Avsim was hacked on May 12th 2009 in such a way that it would seem unlikely that it will return. Tom Allensworth made this announcement:
"We regret to inform the flight simulation community that on Tuesday, May 12, AVSIM was hacked and effectively destroyed. The method of the hack makes recovery difficult, if not impossible, to recover from. Both servers, that is the library / email and web site / forum servers were attacked. AVSIM is totally offline at this time and we expect to be so for some time to come. We are not able to predict when we will be back online, if we can come back at all. We will post more news as we are able to in the coming days and weeks...". "I want to provide everyone with a non-technical view of what took place yesterday and last night so that some of the rumors that are already starting to spread are corrected. During the early evening yesterday, we noticed that some alarming things were starting to happen on our servers. The first sign of an issue was that some functionality disappeared on our web server. That progressed to not being able to access the web server via FTP or SSH. Finally, the web/forum server tripped offline. Next the library/email server started to exhibit issues. We went in to reboot it, and that is when it failed entirely. The partitions on both of the servers had been removed. We shut down both servers until we can get a technical member up to our Network Operations Center (NOC), and do a comprehensive inspection of the damage. I have seen some rumors and speculation already on the various forums in the community, and I would like to make sure that everyone knows the facts. Here are some: Early in the evening, I sent out a bulk email to all forum members letting them know that we anticipate shutting down the Web/Forum server for a period of time. About a third of the way through the process of sending that email to all 60,000 forum members, the hacker succeeded in bringing the server down. The email was did not get sent to everyone. The reason I sent the email, based on what we knew at that time, was because that a minimum, we would need to shut the web/forum server down to inspect the unit and do repairs. At the time the email was sent, we were unaware that a hack was in progress and that our system would be taken offline entirely. There were no hoaxes involved, as some have asserted."
When asked about the subject of Backups...
Some have asked whether or not we had back ups. Yes, we dutifully backed up our servers every day. Unfortunately, we backed up the servers BETWEEN servers. That is, GREEN, our library server, would be backed up to PURPLE, our WEB/Forum server. That way, if one or the other failed, we would have a back up on the remaining active server. The hacker took out both servers, destroying our ability to use one or the other back up to remedy the situation.
Carenado C172N Skyhawk II Float for FSX
Carenado have released one of the most versatile aircraft for bush flying and surveillance tasks - the C172N Skyhawk II with Floats for FSX. This aircraft is a standalone package (It isn’t an extension pack for our previously released C172N). [Much like the C172 Ski Edition last week] This product was developed only for FSX taking advantages of all the FSX and DX10 features like cast shadows on VC, external dynamic cast shadows, normal mapping, specular mapping and bloom lights, resulting in a high quality aircraft.
Free X-Plane Trainer for iPhone/iPod Touch
X-Plane Trainer is a free application, featuring the C172 designed foe the iphone/ipod touch. The application is designed to teach user's how to fly, and includes on screen instructions. As well as this single airplane and plenty of flying regions, it gives you continuous help-tips, showing you how to fly from take-off, climb-out, turning around and bringing it back in for landing.
MyTRAFFIC X V5.2a Announced
MyTraffic X Version 5.2 is a giant step forward compared to previous versions. All included airports and schedules are in the FSX-format, and The majority of the included aircraft types is already in the new, highly optimized FSX Service Pack 2 format, pairing both top quality with ultimate performance. A few of the features:
- 5.6 Million+ weekly AI Flights
- 8,100+ Airports bustling with AI Traffic
- Flights are generated based on real world data and on a realistic model - All traffic is generated based on real-life traffic patterns. MyTraffic X also includes a set of long range flights based on published airline schedules giving you a high level of realism without the boring uniformity of products that restrict themselves solely to published schedules.
- A dozen new airports – Flight Simulator X has a good coverage of airports in Northern America and Western Europe, but many important airports in other parts of the world are completely missing, not even a single runway. Included are now 12 completely new built addon airports, like the large Moscow area regional airport Byokvo, Myachkovo and Ostafyevo – you even can fly to Grozny now!
- Airliner, General Aviation and Military Traffic
- 4500+ Paints coming from more than 1800 different airlines
- 173+ Aircraft Models - From Airbus to Boeing, Cessnas to Embraers, MyTraffic includes them all.
- MyTraffic X Editor - Eaisly create and generate thousands of flights with the click of a mouse based on the parameters you entered!
- MyTrafficTrafficBoard - MyTrafficBoard (MTB) is a graphical utility for display information about Flight Simulator's AI traffic, and will allow you to interact with it!
Price: EUR 39.27, (without VAT EUR 33.00 ~ $45 USD) [Buy Here]
Mark Stewart's Review of MyTraffic X
One of the things that boosts the reality of a flight and helps an airport come to life is other aircraft. Having aircraft parked at the gates, the view of an aircraft paused at the hold-short line or the twinkling lights of an incoming flight on approach, AI traffic is a great edition to the experience. This week we had the opportunity thanks to “name” of MyTraffic to put his new add-on through it’s paces. There I was, blocking traffic, not clearing the runway fast enough and generally being a real pain in the butt at an airport near you. So why was I doing this? Well, just to see how his new add-on handled my inexperience and sloppiness when it came to simulating other aircraft reactions. I am happy to report that about 80% of the time, the other AI pilots stepped on the brakes or throttled up to go around avoiding me as an obstacle. Up until now, I had used the add-on Ultimate Traffic which I purchased a number of years ago. It pleased me greatly that MyTraffic had improved upon my previous experience with an AI aircraft manager. So overall, I truly enjoyed the experience and the positive aspects far out weighed the minor breaches in reality. The negatives are really more “wishes” for future patches and editions.
Easy and straightforward, happens in two major parts. (1) Installation of primary program. (2) Building of aircraft database (15-20 minutes). Instructions in HTML format viewed in browser.
Like most AI TRAFFIC MANAGERS aircraft are simpler but still looked quite good. Paint jobs were clear and only faded in quality at a distance. It was a good balance between detail and not bogging down the system with high detailed textures. I experienced a great mixture of appropriate liveries in the airports I was flying out of.
Aircraft Handling & Movement
Aircraft ramp operations, taxi-way, take-offs and landing were performed well. The only aspect I noticed was some turbo-props and smaller aircraft stopped in way to short a distance. The other aspect I noticed that was also present in other add-ons was aircraft taking to long to commence take-off roll. A lot of commercial aircraft start the spool up of engines before they are even lined up to expedite departure for the tower. This was a typical scenario of AI aircraft sitting there and holding on the numbers for 30 seconds to a minute. I don’t know if this is a programming limitation, since it seems to pop-up in stock AI aircraft as well.
One of the most important things to do when you activate or fly with a package like MYTRAFFIC is to make sure you set up the winds. The program needs to read the winds for an airport in order to set-up the proper departure and arrival runways. If you don’t you will have unrealistic arrival and departure runway assignments for an airport that is not consistent with reality.
Separation Breached & Incursions
I was pleased that in most scenarios MYTRAFFIC sensed when I was on the runways or blocking a taxi-way. I set-up a scenario with landing traffic where I left my tail hanging 10 feet onto the active runway with an aircraft on approach. Sure enough the program set the inbound traffic into a missed approach. It was not so kind with the reverse scenario and my nose partially onto the runway and traffic in take-off mode. The plane taxied on, held and rolled right past me on the take-off roll. It did not sense me clearly breaching the runway 2/3 of the way down. But it is a small point. I was also pleased that there was not a huge wave of traffic that descended on the airport when first starting a scenario.
A surprise to me is the sounds made from AI aircraft. There was jet blast sounds and good ambient sound when near the aircraft. It was something I was not expecting.
If you don’t own and AI add-on like MyTraffic, I would highly recommend that you go out and support MyTraffic. I have not been flying with AI as much in FSX due to frame rate issue, but turning it on made me realize what I was missing and greatly added to the experience. the program is done well and exceeded my expectations in most areas.
Other notes about MyTraffic X:
- We talked to someone from the MyTrafficX company, and asked them - Bottom Line - How is MyTrafficX different from other payware AI addons or freeware AI addons.
- Over the years, MyTrafficX has grown to 1900 Airlines (With 4900 Repaints), as a comparison Matthew from MTX tells us World of AI has 600 Airlines, and JustFlight's Traffic X just 400.
- Freeware AI packages are based on either ProjectAI, PSPainer, or AI Aardvark models in the FS2002 data format. MTX uses the FSX format for most models which offers new visual effects, and about 2.5 times better performance.
- They also had someone go through each airport with AI bugs (For example, aircraft landing before the proper runways), and adjusted the Afcads on each problem airport.
Eric's Aerosoft PBY Catalina X Review
Called the new “Reference Plane for FSX” by SimFlight.com, Aerosoft’s new PBY Catalina certainly lives up to the hype. The model comes as a 300MB installer and uncompressed will eat 1.1GB on your hard drive. The first PBY Catalina made itself known in 1935, and quickly transformed into the PBY5A amphibian model it is known for today. The aircraft served many roles including search and rescue, and shipping and anti submarine patrols.
You get a total of 11 different models, each based on the PBY-5, PBY-5A, and PBY-6A. There are small details between the different models, and each model category includes modern radio and electronics, and another one with accurate 1940’s cockpit equipment. The models include cowl flaps, floats, and accurate landing gear that will realistically affect the amount of drag on your aircraft while in flight, which you really can notice. I did notice what could have been a bug with the PBY-5 model, in that when retracting the landing gear they simply disappeared. I also had an issue when after purchasing the aircraft, it would lock up and crash FSX when I selected the aircraft. I contacted Aerosoft customer support, and they responded in about 24 hours with a fix. It gives me peace of mind knowing that even shortly after a product launch this size, they are still very responsive. The issue ended up simply being that in Windows 7 (And Vista I am guessing) FSX had to be run as administrator. The model handles very realistically, and is overall a joy to fly. There is, however one tip that may come in handy... Aerosoft says in their forums that in order to get more realistic behavior when taking off from water, or while the cowl flaps, floats, or landing gear is extended, the model has “invisible flaps and spoilers” The real Catalina did not have either flaps, or spoilers. However, because FSX does not simulate things like landing gear drag, or taking out of water as realistic as it should, Aerosoft uses additional programming to control these “invisible surfaces” – So Aerosoft recommends de-assigning any command or axis for these surfaces, however it seems as only users who use FSUIPC to handle joystick operations should run into these issues.
The Virtual Cockpit is where pilots will spend most of their time, and Aerosoft cut no corners on the VC of the PBY Catalina X. The entire VC and all instruments are modeled in full 3D. Depending on which model you select at startup will give you different VC’s. In a modern cockpit, you will be given a Bendix King radio stack, and a Bendix King KLN-90B GPS receiver. Aerosoft says that you’re welcome to download the real manuals for this equipment and use it on the Catalina. In older cockpits, you will be presented with a simulation of a Sperry A-3A autopilot. The VC includes an interactive checklist and allows you to set the startup mode (Cold & Dark or Flying Mode) and engine realism settings. It also includes full instructions for power up, water operation, power settings and much more – All accessible from the VC in FSX. There is also a full virtual cabin, and aerosoft includes helpful pre-placed views to make accessing the back panel, First Officer, and electrical panel easy to use.
There is simply nothing like starting up the engine in the Catalina X. It includes no electronics so starting and tuning the engines must be done by hand. You can find full instructions on their forums, and a video tutorial… Or you could also just choose the aircraft in an already on configuration, but that’s no fun! Lets go through a quick startup procedure. First switch the battery on, and verify that you’re getting at least 27 volts. If you keep the aircraft running from battery too long, you may find your battery running low. Anyone here have jumper cables?
- Now make sure that all other electrical switches are off, cowl gills are open, parking brakes are set, and master ignition is on.
- Go to the back wall of the cabin, and turn your beacon lights on, and set the right fuel selector to both, and the right engine mix to full rich.
- You’re going to need to open the throttle a bit, and turn on the right fuel booster. Engage the starter, and wait 6 seconds… Then prime the engine, turn the right magneto to both, and mixture to auto rich. Turn on the generator, and switch the starter and fuel booster to off.
- If you start to hear the engine RPM drop, you will need to use the primer until the engine warms up. Repeat for left engine.
The reason I put this under “sounds”, is because you can use the sound of the engine to determine how it is running, and when you may need to prime it. That is how much detail Aerosoft put into this product.
There are so many extras I can mention. I would have to pick the sheer realism of this model, though. Lets just take a look at some things to remember while flying:
- Keep watching and LISTENING to the engines until your oil temperature reaches 30*C. Keep priming those engines until then as the RPM falls off.
- Watch it while going slow! Keeping the RPM below 1,000 RPM may cause the sparkplugs to misfire, keep the RPM up!
- Keep the carburetor heat on when flying in high humidity or hazy weather to keep your engines from failing due to moisture in the carburetor.
- Watch the ice. Your aircraft will start to slow down if too much ice or freezing rain builds up. Use the de-icer before too much ice builds up otherwise you may find yourself literally starting to fall out of the sky due to the extra weight on the body.
- Don’t cut the throttles too fast. If you’re running a hot engine and you cut the power, it could cause an engine failure due to excessive cooling. Be gentle and move the throttles gently!
Aerosoft also includes a 400 page operating manual for the PBY Catalina X. This is the actual aircraft manual, which you can use for flight in FSX. You can pick up the Aerosoft PBY Catalina X for 27.95 Euro here. [Link] Information in this review can be found in various locations: [Link], and [Link]. Video: Starting the engines in "Realistic Mode" in the Aerosoft PBY Catalina X:
Useful links from Mark
http://www.aopa.com Listeners can sign up for 6 free issues of AOPA Flight Training Magazine. No Obligation and no CC req Great Magazine especially for those who want to start their real certification. http://www.fltplan.com Real World site on flight planning. Very cool site to get information from.
$100 Hamburger Flight Discussion
Find everyone's results from last time's flight discussion here [Link]. Thanks to everyone who participated, here is the latest flight from Mark!
You can download and print the complete PDF of the Sectionals, Flight Description, and everything you need here: Download PDF (21MB / PDF)
In a previous week we flew the beautiful Gulf and San Juan islands on our first $100 Hamburger. We flew by the seat of our pants, we tamed our machines and found the reward of simple flight. In this weeks Hamburger Flight, we open up the distances, not quite as comfortable. We increase the winds, flying in a place where the trade winds blow. We are likely to see cross wind landings, a common fact here. If you are not familiar with this area, navigation should be tougher position. Remember, the FAA is watching. (and no GPS!)
IMPORTANT!! SET WEATHER to REAL WORLD WEATHER DOWNLOAD (Every 10 minutes) We depart from Honolulu at 2pm. Use 4L or 4R for departure, not the outer Reef Runway. Avoid departing right over top of Waikiki. (Noise Abatement). This is a VFR flight but due to Honolulu is Class B, we will still use a known departure. So lets use the included (see pdf) Honolulu ONE departure. So without getting technical, let’s make a turn to 155 degrees until out over the water and clear of heavy traffic coming off 8R, then a turn to your first decided Dead Reckoning point or VOR.
VORS MOLOKAI VOR 116.10 LANAI VOR 117.70 MAUI VOR 115.10
FIRST STOP (PHOG) – 87 NM
MAUI, Beautiful Island with soaring valleys, beautiful beaches and a 10,000ft Volcano Haleakala. Good spot for a late lunch!
2ND STOP (LANAI - PHNY) – 30NM
Used to be a plantation island for Dole, now a growing destination for those seeking a quieter Hawaii. Great touch and go spot on our way back to Honolulu. Watch those winds!
HEADED HOME (HONOLULU / PHNL) – 63 NM
Remember, most smaller traffic uses the 4R / 4L, not the reef runway. Watch for traffic, keep that head on a swivel! Great Flight. Great Day. Post those pictures and stories in the forum! We will discuss this flight on the podcast.
Discuss the flight!
We’ve created a forum over at the Fszone.org forums for FSBreak.
Mark S: Introduce listeners to a great atmospheric trick that will bring a whole new level of realism and feel to their flights. Talk about how I use LIVEATC behind FSX and FS9 to add realism to my flight in just about any geographic area. It is also great practice (tuning the ear) to ATC because communicating with the controllers in the real world is one of the MOST intimidating elements to learning to fly. www.LIVEATC.NET
Eric: Honorable Mention: Aerosoft's San Francisco City Addon
- More than 2800 major buildings included
- Thousands of Autogen buildings placed realistically
- All three heliports and 1 seaplane base in good detail
- Detailed ship in SFO bay with helipad
- Sound effects near heliports and bridges
- Traffic on most major roads
Cost: EUR 14.95 (without VAT EUR 12.56 ~$17 USD) [Link]
Mark A: X-Plane Addon Aircraft [Link]
Voicemail from Dave
We'll get back to your e-mails next week!