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Everything posted by Ken_Stallings

  1. Sorry, but this is a very unecessary move. I own a web forum that uses vBulletin software and I can guarantee everyone that vBulletin can still support Windows XP as well as IE8. This is very much a staff/owner decision to adopt this new support policy. It also seems staff members are spring loaded to throw out the accusation of members being "angry" or "emotional." That is equally unfortunate. I have to agree entirely with the member who in my view was unfairly treated by the staff here. Avsim has made their choice, but I guess the members now have to make their's. I personally don't see the point to forcing members to adopt new technology just to meet an arbitrary choice made by one website. And for the record, telling people what will or will not "mess up their system" is a bit of a leap of faith. One never knows what one person's computer will do when installing new software. That's why most software companies have staffs of support people to deal with the unanticipated outcome. And I have personally worked with people for far too many years having seen unanticipated issues than to come out with the "it won't harm your system" argument. I will conduct a leap of faith of my own right now. I strongly suspect there are options available to the Avsim staff to continue to support members who choose to retain Windows XP and hence the default browser for XP (IE 8) because for my own web forum I have chosen those options. I won't try to tell Avsim staff how to run their own website if they promise not to try to tell members what software to run on their computers! To me, that seems like a fair and mutually respectful position to take. Cheers, Ken Stallings
  2. Unfortunately, exact same bug in FSX! Annoying! Unrealistic! Totally ridiculous! Ken
  3. Frowned upon when I started flying for the USAF back in 1987. Considered superflous. You could get by by simply checking in with call sign but the altitude call serves the purpose of alerting ATC to any need to synch altimeter settings. On the other hand, still use the phraseology about altitude changes. I normally refer to it as "passing XYZ for 123." Cheers, Ken
  4. By the way, something I teach my students is a brief history lesson. I ask my student pilots if they have ever wondered why the fastest airplanes in the world during the Roaring Twenties were floatplanes -- you know like the ones that won the Sneider Trophy. They often answer yes and voice the same thing I used to wonder: why would the fastest airplanes of that old era feature obviously draggy big water floats? Well, the answer lies in the heart of the technology inherent in the constant speed prop and that concept of relative angle of attack that I discussed in my previous post. Next time you see some vintage movie clips of that era, especially of the Supermarine racing plane that won the Schneider Trophy for the third consecutive time for Great Britain, notice just how flat to the air the blades are on that prop. That is a prop very much carved with the "speed prop" concept. Those blades are about as close to a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel that I have ever seen! That prop did not produce optimal thrust until the plane got near maximum enroute airspeed. But, because of that flat blade angle, the prop did a horrible job of producing thrust for takeoff, since the airplane naturally goes a lot slower at takeoff and landing than for full speed in level flight. So, because of that, this speed plane needed a very long distance for takeoff, and in that era of the twenties, the world was fresh out of 20,000 foot long concrete runways! But, there were a lot of calm lakes, streams, and estuaries! On these, you could afford the luxury of taking 15,000 feet to reach takeoff velocity! So, until the technology to change blade angles inflight was developed, despite the drag of the floats, it was the best way to make a prop plane go real fast! The first technology to solve this known issue of relative angle of attack was engineering a direct pilot control on the blade angles. The pilot would set the desired blade angle and it would stay there. This was called the variable pitch propeller and it was a very nice development, but the pilot had to be very careful in managing the blade angles to avoid overspeeding the prop or overstressing the engine. The next development was using some means of automatic tweaking of the blade angles to maintain a desired RPM setting -- being called the constant speed prop. The first method was electrical control which worked, but had a fairly high degree of problems with runaway props. This was the problem Howard Hughes encountered as one of the counter-rotating props on his high technology propsed spy airplane had the props suddenly reverse and produce copious amounts of drag vice thrust. A proficient test pilot would have realized what happened and immediately shut down the engine (as this is the only solution and has to be done fast to hope to avoid a crash landing). Alas, Howard delayed doing this until he was out of altitude and airspeed and the rest was history. The first models of the Boeing YB-17 featured electically controlled props. But, it was soon discovered that oil in cylinder working against a piston, countering flyweights, was vastly more reliable and provided much superior levels of refined control of RPM. And to this day, the hydraulic prop governor is still the technology in use for constant speed prop airplanes! Ken
  5. Fixed pitch means that there is a direct link between engine power and RPM, which is why a fixed pitch prop airplane does not have manifold pressure gauges (at least not normally). In a constant speed prop airplane, you have both RPM and manifold pressure gauges. Generally, the MP gauge is the most direct method of measuring engine power output. The RPM gauge becomes a dedicate prop-related measurement giving you feedback on how fast the prop is rotating. Manifold pressure is just the air pressure of the air traveling through the intake manifold before it feeds to the pistons for the compression and combustion cycles. In non-turbocharged airplanes, manifold pressure cannot ever be more than outside air pressure (except for a half inch on takeoff) but can be reduced by "throttling back" on the throttle lever (which closes off the intake manifold butterfly valve). On takeoff, you can sometimes get a "ram air" effect from your forward velocity with the thick air at sea level, and sometimes exceed outside air pressure by no more than a half inch, but that is dependent upon your airplane. Usually the resistance given by the air filter on the manifold air intake will reduce the air pressure about an inch below outside air pressure even if the intake butterfly valve is fully opened (balls to the wall with the throttle). A real world complex airplane's Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) will always feature some form of power tables (or graphs) where you are given a matching set of MP and RPM settings which the engineers have determined correspond to a percentage of full power. Normally, there are three percentages considered useful for what is called "cruise power." Those three percentages are: 100%, 75%, and 65% of full horsepower. Also, often the terms, "Economy cruise," "Best cruise," and "Full Power cruise" are used in lieu of the outright percentage of full power values. If your airplane is not equipped with a turbocharger, then at around 6,000 feet, full power will be impossible to achieve because the air is too thin. As you increase the altitude, the max power value listed in the power table will further reduce until at around 12,000 feet you might only see the 65% power settings shown because it's the highest power you can achieve. For a constant speed prop, you use the prop control lever to set a desired RPM and then the hydraulic prop governor uses the balancing forces of flyweights working against oil pressure on a piston in the governor to maintain that desired RPM setting. On a fixed pitch prop airplane, changes in aerodynamics (such as air pressure and airspeed) will often cause the RPM to rise of reduce without any change made in the throttle's power setting -- sometimes rather significant fluctuations in RPM that require you to throttle back to avoid exceeding RPM red line. But, on a constant speed prop, within reason, the hydraulic prop governor makes subtle automatic adjustments in prop pitch to counter those changes in aerodynamic forces and therefore the RPM you set is tightly maintained even when you increase or decrease airspeeds or outside air pressures change. This is just one of the advantages to a constant speed prop airplane. The other advantage of the constant speed prop airplane is perhaps the biggest one. It allows you to change the pitch angle of the prop blades to maintain optimal thrust. You see, as you increase forward airspeed, you have to flatten the angle of the prop blades to overcome what is called "relative angle of attack." You see, as the air flow in the direction of travel increases, the relative angle of the prop blades to the airflow changes since there is an increased horizontal velocity of the air. So, a fixed pitch prop can be carved (or molded) into three different blade angle shapes. These are called: speed props, climb props, or cruise props. The speed props produce max thrust at max airspeed. The climb props produce max thrust at slower speeds (normally Vy climb speed). The cruise prop produces max thrust at the normal cruising speed of the airplane. But, the constant speed prop gives you the best of the three worlds! For takeoff and climbs, you set full RPM which rotates the blades to their finest angle relative the air flow. Since you takeoff and climb at Vy (which is much slower than cruise or max speeds) you need to rotate the blades to have the most fine angle. But, as you increase speed, you need to flatten out the blades, which is accomplished when you pull the prop control levers aft in the cockpit to reduce the RPM setting. By rotating the blades' angles to maintain this ideal relative angle of attack, you can reduce fuel consumption by letting the optimal blade angle allow you to throttle back the manifold pressure, which reduces fuel consumption but allowing you to maintain an airspeed that with a fixed pitch prop ideal for slower climb speeds would have required a higher level of fuel consumption to achieve. In short, it is often true that with a given manifold pressure setting, a lower RPM will achieve a more ideal ratio of fuel consumption to speed, but not always. Again, you have to reference those power tables. The power table will give you a listing of altitudes you cruise at with various temperature ranges. If you want to cruise at 75% of power at say 3,000 feet, on a warm summer day, you consult the power table and look up the listings for 3,000 feet and then the column for standard day temperature plus ten degrees and then finally the entry for 75% power. As an example, it would likely show a manifold pressure setting of 24 inches mercury with an RPM of 2400. But, you always pay a price for anything you get in aviation. With constant speed props you have to pay attention and not put too much aerodynamic stress on the engine's crankshaft. You see, just as with a paddle on a canoe, when you flatten the blades of the prop, you increase the amount of air resistance on the blades. This causes more force on the blades and this force is translated directly onto the crankshaft which spins the prop. Therefore, you never fly with the manifold pressure full out with the RPM dialed way back. Yes, it can give you an outstanding fuel economy, but it can also cause physical destruction to your engine -- nasty little things like fractured crankshafts, exploded camshafts, or even thrown pistons through the engine cowling! These things will grab your undivided attention should they happen! Hope this helps! Ken
  6. FSX is trying to replicate reality, but like a lot of the ATC behaviors, takes it to an extreme. In real aviation, you often fly through a Class C or Class B airspace sector. So, since they are served by what are called approach controllers, you will be flying in center airspace and get switched to the approach controller, and then once you fly through the Class B or C airspace, get switched back to the same center controller you had before. It works like this example: Flying with Houston Center, you are on a westerly heading. You then approach the east side of Lubbock Approach's Class C airspace. So, Houston Center switches you to Lubbock Approach. You then fly from the eastern sector to the western sector of Lubbock Approach, and so you get switched to the west sector approach controller. Then, you exit Lubbock's Class C airspace on the west side and get switched back to Houston Center, or perhaps even directly to Albuquerque Center. Now, in the real world, depending upon traffic volume on that given day, you may get a break and have one approach controller take you all the way through, especially if your flightpath just nicks some other sector but you stay on the radar scope of the dude you're working with. Many times, ATC won't switch you for such a quick period of time, but in the FSX world, rules are rules and so even if you're in the sector for ten seconds you get switched. Yes, it's stupid. But, it's the same unreality as having a controller change your heading by a degree or two non-stop to keep you within a tenth of a mile on some perceived track that the ATC software in FSX demands you stay on. If the world had been blessed with another version of FS, I would have liked to see a more realistic ATC interface. But, alas, not to be! Ken
  7. I stopped flying IFR in FSX because of the FSX ATC doing the non-stop one or two degree heading alters when you are being vectored to the IAF. ATC in FSX is also filled with errors. You don't say "with you," when checking in as its obvious you are "with them" since you are contacting them on their frequency! Instead, you just give them your altitude so they can determine if you have the most recent altimeter setting based on any difference between the altitude they show you at versus the one your own altimeter shows you are flying at. Ken
  8. This is the biggest difference for me in FSX versus real flying. Because while I love a nice long cross country in real flying, I simply cannot remain motivated to fly a long cross country in FSX. A sim is never going to get as "real as it gets," certainly not in this regard. Nothing compares to the variations in real world piloting, actually controlling the airplane and looking out the wrap around windows and see the world pass you by. It is awesome! An airplane actually allows you to appreciate the variations in the continental North America -- whether you live in the US or Canada -- as you have to travel a fairly long distance to see those changes and a general aviation airplane gives you perhaps the only opportunity to truly appreciate it in a relative short period of time -- on a factor of about 1/3 the time to drive the same distance. Ken
  9. You could travel to Portales, NM and rent mine! LOL!! Cheers, Ken
  10. Rob, For what it is worth, I completely agree with your point of view on steam gauges in FSX. They do look and perform better from my personal experience even though in actual aircraft the glass stuff is more functional! I think it has to do with the limits of a practical monitor size and how it limits how the glass can be presented. Cheers, Ken I endorse this request! LOL!! Ken
  11. I would ask people who claim that one company is great and the others bad consider a prime fact: there are a relative few people who code up things such as FDE's. These people tend to quietly work for a number of different companies. So, you might be surprised to see who hires who behind the scenes. I will also say that often the very characteristics of an aircraft that make it more faithful to the real world version are the FDE areas that get the greatest amount of criticism. I point out the endless series of challenges received on the MilViz Cessna 310R's p-effect on takeoff roll. It is very realistic and yet people complain about it all the time. Well, go fly a real one and crank up the engines, release brakes, and see how much rudder you have to put in to counter the p-effect! I have found that it really comes down to an airplane versus airplane weighing. I like Flight One stuff, but they are by no means the only company that produces excellent aircraft in all areas of measure, FDE included. I will end by saying that it's your money so it's your choice. But, I would urge an open-minded point of view on this sort of thing. Cheers, Ken
  12. Frankly, as a community, we've been on our own from Microsoft for a very long time. SP2 represented the end of the actual support and the mass firing of the entire Aces Studios represented the last act. The Microsoft decision a few months back to abort MS Flight simply added a huge question mark as to whether there will be anything from MS released in the future that can be called a PC simulator, or anything close to it. Ken Paul Allen was the only reason Microsoft did anything for flying. The entire FS (and by association CFS) series was a direct result of Paul Allen's personal passion for aviation. Frankly, ten years from now, folks still running FSX will realize they are still possessing the state of the art in affordable, personal, PC flight simulation. And given that MS has a history of choosing to see their code die vice sell the source code to another company, you will not see a follow-on development to FSX either, much less a new FS version. Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D is the only thing that will exist in the future and it is not intended to be a personal game. Ken
  13. Has anyone done a Cessna 300 series single engine aircraft? Those are in the same class. But, frankly, for raw speed, you cannot beat a Lance Air Legacy. Keep in mind they are used as racing planes because of having such a high thrust to weight ratio, and it's not merely weight, but a very low drag design in the fuselage and wing. Ken
  14. It seems what you are really asking is if you can cancel an AI flight (thus grounding an AI airplane) and still have it on the ramp. The short answer is that any AI traffic only appears if it has a flight plan created, which directly means it will eventually fly. Now, if your sole goal is to have lots of airplanes on the ramp at a particular airport, then the answer is fairly easy. Using an airport scenery program you go in and remove some of the ramp parking spots and in those same places you lay down an airplane as though it is a building -- meaning fixed place scenery objects. Be mindful, that when you remove a parking spot, you should also remove any taxi or apron route legs that connected the now deleted parking spot to the overall airport taxiway network. Airport Editor is particularly adept at making this GUI based and fairly easy. Then you add the revised airport BGL scenery file to your FSX Scenery library. If you ensure this revised scenery BGL file is higher in the pecking order than the original file, then you have done exactly what you desired -- you have put airplanes on the ramp that are perpetually grounded. The reason you have to delete the parking spot is that if you don't you might have an AI plane park there and you can have overlapping airplanes, which of course would look bad. In creating airports for some freeware and payware projects in the past, I have done exactly this to create the effect you speak of. Ken
  15. Something that I think would be valuable would be for the folks who developed this add-on to provide some brief overview for how it interfaces within FSX and what is required to function -- for example if aircraft are required to be first developed to work with it before you can work with it. Cheers, Ken
  16. Appreciate the reply Paul! If the other issues can be satisfied, then purchasing a third-party utility to correct that issue might well be advisable. One of the principle airplanes with this issue is the Flight One 172R, which I really like because since it had wheel pants, it became an almost perfect match for my own real-world Skyhawk. A fellow by the forum name of Real Old Salt (Rich Murray) was kind enough to work up a beautiful custom livery and interior cockpit that perfectly matched my airplane and Jerry Beckwith was equally gracious and worked up an FDE that very tightly matched performance using a 180hp engine such as I installed on my Skyhawk. So, if this utility would solve that issue for that particular Skyhawk (inside and outside) it would be welcome. BTW: I have not heard from Real Old Salt in ages. Anyone know what he's up to? Thanks, Ken
  17. If your copy of FSX is not displaying the option, then it is most likely because FSX detects that your system specs cannot support it. Now, I'm not saying that is the reason for certain, but that it is most likely the case. Ken
  18. If this is covered in another thread, then just advise me. I looked through the first page and did not find anything that appeared to match my questions by title. There are three basic issues I have found over the years when using the Dx10 Preview in FSX and these are the reasons why I stopped using it. 1. Airport lights disappear -- this is a constant that whenever I have used Dx10 Preview the taxiway, apron, and runway lights (except sometimes for the approach lights) disappear. So, do these Dx10 tricks recently discovered solve that problem? 2. Older airplane skins turn solid light grey -- this happens with many aircraft originally released for FS9 in that when in Dx10 Preview, the skin paints seem to disappear and get replaced with a solid light grey skin. I recall that this was because the type of texture file used for these older airplanes are not compatible with Dx10. So, again, do these recently discovered tricks solve that problem? 3. Often I have found that the way cockpit flood and instrument backlights are radically altered when using Dx10 Preview. So, once again, do these tricks solve that issue? Thanks, Ken
  19. Would not surprise me that the AvSim staff sent him a little reminder about being nice and threw in a bit of "time" for him to consider the merits of it! Cheers, Ken I will say very impressive graphics for the flammer there! TacPac could open up FS as the CFS4 we all waited on but were disappointed to find would not be coming. Ken
  20. Horizontally opposed aircraft engines are not antiquated. How many of the "modern" automobile engines could run for thousands of hours at 75% of max power? And if that sounds impressive, then how many can run those same hours at 100% power? Auto engines are designed to "cruise" at 25% power. Ken
  21. Yep, any time you allow something to be provided by just one source in the whole world, you've handed them a monopoly to exploit! They can charge pretty much whatever they feel like charging and get to inflate the dangers of their work. Ken
  22. OK, this may be somewhat controversial, but for pilots and aircraft owner/operators, I think we have endured this nonsense way too long and now it is time for some bold organized actions and protests. Fuel costs are outrageous -- soaring in costs vastly beyond cost of living and totally defying all supply and demand laws. So, I wrote this letter to AOPA and I wanted to post that letter here. So, here it is: AOPA is right to work to alleviate burdensome and harmful regulations. However, I want to talk about an even greater threat to aviation -- the soaring costs of fuel. I have a few facts to present and then I'm going to ask AOPA for aggressive action on this issue. Back when I first became an airplane owner/operator in the Florida panhandle, the cost of a gallon of 100LL was around $2.00 and I remember older owner/operators complaining loudly about that! At the time, I paid about $1.25 for fuel for my car. That was back in January 2004. Overall, the annual rate of inflation has remained 2% or less over these 8.5 years of time. Had fuel prices followed that formula, then today I would be paying about $2.75 for a gallon of 100LL. If only! In fact, the situation is that today, the average price of 100LL is around $6.25 or more. At Portales Municipal in east New Mexico, when I moved and located my airplane (Cessna Skyhawk) in August 2008, the price for 100LL at this airport was $3.50 a gallon. As late as August of 2010, the price was between $3.75 and $4.00. Keep that price in mind as I reveal what has happened since then. For most of the year 2011, the price rose to about $4.50 and then to start 2012 it rose to $5.00 a gallon abruptly. It then rose to $5.20 and I informed the airport manager that it was time to organize to stop the insanity. The price trickled down to $5.10 and stayed there for four months. This week, it jumped from $5.10 to $5.50 a gallon! Auto gas meanwhile is at $3.50 a gallon. I now pay $2 a gallon more for 100LL than I pay for regular unleaded gas for my car! Back in 2004, the price difference was a mere 50 cents and that ratio of difference stayed that way for years. What has happened? Have we seen something that according to supply and demand would justify such a spike in fuel prices? Nope, just the opposite! Flight hours are, in fact, way down. In fact, over the last several years general aviation in particular has been hard hit. Aircraft values have gone down as costs of operation have increased. But, the gas companies don't seem to care. We have to change the dynamic at work. To my eyes, it appears that the gas companies think they can charge whatever they want to charge. But, we have to take aggressive actions to deliver the loud and clear message that this is not the case. In the blunt language, we need to tell them to drink their gas because we aren't going to buy it -- not while we are getting price gouged to death! While our GA industry is dying, oil companies make record profits. While we have seen five years of horrible recession, the gas companies have done nothing but continue to jack up prices for fuel way above cost of living. I am asking AOPA to work with FBO directors to boycott fuel. It sounds radical, but a radical and stark message is precisely what is needed, and I think AOPA (along with GAMA) is in the best position to organize the resistance movement. We need to pick a day on the calendar and have every FBO owner call their fuel vendor and order them to cancel the next scheduled fuel delivery. If it means we ground the GA fleet, then it is the same act that truck drivers have done many times to protest the same uncontrolled rise in fuel prices. They have organized days where they refused to ship goods. It was a valuable attention getting step and I think it is time for it to happen in aviation. Ken Stallings
  23. Like many things it comes down to individual opinion and preference. My personal view is that some things can be. I would say basic checklist procedures, especially emergency procedures, as well as instrument flying can be practiced, but only for limited value and never as an outright replacement for getting in the real airplane and keeping your skills solid. I have found that practicing engine out work for a piston twin has some limited value, especially doing the dangerous stuff such as losing an engine just after takeoff -- something you really don't want to practice for real! Ken
  24. That's very cool! Save that for sure! What is really kind of sad for me is how many of these men have passed away of various causes -- most simple old age. These astronauts at the time of their walks on the moon were in the middle thirties, so since it has been about four decades since, it should not really surprise anyone but looking at the list of the dozen men who walked on the moon, it did surprise me. Ken
  25. Would you be surprised to learn that is not true? Take a closer look at modern fighter jets. Let's start with the F-15E. Look where the wings are mounted on the main part of the fuselage. Yep, on the high side! Just because the cockpit rests even higher doesn't mean the wings are mounted at the low portion of the fuselage. The F-16? It is a mid-wing design, more of a blended wing, so a bit difficult to term it either high wing or low wing. But, if you whip out the micrometer, you'll find more fuselage below the wing than above it. The F-14 , F-111 were both high wing jets. Same configuration as the F-15 took. Same for the A-7 and the F-8 -- both very clearly high wing fighters. The F-18? Yep, same story, high wing design. Matter of fact, one is hard pressed to find a jet fighter design that is truly a low wing design. The F-4 is certailny one. But, most are either high wings or mid-wings. If you are curious why the high (or at least mid-wing) design is so prevalent, one of the prime reasons is the inherent advantages of putting the landing gear in the fuselage and then having a lot more space under the wing to mount munitions. Also, you can make the wing straighter (with less dihedrial) because of all the weight that is below the wing serving the same inherent stabilizing force as for a high wing GA airplane. You are certainly right that in World War II most of the airplanes were low wing designs. Lockheed zigged against this trend with their P-38 and some derivatives of that boom design such as the P-61 made by Northrop. Cheers, Ken
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