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MD11 - A rushed review

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Dear All:Below is a post that i made just now on the BA Virtual Forum; i thought that you may be interested in it here too.CheersHi Guys: Just thought that i would put pen to paper as it were, and jot down a few first impressions of the latest offering from PMDG. Well, first things first. Having managed to fall asleep in front of the telly yesterday afternoon, i was wide awake all night. Knowing that PMDG were about to release their new aircraft, the MD11. I decided to head over to avsim to see if it had fallen over yet. It hadnt. But with bugger all else to do other than a bit of drawing work on the main PC, a keen eye was kept on the boards, both here and at avsim, for the release update. Sure enough, at about 1000z, a notice was posted by one of the mods, that they estimated an 0100z release. The avsim forum then crashed, as did the PMDG website, albeit for only a couple of minutes. There was a genuine air of excitement about the Avsim forum, palpable even sat here, many thousands of miles away from the action. I should also confess that i didnt plan on buying the MD11. I was going to wait a few days, let the servers get themselves a couple of reboots, and generally follow the topics at the PMDG fora, and see what the general consensus was. If you havent guessed by now, i got sucked in. With about an hours delay, the shop went live with the MD11 at 0200Z (ish). I was in there like a rat up the proverbial drainpipe, and within a couple of short minutes was downloading the MD11, An aircraft that, hitherto, i have had little real interest in, nor ever even flown on to my recollection. Suffice to say the download went well, and within twenty minutes, i was installing it on the FS machine. At this stage, i have had a couple of quick flights, starting with the engines live, and a bit of taxi practice. My first flight, was, unsurprisingly, a bit of a disaster, as i had decided that i didnt need the manuals, and that i was by far a good enough virtual aviator to manage this on my own. Having eventually managed to fulfil the appropriate criteria to stop 'pregnant dogin betty' stop complaining about my flaps, stab trim and what have you. i wobbled on to 27R and threw the throttles forward. Without any weight to her (i hadnt bothered with the load manager at this stage) she took off like a scalded cat. Truth be told, it was all a bit quick for me, and the autoflight systems were kicking in to try and stop me killing myself and/or damaging the aircraft left right and centre. A quick circuit and an unplanned touch and go later, i finally got her back down on 27L with a bump. Personally, i blame that moving bump that seems to track up and down 27L and always arrives at the point of touchdown. At this stage, i have to admit that i was cursing PMDG a touch. Something along the lines of - all this money and frame rates like this grrrrrr. After the tiniest bit of tweaking ( a slight drop in the Autogen Density) all was well. Not brilliant, but back in the double digits. and so i decided to a quick VFR hop to EGKK. This time, things were decidedly improved. No Autothrottle at this stage, but having planned the flight in my head a little better, the low cloud base (thanks to activesky X) wasnt really an issue, and with the ND set to display Airfields, EGKK was clearly visible on the map. Having gotten the beast under control, i had time to consider her attributes a bit before the (less than textbook) approach to EGKK. The cockpit is the first thing that strikes you. It's quiet. Very Very quiet, if you are used to the 747 and its essentially very badly designed windshield. The wind noise here is minimal. The visibility is also diconcertingly good, although on the ground, it feels very odd to me to be quite so close to it, being used to the lofty heights of the 744's flight deck, this is i suppose, to be expected. First impressions of her are good, although it strikes me as being somewhat akin to what ould have happened had a 777 and an A340 mated, The B*st*rd love child of Boeing and Airbus perhaps. Back to the FPS though. I am quite lucky in that the machine i run, is capable of handling FSX, and my small army of disparate add-ons quite well. Sadly, the 747 was a bit of a pig, and i havent flown her in FSX for some time. Understandably, i was a little concerned about the results that i could expect from the MD, but having spoken to a couple of the beta testers for her at length, i was satisfied that it would be worthwhile adding to the hanger. I am not dissapointed. While a look at the FPS counter reveals little special, (averaging 14 to 18 FPS) she is smooth, and that is what we are all after of course. I will admit, that i did have to wind a couple of the settings down (Cloud Draw Distance, and AutoGen) but not by anywhere near as much as i had to for the 744. Having spent a lot of money on my FSX machine, that was hitherto little used, preferring to fly the 744 in FS9, i will be using the MD11 a lot. It has the range and power to satisfy my long haul needs, and i get to sub it for a 777 and do a few more flights out of EGKK, by far my favourite London airport. So, is the MD11 worth it. Well, if you like complex add ons that are going to take some learning, yes. If you appreciate that with 4 years of work, over 1400 pages of manuals, and an add-on that flies far smoother than the 747X, then it is worth it. More to come, with screenies in the next issue of Focus.... cheers Paul

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