Monday, October 12, 2009

Latest flights

These past days I've not had as much time as before to log my flights. As you might expect, my first priority is to fly, and then log when time permits. So I've done a lot of flying, but not much logging. I guess it's not too much of a problem, given that nobody reads this blog, anyway. But I'll try to summarize recent activity.

I've been practicing a lot with both the Eaglesoft Citation X and the Wilco Citation X. These are two very excellent add-on models of the legendary Cessna Citation X business jet, which is the fastest civilian aircraft in the world right now. Flying both of the add-ons gives some interesting insight into what's realistic and what isn't. That is, both models follow the real aircraft slavishly, but there are tiny differences in the implementation that reflect development choices and/or specific information sources.

The add-ons have their differences, but overall they are so similar that it's hard to call one better than the other. The Wilco Citation has throttles that are very difficult to set to fuel cutoff, for example, but the Eaglesoft Citation has tiny controls on the pedestal that are hard to manipulate. Both models, though, simulate the behavior of the real aircraft—the differences are often just in the ergonomy of the model. Another example of this is the availability of “pop-up” displays on the Wilco model, whereas they are not available on the Eaglesoft model. There are differences in the details of how the FMS behave on each model, too—but then again, that can be true from one revision to another on the FMS of the real Citation, too!

Anyway, I've been flying these all over the place. Most of my time so far is on the Eaglesoft, but I'm trying to build some up on the Citation. Both are fun to fly, and since they are modeled after the real thing, they both behave in pretty much the same way, except for the sim-specific ergonomics that I mention above. Time will tell which one I prefer. I rationalize the two models by pretending that they are two slightly different revisions of the real aircraft (the differences between them are so small that this is entirely plausible).

I've been doing a lot of flights in the Great American Southwest, as usual. The Citation X fills an important niche, so I've been putting a lot of hours in with this aircraft. I do occasionally fly my Dakota or Baron, too, as well as the Bonanza (although it's been a while for that aircraft—I should take it for a spin), and my three Cessnas, the 152, 172, and 182. Not much big iron lately, though.

Individual flights lately have been too numerous to describe individually here. Overall I'm still improving at hand-flying the larger aircraft; I don't have any trouble at all with the prop aircraft, even without an autopilot. Large aircraft are different beasts and you really have to stay ahead of them, but to some extent they all resemble each other, so skills transfer reasonably well.

My fleet has grown to the point that I can constantly rotate through different types of aircraft, which gives me broad flying experience and lots of interesting variety. And I've become quite an old hand at ATC communications, so that goes pretty smoothly. Simulation gets better every day!