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Guest IanGrant

In search of freeware, light, VFR aircraft.

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Leaving the big iron for a while I went touring around Ireland VFR, with real weather.Yes, you see the contradiction. In Ireland we have a saying that is, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes", so VFR isn't going to happen in October for the full day it took to land at every airport.I took the DCH-6 Vistalander (Twin Otter). All was well until I got stuck in some cloud in the North West around 3000ft terrain and I realised I had NO ADF! I had to use a chart and use crossing radials of VORs and DME readings to take spot checks on where I was.I went off to find another similar light aircraft and after going through about 5 or 6 aircraft I was left rather annoyed. Some didn't have any ADFs, which makes flying in Ireland more taxiing as most of the smaller airports only have an NDB local, or no navaid at all. Trying to find and "land on" a 1800ft grass strip thats 50nm from the nearest VOR in 600ft ceilings and 1200ft terrain around isn't easy. You can't see the strip from your initial approach point, and you need as much nav reference as you can get, without an ADF this is near impossible. I think most of my fuel went of go arounds and circling.One aircraft looked good, had a VC and had 2 ADFs and everything, but... NO DME! At all! How in hell do you navigate like that?I have come to coin this, the "Doesn't my new plane look pretty", brigade and I'm getting tired of it. Too much freeware out there is just a pretty plane with no usability built in for basic navigation. Bar the MS GPS toy.I refuse point blank to use the MS GPS, it's unrealistic, annoying to use and make flying a matter of watching the AP make turns. I like to navigate myself.To the point...Can anyone suggest some freeware aircraft that have the following features, that "work". The list is in order of preference.- Multiengine.- Crusie speed of over 120knots.- Must be capable of landing on grass/gravel/dirt strips of 2000ft.- At least one working ADF, preferable with an automatic compass card RMI.- Standard NAV equipment, 2 NAV radios, 1 ADF, switchable DME etc.- A VC, even if it's not perfect, it helps for visual flying in terrain and landing in bad weather.- Fairly descent FDE, the twin otter I originally had, had the default planes control delay and pitch seesaw effect, which is very irritating.The Real Air cessna 172 is amazing, the only thing I don't like about it is that I haven't figured out how to upgrade the RMI to a automatic compass type. The manual RMI is a pain in the __s.The Cessna is too slow and small for what I am after, which is more like the Twin Otter type scenic tour plane affair if you know what I mean. I have tried 3 twin otter models, some better than others, but each one had a irriating lack of navigation equipment or a dodgy FDE.Thanks for any suggestions.

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Paul,Personally I feel you are expecting to much from freeware, you must appreciate that people produce freeware for fun, and not to meet someones criteria.Whilst a lot of freeware packages are complete, they obviously do not come up to your standard.Might I suggest 2 soloutions for you,1) Have a look at the many payware GA packages, these can be considered as complete, and are very good.2) If you have a plane you do not like, look at how you yourself can make it better, that way you and the community as a whole can benifit.All that said, Milton Shupe has been kind enough to supply the community with some of the best twin prop GA's in his commander series, whether these addons might your expectations I can not say, but I would suggest you try them, they are the pinnicle of twin prop GA freeware.Dan.

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OK, so I may of sounded like I am looking for perfect, but it's just that getting into a plane and having my first impressions of "MMmmm this is nice", turn to "Awwww, no DME at all! How am I meant to navigate?" a let down. I "could" I suppose determine how to place the default DME on the panel and email the author with a fix, but I haven't yet figured out how to yet.I just spotted the Aero Commanders in the library and I think I will try a few of them out. I had the Aero Commander in Fly2K! and I liked it there as a hand flyer.Thanks for the tip ont the Aero.Freeware aside, what Payware manu's make good GA planes. I know only of Real Air and they only appear to do very small single props.

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I know what you mean, but untill you have spent 6 months producing a free addon, you will not appreciate the amount of work that goes into it.Today, I will be uploading my first ever freeware plane addon for Fs2004, the Shorts Skyvan, and whilst it has taken me 6 months to complete, I like it, and my beta testers like it, but I am 100% sure that there will be a number of people who don't, you can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time.It's just the me, me, me attitude that seems prevelent in the community lately, where people expect things to be handed to them.People should try their hand at making planes for FS, I am 100% sure that after doing this they would not expect anything from freeware again, such is the work involved.Add gauges to panels can be done by using either the freeware "CFGedit", or the payware "FS panel design studio", or you could do it long hand, but this is very time-consuming.Their is a aircraft and panel design forum here, and there are always a number of experts who frequent this forum that can offer advise and support.As for payware, the Aeroworx B200 meets all your criteria, and is very, very good, probably one of the best twin prop GA's about.Dan.

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Shorts Skyvan? I live right beside the place that built them, Shorts (oddly enough). Although the plant has now been dispanded for a larger terminal at EGAC and shorts bought over by Bombardier and moved inland.I shall take a look after I've played with the AeroCommander.I realise that a lot of work goes into a freeware project. I am a professional web programmer and I understand how much time can be poured into projects of anysize, and I still do it for fun, when I want to, though being paid is much better :)It's just that I feel a lot of freeware packages let themselves down leaving out simple things that take no time to add, in relative terms. I mean adding a DME guage or an ADF using the default guages can't amount for much time compared to the full development of an otherwise excellent model and panel. It destroys the planes functionallity as a "sim", leaving it as a "Oh look at my pretty plane." affair. I realise that probably the majority of the market are kids who just like to download their favourite plane and press CTRL+E and fly with the MS GPS.My frustration is that the library is very often difficult to find the "good stuff" in, for my tastes. A link to a webpage about the plane, or a review link... maybe a voted best freeware chart would help matters no end.

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Not all developers ommit the DME, ADF etc. because they are "lazy" - some aircraft are meant for VFR only - one Cherokee at the local airport even has a big sticker on the instrument panel "IFR Prohibited"."NO DME! At all! How in hell do you navigate like that?"If I remember correctly the payware Warrior II from Australian Simulation didn't have a DME and people were upset about it - turned out the real one it was modelled after didn't have one either.Dead reckoning? Pilotage? There was a time when ADF's was the only navigational aid and people still flew back then. In fact there was a time when there were NO navaids available at all and people still flew - you're lucky because you've got two ADF receivers :) See my qoute in the sig - it was said by a Microlight pilot after a near-miss with a Cessna - he came close enough so that he could see the Cessna pilot - the Cessna pilot was leaned over the instrument panel and didn't even see the other aircraft because he was busy with some instrument on the panel."I refuse point blank to use the MS GPS, it's unrealistic, annoying to use and make flying a matter of watching the AP make turns."I can agree that the GPS makes flying a matter of watching the AP make turns, but it's actually fairly realistic and far from being a "toy".If you're flying in the UK/Ireland I can understand your frustration - real pilots feel the same thing when they have to wait for weeks for a slot in the clouds so they can fly. Thankfully, in FS we have the option of customizing the weather to get VMC every day if we want :)Also it's not dificult to IFR-equip any aircraft. You could quite easily add a default DME, VOR etc. to your favourite aircraft.

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Paul, ADF as a primary means of navigation will be phased out in Europe by 2010. GPS is no mere `toy`, it is the fastest, most accurate and reliable method of fixing your position. You sound like several real pilots of my acquaintance who regard GPS as `things` that `toymakers` make for pilots who can't fly the `proper` way. Even if that means flying properly into the side of a cliff?They are dinosaurs and the sooner they stop flying the better, the GA world will be better off without them and their head-in-the-sand attitude to safety to those lives they jeopardise by not facing up to the challenges and benefits of technical advancement. Flat panel displays are becoming the norm in all new-build GA aircraft - Cirrus is the biggest player in the SEP market and they offer `steam` and Flat Panel options on all their aircraft. Since announcing the availability of the Avidyne Entegra and Flightmax system they haven't sold a single steam-gauge airplane. At least some pilots can see the benefits.While agreeing the MS default GPS effort is a poor approximation of the real thing there are several revised GPS units freeware and payware that properly replicate modern-day flying.Instead of ADF, try finding a GPS that meets your requirements. Reality XP is great. The only benefit of ADF is being able to pick up radio, and I've got a mobile phone that can do that!Allcott

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Yes Paul, sifting through the freeware releases can be difficult, the trouble is, and freeware chart, or voting system could be open to abuse, and I think that is why there hasnt been one yet.I used to look through the library and search with "amount of downloads" so the most downloaded addons come out top, normally these are the cream of the crop, also, the most downloaded of the last month or year can be a good place to start.I just see it as a "risk" that I am willing to take, I don't mind using a couple hours download time on freeware, if I like it good, if not I delete it.Yes there are people who prefer the eye candy, and if thats the way they want to use FS, then yeah can.Hopefully, my Skyvan will appeal to both camps, I have tried to get the externals looking good, but not at the expense of anything else.Two of the most important points are 2D panel (which is where the majority of FS'ers spend there time), and the dynamics, I hope that I have captured both, but you will have to see for yourself ;).I think you will like Miltons Commanders, there are top-notchDan.

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Allcot,Flying in the UK at the moment, there are many airports that use ADF for there approaches.In FS, I personally like to do things "the hard way", and whenever I use the GPS, I feel as if I am cheating :).That said IRL, I use a GPS system in both my car, and the warrior I train in.Dan.

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I agree with what most of your are saying, or is that most things that all of you are saying.I am not aiming backwards from technology, my number one love is technology, the GF left last year LOL. Seriously though, I agree that GPS is probably the most reliable and accurate / safe navigation method, however, it's not perfect and has some rather frightening flaws. It can be switched off for one. If disabled, in many various and nasty ways possible, the world of GPS navigation is for want for a better word, f***ed. It could take decades to get it all back online after a ground missile attack on the satelites for example and there are nasty little countries still capable of it.Dont put all your eggs in one basket is really what I am saying.I wholely agree that if I was sat in a real plane, for one I would have other things to concern myself with, other than being 100% concentrating on navigating the hard way time could be better spent on other safety issues. I would also use the GPS, but continue to check it with NDBs and VORs, plus of course visual landmarks etc.In FS, I like to set challenges that focus on an area or aviating, like flying without any navaids, or no GPS etc. I like a plane to have a good range of options. I believe that pilots should be trained amd tested periodically in ALL navigation methods equally. Be it setting a course and timing the legs with a stop watch, NDB, VOR or RNAV/GPS.The ADF also provides the simplest and very informative peice of navigation reference, that can take you to program and fiddle with the GPS to get, which is just "Where is that place?", the ADF needle simply points to it. Most other nav systems dont provide this information without tinkering, turning dials, programming tracks, headings etc. For example the Direct To on the GPS can take time to program, much longer than a spin of the ADF knob.The point that ADF/NDB navigation will be phased out in Europe by 2010 sounds a little far fetched and I've heard it before, I've even heard claims that VOR and NDB approaches will be phased out completely in the next decades. I'm not convinced the aviation industry in Europe could organise a joint beer party never mind sort out the mess they are in regarding airspace and agreed protocols. Hell they still speak Spanish, Italian and French on approach frequencies, which has already caused deaths in miscommunications.

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>To the point...>>Can anyone suggest some freeware aircraft that have the>following features, that "work". The list is in order of>preference.>>- Multiengine.>- Crusie speed of over 120knots.>- Must be capable of landing on grass/gravel/dirt strips of>2000ft.>- At least one working ADF, preferable with an automatic>compass card RMI.>- Standard NAV equipment, 2 NAV radios, 1 ADF, switchable DME>etc.>- A VC, even if it's not perfect, it helps for visual flying>in terrain and landing in bad weather.>- Fairly descent FDE, the twin otter I originally had, had the>default planes control delay and pitch seesaw effect, which is>very irritating.Although it is only a single engine, might I suggest the freeware Socata TB20GT available here at avsim.com? It has all the avionics capabilities you have listed, and has the added bonus of having been initially custom built as an IFR training aid for the owner of the real G-TTAC, who is based in southern England. Peter Holmes, the owner of G-TTAC was primarily concerned with practicing NDB/DME Arcs, as well as other "low-tech" navigational exercises... :)

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>I agree with what most of your are saying, or is that most>things that all of you are saying.>>I am not aiming backwards from technology, my number one love>is technology, the GF left last year LOL. Seriously though,>I agree that GPS is probably the most reliable and accurate />safe navigation method, however, it's not perfect and has some>rather frightening flaws. It can be switched off for one. If>disabled, in many various and nasty ways possible, the world>of GPS navigation is for want for a better word, f***ed. It>could take decades to get it all back online after a ground>missile attack on the satelites for example and there are>nasty little countries still capable of it.>>Dont put all your eggs in one basket is really what I am>saying.>>I wholely agree that if I was sat in a real plane, for one I>would have other things to concern myself with, other than>being 100% concentrating on navigating the hard way time could>be better spent on other safety issues. I would also use the>GPS, but continue to check it with NDBs and VORs, plus of>course visual landmarks etc.>>In FS, I like to set challenges that focus on an area or>aviating, like flying without any navaids, or no GPS etc. I>like a plane to have a good range of options. >>I believe that pilots should be trained amd tested>periodically in ALL navigation methods equally. Be it setting>a course and timing the legs with a stop watch, NDB, VOR or>RNAV/GPS.>>The ADF also provides the simplest and very informative peice>of navigation reference, that can take you to program and>fiddle with the GPS to get, which is just "Where is that>place?", the ADF needle simply points to it. Most other nav>systems dont provide this information without tinkering,>turning dials, programming tracks, headings etc. For example>the Direct To on the GPS can take time to program, much longer>than a spin of the ADF knob.>>The point that ADF/NDB navigation will be phased out in Europe>by 2010 sounds a little far fetched and I've heard it before,>I've even heard claims that VOR and NDB approaches will be>phased out completely in the next decades. I'm not convinced>the aviation industry in Europe could organise a joint beer>party never mind sort out the mess they are in regarding>airspace and agreed protocols. Hell they still speak Spanish,>Italian and French on approach frequencies, which has already>caused deaths in miscommunications.>Some good points, but your reliance on the `simple reliable` ADF is a bit worrying actually! ADF is subject to positional errors, blackouts and lacks the accuracy of GPS. Which is one of the reasons it will be phased out. Increasing interference from neighbouring frequencies is another. It's simplistic, not simple, and it hasn't been reliable for donkeys years! Most ADF's do not, of course, provide DME and the reading on the dial can be subject to huge positional errors depending on the location and power of the transmitter, interference in the other radio bands, even the position and efficiency of the receiving aerial onboard the aircraft. Tracking an ADF is an acquired skill, not intuitive at all.The range of GPS is unaffected by distance from any receiving station (I cannot tell you the number of times an ADF signal has proved to be pointing to the wrong place in my flying career, one of the reasons I stopped relying on it a long time ago). Programming a GPS can take longer than tuning an ADF, but the information given is 10-20 times more accurate, more complete, more valuable and more efficient. As well as more easily understood if using a map display version. It can even be a full flightplan. Your `direct to` comaparison is actually incorrect - use of the `direct to` button on most modern GPS units (including handhelds) is faster than tuning an ADF, then adjusting the bezel - and again the information presented is better, more reliable and true. Fewer buttons pressed, results displayed logically and with greater reliability and detail. It's easy to transpose digits or get numbers wrong when tuning an ADF. And ADF won't compensate for the wind either!As I understand it, it's now an extra-cost option to have ADF fitted to most newbuild aircraft - and those equipped with Avidyne and Garmin integrated systems `make do` without, and they seem to get by!Anyway, that's getting away from the point of your thread. You can add ADF to any panel in FS, and with some mugging up on the text books you should be able to get a rough idea of range to the station by swinging the needle. DME not necessary. It's a comparatively simple trigonometric equation, but easier still is cross-referencing position with another navigational device. But the circular probability of error using ADF is ALWAYS higher than any other navigational tool other than map/stopwatch!And if you're flying VFR, look out the window!Allcott

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Paul,Try my Piper Aztec.....just uploaded the other day. It is not an "Eye Candy" aircraft, but the model is accurate. It has a VC, although it is very simple.......The flight dynamics are good, and it has all the IFR stuff you need.Give it a whirl......just search for Piper Aztec, and you will find it.http://mywebpages.comcast.net/choatefamily/mtair/banner1.gif

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In the real world, privately owned a/c are not equiped with every navigational aid known. They are fitted with what the owners can afford. But IN Fsim, we can have whatever we want -- so feel free to add whatever navaids you want to your cockpit.Barry

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>Paul,>>Try my Piper Aztec.....just uploaded the other day. It is not>an "Eye Candy" aircraft, but the model is accurate. It has a>VC, although it is very simple.......Wow, thanks! completely missed that upload.Dan

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OK been flying the Aero for a while now. It's fast, light, well powered and easy to fly. It also has a nice VC and period instruments.Not sure if this is a "reality" thing, but it has that damn pitch see-saw that the default planes have, where the control response curves are all snappy. You pull up gently on approach flare, and not much happens, you increase the pull and it suddenly gets very responsive and pitches up almost violently, continue to hold the stick in that position and the nose bobs back down. Pulling back sharply on the stick at any speed results in the nose bouncing up and then falling back down again. I believe it's only the default aircraft I have seen this in, with a few exceptions where the air file was copied from a default template. Is it meant to be that way? The real air cessna doesn't do this, nor any of the larger payware craft i've tried.The only other thing that bothers me is that above 30 or 40 knots on take off and landing roll I can't steer at all. Full rudder deflection does virtually nothing. I've been off the runway twice already tonight as a result.But happier with the panel and nav equipment, although tonight I was flying VFR only, even in Irish weather, I know when I see the high ground, what high ground it is and where the airport is relative to it.

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Try out My Beech 18 Volpar trigear (Volpar.zip here at avsim, also don't forget the patch as well) 2 round engines, 160 kt cruise, dual com and nav, adf (RMI), DME, virtual cockpit. I can get her out of 2000 footer's easy.Brian

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Last year I flew VFR in FS2004 from Colorado Springs to Melbourne FL. The aircraft was a Carenado Cessna 152. Real world weather. I hauled out my sectionals and plotted a VOR to VOR route. Had a few restricted areas and TRAs to get around as well as some Class C/D airspaces too. It took about 10 legs and about 20 hours, 4 days, mainly using visual landmarks (roads, towers, power lines, hills, rivers etc) to measure my progress as I proceeded along. I had a ball! FS9 really has it down (for the most part) and keeping track of progress was a matter of comparing the scenery out the sim "window" to the real sectional...they got it right...did their homework!No ADF (woulda been handy at times), no autopilot, single nav/comm, no GPS...and slower than dirt. That's the fun we occasionally need as we tire of the heavy metal...try it sometime. Day, very basic, VFR...real flying. The flight dynamics were reasonable, if slightly overpowered, but having to basically tend to altitude and heading the whole time was a good workout.Good luckDave (00V)

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Hey Fred, I just downloaded your Aztec and took her out for a spin. She's a really sweet flyer. Thanks a lot!Jim

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DME?Well, my airplane has a Loran that one of the other owners told me he uses as a DME, but I've haven't learned how to use it as of yet. Otherwise, no DME, and it's a good little IFR plane (1973 Cherokee 180). The plane has dual VOR so to figure out where I am (when I'm not using my handheld GPS, ha ha :-) or it has run out of batteries (not so ha ha)(hence why I like to practice alternate navigating methods)) I'll cross reference off of two VOR's.I also am happy navigating by ADF. As long as you understand its deficiencies, it works great.Thomas Perry

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Brian, man I love that plane. I'm just a weekend flier, but the Volpar is all that I've been flying. One ? what is the patch that you mention? Great aircraft, Bob McDuff

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Great to see the Aztec back for FS9 Fred. It was always one of my favourites in FS2002. It just "feels" good to fly it.RegardsBlairCYOW

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Perhaps you might like the Maule M7-260 that Mikko, myself and company created. Its not multi-engine, but it hums along pretty quick, has nice avionics, but no autopilot. Mikko did a great job on the VC, and she flies nice too. And on the bright side of things, you can get it into any small paved or grass strip, parking lot, drive way or local playground ;) Just a thought.

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