Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aircraft Review: Flight1 Pilatus PC-12 for FSX

Well aside from spending a lot of time making videos, I also fly a lot just for the hell of it, which I guess is the point of flight sim after all.

So, starting today I'm going to do a quick review of any new aircraft I buy, and since I just picked up something truly fantastic, I'll start with that.

Short review: The Flight1 FSX Pilatus PC-12 quite simply KICKS ASS.

Full review:

If you don't know what this plane is then I'd recommend checking out its specs on Wikipedia. It goes by the nickname "The Swiss Army Knife" and it is very deserving of that moniker. It's a single engine turbine powered 8 seat go frickin' anywhere and FAST airplane. It'll do 270 knots at 30,000 feet and land on any surface in less than 700 feet. It is the ultimate "Courchevelian".

The flight1 model of this beast for FS9 was pretty good but the FSX version of it improves absolutely everything by quite a margin. The VC is one of the best I've ever seen and boasts RealAir quality smoothness in the gauges. The avionics are a truly complete set and are just excellent for IFR work. The night lighting in the VC is also quite beautiful. Any developer that takes the time to backlight gauges perfectly for night flight, thus not requiring me to use the dome light, wins.

The flight model is spot on and has one rare quality among single engine props made for FS: The vertical stabilizer's twist/incidence actually perfectly counteracts the torque of the engine at optimum cruise speed, just as it should in a real aircraft. This seems like a small thing but short of the RealAir Spitfire or Iris Texan II, I've *never* seen a developer get this part of a flight model right. Even RealAir's own SF260 doesn't do it correctly, amazing as that plane is.

The external model is equally beautiful and the textures are sharp and clear. The bump and reflection mapping are also just about perfect, not too shiny, not pitted or overdone in any way. The soundset is, well, soothing. I love the sound of that turbine in cruise, and all anciliary sounds are custom made and well done. Only sound that bugs me is the autopilot disconnect alert as it is just a little too loud. Easily fixed. The thing that stands out most about this aircraft is its consistency. The VC, flight model, sound, external visuals, avionics and gauges all feel as if they were carved from the same block of granite. That kind of consistency in quality both technical and visual is very very rare. Most planes excel in one or two areas and fail horribly in others. This is quite an exception. By the way it comes with 5 repaints. Three of them are rather 'corporate' looking (and you know how I feel about THAT shit), but at least two are refreshingly funky. ;)

Basically I love everything about this plane and I highly recommend it as a purchase. If you want an SUV for the sky that can cover 1200nm without refueling and look *damned good* doing it, then this is the plane for you. Keep in mind that I'm a fighter/warbird/helo kind of guy, so for me to say all that about a large general aviation aircraft means I'm particularly blown away.

On the issue of framerate performance I expected it to give much more of a hit than it did, and I have to say that the hit is much less than the FS9 version's was. I do recommend that you have at least a dual core machine for flying this thing though. Those gauges do take some cpu power to run, but the configuration program it comes with allows you to disable the FO's multifunction displays, and that buys you quite a bit of fps back, around 4 or 5. It degrades my FPS no more than say the Iris Tomcat does, so that's pretty good considering its complexity.

The only real negative I can bring up about this plane is that it won't work in shared cockpit mode, but that's something we've come to expect from aircraft with such complex gauges. There is hope though, ACES recently released the data to allow developers to synchronize local variables in shared mode. Fingers crossed.

The only bugs in the mix are a slightly annoying beacon flashing effect in the VC, a somewhat difficult to read lower GPS panel in certain sun angles, and a slightly odd interior reflection map on the windows. As well I found the default eyepoint position in the cockpit more suitable for a Hobbit than an Elf, but again that was easily fixed. None of these little issues are showstoppers mind you. This bird lives up to its hype and is totally worth the $30 asking price!

Verdict: Buy it right the hell now.

Here's where to get her:


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The dumbest peripheral EVER...

Ok I've seen some *really* stupid peripherals come to market in my 20 years of flight simming. The Aura "interactor" comes to mind (a backpack with a subwoofer in it), followed by the nearly equally stupid bass kicker chair. Seen some really stupid joysticks too, but THIS piece of junk takes the absolute cake. The only person who'd ever buy such a thing is the sort of 'wingviewer' who sits at their PC with a captain's hat on and refers to their wife/girlfriend as "stewardess".... once.

The price? $1200 USD!

Here are some other flight related things $1200 will get you:

1. An intel QX9650 Penryn 45nm processor, and blistering FPS.
2. A whole ton of quality FSX aircraft and scenery addons.
3. About oh... NINE *real* flying lessons.

Even Airbus (aka boring airplane makers), and just about every general aviation aircraft manufacturer thinks yokes are stupid! Are you listening boeing? For the record the goddamned STICK (not yoke) goes on the right, the throttle on the left, the engines in the fuselage, and the missiles on the wings.

Yeah I know, it's *just* a controller and I'm an opinionated bastard. :)

Lotus out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Group photo!

I've been wanting to get around to this for a while now but FS-Recorder was giving me grief over it. No longer, beta6 fixed it. I proudly present the members of the Lotus Films actors guild. :)

Enjoy! (click on image for full resolution shot)

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I can hardly believe it. When I started the month long project that was to become "Vectors" I thought it might do well, but I never imagined it would hit 100,000 views.

It is so very Stella Artois time. ;)

My thanks go to everyone who gave their free time and effort to the movie and to everyone who watched and left a nice comment, not to mention Aces and the addon makers like Iris and Alphasim who gave us the fine simulator and aircraft needed to pull it off.

Cheers all!

(downs Stella #3...yum)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Unity: Remixed

"Unity", being a commercial video, used licensed music of course. However, had I been able to choose from *anything* in my library to accompany it?... ;)

The video is rather large (17 mb) so it may take a moment to buffer. Enjoy!