Robert W

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  1. Robert W

    Assistant Reviews Publisher Wanted

    I'm looking for an assistant who can help get the reviews published on our Front Page. You must have a working knowledge of HTML, BBCode, Tables and Image Embedding. I will send you the edited text, the location of the thumbnails and associated jpgs on our server and you code it and post it to our website. My goal is to publish 2-3 reviews per week, so a few hours of your time is needed. All AVSIM staff are volunteers, we give back to the FlightSim community so our fellow simmers can benefit from our love of the hobby. For further details contact robertw@avsim.com Robert Whitwell Reviews Editor
  2. Robert W

    A week at Oshkosh AirVenture

    "The world's largest combined fly-in, air show, and aviation exhibition" by: Martin Arant - Avsim Sim Technologies Welcome to Oshkosh Welcome to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, billed as “The Worlds Greatest Aviation Celebration". Oshkosh is the flagship event of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) and is held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin each summer because… well, Oshkosh's Wittman field happens to be the home of the EAA. I had never been to Oshkosh and as a confirmed Sun n' Fun addict, I had long ago decided I would rather spend my discretionary flying dollars in sunny Florida each year than in Wisconsin. But when I had the opportunity to go to Oshkosh in my position as marketing consultant to Laminar Research (The X-Plane folks) I jumped at the opportunity. The attendance numbers for Oshkosh 2012 are not yet published but if they meet or exceed last year's numbers then they are staggering to contemplate. In 2011, over one-half million people attended the event. Worlds largest airplane parking lot There were over 10,000 aircraft that flew in last year. When you consider there are only about 200,000 private general aviation aircraft registered in the United States, this means almost 5% of the airplanes in the USA were at Oshkosh. Tent city Driving up to the event from the hot and muggy Alabama climate I was looking forward to perfect 80 degree days (Oshkosh July average high 82F) and cool Wisconsin evenings. On Monday July 24th (the first day of the event) the thermometer reached 101F in the shade and it was much hotter in the metal hangers housing the exhibits. Thankfully it was all downhill from that point… as the temperature dropped into the 70s and 80s for the remainder of the event. Approaching storm On Thursday a powerful line of thunderstorms blew through the site, damaging one aircraft but further cooling everything off. Relaxing on an oshkosh summer Southwest evening after the show Oshkosh is so huge it would be impossible to report on the event as a whole. Blue Thunder There were hundreds of static aircraft exhibits, exhibitor booths for almost every company in aviation, and dozens of events, forums, and presentations. In addition, Oshkosh hosts some of the best aerial performances to be seen anywhere on the planet. So this report will concentrate on the subject most Avsim readers are most interested in… Flight Simulation ! First and foremost Oshkosh is primarily a pilot event and not a simulation or computer event. So most of the simulation companies represented were only showing simulation products for pilot training and proficiency as opposed to entertainment simulation products. The two notable exceptions were X-Plane 10 by Laminar Research and aeroflyFS by Ikarus. Laminar had a mix of both professional pilots interested in the FAA certified X-Plane commercial product, as well as the enthusiast (and some pilots) interested in using X-Plane in an entertainment or mixed mode environment. The aeroflyFS product also attracted a good crowd of interested attendees. The following is a summary of the simulation companies and products presented at Oshkosh's AirVenture: aeroFS by Ikarus software Aerofly This is a relative newcomer to the flight simulation entertainment market. Ikarus got its start with RC (radio controlled) software and with the introduction of aeroFS, has now graduated to desktop flight simulation. The aeroFS package has a good selection of aircraft, from gliders to fighters, and is available in both PC and Mac versions. The scenery is limited to Switzerland but the scenery is the main draw of the program. It is simply stunning and threading their F-18 Hornet through the Swiss Alps at treetop level is an experience that creates a sense of speed lacking in even many combat simulation products. If "seat of your pants" flying is high on your agenda… then you won't be disappointed with this product. X-Plane 10 by Laminar Research: X-Plane booth The folks at Laminar occupied two full booths at AirVenture and had 15 employees and volunteers working the event. In addition, X-Plane was in use at other vendor booths, including Fly to Learn, a company dedicated to bring S.T.E.M. Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to students worldwide. X-Plane was also powering the FAA certified simulators at Precision Flight Controls, a leading manufacturer of flight simulators and associated hardware. In addition to the half dozen systems in the booth running the new X-Plane 10 and available to the public, a new video highlighting the spectacular new lighting and other improvements in the new version was being shown on an overhead monitor. X-Plane 10 has already been through several updates and the DVD product will install on both PC, Mac, and Linux systems. Austin & his |Evolution propjet Austin Meyer, founder and creator of X-Plane, flew his new turbine-powered Lancair Evolution to Oshkosh on a shakedown flight with several factory specialists. It must be nice cruising above the weather at flight level 280 at over 300 knots. What a way to travel to Oshkosh! Elite SImulation Solutions: Elite simulation booth Whenever I've attended an aviation exhibition over the years I've always been guaranteed to see my old friend John Dixon of Elite Simulation working with his team at the Elite booth. This company has been at the forefront of affordable flight simulation training packages for years and always has a presence wherever pilots gather. AirVenture at Oshkosh was no exception. Their booth showcased their Elite simulation software, as well as the numerous hardware stacks and modules sold by the company. I've used their MEL twin throttle quadrant for years in both Microsoft and X-Plane simulators and it's got to be the highest quality and most realistic feeling throttle unit available. Redbird Flight Simulations: Redbird simulator If you've been around flight simulation for as long as I have (and that's over 30 years) you probably remember when a motion-based simulator meant a multi-million dollar machine that took an entire bay in a building and a room full of computers to run it. Redbird Flight Simulations has reduced this all to a compact electric-motor motion platform in their MCX Simulator with wrap-around visuals at a price even a small training facility or FBO can afford. The motion effects were simply outstanding, considering this is a portable and compact unit. Combined with the wrap-around visuals, I was quickly lost in the illusion that I was really making a crosswind landing under quite gusty conditions at Wittman field in Oshkosh. Precision Flight Controls: Precision flight controls booth This Sacramento based company is the most prominent and well-known manufacturer of professional level yokes, rudder pedals, and simulation avionics for both the training and serious flight simulation enthusiast markets. In addition, PFC manufacturers a full line of FAA certified desktop and enclosed simulators. At AirVenture PFC premiered their new CRX-MAX cockpit system with pro-motion. But with a 225 degree 3-screen field of view, who even needs motion? With the combination of the "heavy iron" feel of PFC's high-end hardware, coupled with the X-Plane commercial software, it doesn't get any more real than this. In addition to a fantastic aviation event, Oshkosh itself is worthy of a visit. The city, with a metropolitan population of 150,000, is on the shore of Lake Winnabago at the mouth of the Fox River. In addition to some historic sites and beautiful neighbourhoods, it has a great variety of watering holes and a diverse mix of restaurants. If you're ever in Oshkosh and have a hankering for a good pizza, try Cranky Pat's downtown. You won't be disappointed with the pizza or the selection of beers. Finally… the people of Oshkosh are typical friendly midwestern folks. They seems to genuinely appreciated AirVenture holding the event in their city and go out of their way to make visitors feel at home. If you get the chance to visit Oshkosh and AirVenture do so by all means. It's guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
  3. Robert W

    AIRBUS Extreme Prologue

    Developer: Black Box Simulations Reviewed By: Werner Gillespie - Staff Reviewer I have mostly flown Boeing aircraft during my sim career, so this was somewhat of a mind set change that I had to make in order to fly and review the Airbus Extreme Prologue from Black Box Simulations, developed (or rather still being developed) for FSX only. The Airbus series of aircraft, specifically the A320, introduced the concept of Fly-By-Wire (FBW) technology, which lets the computer, through the use of a side stick on the flight deck instead of the conventional control column which is found on the Boeing and other aircraft types; determine the input by the pilot. This is similar to the flight system on fighter aircraft, like the F-16 Fighting Falcon for example. Because of the less bulky equipment required for FBW, you get weight saving, reduced maintenance costs, and more accurate flying. This also means that the pilot can fly the aircraft to the limit of its capabilities whilst enjoying the maximum protection in dangerous performance envelopes, for example, low speed protection, making sure the aircraft will not stall. Again, this is similar to systems incorporated on Dasault’s delta wing fighters, like the Mirage 2000 series and later types, allowing the pilot to fly the aircraft in the flight envelopes which are favourable, but would otherwise put the aircraft at risk, since the envelopes were beyond the capabilities of the pilot. Benefits for operators of the Airbus aircraft includes:- 1. Weight savings from replacement of bulky and heavy mechanical systems by computer operated ones, which makes the aircraft much lighter; 2. Electrical controls are much cheaper and easier to maintain than their mechanical counterparts; 3. By giving direct input through electronic signals, the inputs are far more accurate and thus makes more accurate flying possible; 4. The system monitors the inputs by the pilot and makes sure that they do not exceed what is safe in that particular situation, which makes the aircraft safer to fly (theoretically anyway!); and 5. This FBW concept also makes sure that the cockpit differences between the variants are kept at a minimum making conversions between the different types easier and less costly. (Information obtained from www.airbus.com/) I think it is fair to say that Airbus and Boeing are worlds apart from each other in terms of design philosophy. The Boeing is a pilot’s aircraft whereas the Airbus is to be managed by the crew - by the way that is not my view, it is the view of a Senior First Officer at South African Airways who used to fly the B747 variants and now flies the A340 series for the carrier! The object of this review is the A319 and A320 series of the aircraft. The A320 series (of which the A318, A319, A320 and A321 all form part), was launched in the way of the A320 in March 1984 and first flew in February of 1987. (Wikipedia) Now a word of caution here - during the review of this product, I obtained the newly released v0.54 which made significant improvements to the package. What I have done is edited these improvements in whilst keeping most of what I wrote about the original release so as to give you an idea of the advances that have been made to the package as work progresses. So let us have a look at what you get... Installation and documentation After purchasing the aircraft from Black Box Simulation’s website, you can download the aircraft which comes in a 184 MB large download. With the release of v0.54 this changed to a 206 MB file. It is a straight executable installer, which operated without any glitches. You are required to enter your name, company and serial number obtained after you purchased the aircraft into the installer before installing the aircraft. The A319 is installed as the base aircraft, with the option of installing the A320 as well. You also get an option of whether or not to install the manuals that come with the aircraft. You then select your FSX default folder and where you would like to place the shortcuts (yes, they apparently get a folder of their own!), confirm the information and your off with the installation. The installation takes about 30 or so seconds, you will click finish and you are done! If you now look in your FSX folder, you will find the Black Box Simulation folder, which contains the following:- 1. An Airbus A320 Family folder, which contains a very useful fuel planner, both for using metric and standard units, and it includes some flight plans that have been setup for you for use with the aircraft’s FMC; 2. A NavData folder, containing, to my surprise, an updated database for use with the FMC. The developer confirmed that they are using PSS navdata which can be purchased from Navigraph in the same way as other payware - marvelous; 3. An uninstall folder from which you can select the uninstallation options for the aircraft; and 4. The Airbus Prologue Manual in .pdf format. The manual consists of 98 pages and contains the following:- 1. Instructions on improving the visual looks and setup of the aircraft; 2. Instructions on throttle calibration to use the detents on the throttles (more on that a little later); 3. Cockpit familiarization; 4. A detailed systems description; 5. Procedures, which deals with taxi, takeoffs and approaches; 6. Performance limitations; 7. Some other selected limitations; 8. General limitations; and 9. Systems abbreviations. I found the manual to be very user friendly, well written, but there is one major aspect missing from the manual - a normal procedures flow! I was a little disappointed with this. Although the taxi, takeoff and approach sections deal with all the necessary details, the preflight section is missing and I found this from the following sources:- 1. Detailed visual representations for download and printout regarding everything that you may not find inside the manual; and 2. My favourite - This is a YouTube video of a pilot taking you through the preflight, programming the CDU and starting and taxiing the Airbus A320 out. You will also find a very useful guide, the Airbus tutorial flight in the way of the Airbus for Dummies (like me!) manual available for download from Black Box Simulations’ website. This takes you through a complete flight in a simple, easy to understand manner and is also very well written and very user friendly. It also points to different external fuel planning utilities for the aircraft. Preliminary The aircraft does not come with a separate passenger and fuel loader; this is done through FSX as with the default programs. You cannot select a cold and dark state for your cockpit. This is done via the Cessna trick - another disappointment. In fact, if you simply shut down the aircraft and try starting it up you may find funny things happening. You MUST select the Cessna and shut it down, then select the Airbus, then start from there. Remember that this is still a PROLOGUE - it is not a complete product, so the basics are there, the rest will be added in due course, so some areas are still inoperable on the aircraft, others are there in full. What I found to be inoperable is the following:- On the overhead:- 1. Wipers; 2. The oxygen systems; 3. Emergency Electrical Power; 4. Evacuation section; 5. Flight Control section; 6. ADR’s; 7. ADIRS’; 8. Fire systems; 9. Audio switching; 10. VHF 3; 11. Cargo fire; 12. Ventilation systems; and 13. The rain repellant systems. What I found to work on the overhead was the following:- 1. Lights; 2. Anti-ice; 3. Cabin Pressure systems; 4. Packs and bleed systems; 5. Normal Electrical Systems; and 6. APU. What I found not to work on the main panel:- 1. Only the switching between the hPa and Hg on the altimeter, no big issue thought to be honest! On the lower display unit, which is referred to as the ECAM system, I found the following not to work: 1. PRESS; 2. HYD; 3. COND; 4. DOOR; 5. ALL; 6. STS; and 7. RCL When selecting any of these captions, the display will simply be blank. So as you can see, it really is bare bones stuff! The developer does state on the website that updates will be released bi-weekly, and although this has not happened yet, they state that the aircraft will be modeling each and every system conceivable, just like the real aircraft. They further state that this release should be complete by the end of the year. Exterior Right, so let us have a look at the outside of the aircraft. I have included a few snapshots so you can have a look at it. Generally it is well modeled; all the parts are working as they should. No signs of use is visible on the aircraft though, apart from a few streaks of hydraulic fluid. It is also possible to look through the cabin by virtue of the see-through windows. The general shape of the aircraft is well done, but the engines and the fan discs are a bit “empty”, and they are a bit basic in modeling. So the exterior needs a bit of work in some areas. This is not an exterior that will leave you gasping, but the developers are promising graphics upgrades as work progresses. Here are some shots of the exterior:- Interior The first thing that you will notice when you look at the flight deck is that the displays are beautifully modeled! They have the right reaction to light, they are very reflective, and they look the part! You will also notice that the cockpit (VC) has fully modeled side stick controllers. Nice! They are animated and will move as you move your joystick. A really good addition is widescreen 2D panels for both the Captain and the First Officer. You will also immediately notice that the 2D and the VC both have excellent frame rates! The aircraft comes with a 2D panel which you can fly from, which is becoming a rarity, so that is a nice addition for the 2D die-hards. Another odd thing that I have found about the various pop-up 2D panels that are available in-flight, is that you cannot pull all of them up by using the old Shift+X key combination. The following can be accessed by using your Shift+X key combinations:- 1. IFR panel 2. First Officer’s VFR panel 3. First Officer’s IFR panel 4. Captain’s VFR widescreen panel 5. Captain’s IFR widescreen panel 6. First Officer’s VFR widescreen panel 7. First Officer’s IFR widescreen panel. Although this is all good and well, the following can only be accessed by using the menu in FSX and selecting it from the list:- 1. MCDU 2. Overhead 3. Primary flight display 4. Navigation display 5. ECAM 6. Lower ECAM; and 7. Multi functional display controller. Some of these can be popped up by clicking on them with the mouse, which will show enlarged 2D versions. This is a bit of a disappointment - you would want these easily accessible in-flight and the compromise is not a practical one and detracts from the enjoyment of the simulation experience. As far as functionality is concerned you can fly from either the 2D or VC easily and you will find the odd switch or knob or function that does work in the 2D but does not work in the VC, but to be honest, it is not a major problem. The next thing that is obvious from the screenshots I have included, is that apart from the displays, the rest of the VC is rather less up to date with modern modeling standards and unfortunately looks a bit FS9’ish, however there have been some upgrades with the release of v0.54. Again, to be honest, this doesn’t necessarily detract from the overall enjoyment of the sim, but as far as I was concerned, I was a little disappointed that, after all the effort was put in to create such beautiful displays, the rest of the VC did not follow suite. Again, the developer is promising upgrades as far as graphics are concerned here too. So overall then, not a breathtaking rendition of the Airbus cockpit, but it definitely looks and feels like an Airbus cockpit otherwise and as I said, upgrades are still being applied as we are going along. Here is a preview of the interior of the aircraft, the VC:- Sounds I enjoyed the engine sounds, as they are quite realistic. Another really impressive feature is when you are opening and closing the throttle levers, you get that nice “clack” sound that you normally would on a flight deck, so 10/10 for that one. The dials and knobs have their own various sounds and so do the flap levers etc. So in general, the interior and exterior sounds are quite well modeled, BUT... A sound package as far as I am concerned, can round out a product or can cause disappointment to a simmer and detract from the overall experience of the product. In this case unfortunately, the sound package misses one critical element - wind noise! I find that the engines are clearly audible and that there is hardly any wind noise. This means that when sitting at FL380 cruising at Mach 0.76, I can hear the engines as if I could whilst powering them up for the takeoff run! Furthermore, the rumbling sound (like you get when you are on the ground and accelerating down the runway) remains there, even when cruising at FL380. With the release of v0.54, some elements have been addressed and the sound package is a little better, however, the wind noise is still missing. So we have a sound package that still needs some work, but a decent base has been laid for it and the developers are still looking at improvements as we go along. Systems programming I have decided to break this section of my review into a few more subsections, so here it goes... a) MCDU One of the most impressive features of the prologue then, is beyond any doubt, the CDU, or as Boeing pilots will know it, the FMC - the flight management computer. If you had a look at the tutorial flight, and you also had a look at the YouTube video, you will see that the MCDU is basically fully operational. It is already fully capable of following and accepting SIDS, STARS and ILS approaches, together with all performance information. You will also be able to see that you can follow the preflight procedures as outlined by our pilot friend on the video. For those of you used to flying the MD-11 from PMDG, this MCDU should make you feel right at home! Although not 100% the same, you will know the design philosophy that drives it! I found it very user friendly and as I said, fully functional. I cannot comment on the smaller things that real Airbus pilots will be able to point out, but it seems to be authentic. b) Throttles Another very nice feature of this airplane is the detents that are modeled into the throttles. Once you have computed the necessary takeoff data into the system, all you need to do is to put the throttles into their detents, whether it be full takeoff power or the FLX detent (Flex, reduced takeoff power), you leave the throttles there and the takeoff power is handled automatically. Another thing about the throttle detents - you can cycle through them by using page up and page down keys. You will also notice that the throttles do not move with the auto thrust system. This is not a bug, but a feature of the Airbus. c) Ignition You will find that the ignition system for the engine start works like the real aircraft. This is explained in the tutorial and the video on YouTube. The system is also explained in the manual. The initial spool up time for the turbine is modeled quite well, and before the release of v0.54, it had the same “flash over” that the engine of the default aircraft in FSX have, but this has been addressed and sorted out in the v0.54 release and they act realistically now. Good stuff then! Test flight The subject for this flight will be the actual tutorial flight in the Dummies manual available for download from the developer’s site. The rest of the systems that I have not dealt with above are included in this discussion about the tutorial. The tutorial flight takes place from LMML (Malta) to LFKJ (Campo Dell’Orro). This tutorial will assume that you have the cockpit in the cold and dark state and that you have used the Cessna trick to get it into that state. If you didn’t, you will not get a performance page with takeoff figures in your MCDU! You will be taken directly to the approach page. So by following the tutorial, we start our Airbus by switching both batteries on and by connecting our external power - that’s it, nothing more! I keep following the tutorial; I switch the lower ECAM display to the APU page and see the vitals of my APU which is not yet switched on. I then switch the MASTER SW for the APU on and press the START button just below it. The APU starts up, also maybe a little more quickly than is realistic though. A real Airbus pilot would be in a better position to comment. After this, I switch on my BEACON lights and that is it, the aircraft is ready for the MCDU preflight! By following the instructions in the tutorial, I quickly program the MCDU, enter my takeoff performance and I decide to use a FLX temperature of about 45 degrees centigrade. I follow the tutorial’s instructions and again, find that entering the route with the departures and arrivals and the jetways follow the same pattern as if I was using the MD-11's MCDU. Very nice! And yes, they work the way they are supposed to, I have no vices to report here and frankly, again, I am very impressed with this. The tutorial points to an external fuel and payload planner, but I simply used the one that was included with the package and I have to say, it was more than useful! I also followed the figures that the writer of the tutorial placed inside his Fuel settings page within FSX. I then follow the instructions of the writer about setting up my performance page for the takeoff. The only thing I did extra was to put in a FLX temperature for the departure. Another good thing about the tutorial - if you had trouble following the description of how to program the flight plan into the MCDU in the manual, it is explained again in the tutorial. Now, it is time to start the engines. We start engine no 2 first, simply turning on the APU bleed, setting the BLEED VALVE to OPEN, and then flicking the ENGINE 2 SWITCH to ON, and then switching the MODE KNOB on the pedestal behind the throttles to IGN START for engine no 2. I repeat this for engine no 1. Once this has been done, switch the MODE KNOB to NORM (center position) and that’s it, you’re done! Folks, getting through a pre-flight and getting your engines started, can take you less than 5 minutes! The interesting thing is that this is not simply because you don’t have all the systems modeled either. I did a proper preflight flow from the YouTube video, and although the ADRS setup should take the proper 10 minutes, it still won’t take you more than 5 minutes to get through everything and get the engines running. I might get shot at dawn with a blindfold for saying this, but this is about as complicated as setting up a regional jet aircraft for a flight. This is obviously not a degrading remark, but I am actually quite impressed with how easy it was to get to know the aircraft, having flown Boeings for all these years! The fuel system operates automatically, unless switched to manual mode (remember the MD-11?). Very little intervention is normally required and like the ATR for instance, you just extinguish the white lights in the overhead on the scan, that’s it! So, I am setup, the external lights are set, the engines are running, and I am about ready to go. Now to setup the Flight Control Unit (FCU), known to Boeing pilots as the MCP (Mode Control Panel). Another gripe here - the system is a little less intuitive. The click spots are difficult to get right and I would have struggled a bit if it had not been for the tutorial telling me where to look and how to get it right. I still don’t find it very intuitive after spending about 40 hours in the aircraft! There is certainly a bit of room for improvement here. Taxiing out, the aircraft is quite enjoyable and I found the handling quite good. Again, this is based on my experience and not real world flight experience. Another feature of the Airbus is the difference between flap indications. Airbus uses a different system to Boeing. I place it in position 1 as indicated by the tutorial flight. Once on the runway, I check on the electronic checklist that all items are green before I commit to the takeoff, place the thrust levers in the FLX detent, and start rolling down the runway. I find that the engine responses to throttle changes are absolutely instantaneous, which I find unrealistic. It can only be described as akin to flying a fighter jet! Although they are not the size of the B777's engines, they should not react so sharply to thrust changes. Then along comes v0.54 and fixes this issue as well - nicely done! Acceleration is what you would expect from an aircraft this size. Upon reaching Vr, you can pull back on the stick. Now, what you would expect from FBW is that the controls will be sensitive, but not akin to that of a fighter jet rocketing off a runway, and yes, it feels good! You get the feeling of taking off with an aircraft that weighs a few tons! I loved the feeling. So we establish a climb into the flight director and once I reach about 400 feet, I engage AP1 (the Captains Autopilot switch). I was presently surprised by the smoothness in the operation of the autopilot system. I really liked the way it performs and still do! The autopilot latches onto the assigned flight path and goes into a steady climb maintaining the proper thrust setting. The PFD then tells you to change to LVR CLB, which tells me to move the thrust levers to the CLB detent on the throttle quadrant, which is done by pressing the Pg Dwn twice (if using full takeoff power) or once (if like me you use FLX). I watch the speed tape on the PFD. As I accelerate, it reaches a point where green F and S indications are visible (remember the MD-11?). These will tell you when the Flaps and Slats have to be retracted as the speeds are commanded. Neat! Another interesting feature is the fact that the aircraft automatically detects the transition altitude and warns you thereof, although you can change it on the flight plan page. You will also notice as you near your top of climb point, the green hockey stick indicator (the writer of the tutorial uses this description!) indicates your top of climb point. Remember the MD-11? So you reach the cruising altitude, you level off, and you watch the scenery for a bit. But hang on, something looks odd on my PFD - it tells me my nose is level! I switch to the outside view, and yes, the aircraft is flying at FL350 with the nose level, instead of about 2-3 degrees nose up! I am also happy to report that with the release of v0.54 this issue has been addressed and the aircraft looks normal in flight now. More good stuff then! So I now near my top of descent, again the little hockey stick indicator (remember the MD-11?) shows me where to find it. I change my altitude window to 4000 feet as per the tutorial and once I reach the TOD point, I press the ALT knob by left clicking on it. You have to ensure that you don’t click it before reaching this point or you will find yourself doing the equivalent of a Flight Level Change descent in a Boeing. Watch the mode change in the PFD as you start your descent and confirm that you are in DES mode. The aircraft will smoothly and precisely fly the STAR that you entered and also the ILS that follows it. I really love the way the automatic systems operate with the SIDS, STARS and ILS approaches! Upon reaching the transition altitude, you make the changeover from STD to the local altimeter setting. You can also check on how much higher or lower you are on the descent path by looking at the ECON DES page in the MCDU. Once you are into the approach phase, you need to slow the aircraft down. You now select your own speeds or speeds that are assigned by the ATC. To do this you right click (pull) the speed knob which gives you the option to select your speed. I follow the tutorial and set the speeds as commanded by it. One change from a Boeing to an Airbus is to activate the APPR PHASE in the MCDU, and to left click or push the button to re-enter the managed mode for the approach, which will command the speeds again, similar to the Boeing. You would then look at the APPR page of the MCDU to see what your landing speeds and flap settings need to be. It also gives you your actual landing speed and your approach speeds. These work very well by the way! I have done heavier and lighter approaches and found all of them to be accurate and safe. I didn’t get caught out once by figures that were dangerously high or low for that matter. We then switch our ND ROSE knob to ILS. The display will also change accordingly. Similar to a Boeing, you would select the APPR button once you have a LOC and GS active, and then proceed to select the second autopilot button, the AP2 for a more accurate approach and for system redundancy. The aircraft flew the ILS beautifully and all the right calls and sounds from the GPWS are there, right to the RETARD, RETARD, RETARD, calls. How do I know this? I watched some cockpit videos of course! I also followed the tutorial’s prayers not to touch anything and to let the aircraft land itself and it was very decent indeed! Once you are down, taxi to the gates, park the aircraft and shut it down as on page 1 of the tutorial. The tutorial is marvelous and gets you in the air with the minimum fuss and it gets the job done. It is well written, user friendly and if you follow it, you will have no issues in flying this aircraft at all. Performance As I have already said earlier, on my Q9550 quad core with 6 GB RAM and a 768 MB GeForce GTX 480 I experienced excellent frame rates and I believe that, largely due to the less complex VC, you should not expect any performance defects on a midrange machine. Conclusion So here we have a prologue of the final product, a preview if you will of what is to come. As I have indicated earlier, what we have here is bare bones stuff, but as you can also see, some extreme issues have clearly been dealt with in the v0.54 release. I am very happy with the progress that the developers are making with this airplane! It is slow going just at the moment, but the developers have clearly been hard at work behind the scenes and I do believe that when the final touches are put on to the aircraft, it will be a properly modeled A320 series aircraft and one which I certainly will enjoy to fly! Yes, the graphics may not be ground breaking stuff, and there may be a few rough edges here and there, but overall, if you are a huge Airbus fan, this is your aircraft in FSX! Since the PSS A3XX series for FS9 a few years ago, it is good to see that a very serious approach to systems programming and realism is been undertaken by a developer to give the FS community something that it has been wanting for a long time - a serious FSX Airbus! I think as can also be seen from the demise of Flight, it is clear that the FS community does not want arcade stuff anymore - they want systems fidelity, and unmatched realism. I believe that this product may just deliver that to the Airbus fans in FSX! I believe that the price may a bit on the high side at the moment, but time will tell if it was worth the 45-00 Euros that you spent on it or not. What I liked about Black Box's Extreme Prologue: 1. The MCDU and the way it interacts with the airplane - for a preview, it is already up and running to finished standard! 2. The flight dynamics 3. Certain of the sounds, like the detent and flap sounds and the new and improved sounds from the v0.54! 4. The modeling of the displays - very high fidelity, beautifully done! 5. The autopilot system - works very well! 6. The amount of upgrading that took place between v0.5 and 0.54, excellent job being done behind the scenes! What I didn’t like 1. The rest of the VC is a bit too basic by modern standards 2. The sound package needs a bit more work 3. The exterior needs a bit more work 4. The pop-up panels are not very intuitive and can make flying a bit difficult when you need to call the 2D overhead up quickly 5. No separate loading utility for fuel and passengers 6. You still have to use the Cessna trick to get a cold and dark cockpit state
  4. Just Planes - FlyJet & Lynden Air Cargo Aviation Documentary DVD Reviewed by: Marlon Carter FLYJET Highlights FLYJET was a charter airline based out of London Luton Airport. This DVD follows the operations of this airline to destinations such as RAF Akrotiri, Paphos and Corfu onboard the 757-200. Unlike most Just Planes DVDs, we start off with a walk around of the 757 as it prepares for its first flight to RAF Brize Norton from Manchester. The flights that follow featured many highlights that I think many of you will enjoy. For example, during many of the flights you get a clear view of flying procedures involved in flying the 757, cockpit presentations, cabin service presentations and a host of beautiful views from the cockpit. The 757 is a unique aircraft and I think this is a good DVD to add to your collection if you are a fan of this aircraft. Addition Information LYNDEN AIR CARGO Highlights Lynden Air Cargo, along with just a handful of airlines is the only civilian operator of the C-130 known as the L-382G. This video features the operations of Lynden Air Cargo in Alaska and it also highlights many of the services they provide. I have always been intrigued with the L-382G's performance capabilities and this DVD presented the perfect opportunity to see it in action. Some of the destinations you will see in this DVD are Elmendorf, Eielson, Nome, Kotzebue, Valdez, Cape Newenham, Wrangell and Sparrevohn. During these flights you will have the privilege of seeing all of the procedures involved in flying this amazing aircraft. Apart from the procedures, you will also learn a lot about the company from not one, but two company presentations that will enlighten you on the company's history and services. One of the services I was most impressed with is the oil spill response capabilities that Lynden Air Cargo is able to provide. This service is demonstrated nicely in this DVD along with some very nice air to air clips of the L-382. For those of you who would like to learn more about the L-382, you will be happy to know that this DVD features a very thorough walk around presentation. The cockpits of all Lynden's aircraft have been upgraded with "glass cockpits" which has enabled them to fly with a greater measure of safety. While this DVD does not feature a full cockpit presentation, I appreciated the brief overview description of the cockpit and benefits of the upgrade. Performance wise, the true highlight of this DVD for me was the landing and departure in Cape Newenham. The strip at Cape Newenham is at an 8 degree incline and it was quite an exciting segment to see the L-382 start its take off run going downhill! Overall, this is a great DVD to have in your collection, it's jam packed with scenic views and it is one of the very few opportunities you will have to see how this aircraft operates. You will also gain a deep appreciation of the essential role that Lynden Air Cargo plays in lives of those who live in the remote regions of Alaska - Recommended Addition Information Summary / Closing Remarks Once again, these DVDs were an absolute pleasure to watch and I think anyone who loves aviation will enjoy them. At a cost of $25-30 each they are a bargain. These are perfect for days when you what to see or do something aviation related but also want to enjoy the comforts of home. Just Planes has really stepped up their editing and production of their DVDs and I am sure we will continue to see more innovations in their future products. What I Like About These DVDs " Breathtaking scenery " Creative editing and camera views " Features very unique destinations and aircrafts What I Don't Like About These DVDs " Nothing…
  5. Just Planes - Air Dolomiti / Air Seychelles / Nationwide Airlines Aviation Documentary DVD Reviewed by: Marlon Carter AIR DOLOMITI Highlights Just Planes takes us on yet another captivating journey to destinations in Italy and Germany onboard the BAE146 and ATR-42/72. The first segment of the DVD features the Bae146 on flights to Milan and Naples from Munich Germany. Most of these flights were routine in that they didn't feature many outstanding highlights. However, some of the points of interest you may like to know about include a cockpit presentation, external walkaround, cabin service presentation and an interesting discussion by the captain on the history of the company. The second segment which featured the ATR was equally as exciting as the first and it featured an interesting walk around of the ATR which I think many of you might find enlightening. Overall my impression of this DVD is that while it isn't bad, it isn't the best we have seen from Just Planes. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the ATR or BAE146 and you want to learn more about the procedures involved in flying these aircrafts, then this DVD may be suited for you. Addition Information AIR SEYCHELLES Highlights This DVD is all about scenery and excitement as you fly to destinations such as Paris, Gatwick, Denis Island, Pralin Island, Dzaoudzi, Mauritius and Moroni on the 737,767 and Twin Otter. The first trip takes us to Paris on the 767-300 with a return trip to Mahe from Gatwick. These flights feature a cockpit presentation of the 767 which was the best I have seen so far. The cockpit presentation covered not only the forward and overhead panel, but also the side panel behind the first officer which is often neglected in other presentation on the 767. The portions of the DVD featuring the 737-700 take us to destinations such as Mauritius, Dzaoudzi and Moroni. The highlights of these flights were the external walk around and amazing views from the cockpit on departure and approach. Saving the best for last, the true highlight of this DVD for me was the Twin Otter. While this portion did not feature any cockpit presentations, I was very impressed by the performance of the aircraft as it made its way to the beautiful Denis and Pralin Island. Apart from the flying aspect of this DVD, you might also enjoy the brief tour of Seychelles and company presentation on Air Seychelles. All in all you can't go wrong with this DVD. It features interesting aircraft and beautiful scenery that may entice you to visit these unique islands one day. Addition Information NATIONWIDE AIRLINES Highlights This DVD was sold out for quite some time and after my first viewing of it I can see why. It's very rare in this day and age to see a BAC111-400, 727-100 or 737-200 operating in and out of your local airport yet alone have the opportunity to fly in one! This DVD features the operations of Nationwide Airlines to destinations in South Africa and Zambia onboard the BAC111-400, 727-100 and 737-200. Some of the segments I enjoyed in this DVD were the flight to East London on the BAC111-400. This is a rare aircraft and it was quite a privilege to be taken on a walk around and to see firsthand how it is operated. The flights to Livingstone, George, Capetowne, Durban and Lusaka were flown on the Boeing 727-100 which is another unique and extremely rare aircraft. Highlights from this segment include an external walk around of the aircraft, cabin service, cockpit presentations and very scenic views from the cockpit. One of the views I enjoyed the most was the view of Victoria Falls on takeoff from Livingstone. The 737 segment of the DVD featured many of the same highlights as the previous flights and offers a host of scenic views from the cockpit. Overall this is a fantastic DVD that features the operation of classic aircrafts in passenger service. As an aviation enthusiast with an appreciation for the classics, this is a DVD worth having. Addition Information Summary / Closing Remarks Once again, these DVDs were an absolute pleasure to watch and I think anyone who loves aviation will enjoy them. At a cost of $25-30 each they are a bargain. These are perfect for days when you what to see or do something aviation related but also want to enjoy the comforts of home. Just Planes has really stepped up their editing and production of their DVDs and I am sure we will continue to see more innovations in their future products. What I Like About This DVD " Breathtaking scenery " Creative editing and camera views " Features very unique destinations and aircrafts What I Don't Like About This DVD " Nothing
  6. Just Planes - Air France A340 / Varig / Vasp Aviation Documentary DVD Reviewed by: Marlon Carter AIRFRANCE A340 Highlights This DVD was an absolute pleasure to watch. It was both informative and entertaining as it featured not only an interesting aircraft, but also unique destinations! Some of the highlights of our first round trip flight from Paris to Cairo include briefings from the pilots during various phases of flight, meal service presentation and stunning views from the cockpit on departing of the Eiffel Tower and views of the pyramids on approach to Cairo. The return trip featured many of the highlights from the first leg, but what stood out the most to me was the short but intriguing clip of the Concorde departing Charles De Gaulle. The next destination on our final round trip is Bogotá Columbia. The flight starts off with a briefing by the pilots as they discuss their departure and routing information. After departure the flight continues uneventfully but with interesting segments that contains brief presentations by the pilots. Since this trip takes us over the Caribbean, viewers are treated to fantastic views from the cockpit of various Caribbean Islands. After the landing in Bogota, we join the crew on the final leg back to Paris where they make a beautiful early morning landing. Overall I thought this DVD was very well put together and it provided the perfect viewing perspective that I think everyone will enjoy. It truly makes you feel part of the experience and I would definitely recommend this DVD. Addition Information VASP Highlights VASP was once one of Brazil's leading airlines with a fleet of MD-11s, 737s and A300s. In this DVD we take a look at the operation of this airline and why it was once the number one choice for Brazilian travelers. We start off with a presentation on Brazil itself which highlights many of the main attractions that can be found in this vast and intriguing country. This is followed by a flights onboard the MD-11, B737-300, A300 and the 737-200. Each of these flights is presented in a TV documentary style presentation with a narrator that guides us through each segment of the DVD. I enjoyed this approach because it seem more like looking at a TV documentary on the airline than what we are typically use to from Just Planes. Portions of this DVD you may find interesting are the approaches into Rio and Sao Paulo and the more in-depth flights featuring the MD-11. While I can't say this is the best DVD Just Planes has done, it surely isn't bad and if you don't mind the "vintage" feel of this film you just might enjoy this presentation. Addition Information VARIG 777 Highlights If you know anything about aviation in Brazil, one of the airlines you might readily know of is VARIG. This DVD takes a look at VARIG's 777 operations out of Sao Paulo to Madrid and Manaus. It starts off with a night departure out of Sao Paulo to Madrid that features highlights such as general procedures, flight information and briefings. On approach to Madrid, viewers will get a great view of 3 other aircrafts lined up on final just ahead. The return flight was a bit more exciting as the first officer takes us on a tour of the avionics bay of the 777 and the crew rest areas. He also takes the time to explain some of the paperwork that is routinely used every flight. Another point of interest was the segment that featured the captain and first officer talking about their career history. After landing in Sao Paulo, we depart to Manaus where the weather was less than perfect. From the cockpit you can't help but notice the CBs over Manaus, but the crew does a fantastic job at making their way around them. While on the ground in Manaus the first officer takes us on a walk around of the 777 which I think many of you may find informative. In summary I think this was a good DVD that does justice to the 777 and I think it will appeal to anyone but especially fans of the 777. - Recommended. Addition Information Summary / Closing Remarks Once again, these DVDs were an absolute pleasure to watch and I think anyone who loves aviation will enjoy them. At a cost of $25-30 each they are a bargain. I would strongly recommend these DVDs to anyone who is a fan of the MD-80 or DC-9. If you own the "flythemaddog" or maybe you're interested in the upcoming Coolsky DC-9 then these are DVDs that will help you understand many of the procedures involved in flying these great aircraft. What I Like About This DVD " Breathtaking scenery " Creative editing and camera views " Features very unique destinations and aircrafts What I Don't Like About This DVD " Nothing
  7. Robert W

    Just Planes - Arik Air

    Just Planes - Arik Air Aviation Documentary DVDReviewed by: Marlon Carter ARIK AIR Highlights Just Planes has released a new DVD about a new airline called Arik Air. This new release is available in both DVD and Blu-Ray and it features the operations of this airline to various destinations in Africa and to Heathrow London. To start off, we take a tour of the Operations Control Center of the airline which is responsible for the day to day functioning of the airline. Following this interesting introduction, we join the cabin crew as they are briefed for the first flight of the day onboard the A340-500 operated by HiFly, from Lagos to Heathrow. After a thorough walk around inspection of the aircraft, we join the flight crew in the cockpit as they prepare the aircraft for its journey. During our first flight to Heathrow there were many highlights. Personally, I enjoyed the discussion with the Captain on the major differences between the A340-500 and the 300 series and what makes the A340-500 one of the best A340s ever built. I was also impressed with the use of the Ipad in the cockpit which has significantly simplified the task of reviewing charts and operation manuals. There was very impressive display of the Ipad and its capabilities that I think you have to see it to believe! After our arrival in Heathrow, we switch aircraft for our return flight onboard the 737-800 to Abuja. Apart from the cockpit preparations, this was pretty much a routine flight with no significant highlights worth mentioning. The following day we join the crew of the Dash 8 Q400 to flights from Lagos to Asaba and Abuja. These flights were very interesting and apart from scenic views from the cockpit, you may also enjoy the cockpit overview and external walk around of this marvelous aircraft. Destinations also featured in this DVD are Benin City and Accra which we journey to onboard the 737-700 and 800 series. Two of the highlights that I enjoyed the most were the discussions with the Captain on the history and accomplishments of the airline that really shed some light on how significantly different this airline really is in comparison to the stereotype of other airlines from Africa. The final highlight had nothing to do with the airline or destination itself, but it was the new and very interesting camera views introduced on this DVD. During the final two flights in the 737, you will notice a blended camera view on landing where you are able to see both the throttle and a view of the runway blended together. Just Planes continues to be creative in their production of these DVD and I hope we see more innovation in their editing. Overall this is a DVD that is worth its price and I won't hesitate to recommend it anyone. 9/10 Addition Information: http://www.worldairr...s.com/Arik.html Summary / Closing Remarks Once again, these DVDs were an absolute pleasure to watch and I think anyone who loves aviation will enjoy them. At a cost of $25-30 each they are a bargain. These are perfect for days when you what to see or do something aviation related but also want to enjoy the comforts of home. Just Planes has really stepped up their editing and production of their DVDs and I am sure we will continue to see more innovations in their future products. What I Like About This DVD " Breathtaking scenery " Creative editing and camera views " Features very unique destinations and aircrafts " DVD and Blu-Ray option " Reasonably prices " HD format What I Don't Like About This DVD " Nothing
  8. Have you ever wanted to ask "What's that airport over there..." or "Where's the runway I'm trying to land at..." ? Well now you can, with the updated Voice Command Pack for FSFlyingSchool Pro. Just ask your instructor and he or she will tell you what you need to know. Saying (for example) "Airport 2 o'clock?" into your microphone will have the instructor reporting the nearest airport at that bearing. The instructor will identify the airport, its distance, runway elevation, length and surface type. This is an handy, easy way to become familiar with your surroundings! �"Where's the airport?" will have the instructor identify the flight plan destination airport and its bearing in the "clock" format, e.g. "10 o'clock", and the distance to the airport. This can be very handy when, for example, you are trying to find a grass strip with no lights even during the day, and equally when looking for a larger busy airport which is far away or just hard to see. The Voice Command Pack contains dozens more helpful commands that your instructor is eager to help with. Just ask and you'll get help on traffic proximity, weather, V speeds, ILS, flight plan details and much more. To find out more, watch movies, download a free demo, etc, just hop over to the FSFlyingSchool Website
  9. The 777 Captain (777-200) Service Pack 0.6 is available and includes SP 0.201, SP 0.3 , SP 0.4, SP 0.5 plus all new features and enhancements.
  10. Robert W

    Just Trains' Bristol & Avonmouth

    The Download and Boxed editions of this new route expansion for RailWorks 3 are now available. The Bristol & Avonmouth route is around 45 miles in length and includes the city centre, the scenic Severn Beach line with its four-mile tunnel under the River Severn and the Avon gorge spanned by Brunel's famous Clifton suspension bridge. We’ve even re-opened the route through the Portishead and Pill stations! A popular tourist destination, a major sea port and a thriving industrial and commercial centre – the many different sides of the city of Bristol provide RailWorks 3 drivers with an enthralling combination of railway activities. Drive passenger services between 21 stations in the city and beyond, take charge of shunting and freight operations in the docks, coal yards, sidings and industrial areas, and drive the historic Bristol Harbour Railway.
  11. Robert W

    Just Flight Recruiting

    Just Flight is looking to recruit skilled gauge programmers to join their busy development team. If you are an experienced gauge coder or have C++ skills and have a desire to make flight simulation your full time occupation, then send an email with your resume/details to richard@justflight.com and speak to them about this opportunity.
  12. Reviewed By: Contributing Reviewer - Ray Marshall Format: Download (278MB) Simulation: FSX This is my first Avsim review of a strictly military high performance add-on. Wouldn’t you know it would be one at the top of the heap and the envy of most hot shot military and simulator pilots? The F-15E Strike Eagle has an exemplary survival rate of ‘zero losses’ in air-to-air combat and very low losses by any means. This is not your ordinary fast mover, it is something truly extraordinary and very special and it certainly is nothing like your Grandmother’s Cessna. Air to ground, Air to Air, Mach 2.5+, 9 G’s, All weather, 2-place, big weapons load, conformal fuel tanks, ejection seats, 50,000 Ft/Min climb rate. Whoa. With its huge twin tail, the F-15 Eagle is probably the most recognizable military jet fighter in the skies today, and is undoubtedly the most successful jet fighter of all time, having never been shot down in aerial combat. Flown not only by the US Air Force, but by the air forces of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. With 25 years of service the F-15 is still the world's leading operational air superiority fighter and interceptor. Military Visualizations (Milviz) states that we can load it up with weapons – smart bombs, dumb bombs, big missiles, little missiles, etc – shoot down anything in the sky and bomb anything on the ground. This breaks totally new ground for FSX with active, working Radar – both airborne and ground targets - and full use of missiles and bombs. All impossible for an FSX add-on as we have been told for years. They further state that you can takeoff and fly around with your hair on fire without shooting anybody or anything, just having a good time exceeding the speed of sound in an exemplary FSX add on with systems depth up the wazoo. This should make a great diversion for those simulator pilots that occasionally get bored flying those 8 hour cross-ocean flights in their airliners or would like to take the weekend off from fly fishing in Alaska in their amphibian. This offering doesn’t just push the envelope with new and exciting features, it rips it open by adding elements that were never intended for a mild mannered civilian flight simulator. FSX is now a full blown multiplayer combat flight simulation if that is what you choose to do. They may have over done it a bit as they modeled the F-15E as close to the real one as possible, a few warts and all. All those real ones flying out there have still have a few quirky McDonnell design decisions that should have been updated long ago, but weren’t. The quick start has 5 steps, Load weapons, open cover, flip Nuclear Consent switch, wait for engines to spool up, Fly. In contrast, my favorite airliner tutorial is on Page 81 when it gets to engine start. Duh. This is obviously the most complex or one of the most complex simulations ever conceived so any deficiencies will most likely be the operator and not the machine. My goal as an experienced Cessna Pilot is to perform a startup, systems check and configuration, taxi, takeoff, climb to altitude, acquire an airborne target, take it out, find a ground target, take it out, find a tanker, refuel, evade a squadron of bad guys looking for a lone renegade Strike Eagle, return to base to find it near minimums and low on gas and make an ILS landing. Of course, I plan to break the sound barrier and test my g-suit a few times in the process. That ought to do it. I should mention up front this simulation has full working Multi-player capabilities but I think that should be a follow-on review. I am going to be busy enough just flying this thing that I don't want to worry about being shot down by a fellow sim pilot. Can you imagine landing gear-up after all that? Now, where is that checklist? My approach to reviewing this Milviz simulation of the F-15E Strike Eagle is to have you first look at some of the capabilities of the real world version. Then we can evaluate together how well the design team succeeded with the simulated edition. The next several pages were written by then Capt. Randy ‘Hacker’ Haskin for a magazine article several years ago; afterwards ‘Hacker’ was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Strike Eagle Driver. He is now, Lt. Col. Randy Haskin, a T-38 instructor at Vance AFB. Thanks to Scott Germain at WarbirdAeroPress.com and Hacker for permission to use the full article here. Editor’s Note: If you don’t want to read about the real F-15, jump down to “Back to the Review” Big Bird From the moment you walk up to the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagle, you know that this is an airplane that means business. At 64 feet long and 42 feet wide, this twin-engine, twin-tailed, twin-cockpit fighter is about the same general size as the North American B-25 bomber of WWII! Even compared to other contemporary fighters, the Strike Eagle is large.The F-15E is the multirole brother of the F-15C, which is a purely air-to-air fighter. The job of the F-15E is to haul iron into enemy territory and place it very precisely on his front door. The Strike Eagle is uniquely endowed to carry out these duties, and is currently the only airframe in the world to carry and drop the AGM-130 (a 2,000-pound rocket-powered standoff bomb) and the 4,700-pound GBU-28 bunker buster bomb. The Strike Eagle is visually distinguishable from the C-model by its dark gunship-gray paint scheme, conformal fuel tanks which bulge out under the wing roots, 12 bomb racks that pepper the bottom of the airplane, and LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods that hang under the engine intakes. In addition, since the F-15E is flown by a Weapon Systems Officer along with a fighter pilot, they all have 2-place cockpits. F-15Es have been built at Boeing’s St Louis, Missouri, plant since 1987 (when it was run by McDonnell Douglas) and are still being produced in very low volume today. There are currently 230 F-15Es in the US Air Force inventory. As you stand behind the F-15E, you notice that the fuselage is wrapped around two Pratt and Whitney F-100-PW-220 engines, which produce 24,000 pounds of thrust each. The view from the front of the jet is dominated by the large nose, where the million-dollar antenna for the AN/APG-70 radar makes its home, and a huge bubble canopy covering the 2-seat cockpit. Flanking the cockpit area are two giant variable-geometry air intakes for the jet engines.Note: All recent versions now use F-100_PW-229 engines, which produce 29,000 pounds of thrust each, has an 11 stage afterburner, and several other improvements. (RayM) Front Office Entering the cockpit of the F-15E is accomplished either via a crew ladder hooked over the left-side canopy rail between the front and back cockpits, or an integrated (and considerably more austere) boarding ladder that drops down from the side of the fuselage at the same place. It’s a tall climb - about 9 feet - to the top of the ladder and over the canopy rail. At the top of the ladder, you enter the front cockpit by stepping left on to the ACES II ejection seat, then sitting down. Instantly you’re stuck by the fact that the Strike Eagle is a war machine through and through. In any civilian aircraft, the panel is generally organized around the instruments required for IFR flight. In the F-15E, the instrument panel is dominated by three large Multipurpose Displays (MPDs) arranged in a Y-shape, an Up-Front Controller (UFC) placed in between the top two MPDs, and a single-plate Heads Up Display (HUD) perched on top of the glare shield. There are two 6" green monochrome MPDs (on the left and right sides) and one 5" color MPD in the center. A collar around the outside of the screen holds 20 pushbuttons where the pilot can select from any of nearly 30 screens to be displayed, making the cockpit customized for each pilot for each different mission. The UFC is a large keypad with 6 LCD text lines for digital data display and entry. This serves as the avionics control head and where all data is manually input into the navigation system and central computer. Below the glass cockpit displays are two rows of 2" standby gauges on the left, and an LCD engine monitor display and analog fuel gauge on the right lower panel. A panel centered between the foot wells in front of the stick houses a large air conditioning vent and a small circuit breaker panel (most of the CBs are in the rear cockpit). The cockpit side panels are wide by any standards, and contain literally dozens of switches and knobs to control anything from exterior and interior lighting to power for the radar and Fighter Datalink systems. These side panels are also nice when it comes to needing a place to set down approach plates, checklists, water bottles, Night Vision Goggles, or anything else. The flight control configuration is standard, with the control stick anchored to the floor between the pilot’s knees and a large two-throttle quadrant on the left side panel. Compared to almost any other aircraft, the F-15E’s control stick grip is large and seems awkward. The reason for this is a design feature called "HOTAS", meaning Hands On Throttle And Stick. The HOTAS philosophy is that vital avionics functions (like operation of the radar or weapons selection) can be accomplished during flight without requiring the pilot’s hands to leave the stick and throttles or his eyes to look away from whatever he’s fighting. As such, the stick and throttles are covered with 14 different switches and buttons. Strapping into the Strike Eagle is a complicated process - certainly more involved than your average civilian or commercial aircraft. I first connect my G-suit to the pneumatic hose on the left cockpit side rail, then connect the two survival kit buckles located on either side of the seat to the bottom of my parachute harness. The seat offers a 4-point restraint; a standard lap belt originating from near the survival kit straps goes across my lap and two short shoulder straps buckle to clips on the top of my parachute harness. Unlike older ejection seats, the parachute is built in to the ACES II seat, so the shoulder straps are actually the parachute risers. Finally, I connect my Gentex HGU-55/P helmet and MBU-20/P mask to the ship’s oxygen supply and hook up the communications cord via two leads on the right side panel. Adjusting seat height is accomplished via an electrical switch on the left cockpit wall and the rudder pedals can be adjusted forward and aft with a knob below the instrument panel. Once strapped in, the pre-start checklist is a simple clockwise flow around the cockpit. Without power on, there’s not much to set in a glass cockpit, except standard items like making sure the gear handle is down, circuit breakers are in, and engine fuel pumps are on. PREFLIGHT OPERATIONS Starting engines in the Eagle is far more simple than in other turbojet aircraft. First I crank up the Jet Fuel Starter (JFS), a small jet engine which connects to the engines through a gearbox and turns them for starting while providing limited electrical power. The checklist calls for the #2 (right) engine to be started first so that a hydraulic pump operated by the right engine can be checked. I engage the JFS connection to the engines by a finger lift on the front of the right throttle. As the JFS spins the engine through 20% RPM, I push the throttle forward out of cutoff and into idle. The digital electronic engine control takes over from there - I simply monitor the RPM and FTIT during the process to ensure there is not a hot start or other malfunction. As the engine spins up past 56% the right generator comes on line and the right engine intake ramp, which has been locked in the full-up position, slams to the full down position (this scares a lot of first-time passengers in the back seat!). After testing the fire detection loops for continuity and a few other checks, the same process is repeated on engine #1. With both engines at ground idle and all three hydraulic systems are showing the proper pressure, I close the bubble canopy with a lever on the left side of the cockpit. The canopy is hydraulically lowered and slid forward about two inches to lock closed. Once the canopy lever is pushed all the way forward, engine bleed air is diverted to the canopy seal and the cockpit begins to pressurize. Pretaxi ground operations following engine start include 3 separate flight control checks, 3 radar and avionics self-tests, plus all the normal ground checks of flaps, lights, and the like. The crew chief wears a headset that connects to the cockpit intercom, so we’re able communicate without hand signals for flight control, engine nozzle, wheel brake, and other ground checks. While I’m checking out and warming up the basic aircraft systems, the WSO is busy in the back seat reading the Data Transfer Module (DTM) and the Mission Cartridge. Both the DTM and MC allow us to program our route of flight, radio frequencies, avionics setups, and other mission variables from a missionized computer system on the ground. Once we get into the airplane, the WSO simply reads the information into the airplane’s Central Computer, saving a considerable amount of time compared to "hand-jamming" the information via the UFC. Start-to-taxi time is generally about 10 minutes, including programming of all the avionics systems for the day’s mission. Taxiing the F-15E is accomplished via a hydraulically actuated nose wheel and the rudder pedals. A switch on the control stick toggles between the high-gain and low-gain steering. The unique thing is that you sit very high and the cockpit is forward of the nose gear, so the perspective is different than any other aircraft I’ve been in. We generally taxi out for takeoff with over 20,000 pounds of fuel, giving us about a 65,000-pound curb weight - quite heavy for a fighter aircraft. Pre-takeoff checks include a final check of the flight controls, turning the radar, INS navigational system, and pitot heat on, and arming the ejection seat. The WSO will also confirm over the intercom that his seat is "hot" and that the ejection seat sequencer is positioned in "Aft Initiate," meaning that regardless of who pulls the ejection seat handle (front or back seat), both of us will be ejected from the airplane. Once I taxi the Strike Eagle into position on the runway for takeoff, I hold the brakes and run the engines up to 80%. I then perform what is called an "8-6-4-2-4" check, meaning I’m looking for the engines to be at 80% RPM, 600° FTIT, 4,000 GPH on the fuel flow, 20% open nozzles, and 40 psi oil pressure. Once the engines check within limits, I release brakes and push the throttles up over the detent into MAX afterburner. The 5 stages of burner take a few seconds to light off, with a good burner light indicated in the cockpit by the nozzles opening on the Engine Monitor Display. TAKEOFF Take Off and Landing Data for an 8,000-foot runway generally shows a 2,500-foot takeoff roll and a maximum abort speed (refusal speed) of around 120 KCAS. Single Engine Takeoff Speed for a 65,000-pound Strike Eagle with no external stores is generally near 197 KCAS. With the burners lit, acceleration happens fast and I’m generally above 100 KCAS in the first 1,200 feet of runway. At my rotation speed of 135 knots, I pull the stick back halfway and rotate to approximately 10° nose high. A few seconds later, the jet is airborne at around 165 KCAS. As soon as I show two positive rates of climb, I retract the gear via the handle located on the lower left side of the instrument panel. Flaps are retracted simultaneously with the gear with a small switch on the left side of the throttle quadrant. The F-15 has two flap positions - up and down - and takeoffs are always accomplished with flaps down. Actual VLE on a "clean" F-15E is 300 KCAS, but with the LANTIRN pods hanging under the jet, the disturbed airflow buffets the gear doors and reduces VLE to 250 KCAS. Under normal takeoff acceleration the red light in the gear handle extinguishes (indicating the gear are up and the doors locked) around 230 KCAS. With the nose still 5-10° high, we continue to accelerate in afterburner until 300 KCAS. On the 11,000-foot runway I fly from here in North Carolina, I’m pulling the throttles out of afterburner at about 1000’ over the departure end overrun most of the time.Tech order climb-out occurs at 350 KCAS for an air-to-air configured jet and 330 KCAS on one with air-to-ground ordnance. You’ll note that this is significantly higher than the 14 CFR speed restriction of 250 knots below 10,000 feet. The F-15E, like most fighter aircraft, falls under the Letter of Agreement between the DoD and FAA allowing some military aircraft a waiver to that speed limit. The LOA also allows the Eagle to fly nonstandard cruise, penetration, and approach speeds, but more on that later. FLIGHT PERFORMANCE A "clean" F-15E cruises comfortably at anywhere between .75 and .9 Mach, depending on fuel weight. This translates to speeds in the 350 to 450 KCAS range in the mid 20s - where we usually like to cruise. Top speeds are technically in the Mach 2+ category, although those speeds are not realistically possible when carrying ordnance loads on a typical mission. Standard cruise altitudes are in the mid-20s, with a regulation-mandated operational ceiling of FL500 (meaning that, if we were able to wear pressure suits, the F-15E is able fly higher than that). We prefer to fly in the 20s and 30s because the air is thicker, meaning better engine performance, better turn performance, and more available G. Control inputs given to the F-15E result in what most GA or commercial pilots would consider rapid and crisp maneuvering. The F-15E is larger, heavier, and has more parasitic drag than other fighters like the F-16 and F-18, so compared to those airplanes the Strike Eagle isn’t so nimble. The Strike Eagle uses a pseudo fly-by-wire system, and the flight control computer decides where to place the ailerons, rudders, and differential stabilators differently depending on airspeed, G, altitude, and angle of attack. With all those surfaces digging into the air, even a 65,000-pound behemoth like the Strike Eagle moves nimbly as a cat and with minimal stick force. Both basic and advanced aerobatics are easy to fly in the Eagle. A loop can be accomplished in 5,000-6,000 feet, with an entry of 500 KCAS and an "over the top" airspeed of 250, depending on how much G was used in the pull-up. A loop can be accomplished with as little as 250 knots as long as you’re not ham-fisted and you don’t mind the airspeed getting below 50 knots over the top. A 4 or 8-point hesitation roll is equally as easy, as the jet stops rolling almost immediately after the stick is neutralized. To add extra crispness, a quick inch of stick movement in the opposite direction after neutralizing the stick makes the roll rate halt with a pop. Negative G inverted flight is limited due to the fuel and engine oil systems, but this is never an operational limitation since most fighter maneuvering takes place under heavy positive G in the vertical axis. Maneuvers requiring only a short amount of inverted time, like a square loop or a Cuban Eight, are easily accomplished within the duration of the limitation. One of the most enjoyable aspects of flying the Strike Eagle through these maneuvers is that it really appeals to a pilot’s sensory inputs. The "seat of the pants" feeling is very definite, and the sounds the jet makes when it is maneuvering are just incredible! When I haul the stick into my lap in a hard turn or climb, the wind rushing over the wing at high AOA creates a giant WOOOOSH sound and I can feel the entire airframe humming and buzzing. These attributes are important for a combat aircraft, because of the need to be able to fly by feel while looking outside the cockpit during a dogfight engagement. Eagle drivers talk about the airframe buffeting in terms of different types of animals "dancing" on your wings. If it feels like there are mice dancing on the wings, that is light buffet. If it feels like elephants dancing on the wings, that is severe buffet. Somewhere in the middle is the optimum turn rate. Fighter aircraft are frequently yardsticked against how much G they can pull and how long they can sustain it. In an air-to-air visual maneuvering engagement (dogfighting), the airplane that can turn tighter than the other one will generally have an advantage. The F-15E is definitely not one of the best dogfighting jets in the world today - the airplane is designed to fight beyond visual range with radar-guided missiles and tote around a lot of bombs. Our best "maneuvering" airspeed is anywhere in between 350 KCAS and 450 KCAS. This gives us enough airspeed to reach our maximum G of +9.0 and give us a turn radius of around 2/3 of a nautical mile. When matched up with other multirole fighters like the F-16 and F-18, the F-15E has a distinct advantage in engagements taking place at ranges outside 10 miles. Once the furball starts at close range, the scales tip in the other direction because the Hornet and Viper can noticeably out-turn the littered-with-parasite-drag Strike Eagle. INSTRUMENT FLYING The glass cockpit is at once the Strike Eagle’s best asset for instrument flying, as well as it’s biggest drawback. The digital displays, in combination with the HUD, give the pilot positional and flight attitude awareness that is unmatched in most civil aircraft and is equal to newer systems in commercial airliners. Unfortunately, someone used to flying off round dials will find little comfort in those digital displays. When I was first learning to fly the Eagle, I spent many instrument approaches staring at the digital instrumentation in what must have looked like the RCA dog watching television - it made no sense to me whatsoever. Fortunately, once you get used to it, the glass cockpit is really nice! The main navigational instrument in the F-15E is our EGI system, meaning Embedded GPS/INS. The EGI system is a combination of a Y-coded (military accuracy and anti-jamming coding) GPS signal that gives constant updates to a ring-laser gyroscopic Inertial Navigation System. If all that sounds too technical, what it means is that the F-15E knows where it is, anywhere in the world, without any reliance on ground-based radio navigational aids - pretty handy when you’re flying over a hostile country where, chances are, they won’t keep their VORTACs on for you. Unfortunately, though, the GPS in the airplane doesn’t give us enough information to fly a GPS instrument approach. The only other radio NAVAIDS we can use in the F-15E are TACANs and standard localizers and glideslopes. NAVAID information is processed through the central computer and the EGI, then sent to the cockpit. The "raw data" for TACANs and Localizers is displayed on a digital HSI, while the glideslope data is displayed on the digital ADI. The Heads-Up Display (HUD) is a wonderful tool for flying instruments. In some avionics modes it combines basic flying parameters with HSI-like instrument steering information all in one spot. What’s unique about the instrument cues in the HUD are that they are steering bars, rather than the raw instrument data displayed on the HSI and ADI. Simply centering up the localizer and glideslope steering bars on the computer-generated velocity vector will fly the airplane to a perfect instrument final. Unfortunately, the HUD is not certified for use as a primary reference during IFR flight, so we must back up what we’re doing using the "raw" navigational data on the MPDs. Another great feature that the HUD adds to a pilot’s ability to fly approaches is that velocity vector I just mentioned. The VV, computed by the jet’s INS, is a small circle displayed in the HUD that points to the precise point in space where your aircraft is flying. This allows you to visually correct for crosswinds if you can see the ground or to establish a precise glide path on an approach using the pitch ladder. Additional positional awareness is provided by a color moving map display which shows any number of map scales all the way down to a 1:50,000. APPROACH AND LANDING Instrument holding airspeed is a 250 KCAS, and we can hold off a TACAN fix or a notional INS waypoint. Penetration airspeed is 300 KCAS and, depending on the descent gradient, is accomplished with nearly idle power and 10° nose low. Approaching the Final Approach Fix, we again reduce airspeed below the landing gear white arc (even though there are no round dials where a white arc is marked, you get the idea) and simultaneously drop the gear and flaps.Once configured with the gear and flaps down, the Eagle is a little more sluggish to control inputs, but still vastly superior in maneuverability to your average Cessna 172 or 182. Approach and landing is flown referencing an angle of attack, rather than a particular airspeed. In an airplane that can vary as much as 40,000 pounds in landing weights, approach and landing speeds can be anything from 155 KCAS all the way up to the 190s. The "perfect" speed for approach and final correlates to 20-22 "cockpit units" of AOA. You can compute a "backup" airspeed for final approach by starting with 155 KCAS and adding two knots for every thousand pounds of fuel or ordnance on board the jet. Flying a straight-in final with or without instruments is very simple. All you have to do is place the velocity vector in the HUD over the top of the runway threshold and maintain approach airspeed to fly down final. If you make sure that, when the velocity vector is on the end of the runway, it is sitting 3 degrees low in the HUD pitch ladder, you’ve just given yourself a 3° glide path all the way down to the runway! Of course, the preferred way to arrive at an airport in the F-15 is not via the Localizer straight-in (for wimps!), but via the overhead break (Man style!). Generally initial is flown at 1,500’ and 300 KCAS. Once over the approach end runway numbers, I roll into 80° of bank and perform a 3-4G level turn while pulling the throttles back to idle. Once I’ve rolled out on downwind, I’m below 250 KCAS, so I drop the gear and flaps and continue to decelerate for the final turn. Prior to the perch point, I confirm my landing configuration by saying, "4 green, good pressures, brakes off, antiskid on, lights on" (translation: gear and flaps down, all three hydraulic systems are showing good pressure, the holding brake is off, the antiskid braking switch is activated, and my landing light is on). The "perch point" is where most pilots would turn base in a normal box pattern. In the Eagle, though, instead of a squared-off base and final leg, I fly a constant-rate descending turn to final. To do this I dip the nose 8-10° low, roll into 60° of bank, and maintain about 190 KCAS. Something that might make the hair stand up on the back of your average civilian pilot’s neck while flying the final turn is how much the airplane buffets. This is normal, and is just another one of those great sensory cues that the pilot can use to evaluate his speed and bank in the turn. If there are "mice dancing on the wings," you’re okay. If the elephants have come out to play on your wings, you’re about to stall in the final turn - bad news. If I’ve judged my pattern spacing and pattern winds correctly, the descending 180° turn should spit me out on a 1 NM final at 300 feet AGL and my computed final approach airspeed. From there, the approach and landing picture is the same as described above for a straight-in…you just looked a lot cooler getting to that point. Once the airplane is over the runway over-run, you shift the velocity vector to the departure end of the runway and softly flare. The landing picture in the F-15 is very different than any other aircraft I’ve ever flown due to the nose-high attitude in the flare and the length of the landing gear. In fact, in the landing attitude, the cockpit is almost 30 feet off the ground! With the main gear tires on the pavement, the preferred method of slowing the Eagle down is the aero brake. This is where we both save wear and tear on the wheel brakes and take advantage of the Eagle’s huge wing area to slow down. To aero brake, simply hold the nose 10°-12° high until 90 knots, increasing aft stick until it is all the way back to the seat pan. Once at 90 knots, briefly neutralize the aft stick to get the nose lowering, then haul it back to soften the impact on the nose strut. With the nose gear on the ground, you can honk on the toe brakes as hard as you want and watch the antiskid braking work wonders. After exiting the active runway, I safe up my ejection seat, turn the radar to standby, and turn off other power-hungry avionics like the LANTIRN pods. Once I leave the active runway, the flight’s not over. There are still post flight tests of avionics to be accomplished, an update to the inertial navigation system to be accomplished, and finally I will download the flight data to the same Data Transfer Module that I brought to the jet. The DTM download accomplishes two things; one, the airplane assesses it’s own maintenance issues and puts that information on the DTM, and two, the central computer has kept track of the parameters of every gun and missile shot that I’ve taken, as well as every bomb I’ve dropped. After the flight, maintenance doesn’t have to fuss with talking with pilots to assess the maintenance condition of the airplane - they just read the DTM codes. As for the weapons parameters, they are infinitely valuable for use in post flight debriefings of the day’s missions. Back to the review Whoa. Sounds like Milviz has their work cut out for them. Let’s start with a few comparisons between the real world Strike Eagle and our FSX version. USAF F-15E Strike Eagle Milviz F-15E Strike Eagle for FSX In Production since 1986 2008 (released in December 2011) Unit Cost $108 Million dollars (2007) $32 Million (1998) $40 dollars Max Weight 81,000 Pounds 278 MB download Minimum flight gear Flight suit, G-suit, Parachute harness, Survival vest Underwear & tee shirt; socks optional Max Speed Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph) Same Service Ceiling FL600 (60,000 ft) Same Rate of Climb 50,000 Ft/min Same Power plant 2X P&W F100-229 - 29,000 lbs thrust each Same Weapons Most everything in the USAF inventory Same (see lists) The original F-15 Eagle was designed to handle only air-to-air targets (other planes). It wasn't built to bomb targets on the ground, but when the Air Force needed a fighter bomber to replace the aging F-111 until the new stealth F-117 was ready, they decided to modify the F-15 for air-to-ground missions. The result was the F-15 Strike Eagle, designated F-15E. The Strike Eagle is not a replacement for the original F-15, but a supplementary bomber plane. Surprisingly, the Air Force's temporary solution turned out to be one of the best fighter bombers ever made. In Operation Desert Storm, the Strike Eagle proved it could successfully fight its way past enemy planes, hit several ground targets, and then fight its way out of enemy territory. HOTAS - Hands On Throttle And Stick. One of the key design elements of the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagle. HOTAS - expressly designed for the F-15 Eagle. In 1968, during the Viet Nam conflict, it took 12 switch actuations and an average of 5.2 seconds for an F-4 Phantom pilot to fire a Sparrow missile. This chaotic cockpit ergonomics was the primary factor responsible for the poor USAF kill ratios. The F-15 cockpit was thus designed with maximum armament delivery capability in mind and specifically to allow the pilot to look, detect, acquire and fire at an approaching target without ever having to take his hands off the throttle and stick. The Hands On Throttle And Stick – HOTAS – was born. Later improvements updated a new throttle design and added more buttons - 14 now and counting. HOTAS is comprised a collection of switches and buttons that controlled the Eagle’s radar, weapons systems and self-defense countermeasures dispensers. While involved, the various switch actuations needed to lock up the enemy target and fire the most appropriate weapon soon became second nature, as in learning to play the piano, knowing through practice just which switch was under each finger. However, in the heat of battle, many of the manipulations were required to be accomplished in such a rapid fire manner that the flurry of finger motions was sometimes known as ‘playing the piccolo’. A good piccolo player made for a deadly Eagle Driver. With the HOTAS system, every switch and button on the controls has a different shape and texture. This way, the pilot can control all the major aspects of the plane without ever looking down into the cockpit. The photos shown here are the Mad Catz/Saitek Pro Flight x52 PRO control system, a mid level FSX compatible HOTAS that appears to be custom built just for such an add-on with one minor exception – it only has one throttle control. Dual throttles are found on the top of the line Saitek x65F, Combat Control System. 2 Man Crew for the Strike Eagle There are lots of Eagles in the air but only the F-15E Strike Eagle has a back seat position – the WSO, Weapons Systems Officer- usually called the Wizzo. The WSO can actually fly the Strike Eagle from his/her rear position. F-15E Strike Eagle is equipped with an array of new avionics and electronics systems for ground attack deployment. It has to have the capability to fight its way to the target over long ranges, destroy enemy ground positions, and fight its way back to base day at low altitude, day or night, and in bad weather. The WSO’s task and workload depends on the type and phase of flight operation. Air-to-air radar is usually a pilot's job, except when flying at low altitude. Air-to-ground mode of the radar is almost exclusively operated by the WSO. WSOs also work the Link 16 Fighter Data Link (FDL). The WSO is equipped with four multi-function displays (MFD) - CRT monitors surrounded by buttons. This position has a full set of flight controls, but this is only a back-up provision -- normally, the WSO doesn't help fly the plane. Both the pilot and the WSO sit in high-tech ACES II ejection seats, which launch them clear of the plane in an emergency. All WSOs are trained as navigators but get some OJT stick time. Having dual flight controls makes it nice if the pilot needs a short break on the way back to base. All of this expensive equipment serves one basic purpose: It is designed to deliver various missiles, bombs and bullets, known in military circles as ordnance, to enemy targets. Now let’s look at what the F-15E is actually packing when it goes to war.The F-15 Eagle is loaded up with weaponry that can take out almost every aircraft in existence. It sports eight air-to-air missiles of different designs. It can carry various combinations of AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs), AIM-9L/M Sidewinder missiles, or AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles (currently being phased out of the inventory) The AMRAAM and Sparrow missiles are both radar-guided. The AMRAAM has its own radar unit and flight control system. Before firing the missile, the flight computer transmits radar information specifying the intended target, and the missile's radar unit locks on. After the missile launches, its one goal is to steer itself (by adjusting flight fins) toward that target.The Sparrow missile works on a similar principle, but it doesn't have its own radar transmitter. The pilot has to keep the plane's transmitter aimed at the target, to "paint" it for the missile. The sidewinder missile uses an infrared sensor to pick up on an enemy plane's hot engine exhaust. The flight controls simply steer the missile toward the hottest area in sight. The F-15E also has a built-in machine gun, an M-61 20-mm 6-barrel cannon, mounted inside the starboard (right) wing. The gun has an efficient Gatling gun design that can fire about 6,000 rounds per minute. It never gets the chance, however, because its magazine only holds a maximum of 510 rounds. It can empty its entire magazine in less than 10 seconds! The pilot selects a different targeting display on the HUD for each weapon. The machine gun display, for example, consists of a funnel shape. The pilot maneuvers the plane so that the target is in the center of the funnel and then opens fire. The F-15 Strike Eagle can carry just about any air-to-ground missile in the Air Force arsenal. It often carries guided munitions, such as the GBU-15 bomb. All in all, it can carry approximately 23,000 pounds (10,430 kg) of ordnance. It also has a number of high-tech defenses - radar warning receivers, which detect enemy radar from ground stations, planes or guided missiles, and an advanced radar jammer to confuse these radar units. They also have a chaff dispenser, a device that shoots out a cloud of metal strips. Enemy radar picks up the chaff and temporarily loses its lock on the F-15. The F-15E's combination of high maneuverability, sophisticated electronics and powerful weaponry have made it a hugely successful weapon in the United States arsenal (and a number of other countries' arsenals, as well). Weapon Loadouts One of the big items that the real world Strike Eagle Drivers & Crew Chiefs do on a daily basis is work on the daily Loadouts. This is something the hard core flight Simmers can attempt to replicate with their Milviz FSX version. www.f-15e.info/ has tons of very detailed information about operations of the Strike Eagle. One subject that is covered is various loadouts. Here is just one loadout that I selected to show the depth of data available. You can find a gold mine of info at this site. Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) started after the finish of the long Operations of Northern Watch (ONW) and Southern Watch (OSW). Under the umbrella of the war on terror, United States and its allies started a war to remove Saddam Hussein from power and put an end to his regime. OIF started on 19th March 2002 with F-15E Strike Eagles attacking key military command and control targets with AGM-130's. After the beginning of the ground offensive (called Shock and Awe) Close Air Support (CAS) missions were flown as well. CAS missions were often flown in a manner that Strike Eagles patrolled a pre-planned zone (called 'killbox') and supported the fight of ground troops in that zone. These kind of missions were called Killbox Interdiction ( KI), which - coupled with CAS - soon took the name of KI/ CAS, or 'kick-&amp;@(&#036;*' as aircrew simply called it. Another typical mission profile was SCAR (strike coordination attack and reconnaissance) during which Strike Eagles utilized their long range and advanced sensors to find and pinpoint targets for other types of jets, like F-14 Tomcats or F/A-18 Hornets. It was not only this Forward Air Controller (FAC) role, which was new to the Strike Eagle community, but they often used laser guided bombs (LGB's) to attack and strike moving targets. This required honed skills and great experience from WSO's. Hacker tells me the most frequent loadout in OIF was simply 9 GBU-12s. It was only after the fall of Baghdad in the 2nd or 3rd week of the war that they started limiting the GBU-12 use and loading up GBU-10s, MK-82s, etc. Not every single weapon in the USAF inventory is modeled but many are available for us to simulate real missions. Loadout #1 - Kick &amp;@(&#036;* A - for Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) This loadout contains 5 GBU-12's and 6 Mk-82's, which allow the jet to strike a multitude of targets. The usual A/A payload (that is 2 Sidewinders and 2 AMRAAM's on the wing launchers) is used. The Military visualizations (Milviz) FSX Flight Simulator edition. The F-15E Strike Eagle model depicted in this package is a highly detailed replica of its real-life counterpart. The model was created by using high quality digital photos and many, many countless hours of testing, revising and testing again! This is, bar none, as close as most of us will ever get to the real thing! The aircraft has a max range of 2100 nautical miles and a top speed of Mach 2.4 so you can travel far and fast with ease. Other outstanding features of this aircraft are: -Realistic startup and shutdowns -Quick start (two clicks, wait for spool up and you're off) -Realistic weapons, radar and targeting procedures -Realistic weapons release and hits with destruction of targets and all that entails -Realistic systems and avionics -High quality VC using normal and specular maps -High quality external model using normal and specular maps -9 HD different liveries created by Gunnar Meeren -High resolution paint kit -Highly detailed Pilots Operating Handbook: includes all performance charts and figures. If you choose to, you can fly by the numbers, or fly as casual as you wish! -High quality sound set recorded from a real F-15E. -Realistic night lighting, landing lights and custom effects. -Flight dynamics tested and tuned by a real pilots. The aircraft flies just like its real world counterpart! -Aircraft features an exterior model manager that enables you to load different weapons and fuel tanks. Weight distribution and fuel will be added or subtracted as you add or remove items. -Many different weapons including but not limited to, Aim-9's, Amraam's, CBU-87's, Mk 82's and GBU-12's -All weapons can be fired and or dropped -All weapons and tanks can be jettisoned -Weapons add weight to your plane -Ability to hide the stick in 3D VC enabling the pilot to access certain switches normally obscured from view by the yoke. -Multiplayer capable so you can fight and shoot each other down -Operating hook -AI pack with enhanced airbases! System Requirements This product requires FSX Acceleration. It is also designed for newer systems. Minimum requirements are 2.6 Core 2 Duo, 512mb Video Card and 1.2 Gigs of free disk space. Optimal requirements are much higher. Only people who can provide purchase information will get support. Please note you will be asked to provide proof. Please contact roadburner@milviz.com for information. This product has certain limitations. These are included in the manual. It is highly recommended that you read this before purchasing. This is a very impressive list of features. I suggest you read it one more time before proceeding. I have read it several times and each time something new seems to jump out at me, saying “Let’s try that the next time we are up flying”. Recommended Videos for the F-15e Strike Eagle A link is provided for product videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/milvizinc?feature=mhum (more like tutorials, no music, have your pencil and notepad ready) I like this video used by the USAF recruiters in their promotions. http://www.patricksaviation.com/videos/future%20f-22raptor%20pliot/3068/ (4 min) This is an entertaining news type video starring Jeremy Clarkson, a UK TV personality, from his 'Extreme Machines' TV series on a 90 min ‘personality flight’ in the WSO seat. It is a little long but interesting. (10 min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwTXPQfGCpQ&feature=related My favorite line is at 5:22, with Top Gun music playing in the background, Clarkson says “I’ve never even held the stick of a Cessna, and they’re going to turn me loose in an F-15. That is very worrying.” And at 8:48 “Oh, this is just absolutely, unbelievably, fantastic,” and then he barfs, again. (13 times in all) “The F-15E is one of the most realistic jet fighter bombers out there today and tomorrow and, if we do say so ourselves, breaks new barriers in looks, feel, systems and weapon! That's right! You can shoot down aircraft, bomb buildings and bridges and, if you are in MP with a buddy or two, you can try and shoot them down too. (or get shot down!!)” Milviz News My first F-15E flight The quick Start is super simple if you pay attention to the “wait for spool up” and “don’t do anything while waiting”, otherwise there is a good chance the left engine will not start as planned or something weird and unexplained will spoil your flight. Provided you let it do its thing, after about 30 seconds, you can taxi out like any other FSX twin engine plane, line up on the runway and apply full throttle. No right rudder needed today. The eleven stage afterburner will begin an acceleration that you will most likely not forget for a long time.Slight backpressure on the stick and ‘gear up’ as you leave the airport area. Looking at the HUD, the number with the most change is the altitude, 7,000, 9,000, 15,000, and 23,000 in less than a minute from brake release. Oh man, this is going to be fun. Maybe I better retard those throttles a bit to get out of afterburner. Look at that view. Ease the nose over to near level, now the airspeed is the moving number in the HUD – 350, 420, 470. Oh man, what a plane! A slight flick on the stick and I just did an aileron roll, not one roll but two rolls - that was easy, let’s do a roll and a Split-S. I could get used to this. A little background on the review. Ok, let’s back up a few steps. I was writing the Avsim review for the Mad Catz/Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Yoke and Pedals and looking for a FSX Cessna that looked most like the Saitek/Cessna yoke. Not finding an exact match, I extended my search to FSX Cessnas outside my hard drive. Lo and behold, the first Google return was the Milviz Cessna 310R and at first glance I knew I had found the match. About ten minutes after pressing Send for an email to Milviz asking for a media evaluation copy, I not only get a positive response back from Canada, but a question for me – Would I be interested in doing a review of their new F-15E Strike Eagle? Answer: Yes, but not right away. I have a few commitments to clear up and a lot of reading and research to complete. But, Yes, I would love to do it! There is no better way to learn about an add-on than by writing a review for it. My next incoming email is the pass code for the Flight1.com wrapper and a link for the 278 MB download. (Just in case I would like to get an early start). Kind of like “Would you mind keeping this extra cute little puppy over the weekend for me?” It turned out to be a good motivational ploy for me to complete two reviews and clean off my desk. Installation. As straight forward as it comes. Flight1.com wrapper. Win7. No problems. I checked the minimum system requirements and figure I’m in the low to middle of the standard off the shelf setups for FSX. < i7-870 quad core, 8 GB RAM, 2.5 TB HD, Nvidia 460 GTX/1 GB > Big problem. I need a HOTAS flight stick for this evaluation and review and I don’t have one. Hmmmm. I wonder what Mad Catz thought of my Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Yoke and Pedals review? They must have a HOTAS flight stick just waiting for show time with the most up-to-date advanced fighter in the FSX inventory. Two birds with one stone. Drat. Email returned, contact out of office for a few days. I’ll check back early next week. Keep my fingers crossed. Not to worry. Mad Catz was receptive to my request and provided not only their Pro Flight X52 PRO control system for my use but also included their top of the line, award winning Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals. Let’s hope that I’m worthy of such high tech goodies. Saitek Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals OK, we are all loaded in FSX and I bring up the selection box and wow, look at all that new stuff. Wait a minute, what are all these bombs and missiles doing in my FSX selection boxes? I have a few helicopters listed under the Military Visualizations but no Strike Eagle, ah, here they are under Milviz . What about all those pages of bombs and missiles that take up a box like an airplane normally does? A quick search of the Milviz F-15E forum reveals the answer. This is so the Multi-Players guys and gals can see their weapon inventory. It further states they will write a batch file to hide all these entries for the non MP players. Neat. Installation of the Pro Flight Control system and Combat Rudder Pedals. The Combat Rudder Pedals. The Saitek.com web site states the pedals were Inspired by pedal designs found in modern fighter aircraft, and are constructed from a highly robust Di-cast alloy, providing durability and authenticity for the most demanding of aspiring pilots. That would be me, the “aspiring” part. You can adjust the pedal angle to suit all styles of flying or for short or long legged flight crews. Of course, they have precise independent brakes to assist in moving these big guys around on the ground and the rudder axis is self centering. The big round knob in the center is the damping adjuster that allows the users to define just the right amount of pressure or tension needed to operate the rudder controls. Like all the Pro Flight Simulation items, the provided Smart Technology (ST) programming software allows us sim pilots and gamers to configure our controls to suit our individual style and then save the configuration as individual and personal profiles. Saitek Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals – a perfect match for Milviz F-15E One USB connection is all that is needed to install the Combat Rudder Pedals. A CD with drivers and a short manual is included. As a step in the installation, each pedal is checked for proper axis and movement. A turn of the big center knob will increase or decrease the tension and the pedals can be set at 3 different angles. I screwed my pedals down to a piece of MDF to fix them in place. I don’t want them sliding around in the heat of battle. A couple of strips of Velcro is included to assist in keeping them in place otherwise. The foot extensions are great when you want to fly with only your socks on. This is good for those long ferry flights across the ocean or when you are on station and ready to go but the call to attack never seems to come. The installation of the Saitek Pro flight Control system required some thought as to the exact placement of the throttle unit for my left hand and the flight stick for my right hand. They throttle unit connects to the computer system with one USB connection then connects to the flight stick with a fairly short PS2 male to male cable. I used an unused keyboard holder made of MDF, my favorite wood substitute, for both by cutting it in half and mounting each piece to my desk. This made a nice generous sized holder that I could place at the proper height and distance from my pilot chair. Each day my desk looks more like a cockpit and less like a computer desk. Of course, this is a good thing. I have a few more Saitek instruments to add in the future and my desk/cockpit will be approaching the ‘as good as it gets’ phase. For today, it is a perfect setup with the x52 PRO throttle unit securely fixed in the position near my left hand like the real world equivalent and the flight stick set for my right hand operation that is not exactly like the real world F-15E center stick, but realistic enough in the look, movement and HOTAS button operations. b>Milviz Documentation. Let’s checkout the Milviz documentation. Here are two pdfs in a Manuals folder under the Milviz F-15E folder. A small 12 page Quick Start Guide and a monster POH with 544 pages. Oh my, do all the Boeing birds come with these huge manuals? Nice Table of Contents. Let’s start at the back. Appendix B, Credits, Wow, the Development Team reads like a Who’s Who plus a whole lot of other new names to me. I see Bernt Stolle, so I know from experience it will fly well, Ken Stallings, Chuck Jodry, Bill Leaming, Gunnar Meeren, my friend from Bergen, Norway. Big team of heavyweights. I wonder about someone named KrazyColin in Canada though; rumor has it he is the Base Commander when his wife gives him permission. Now the disclaimer. I promise not to use any of this information to fly an actual F-15E or to use it for a multi-engine or type rating training with the FAA and I will not confuse this FSX add on with the real product from McDonnell-Douglas or Boeing or the USAF. Agreed. Limitations Now the part I was looking for - LIMITATIONS. OK, sounds like we have to click a few Yes boxes to get it going. There are evidently a few bugs in the weapons and radar system that are not fixed and are not going to be fixed. Hmmm, this manual is slightly out of date. The latest patch fixed those things that they just said that they weren’t going to fix. The Radar and Weapons are now working correctly. There are two pages with 20 listed items of importance to us – the end user. Looks like a good candidate for the printer with a sheet protector. I see I need to brush up on my abbreviations and acronyms. Something about dumb bombs flying off into space, and the GBU’s might also, so try the LGBs, but only if not in Auto and not descending. OK. The fuel system is a little ‘dorky’. That is their word, not mine. You got to slide the fuel slider back and forth at least once to ‘fill’ the tanks. If the system says switch tanks, then switch tanks. Got it. This may be easier than I thought. Number 19 states that if you can’t figure out how to use the radar and or fire the weapons, they have some video tutorials available and Number 20 says more effects and other good stuff is yet to come in a patch or two. Flipping the electronic pages backwards, I see there are a couple of hundred pages that I can permanently skip – All of Appendix A - Performance data for the engines and a gazillion curves and graphs that I can’t read anyway. Well, there are a few pages of text that may be useful to me. The resolution of the tiny, tiny numbers in most of the curves and graphs is somewhere between poor and really poor. Looks like they were copied from old microfiche then reduced.Now the front end of the Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) appears to be packed with tons of good information. I guess a complex, modern jet fighter takes a few pages to describe. The description is 162 pages of detail for each display or instrument and provides an overview of the systems. This section also looks like a good candidate for printing and adding to a handy binder. The shortest chapter is the 20 pages of Normal Procedures. This section has all the normal checklists and procedures. It appears to be ideal for those who will want to start with the ‘cold and dark’ and the ‘Good Morning, Crew Chief’. Add this section to the print list. These checklists will be a must have. Then comes the Emergency Procedures – about three times as long as the Normal Procedures. Oops, I was wrong. The Crew Duties section is two total Paragraphs – One to explain the pilot, Crewmember in Command, duties and the other for the duties of the Crewmember Not in Control of the aircraft. There is a section on Operating Limitations that we should probably read also. It looks like they want you to be doing less than 500 knots when doing rolls while loaded with weapons. Duh. What a revelation. I just read that the minimum crew for safe flight in the F-15e is ONE. I’m sure glad it’s not NONE. I guess it also says someplace not to eat matches or maybe no smoking while on oxygen. It uses JP-8 for go-juice for those like me that didn’t know that. I forgot to mention, the Strike Eagle is totally self sufficient. No external power or air conditioning stuff is needed. It has its own built-in Jet Fuel Starter (JFS). All it needs is some hydraulic pressure that it stores in an accumulator, electrical power provided by the JFS generator and some JP-8 fuel that is taps from the main tanks. It will spin up either engine but not both simultaneously. It can be used for in-flight restarts. Later on I found the proper sequence is to start the Right engine first due to the hydraulics system design. Milviz designed a super slick method of adjusting the individual throttles during startup to mimic the real world startup method. One well placed mouse click on the finger lift is all that is needed to move a throttle from cutoff to idle and start. There is a short section on Flight Characteristics that mostly says it is a bad idea to get the Weight and Balance out of kilter or to have an asymmetrical load problem. Negative G, inverted spins are also to be avoided. Caution – Avoid High Speed, Low Altitude maneuvers The final paragraph has to do with the Maverick Maneuver – ‘Due to the low-wing loading and high lift wing characteristics the aircraft is susceptible to gusts during low-altitude, high-speed flight. Buzzing the tower in mountainous desert terrain above 0.8 mach may induce abrupt vertical motions. None of these disturbances significantly alter the aircraft flight path.” It goes on to say, if you are still loaded with external stores, that is a good thing as it increases wing loading and reduces the effect of gusts on the aircraft. Just remember not to do a ground hugging barrel roll at that speed because you may accidently put a breakaway missile up the Admiral’s daughter’s dress, and that is a bad thing. The Military Visualizations Design Team During the more than four years in development several members have come and gone, but the stalwarts are Colin and Kat Pearson that managed to hold the team on track and finally pushed it out the door late last year. As with any long term, complex high tech project, it had many up and downs but as a whole the team did a tremendous job. This is arguably the most complex military fighter ever produced for any flight simulator and very possibly the most complex in any category. Some details Not every system is fully implemented due mostly to limitations of the desktop simulation or they are still classified by the Department of Defense or it just would not justify the amount of work for the return. I continue to be astounded at the level of detail some of the systems do exhibit. This one is the hardcore simmers dream or nightmare, depending on whether he or she has mastered the specific task at hand. I would venture a guess that if you flew only this one airplane in FSX every day, you could spends years learning the intimate details of the coding and implementation while enjoying every minute. I will only be scratching the surface of the capabilities and nuances. There’s an almost unlimited combination of sequences, methods, and results available with the multitude of weapons, countermeasures and self-protection systems, basic flight systems and maneuvers; air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance delivery and procedures and actions. After all this is the USAF’s premiere all-weather weapons delivery platform and has been for 20 years or more. What you get. Not only do you get this fabulous fighter/bomber in many glorious paints and colors, you also get a world full of AI military aircraft to chase, shoot at or just watch, detailed new scenery add-ons for all military bases that house the Strike Eagle, a whole series of exciting FSX missions specific to real world equivalents, and a USAF tanker that is always in the air and waiting to fill you up with JP-8 if you are good enough to ease up and make the necessary bond. Fortunately for us, this is a real fast loading tanker and we only have to maintain our connection for a few seconds. But, even that is no gimme. I spent a lot of time and got dangerously low on fuel many times trying to chase down and ease up behind the KC-135. I can’t imagine how difficult this is in a real world battle zone, at night in a thunderstorm with a whole squadron needing to fuel up either before or after a mission. One of the F-15E Strike Eagle books goes into great detail about this phase during the attacks on Iraq and to complicate things even more, the tankers were in full blackout – no lights anywhere. Most of the pilots agreed, this was much scarier than the SAMs, AA, or the French and Russian-built fighters defending Bagdad. Whoa. So how do you learn to fly the Milviz F-15E? First, there is not a written tutorial where you startup, taxi, takeoff, do some basic navigating, turn on the radar, shoot down and airliner or two near Portland and return to Seattle with an ILS landing. I really wish one of the honed-in Milviz forum regulars would write and publish a simple, yea right, flight tutorial for us Newbies. Probably not going to happen anytime soon. The Milviz decision to provide the gorilla sized POH with a bunch of overviews, checklists and graphs for those that choose to read the written word, and to provide links to a series of YouTube tutorial videos for those with that slant is what we find. I would like to see something in the middle but, the videos are necessary due to the complexity of the tasks and also the number of tasks. So if you are interested in air-to-air combat you will find a dedicated video, same for air-to-ground, but each goes into great detail of using the Radar and the UFC (Up Front Controls) which feed the MFDs (Multi Function Displays). Fortunately, these videos are sans music and not too long, although I have fallen asleep a few times while watching them late at night. Weapons Inventory Here is a complete list of the Air-to-Ground weapons that comes with the Milviz F-15E Strike Eagle and a short description. • AGM-65 -- Maverick laser or TV guided air-to-ground missile. About 500 pounds total weight, but varies between 462 to 670 pounds. • AGM-130 -- Air to surface missile. About 3,000 pound total weight, designed to be launched from inside 40nm range and guides to a pre-determined target.CBU-87 -- Cluster bomb unit. Once released in real life the canister opens up and spins out many small bomblets of various types. In our virtual version is works like a dumb bomb. • GBU-12 -- 500 pound laser guided bomb (LGB) • GBU-15 -- 2000 pound glide bomb – laser or optically TV guided • GBU-16 -- 1000 pound LGB • GBU-32 -- 1000 pound satellite guided bomb called a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)(Usually a Navy selection but works here) • GBU-38 -- 500 pound JDAM • GBU-27 -- 2000 pound LGB bunker buster (deep penetration and delayed fusing optimized to take out buried and hardened structures) – pierces through the hardened concrete and dirt and blows up deep inside • GBU-28 -- 5000 pound LGB and/or JDAM bunker buster (perhaps the ultimate bunker buster bomb in the world!) Current versions are dual capable of being dropped by satellite guidance or laser guidance. • Mk-82 -- 500 pound dumb bomb • Mk-84 -- 1000 pound dumb bomb (usually reserved for the Navy but still works and makes a big hole in the ground) The Air-to-Air inventory is as follows: • M-61-A1 - 20mm 6-barrel Vulcan cannon – 500 rounds, 6,000 rounds per minute rate of fire. • AIM-120C – Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), semi-active and active terminal guidance radar guided missile. • Actual range (classified). Range in FSX ~ 40nm. • AIM-7M – Sparrow semi-active radar homing guided missile. Effective range about 31nm. • AIM-9M – Sidewinder infrared guided missile. Effective ranges are closure speed dependent. However, generally a head-on aspect shot should be taken inside 10nm. A rear-aspect shot should be taken within 5nm unless the closure speed is below 50 knots, in which case shoot within 2nm. The F-15E comes complete with an advanced multi-system avionics system that sets it apart from other fighter planes. The electronic warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats. The tactical electronic-warfare system, upgraded in all existing models of the F-15E, includes: advanced radar, radar jammer, “identification friend or foe” system, head-up display, inertial and tactical navigation system, instrument landing system, electronic countermeasures set and a central digital computer. The F-15E has a “look-down/shoot-down” radar that can distinguish low-flying moving targets from ground clutter. Using this pulse-doppler radar system the aircraft can identify small high-speed targets beyond visual range. The radar feeds target information into the central computer for effective weapons delivery. For close-in dog fights, the radar automatically acquires enemy aircraft, and this information is projected on the head-up display. The “identification friend or foe” system informs the pilot if an aircraft seen visually or on radar is friendly. It also informs U.S. or allied ground stations and other suitably equipped aircraft that the F-15 is a friendly aircraft. To supplement the radar jamming system, a Fiber Optic Towed Decoy (FOTD) offers protection against radar-guided missiles. The device is towed behind the aircraft whilst emitting a stronger radar signal than the plane itself.These are the type real world systems that are not practical to attempt to model for FSX. They would drag all but the heaviest processors to their knees. The head-up displays projects all essential flight information on the windscreen. The display, which can be viewed in any light, eliminates the need to look down at the controls. This is fully modeled by Milviz. Comparing the Milviz model to the various real world models is a real task at times. I have asked for specific information on which systems are modeled and which are not modeled. A quick check with the Milviz support forum will get you a definitive answer to what the model is capable of and any limitations. These guys know their stuff and are quick to give you a straight answer. Remember, some of this stuff is classified and some educated best guesses have been made. Milviz version with the speed brake deployed. The real deal – Nellis ’08 Airshow. Amazing display for an airshow. Top 2 photos are Milviz. The F-15E has a serious Air Brake. Check the size of this guy. Looks like the size of the spinnaker on my old sailboat. References Cost data and sources: The F-15E Strike Eagle is no longer in production for the US Air Force, so no current production prices are available, while total program costs are now outdated and not significant. However, at the direction of Congress, the Pentagon included $108.2 million in the Air Force’s FY07 budget request to fund a single attrition reserve aircraft, and this is the most recent price available for the aircraft. Source: US Air Force FY07 budget request: https://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/FMB/pb/2007/afprocurement/3010_Aircraft_Procurement_v1_FY07_PB.pdfSee page 77 F-15E Strike Eagle cost = $32 million in 1998, in 2011 close to $100 million to replace. For low-altitude, high-speed penetration and precision attack on tactical targets at night or in adverse weather, the F-15E carries a high-resolution APG-70 radar and low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night pods. The F-15E is a two-seat, dual-role, totally integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and deep interdiction missions. The rear cockpit is upgraded to include four multi-purpose CRT displays for aircraft systems and weapons management. The digital, triple-redundant Lear Siegler flight control system permits coupled automatic terrain following, enhanced by a ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system. One of the most important additions to the F-15E is the rear cockpit, reserved for the weapons systems officer. On four screens, this officer can display information from the radar, electronic warfare or infrared sensors, monitor aircraft or weapons status and possible threats, select targets, and use an electronic "moving map" to navigate. Two hand controls are used to select new displays and to refine targeting information. Displays can be moved from one screen to another, chosen from a "menu" of display options. I always like to ask some of the development team members what they most like or dislike about a long term complex project like this one. Jonathan Bleeker, the young coding Phenom, had this to say: It has to be the navigation system. While it is not a true INS we implemented being able to add steer points/target points/aim points/offset points, change their IDs including route designation and edit their lat/longs on the fly from the UFC just like the real thing. Another highlight is that it interfaces with the weapon system in the AUTO release mode in that you can enter a steer point as a target from the A/G Delivery submenu on the UFC and then steering cues will be provided and the bomb will automatically release if the pickle button is held down. I was able to perform this second item satisfactorily (after several false starts) during a cell phone lesson with Ken Stallings. I did everything correctly, but my bomb would not release. It turned out to be my FSX control button setting was only partially correct in the ‘Release Weapons’ key stroke mapping. It takes some detailed cockpit input on the UFC/MFD and a good memory of the proper sequence but it is very rewarding to make a bomb run at 10,000 feet and be able to hold the flight path using the HUD and have a countdown meter that tell you when to press and hold the pickle button (for 10 seconds). If you can manage to keep the flight path correct the bomb will be automatically release and explode on your target within a meter or two. The target is a lat/ long input using the UFC. Hacker says this is not how the Auto release mode actually works in real life but hey, we can’t have everything all the time. It is items like this that make it hard to believe this is the same FSX/Acceleration that I have been flying for the last couple of years. While researching a few of the F-15E systems, I am amazed at the amount of detail available on the internet with a simple search. One would think it should be at least restricted but I guess all our enemies already have the original prints anyway. I would say once you start exporting a weapons platform you are in effect giving up any advantages that you may have once held. I asked my friend Gunnar van der Meeren for some full sized screenshots showing off his extraordinary painting talents. These I quickly received and have added many for your enjoyment. Then I went looking for a series of inside shots showing off the cockpit stations and various panels and instruments. Mr. Greg German stepped up and over a weekend gave us a full new set of shots. Refueling In terms of the in-flight refueling, you need to configure the jet prior to calling up the tanker, or at least prior to reaching pre-contact position. 1. Turn your radar to standby. 2. Turn your weapons master arm to safe. 3. Toggle the slipstream door to open (switch is on the forward part of your left console just below the box where you turn on your anti-skid. Then, you activate the request tanker option by bringing up the FSX toolbar and under the Modules you select the command for the tanker. At this point, at precisely 25,000 feet an AI KC-135 will appear and will initially fly away from you, but then perform a 180 degree turn as though he is flying what is called a parallel in-flight refueling track. This allows you to fly toward him and turn around as he passes by you. Your target speed will need to be about 280 KIAS. Since Milviz did not model the tanker formation lights (the two black bars under the tankers’ nose) you will need to use visual references on the F-15E’s HUD. First, line up the W symbol on the HUD (called the watermark) with those two black bars of lights under the tanker’s nose. Then, ensure that the two inboard engine nacelles on the tanker are lined up with the left and right sides of your HUD glass frame. This should put you in the contact position and the AI boomer on the tanker will slot the boom into your refueling receptacle. Give it a shot – it is challenging but one heck of a reward. If you can get a hook up, it only takes a few seconds or so to refuel given the rate of fuel that is passed. You order up the tanker by using the module placed on the FSX toolbar which you call up by pressing and holding the ALT key for a few seconds and then on that toolbar, clicking on the Tools option. You will see a command to order up the tanker in Easy mode, or you can even switch to Pro mode which requires you to hold realistic contact position and see the boom on the AI tanker actually plug into your UARSSI receptacle and pass gas. The Pro mode is about as close to the real thing as one can get in FSX. The workings of the boom is one of the most amazing things I have seen done for FSX. What makes it difficult is that the way your physical controllers work is simply not as fine as throttles and flight sticks on real aircraft. And that lack of fine tactile dexterity really makes hooking up and staying that way a real challenge. I have tried it several times at night and, without the peripheral vision and lights, the best I have been able to do is get hooked up and stay that was a couple of seconds. But, if you can get hooked up on the Pro mode you get the boom operator's voice on the AI tanker over your speakers announcing connection and disconnect. If you can stay hooked up long enough, you can no kidding refill your tanks at a realistic fuel transfer rate. I don't mean having a menu appear and type in your added fuel either. I mean you can actually look at your fuel quantity gauge and see it tick upward as long as you stay hooked to the boom! This is an amazing piece of code work in this jet and anyone who isn't using it is truly denying himself some serious FSX challenges. (KenS) For the record, the approach method is to come in from below and not too fast otherwise she will retract and refuse. You can dampen your stick movements for finer control. You have to match speeds with the tanker and get the flight path marker level and then with fine adjustments to the stick and throttle inch forward into position and once you are in position, get your speed right and let go of the stick and stay there. (JB) How the real guys in the real planes do it. How the Milviz version does it. Air-to-Air Weapons For those of you drawn to the art of survival in modern air warfare, you will choose wisely if you select the F-15E Strike Eagle. The pure air combat machines such as the F-16 Eagle or F-22 Raptor are more suited to strictly air to air but then they can’t do all the other things this one can do in addition to the A-A. You can simply witness a dog fight, join in and show your mettle or get blown out of the sky, or choose to be a wingman for a real hot shot and learn by watching and witnessing. Multiplayer is a working feature for the Milviz F-15E. As listed elsewhere you have the 20mm Vulcan – 6 barrel cannon for close in work, but most use the 40 NM range AMRAAM 120C, or the 30 NM 7M Sparrow and the close in 9M Sidewinder missile. All these weapons can be fired and usually ends with destruction of targets with all those neat graphics and sounds of explosions. You have all these realistic weapons, radar and targeting procedures, high quality sound sets from a real F-15E with flight dynamics tested and tuned by real pilots. This one flies just like the real world counterpart according to the literature. The weight and balance is directly affected by the release of weapons and the fuel load. As you add weapons you witness the aircraft tilting as the weapons are added. Tanks and weapons can be jettisoned, fired or dropped. I did an all A-A load out with several AIM-120C missiles and a couple of AIM-7 (Sparrows) and AIM-9 (Sidewinders), added extra fuel, and took off from KFXE pointed toward Fort Lauderdale. The Radar lights up with targets galore looking at the line of commuter airliners queued up for landing on 27R at KFLL. Easy pickings. I selected SuperSearch (SS) mode and waited a few seconds for the Lock and Shoot indicator to start flashing. The AIM-120 uses the APG-70 Radar lock for its initial course, then when about 10 miles from target, it switches to its own internal Radar - known as the active guidance or terminal guidance mode. Once engaged, you are free to lockup and fire on another target. This little exercise is fun but probably not very popular with the JetBlue and US Air crowd waiting for arrivals in Terminal 3. Air to ground For those who prefer to blow up the bridges, silos, buildings, tanks, cruise ships, etc, you have also chosen wisely. The F-15E excels in this department also. The ordnance list is even larger and includes the basic dumb bombs, smart bombs and really smart bombs (laser, optical and satellite guided), cluster bombs, glide bombs, bunker buster bombs, and a just for F-15E bunker buster as well as a couple of specialty laser or video guided missiles that can be used on targets up to 40 nm away. You have to pay attention to the details when punching in a Lat and Long in the UFC. Sometimes it is looking for an extra zero, sometimes not. This is a specialty within a specialty. You will need to study all your weapon choices and their intended and best use, range, sizes, etc. Then there are the various methods of delivery – manual, auto, semi-auto, etc. Then comes the speed and altitude for optimum delivery for maximum damage and you need to consider your own survivability. You don’t want to blow you own tail off by being too close to a large blast. This is exactly why a WSO was designed into this weapons delivery system. Of course, in FSX, you are the one flipping all the switches, and making the command decisions on when, what, where, how much and how many. This is all in addition to flying the airplane at up to Mach 2.5 and 60,000 feet. Maybe this is why the Air Forces takes 2 full years for their training program, after the pilots are already qualified in twin engine high performance jets. And you want to master this over the weekend? Not likely. After a few routine bomb runs, you can load up with any combination of ordnances and go fly. You can pick your targets as the urge hits you. This screenshot is my version of ‘Shock and Awe’ for the Orbx Anacortes 74S Deception Pass bridge. I did not intend to blow up the bridge as it took Jarrad Marshall (no relationship) so much time and effort to build it as a scenery add-on. I just wanted to get close and mess up the traffic. This is not something you normally see in FSX, especially in the FTX/Orbx Pacific Northwest. You can grab the Lat and Long of potential targets many different ways in FSX. The built-in Map feature is one way or the old standby Shift+Z keystoke that adds the red text in the upper left of the screen should you make a scouting run. Feed those numbers into the UFC as steer points and you are good to go for some precision weapon delivery. You can drop the dumb bombs anywhere anytime and they will make a big colorful splat and wake up the neighborhood. Somewhere along the way, I mapped the Radar cursor range controls, the lock target, discard target, Laser arm and the release weapons keystrokes to my Pro Flight x52 controller. I even added the Shift-3 keystoke that is required for all loadouts to the flightstick. Now all these commands are at my fingertips and I can concentrate on navigating and playing friend or foe. Training Videos Due to the complexity of learning how to perform all of the above and our natural urge to jump in and take off, Milviz has chosen to use videos as the training medium. You can find a simple overview, or detailed air to air or air to ground or specific system training in their Youtube vault. You can also log on to the general or support forums to ask questions or search for knowledge related to your chosen task. The ILS/Tacan approach A low visibility precision approach was on my to-do list when I started but this review is taking way to long and getting longer by the word. I assumed I could get it on the ground in bad weather so I could live to fight another day. I spendt most of one evening and half a weekend learning a lot more than I intended about approaches, navigation and basic autopilot operations in the Strike Eagle. In order to get this to press so you can read it, I am greatly abbreviating this section. The short story is there are no, none, nadda, autoland or auto anything type approaches. What you have is manually flown approaches but with pointer assistance for ILS and Tacan. Fortunately, the Strike Eagle is easy to fly and the nose tends to stay where it is pointed. The HUD is super clear and easy to understand, packed with useful flight information and the UFC input is easy, once you have the roadmap. The Milviz team must think I am the dumber one in the ‘dumb and dumber’ category, but they never gave up on me. About the 8th email, I started to catch on to the lingo and where to look for what between the 30 or so MFD screens and the UFC. There is no doubt all the answers to all the questions can be found somewhere in the 544 pages of the POH. I just did not have the time or energy to read that sucker. I took the easy road and just fired off a few innocent emails asking for assistance or clarification. Bottom line – don’t turn on the Autopilot and expect things to work like a Cessna. They don’t and won’t. Your choices are read the manual, have a friend that is an experienced F-15E pilot tutor you, or head to the forums and look for the search box. I did all of those and still couldn’t get it right for a long time. Finally that young coder phenom felt sorry for me and got down to my level – use this finger to push that button located next to the big knob, then type this and then . . . . This was after Ken Stallings stuffed by email with way to many screenshots of how it works for him and not for me. Of course, he apologized. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel when he stated “Press the A/P button labeled A/P and turn that sucker OFF”. OK, it is possible, even easy, to import FSX flight plans, change them on the fly, do all the stuff concerning flight planning, navigation and such even with poor eyesight if you know a few of the basics. I have already sent my recommendation to KrazyColin for a simple text type tutorial document with a couple of screenshots and a few tables that bring the general aviation and slow military sim pilots up to par with 3 or 4 pages of Q and A. I have the answers in my email inbox and should Milviz decide they had rather spend their nights and weekends and rainy days on future projects then I will post some of it at the support forum. This would be one of those ‘ah ha’ moments for many. Let’s just say, I am extremely pleased with the capabilities of the add-on and I feel quite comfortable in the cockpit today. Yesterday I wasn’t so sure. Now I can’t wait to press the Send button to forward this review to Avsim.com so I can get back to zipping around the countryside looking for targets. If you fly in the same sky as me, watch your six. If I just ease up along side and give you my patented salute and go to military power, roll right and split-S, then that was your lucky day. Full working VC Pilot’s cockpit and rear WSO cockpit. The free download for AI aircraft and Airbase Scenery Can you tell which fighter is the flight model and which is the AI wingman? The HUD is the key. Notice the different weapon loadouts. Neat stuff and free. Scenery upgrades with AI traffic for FSX is included for the following F-15E Strike Eagle airbases around the world. 1. Edwards AFB, CA 2. Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC 3. Mountain Home AFB, ID 4. Lakenheath AB, UK 5. Bagram AB, Afghanistan 6. Elmendorf AFB, AK 7. Nellis AFB, NV 8. Edwards AFB, CA 9. Luke AFB, AZ 10. Hatzerim AFB, Israel 11. Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia 12. Riyad AB, Saudi Arabia 13. Kandahar AB, Afghanistan 14. Jalalabad AB, Afghanistan Airbase in North Carolina overflowing with Strike eagles (FSX). Missions A pack of exciting missions have been written and included for your download. These take advantage of the additional airbase scenery and show off some of the capabilities of the Milviz Strike Eagle. These are full blown, professional level assault missions with handsome rewards for successful completion, nothing like the typical FSX mission. It would not surprise me to see additional missions added from time to time. Check the Milviz forums to keep up to date. You can earn a couple of Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force Cross and even the Israeli Medal of Valor. Thanks Ken. • Counter Air Mission – Provide combat air patrol and counter air support IAW published Desert Storm guidance • Desert Storm Interdiction – Fly a low level single-ship sortie attack on Talil Air Base, Iraq • Desert Storm SCUD Hunt - Fly a single-ship sortie overhead Western Iraq and hunt for SCUD missile systems. • Operation Enduring Freedom CAS - Provide close air support IAW published Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) guidance. • Raid on Iranian Nuke Facilities – A night mission to fly from Hatzerim AFB on a vital and secret mission to attack two Iranian nuclear facilities. Did you ever wonder how big those external fuel tanks are? Big. A dozen guys can almost move an empty one. Watch your toes. Don’t Save that Favorite Flight using the FSX File Save feature. Due to all the extra coding outside the FSX box, a saved file will only save the FSX part of the file and create problems when you try to load and run. Milviz says, it is better not to Save a file, due to the volume of special code modules that have to be executed for all the systems to run properly some of the systems may not have their code executed properly. Just make notes for some of the finer places and things you like to do and redo. How does it handle? Perfect, from my point of view. I’m sure someone will criticize the review for not conveying the exact feel of the controls in a given maneuver, but, I don’t know how to write such statements even if I could gather the data. Remember this is a flight simulator and you have an old Cessna pilot flying a $30 million dollar jet (in real dollars and a $100 million dollar jet in recent dollars) from a desk. I will tell you, that the controls feel really solid and predictable and the Saitek x52 PRO control system works like a charm. By this I mean it is not jumpy, not shaky, and not flimsy. It has a nice stable, solid, and well built feel to it. How will it feel on your desk using your setup and your control system? Beats me, but it will cost you nothing to find out. Using the Flight1.com 30 day, no questions asked return, how can you lose? The Saitek Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals have also no doubt contributed to the excellent flight characteristics of the simulated Strike Eagle. They start by giving me good solid feedback as soon as I press an individual brake or rudder when I start to taxi. I think the excellent response is matched to the Strike Eagle flawlessly. I can honestly say that I have not crashed one time during this review. I did let a bunch of bad guys get away and I missed my ground targets most times but the joy for me is just being able to shoot at the other guy and make an authentic bomb run on a local power plant or interstate bridge. Accuracy will come with time. You can always load in the exact Latitude and Longitude of a target and be assured of a direct hit every time. All the necessary systems and so much more are designed into this add-on. The sounds are excellent. That includes the engine spin up, the roar of the eleven stage afterburner, the sound of a switch clicking on or off or a knob being turned. The canopy opening and closing has its own special sounds. The sounds of the wind over the wings at various angles of attack can be heard. The bumps and dips in the runway can be heard and felt during acceleration for takeoff. I have been using the A2A Accu-feel throughout the review so I really can’t say for sure what it has contributed to the sounds, vibrations, and shutters. Accu-feel provides so much for so little that I can’t imagine any serious sim pilot not having it running all the time. The tire sounds and brake squeal is coming from someplace and it is a nice sound to my ears. Conclusions There is so very much packed into this package and the developers are so excited about their work that if you are only casually interested in owning and flying a ground breaking, state-of-the-art, advanced mach 2 weapons delivery platform, then you should take a look at it. The package most likely has something of interest for everyone and many things for many folks.Whether you just want to simply zip around the extended sky at twice the speed of sound in your very own personal two seat jet or fly historically correct military missions in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and receive the Distinguished Flying Cross or shoot your friend or neighbor out of the sky or bomb the local casino, it is all available to you. You can stay up all day by chasing down that tanker, hooking up and performing the in-flight refueling procedure. Once you get really comfortable with in-flight refueling you can move up to the Pro mode and really strut your stuff. Not only that, but, the scenery for every airbase in the world that the F-15E calls home has been updated for FSX and visually correct AI traffic flight plans and aircraft are installed for your pleasure. You can shoot at them, fly formation with them or just follow them until they disappear, but they are truly value added. The internal model is Virtual Cockpit only, no 2d panels here, but it is among the highest level that I have seen in FSX. And yes, I do own and fly the PMDG 737 NGX and the VRS SuperbugX. The exterior model is evidently spot on also with the screenshots often mistaken as photos of real Strike Eagles. None of this stuff comes easy for me. I have to watch the videos several times and take copious notes and visit the forum often and send emails to previously unknown friends to figure out some of the procedures and sequences. These systems are really deep and detailed and are still being refined with updates and patches. It is refreshing to witness a large development team that remains so interested in the success of the project. These guys and girls are honest in their responses and are willing to bend over backwards to help a user. Some sort of structured study program would be beneficial if one wanted to fully master the aircraft and all coded systems. I suspect once some of the basic systems and procedures seem second nature, then the more complex ones will be a little easier also. Help is available just for the asking at the general and support forums - not only from the development team members and moderators, but from excited users around the world. A large and growing video library of tutorials is available online. This is where you find the details of air-to-air combat or air-to-ground procedures or formation flights or how to fire a specific missile. Recommendations If some of these things excite you, then by all means, download the Strike Eagle, do the simple install, perform the 5 step quick start and go flying. If you are just casually curious what it feels like to bust through the 50,000 foot altitude barrier and fly at more than twice the speed of sound or to fire realistic, visually correct missiles and bombs then download it, watch a selected video or two and go fly and shoot, fire and drop. If you always wanted to be a hot shot military pilot but missed the opportunity, then download it, watch several videos, read the manual, find some other users and set up a multiplayer flight, pick a good ‘handle’ and show Tom Cruise and Hacker how it is really done. If you don’t have a good HOTAS control system you will be at a disadvantage from the get-go. I recommend you take a serious look at the offerings by Mad Catz with their Saitek Pro Flight series. They have a controller for every pocketbook and for every discriminating fighter pilot. The Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals say it all with just their name. They are top notch and teamed up with the x52PRO make a dynamite duo for the serious flight simmer. For everyone else, I recommend you browse around the F-15E tab at the Milviz.com site for a day or so, download the free pdf POH manual, peruse the 544 electronic pages, buy one of the Amazon.com F-15E Strike Eagle books at a discount ($0.01 + $3.99 s/h), read that book, then download the Milviz F-15E and try it out for 30 days using the Flight1.com no questions asked return policy. If none of these recommendations fit your fancy, then I suggest you reread this review until it does. Otherwise, there are probably some fine folks out there that are just not interested in fast, complex jets, no matter how well designed, well made and well supported they happen to be. For those folks, thanks for reading the review. The Future There is nothing out there that you can hang your hat on but I have heard bits and pieces about the possibility of a high level PRO mode version of the Strike Eagle intended for those super hard core simmers and military pilots. Milviz is working on the single seat model of the Eagle, the F-15C, and that should be available as a separate FSX add-on maybe later this year. Owners of the F1 version of the Eagle E will get a discount on that one! Like all smart developers, they can’t promise a release date so they say it will be out when it’s done, not before. How about compatibility with the almost released TacPack from Vertical Reality Simulations (VRS)? First, TacPacK is not released so it is impossible to know exactly what can and can’t be done with the weapons and actions in FSX. The big cheese at Milviz has stated they do plan on integrating TacPack with their F-15E Strike Eagle. With luck it will work with the ‘Drop In TacPack’. If not, with the TacPack SDK once it is available to developers. Links Milviz F-15E link http://www.milviz.com/fs/item.php?id=F-15E TacPack link http://www.vrsimulations.com/tacpack.htm F-15E.info.com link http://www.f-15e.info/joomla Mad Catz/Saitek link http://www.saitekusa.com/?utm_source=MC_Saitek&utm_medium=website# Suggested Improvements Just for eye candy, the PW-229 engine has a bluish color for the afterburner flames as opposed to the previous PW-220 engine that has the yellowish-orange color of the Milviz model. A premier of sorts would be handy for those new to military jets. Especially this one with the 1970’s systems design from McDonnell-Douglas. If nothing more, a short series of ‘How To’ and a few examples would be very beneficial. Dropping a 550+ page military POH in ones lap is not my idea of a friendly start. A simple one page cockpit layout of switch panels and such would save a lot of digging through the POH when following the manual start checklist. Another page could be frequently used abbreviations and acronyms. I bet if Milviz had a forum contest for the ‘best tip’ for flying the F-15E Strike Eagle and then took all the entries and made one pdf for download they would have a winner. I would volunteer to be on the judging panel. A big leap of knowledge for me was a hint from JB to think of NAV Mode as GPS Mode, GT is like HDG Mode but better, and the TCN is like VOR hold. A Steer Point is a Waypoint and STR MODE-NAV is the button to engage the Autopilot to follow a flight plan. Quality The Military Visualization’s F-15E Strike Eagle add-on for FSX/Acceleration obviously meets and exceeds all the criteria for recommendation for the Gold Star Award. Therefore, I enthusiastically recommend the Milviz F-15E Team be rewarded with the coveted Avsim Gold Star. It is not just the team and the add on, it is the attitude of delivering the best of the best at a reasonable price and backing it up with outstanding service and support. Credits Scotty Germain at WarbirdAeroPress.com for permission to use Hacker’s article as formatted.Lt. Col. Randy Haskin, Hacker, for permission to use the introductory article and for reviewing the draft for technical correctness. Tom Harris "How F-15s Work" 04 June 2002. HowStuffWorks.com. http://science.howstuffworks.com/f-15.htm Colin and Kat Pearson for providing the download and the invitation for the review. Also for responding to the many emails. Mad Catz/Saitek Online, San Diego for providing the Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals and x52 PRO control system. Ken Stallings for all the support, detailed information and cell phone dual flying lessons.The guys at www.F15einfo.com for all the weapon and loadout charts and such and all the technical data available to everyone. Szabolcs "Sabc" Serflek, Editor-in-Chief, F-15E.info for permission to use any copyrighted data at the website. Gunnar van der Meeren for providing the repaint screenshots used throughout the reviewGreg German for all the interior/cockpit screenshots and the morning formation screenshotsEnrico BJ for sharing is Saitek x52 pro codes and his screenshots taken from the forum and some screenshots Dmitriy (ViperVFX) for use of his screenshots from the forum. Greg Bisset for use of his AI screenshots from the forum Matt (jeansy) for use of his screenshots Jonathan Bleeker for his explanations of systems and lots of other information Photo Credits All photos were captured on the Wide World Web. Credit to Photographers is as follows: Page 10, thumbs up crew, canopy open, Page 26, airbrake, Copyright Bernard Zee, written permission granted. Pages 11 -13, USAF, DOD official photos Page 26, close up of weapons, http://www.hottail.nl/airforces/usa/usaf/F-15E.html public use Page 29, F-15E refueling, 100 ARW, Daniel Karlsson, photo credit Page 30, How the real guys do it, five F-15E’s waiting for fillup, Airman 1st Class Nichelle Griffiths, Andersen AFB Gallery. Page 35, Dozen men moving F-15E fuel tank, Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Schultze photo credit, Andersen AFB Gallery. Test System Intel Quadcore i7- 870 2.93 Ghz 8 GB Installed Memory Win7 – 64 bit OS SP1 2 TB SATA II HD, 500 GB USB HD nVidia GTX-460 w/1GB Graphics Dell 24 WS, Dell 18 LCD monitors Logitech Z-5500 5.1 Speakers Realtek HD 5.1 Audio, Grado SR-60 Newly added Saitek Cockpit items x52PRO Throttle & Flight Stick - Pro Flight Combat Rudder Pedals - Pro Flight TPM Panel, Switch Panel This post has been promoted to an article
  13. Robert W

    Swiss A340-300 & Air Canada Jazz

    Swiss A340-300 Just planes revisits SWISS Airlines as they fly the friendly skies from Zurich to San Francisco onboard the A340. Highlights Our 11 hour flight to San Francisco starts off with a very thorough briefing by the Captain and his crew. This is followed by a walk around of the A340 where Captain Covolan teaches the viewers some of the important checks that have to be made before each flight. After departure, the Captain discusses the departure procedure using his EFB and goes over the route details for the flight. During the cruise phase of the flight there was a really nice portion where an A340-600 and a British Airways 747 flew alongside the Swiss A340 that viewers may find interesting. Prior to arrival Captain Covolan talks about the practicality of the A340 and the importance of cost index. Scenery wise, this DVD is packed with scenic views from the cockpit. The most memorable scenic views were flying over various airports in Canada and the amazing approach into San Francisco with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. After landing in San Francisco, viewers are given a treat as they take a tour of San Francisco and later join the flight crew on a bicycle tour! Highlights of the return flight to Zurich include a stunning view from the cockpit on departure at dusk, cabin meal service and a very detailed cockpit presentation. Scenery wise, the return trip offers a view of various places such as Jersey, French Coast, Granville and others before an uneventful landing back at Zurich. What was my overall impression of this DVD? Well, it was simply amazing. This was one of the first DVDs filmed by Just Planes with 6 cameras. This includes a rear camera view from the runway as the A340 takes off from Zurich. The friendly crew, scenic views and unique camera views made this 4 hour DVD a pleasure watch. – Strongly Recommended. Addition Information: http://www.worldairroutes.com/Swiss340.html Air Canada Jazz Our next DVD features Air Canada Jazz as it operates flights to Quebec City, Charlottetown and St. John from Toronto. Let’s look at some of the highlights. Highlights The DVD starts off with an introduction by the Chief Pilot as he gives details about the company, his role and the fleet of Air Canada Jazz (Air Canada Express) aircraft. Our first trip takes us from Toronto to Quebec City onboard the Dash 8 Q400. After a crew briefing and preflight checks were completed, the crew begins taxiing the Q400 to the runway during which he pulls down the HUD which he uses for the entire flight. During the cruise portions of the flight, viewers have a clear view of all the procedures that Jazz pilots have to perform including retrieving performance data from their ACARS. After landing in Quebec, viewers are taken on an external walk around of the aircraft in preparation for their return trip to Toronto. The final leg to Toronto featured a brief cockpit presentation and some very scenic views of Toronto, which I am sure everyone will enjoy. Our second trip takes us onboard the CRJ-705 from Toronto to Charlottetown. As usual, we start off with a briefing by the crew as they consider the route and weather associated with their flight. From the cockpit, viewers are able to observe the crew as they load the FMS in preparation for startup. During the taxi I thought it was very interesting that the crew chose to perform a single engine taxi to conserve on fuel. Other highlights worth mentioning from this round trip were the cockpit presentation and the stunning scenic views from the cockpit on our return trip to Toronto. Finally, our last round trip takes us from Toronto to St. John onboard the CRJ-200. While this trip was similar to the previous in terms of highlights, the most significant difference was the landing in St. John with VERY low visibility. The return trip was also different in that the camera view was from the cabin with an over wing view for the duration of the flight. Overall, I enjoyed this DVD very much and I am certain I will find myself revisiting it time and again. The Q400 and CRJ-200 segments were my favorite and I am sure you will enjoy DVD also. Job well done! Addition Information: http://www.worldairroutes.com/Jazz.html Summary / Closing Remarks Once again, these DVDs were an absolute pleasure to watch and I think anyone who loves aviation will enjoy them. At a cost of $25-30 each they are a bargain. These are perfect for days when you what to see or do something aviation related but also want to enjoy the comforts of home. Just Planes has really stepped up their editing and production of their DVDs and I am sure we will continue to see more innovations in their future products. What I Like About These DVDs • Breathtaking scenery • Creative editing and camera views • Features very unique destinations and aircrafts • HD and widescreen format What I Don't Like About These DVDs • Nothing
  14. Robert W

    FS2Crew for the PMDG 737NGX

    Reviewed by Maury Pratt - AVSIM Bd of Dir Member This review will likely interest mainly those who are new to FS2Crew, as users of previous versions will already be familiar with its structure and realistic ambiance, and so I won't repeat many of those details here (see, for example, David Smith's Level D 767 Voice Commanderor Paul Middleton's earlier FS2Crew for 747 review). What I wanted to do here is to share why FS2Crew makes flying PMDG's arguably far more complex 737 NGX easier and certainly more satisfying--an experience not to be missed by anyone interested in air transport simulation at its best. As Bryan York, FS2Crews's developer remarked, "You don't need to 'master' the NGX (to fly it with FS2Crew), but you should know how to program the FMC, which isn't hard because there are a million tutorials out there explaining how to do it. The FO does most of the work in the plane anyway, so if anything it will help the NGX newbies." As we all know, a two-person crew is required to fly a commercial transport aircraft. Given the PMDG 737NGX's highly realistic implementation (see Chase Kreznor's review), ideally it would be flown in FSX by two "persons" as well. But there you are, handling everything yourself. You're flipping switches and pushing buttons--not to mention controlling the aircraft while watching for opposing traffic (and perhaps responding to ATC instructions)--without help from anyone. And if in your role as Captain you wanted your own actions to be as realistic as possible, you would follow prescribed flight crew flows and respond silently to (written) checklists. Of necessity many have been handling the First Officer's duties as well as their own, but now there's a long-anticipated alternative: Enter the virtual first officer. With FS2Crew you have a partner, the PNF--or pilot not flying--who not only performs many tasks at your command (along with his other assigned responsibilities), but talks you through a number of checklists--challenges requiring confirming responses from you. The Flight Deck Environment The underlying add-on aircraft is, of course, any of PMDG's Boeing's 737 NGX (for FSX) -600/700 and/or -800/900 variants) with Service Pack 1C installed. In this review, FS2Crew (originally released March 8) is the V1.2 version released April 13, 2012. I had previously installed two other add-on products, EZdok's EZCA camera add-on for FSX, and fsdreamteam's ground services application Ground Services X (GSX) to further enhance the flight deck environment. I'll comment on their role with respect to FS2Crew further in the review. It often seems a chore to sort out "Are utility add-ons easy to use together? Is their software integrated one to another in some sense? Or do they conflict hopelessly?" A first for the FS2Crew product line, the NGX-based add-on comes in two versions, voice activated and button control together in a single file download. Choosing the voice control option truly adds to your sense of immersion while flying the 737NGX. The commands you speak cause events to be initiated or specific actions to occur. And your virtual first officer responds to you in kind. In other words the dimension of conversation is added, and with FS2Crew these conversations are true to real world airline operating practices. And not only are you spared conducting many tasks yourself--from starting up a 'cold and dark' cabin through final shut down--you no longer need to program control device buttons and keys for many of those functions. I find this vastly simplifies control device settings, at least for this plane. So how is this magic implemented? The essential element for voice control is the Speech Recognition system built into Microsoft Windows, both XP and Vista/Win 7. Once you've set up your microphone and run through Window's spoken training profile, it's on to FS2Crew's FSX environment once your NGX is loaded and a panel state selected. And the key to FS2Crew's operational capabilities is the Software Development Kit (SDK) that PMDG released with NGX SP 1C, which FS2Crew uses to communicate physically with the aircraft. What's more--and this is big, I was able to make complete FS2Crew-based flights without leaving the virtual cockpit. The product allows 2D panel-based operations, but for me and many others, that is a thing of the past. When I need to set the parking brake, set the fuel cutoff levers to 'idle', move the trim wheel to set the calculated T/O trim, or arm the spoilers for landing, I simply touch a hat switch to view the pedestal and click on the 3-D control itself--not my keyboard. So the tradeoff entailed in learning FS2Crew’s voice commands, flows and checklist responses is amply offset, in my opinion, by enabling a highly simplified controls configuration setup--that is, your yoke, flight stick and/or throttle with their buttons, hat switches, sliders, etc. To cite a simple example, instead of programming a device button for 'gear up' and 'gear down' you'll just speak those words into your mike. Now multiply that by the dozens of functions needed to control a commercial transport aircraft--see what I mean? You'll especially appreciate this during your flight's very busy takeoff and landing phases. Once the FO voices "V2, rotate" and you've briefly waited for him to announce "positive rate" you can focus on the flight director bars while speaking "GEAR UP" "FLAPS ONE" "FLAPS UP" then "SELECT COMMAND A" (to engage the autopilot), and finally calling for the 'after takeoff' checklist. I found I could watch the flight instruments--the flap retraction marks on the speed tape in particular--instead of thinking about which button needed to be pressed or scanning the MCP to look for something. Note too that given PMDG's true-to-life implementation LNAV and VNAV will engage on their own, assuming you had fully programmed the CDU and activated your FMS settings. Landings are similarly simplified as your FO handles gear and flap chores while you focus on controlling the aircraft's approach speed. Watching your approach map on the ND, you can command ARM LOCALIZER; ARM APPROACH; SELECT COMMAND B (for autoland) avoiding having to "reach" across to the MCP's right-hand side, for example. When making a conventional ILS landing you're not likely to forget to say SELECT AUTOPILOT OFF just before touchdown, either. Then there are the little but welcome conveniences, such as setting MCP data values by voice as well; SET FLIGHT LEVEL XXX (when above transition level), SET ALTITUDE XXXX (when below transition level), SET SPEED XXX, SET HEADING XXX, etc. And you can speak each digit individually, or say, for example, "three two thousand" and the like. I might add part of the pleasure of the NGX experience is your added conversational role using the same phrases, along with their corresponding procedures, as do real world flight crews. But if somehow spoken commands and responses aren't to your taste, there's also FS2Crew's button control alternative to enjoy. And you can try both; either version is accessed from FS2Crew's Configuration Manager. While voice control may be the compelling reason to install FS2Crew, there are alternative 3rd-party implementations that actuate commands such as MCP dial and button settings and so forth. But FS2Crew gives you far more--a built-in set of events that mirror real-world flight crew procedures. This has long been FS2Crew's strength, offered for a variety of default and 3rd-party add-on aircraft, even PMDG's original 737NG for FS9. Note FS2Crew's main panel (upper left) and configuration screen; both can be relocated or hidden as desired. This setup enables GSX operations in conjunction with FS2Crew flows. FS2Crew is versatile as well. For many, setting up a 'cold and dark' cockpit for flight is, well, intimidating. Not so when you have FS2Crew's guidance together with the FO's automated tasks at hand. In fact starting from scratch opens up other opportunities for enjoyment--that's where GSX (or the AES alternative) come in. The add-on can be engaged at appropriate points during the pre-flight flows to service the aircraft, board passengers and cargo, and push back during engine start; even marshalling you to your gate at the flight's conclusion to debark your virtual passengers and cargo before running the 'shutdown' flow. FS2Crew simulates these activities too, but I like to switch to an outside view at these times to observe the amazing amount of animated ground activity GSX offers. On the other hand, you can initiate FS2Crew flows at any stage desired; for example, at 'before taxi' or even 'takeoff' if you just want to get into the air (though of course you'll still need to set up your CDU, MCP and a few other items--normally a part of earlier-stage flows). For an aural taste of FS2Crew's flight deck experience, click on the . By the way, a number of user-provided tutorial videos featuring FS2Crew with the 737NGX are appearing at YouTube, such as . Flows, commands and checklists Though you may be accustomed to flying your NGX with relatively simple preparation--set up your flight plan in your plane's FMC, flip both Flight Director switches and the Autothrottle switch on, enter a few values in the Mode Control Panel (MCP), and hit TO/GA--but to fly the NGX correctly and realistically you'll need to think in terms of "flows" for each phase of preparation for flight as well as during the flight itself. Flows are essentially the step-by-step procedures you and your first officer follow. And that's where FS2Crew shines--it conducts all the first officer's steps in concert with each of the steps you (the Captain) are responsible for. Though you are entering values and setting (far fewer) switches as before, you do so in a prescribed sequence to mimic your virtual airline's "Standard Operating Procedures" (SOPs); and you initiate the corresponding FO flows and call for the appropriate checklist with a few spoken commands. In addition there's a spoken Departure briefing and an Approach briefing with associated briefing panels you set up for selected flight conditions; the Departure briefing can be skipped as desired (this can seem kind-of long-winded after awhile). Anyway, in a relatively short time you'll not only learn correct procedure; before each flight you also can confirm each flow's results. Make your own visual checks as you respond to your FO's verbal challenges (even those he runs by himself) as he calls out each checklist item. So when you're ready to fly, you can be sure you're ready to fly. Captain's flow Call FO actions Takeoff page - CDU select Fuel pumps on N1 and speed bugs check Seat belt sign on Auto throttle arm Isolation valve open MCP - IAS set Electrical hydraulic pumps on MCP - Initial heading set Beacon on MCP - Initial altitude set LNAV/VNAV arm Taxi and takeoff briefing complete Flight deck windows closed confirm Trim for takeoff set Rudder and elevator trim 0 units confirm Pushback and startup clearance obtain As with other flows, these are functions performed independently by the Captain while the FO performs his actions (shown in blue text) once the Before Start procedure begins, typically 7 minutes before gate departure. Captain performs his activities in sequence; "Call" refers to the Captain's action, either spoken or done manually. The FO's actions occur automatically. Example Process Flow with FS2Crew -- Before Engine Start Procedure These are the available checklists: • Preflight checklist • Before engine start • Before taxi • Before takeoff • After takeoff (FO recites) • Descent (FO recites) • Approach • Landing • Shutdown • Secure aircraft So where do these flows, commands, checklists and briefings come from? They're built into FS2Crew and are described in the accompanying user manual. By the way, you can access this manual (in pdf format) internally, or opt to consult an online version accessed from FS2Crew's configuration manager. User-created placard-like summary versions (by Julio Cesar and others) are available from the FS2Crew forum at AVSIM Online. Not only is Julio's eight-page flows and checklist responses chart comprehensive, it lays out FS2Crew's structure and overall flow from beginning to end. It includes available alternate procedures (GPU or APU power; rejected takeoff and go-around [aborted landing]; and cold weather options are examples). Also Julio's companion list of spoken commands is available. I encourage you to download both of these now to get an idea of the FS2Crew's flows, commands and checklist responses (rather than my listing them all here). Once you've looked these over I think you'll be impressed with the professionalism of FS2Crew's 737NGX implementation. Also I found highly-condensed color-coded reference flows and command lists by Andreas (display name "Andalusi") at Flows and Checklist Page 1 , Flows and Checklist Page 2, Commands Page 1 and Commands Page 2. Another helpful download is Richard Asberg's PMDG 737 NGX & FS2Crew NGX Voice Edition Version 1.1 Normal Procedures, which outlines flows and key commands and shows the overall structure of FS2Crew events. And there's what I found to be an exceptionally helpful 'quick reference' summary of checklist responses, Paco Galindo's single-page list of FS2Crew Normal Checklist responses. I'll keep these on my second monitor for reference until over time they become second nature. Agreed, all this information and more are available in the product documentation. Nevertheless I've found that although the manual provides the necessary information, the way it's organized isn't so useful for quick reference while running FS2Crew--there are too many places to search to find everything needed and all in real time. These user-contributed summaries solved that problem for me; and according to forum responses I've seen, for many others as well. The tutorial that comes with FS2Crew's v1.1 is both welcome and adequate; it addresses what some new to FS2Crew find mysterious--"where do I begin and what am I expected to do, and when." It will help you get started, but as the tutorial notes, you'll also need ready access to command phrasing and most checklist responses, either from the manual or by using any of the summary cards mentioned above. An issue you'll likely have is that there are so many places around the flight deck you'll need to see up close as you progress through the flows, and especially as you verify checklist values. Using TrackIR can help, but in order to select panel or control items quickly and to see readouts without their being at slanted angles, I strongly recommend installing EZdok's EZCA camera add-on for FSX. You can assign hat switch buttons and/or click on EZCA's 'studio screen' to view each instrument or radio panel, overhead section, CDU or pedestal view (and switch to outside views) as desired. EZCA was created by Ezdok Software, and published in partnership with Flight One Software. (I use EZCA in conjunction with TrackIR.) Alternatively, FS2Crew offers buttons in its main panel you can program to change camera views for you. There's even more to this FS2Crew version, most of which will be familiar to previous users of FS2Crew. These include various user-selected announcements from the flight deck and by flight attendants, spoken ground crew interaction for ground power connection and/or pushback and engine start, and even ambient passenger sounds while boarding the aircraft. So How Well Does It Work? Just as advertised. I did have a few problems while learning FS2Crew, such as checklists not appearing as expected when I happened somehow to get out of sync with FS2Crew's normal progression. The manual includes a good 'Troubleshooting Q&A' section where common problems can be easily resolved. In this case, the solution from the manual I needed was here: "Problem: I spoke "LANDING CHECKLIST", and "Landing Checklist" was displayed in the Green Bar. So I know the Speech Recognition system detected the correct phrase, but nothing happened. The FO never replied. Solution:1. You were probably in the wrong FS2Crew Mode. The displayed mode in the FS2Crew Main Panel must match the checklist you are attempting to use. For example, in order for the Landing Checklist to work, the mode in the FS2Crew Main Panel must say 'LANDING'." After starting over I got that right and things went smoothly from there. Of course your degree of familiarity with the 737NGX itself matters--if you get hung up on something you'll be back to PMDG's manuals and tutorials for help there as well. Remember that you'll be returning to the plane's CDU early on to perform aircraft configuration setup chores (and if you opt to use GSX, to manage passenger and cargo door opening/closing); also keep in mind Brian York's advice on aircraft loading to avoid trouble later. I found that with a nominal Windows "voice training" session FS2Crew's "understanding" of my voice inputs are thankfully accurate. I sometimes needed to repeat a command or response--at first FS2Crew would interpret 'on' as 'one'. The manual states that with time FS2Crew improves its recognition on its own. FS2Crew requires that voice inputs be in English; there's a choice of American English-, UK- or Eurozone-accented responses. If Windows doesn't handle a users accent so well, further voice training using a list of problematic words should correct the problem. One of FS2Crew's neat features is that a display bar (selectable on or off using the main panel's DSP button) shows your words as they are recognized; hopefully these will be the same as what you thought you said. If the command you spoke isn't one in FS2Crew's command list the bar will remain blank. It's a great learning tool for the user. In some ways FS2Crew is quite user friendly while you're learning; for example if the FO's response is wrong given your intended meaning, you can say it again (perhaps first checking for correct syntax). I found it possible to confuse the first officer occasionally by commanding (whether intended or not) an illogical data value--even causing the FO to repeat a response in "run-away" fashion over and over until he "heard" another command he could understand. As a rare but possible example, if he misinterprets SET ALTITUDE ONE TWO THOUSAND as "Set altitude two thousand," saying CANCEL LAST COMMAND will cause that to be disregarded. If you get stuck remembering how to (correctly) respond to a checklist item, you can just say CHECK or NEXT to move on to the next item. FS2Crew's manual also offers help with specific situations, such as "Using External Air/Power," "Cold Weather Procedures" "Rejected Takeoff Procedures" "ETOPS" operations; and also instructions for using FS2Crew's FS Video Marshaller, and more. Even with all that you may encounter situations where further advice is needed. That's where the FS2Crew forum hosted by AVSIM Online comes in. Here's one example of a response to a recent user query: • After starting engine #1 (the left engine), manually connect the left engine generator to the bus and switch the Ground Power Switch on the overhead to ‘off’. Next, instruct the ground crew to disconnect external air and the GPU. Speak: “YOU CAN DISCONNECT THE EXTERNAL AIR AND GPU NOW”. Be sure to do this AFTER you have connected Engine Generator 1 to the bus or you will lose power. Summary It's nice to have company in the cockpit! With FS2Crew you can correctly manage PMDG's 737NGX flight deck activities without knowing much about the myriad of overhead panel actions required, as your First Officer handles these and other chores "behind the scenes." It's a great learning aid; as you gain knowledge and confidence you can handle those on your own later. But why would you want to? Test System ASUS P8P67 Intel i5-2500 8 GB memory OCZ 120 GB SSD GeForce GTX 560 Samsung SA950 27" display HP 21" 2nd display Saitek X52 flight stick & throttle Windows 7 64 bit Flight Test Time - 14.5 hours What I Like About FS2Crew for the 737NGX • Adds a "conversational" dimension to the air transport flying experience. • Enables real world flight crew procedures to be performed, matching PMDG's fidelity to Boeing's real world 737 NGX aircraft functions and systems. • Reduces the degree of user knowledge required to accomplish preflight, flight and post-flight procedures realistically. • Reduces need to allocate flight control functions to hardware devices. What I Don't Like About FS2Crew for the 737 NGX • Relatively precise English language phrases are necessary to accomplish tasks as intended--these can be readily learned but may be confusing at first. But then that's true for air crew professionals as well!
  15. Reviewed by Harold "Farmboyzim" Zimmer I enjoy reading immensely, so I thought I'd incorporate three of my favorite pastimes together, reading, writing and simming (the latter of which should also be taught in schools!). Needless to say, the books will have something to do with aviation, in some form or another. So, grabbing the first book off the shelf, let’s take a quick look at “Flying Through Midnight”, which has been around since 2005. I'm a sucker for a good cover (does that mean I'm shallow?), and this one jumped right out at me, a C-123 from the Vietnam era. The author of “Flying Through Midnight”, John Halliday is a retired American Airlines Boeing 767 Captain. He served in the USAF for 26 years and retired as a Lt. Colonel. Earning many decorations, John logged more than 800 hours of combat time in Southeast Asia and the Gulf War. He decided to write this book after being prodded by his father and friends. Like most that have served, he was reluctant to share his story, but eventually gave in and put it all down on paper. Now, being that this is my first book review, for the public that is not as homework (oh, so long ago!...), I have to be careful not to tell you too much of the story, but just enough to let you know if it would be an interesting read for any simmer. This book is certainly that, and is entertaining as well. “Flying Through Midnight” is one man's story about the time spent serving in the United States Air Force, during the early years of the Vietnam War. Halliday starts his story with his arrival in Thailand. As a 24 year old Captain, having the "book" drilled into him in training, he finds himself in a secret airbase, a stone’s throw from Laos, flying the stout Fairchild C-123. He was to take part in those secret missions into Laos, where the crews would take on the tasks of FAC (Forward Air Controller), or they would be deployed to do the job from which they received their nickname. They were known as the "Candlesticks", owing the origin of the name to one of the squadrons' missions of providing illumination from flares that they would constantly drop for hours at a time, providing much needed, life-saving light for friendly forces that were on the ground. Other missions included flying down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, looking for supply convoys. There was no fancy radars mounted in these aircraft. What they had was a high tech piece of gear for the time, and that was the Starlite Scope. Get this...one of the crew, an officer, known over the aircraft intercom as "Scope", would assume the prone position on a mattress in the belly of the aircraft, and look down through a 3 foot hole in the floor with their Starlite scope, keeping an eye out for the trucks. Better not have vertigo if you have that job! All these missions take place inside of Laos, where, needless to say, the big-wigs swore that we had no involvement. He tells his story in a very down to earth way, at times a bit corny, but you'll be pleased to know that it is not an "I love me" story either. He tells the stories of others that were both part of his crew and individuals that he encountered along the way. Some of the stories are just absolutely incredible. I have to be honest; having served in the military, one of the old jokes is that if any old Vet starts telling you a story that starts off with, "This is no B.S.", well, you may be in for a fish story, you know, the big one that got away. Even though you may find yourself wondering how any one man could rack up so much adventure in such a short time, remember that Halliday is representing what a lot of folks went through on a daily basis, and this is just one of their stories. There are many more out there. This story does not come with the preamble, "This is no B.S.", but then, we just have to judge for ourselves, won't we? All Vets remember being the new guy, somewhere, at some time. It was inevitable, and just another part of surviving in the service. Halliday tells about be the new kid on the block, wondering, like most, just what the heck he had gotten himself into. He is befriended by his sponsor, who takes him under his wing, and shows him how to stay alive while flying the missions, and that's done by not paying attention to some of the rules. He was taught the right ones to break. This book brought back some of those "good old memories", like singing at the tops of our lungs, a group of us, trying to drown out the stereos that used so much power, they'd cause a brown out! These antics and others are told in this book. I suppose I should mention there is some profanity in the book, nothing too drastic. So, if you are a "young person", beware. There you've been warned. The story is actually three stories...that of Halliday, his crew, and the aircraft. You'll get plenty of pages telling of the adventures that the crews of these C-123's went through. One of my favorites was that of a series of missions, where there was a Soviet helicopter parked on the trail, unloading heavy cargo. Both sides knew that the other was there, but the crew in the helicopter also knew that the C-123 circling overhead did not have any offensive capabilities. Needless to say, Halliday and his crew grew a bit annoyed at this fact and decided to employ some interesting offensive weaponry "scrounged" from the junk pile, namely chain. I'll leave it at that; don't want to ruin it for you! The book probably won't win the votes of Oprah's Book of the Month Club, which means you'll probably enjoy it! Just kidding Oprah, if you're reading this! Flying Through Midnight is 468 pages long, but reads faster than War and Peace or Shakespeare. It sells for US $7.99 and in Canada $9.99 for the paperback version (as of this writing). Hardback version is also available for US $20.88, and can be found at Amazon.com, (as of this writing). I would certainly recommend this book for those of you that like a good adventure story and some amazing flight adventures as well. Reading this book, you may pick up a thing or two about some tricks to the fine art of aviating, and you may also come away with even more respect for the gang we call "Vets". Have a great flight!