwing a fit because he can't smoke for the next two hours.
PERFORMANCENot sure why, but for some reason I was expecting to count the frame rates on one hand, maybe two, but that certainly wasn't the case here. I found very minimal impact on the frames, in fact, I fly with my frames locked at 35 by means of FPS limiter, and that's exactly where they stayed. Of course performance can be difficult to discuss (and admit), that is unless you're getting triple digit frame rates in the PMDG 747 over Aerosoft's Chicago scenery with all settings maxed and AI traffic jacked up so high that you end up stuck in the holding pattern until sunrise. But most of us don't have super computers powered by plutonium, so we have to make sacrifices. That wasn't the case here, though, and I actually ended up moving my AI traffic slider up just a hair, which now gives me time to read Moby Dick while waiting in line to takeoff. Anyway, peformance is a crazy animal in this hobby, so I'll just say that I can't imagine anyone with even a modest system having any problems running this bird.
AND FINALLY.......THE CONCLUSION OF THIS SO-CALLED REVIEWThe cost value is absolutely amazing, which is how I feel about most things FS related, but especially so with this CJ1. The package costs 23.95 USD, others can do the math and save me from ending up in a straight jacket trying to figure out how the currency converter works on my iPhone. For the price, regardless of how many Euros, Francs, gold bars or baseball cards that comes out to, the end result is a quality addon that will always be available, thanks to the trusty Flight 1 wrapper system. It has plenty of room for end user modifications that can keep you busy until the next flight simulator comes out, probably just in time to see my unborn grandchildren get married. By comparison, I just spent $41.18 plus tip taking my brother and his wife out to dinner tonight, and the only thing I have to show for it is a bigger waste line and smaller credit limit. The last time I put $30 worth of gas in my truck it got me around town a few times and left me with bald tires.......soon to match my head. Sure seems like I don't have much to show for my money except for quality FS products. My point? This is a great buy, and priced well under what it has given me in return. Seems like a lot of writing and poor humor to get to that simple point, but it also seems like some folks don't appreciate what an incredible value this hobby is. But, if for some reason you're not satisfied with the CJ1, Eaglesoft offers a 30 day money back guarantee through the Flight 1 return system. Makes sense to me, after all I'm sure Eaglesoft would rather return your money than have you as an unsatisfied customer, but I can't imagine being unsatisfied with this offering. No, this aircraft isn't going to magically warp you into a fourth dimension where you think you're flying a real CJ1. It doesn't have some special capability to give you that seat of your pants feeling that is missing from PC flight simulations. And owning this FSX addon won't turn you into a rich corporate jet owner who lights his cigars with $100 bills as the minions shine his shoes. What it does offer is a realistic representation of the CJ1 that can be flown by the numbers, and does so without burdening you with excessively in-depth systems at the cost of performance. It's not perfect. I would love to see a new FMC, maybe some modified VC textures, and a few other hardly notable aspects. But it is an outstanding recreation of the CJ1 and worth every penny, and much more.So if you stuck around this long, than you must have a strong stomach for pathetic humor and poor writing skills, but you might also want to know my recommendation for this addon.......or like most people perhaps you couldn't possibly care less what I think. Either way, here goes. I think that this aircraft is suited for a wide array of sim enthusiasts. If you're new to the virtual world of corporate jets, I can't think of a better aircraft to get you acclimated. It's much prettier to look at than the default Learjet, has more user interactive systems, and can be flown by the numbers. I doubt it's up there with the Citation X, which I'll find out soon, but it's certainly nothing to scoff at. It looks good, flies great, and the performance is fantastic. I also think that more advanced simmers will find much to appreciate about this offering. It's a nice break from flying the heavies, and is welcomed at a lot of great places to see where the 747 just don't fit. It's fast, but won't give you whiplash. It's not as systems intensive as you might be used to, but not an aircraft that will let you ignore proper operation either. The folks that I think will benefit most are the hand flyers, as well as those who want to experience FSX from FL410 without single digit frame rates. I would think it could also make a great transition aircraft for those working their way up from light aircraft to the heavies. And that concludes my first, and most likely last (you're welcome) attempt at reviewing. Now let the comments pour in as I put my moderator's hat back on and wait for the Eaglesoft Baron.