With X-Plane 12 now out and my time with X-Plane 11 likely coming to a close in a swift fashion, I decided I should do one last cross country trek in X-Plane 11. One last fly around before moving on to the next generation. Let’s have a look!
A tour of TrueEarth Washington
I wanted to send X-Plane 11 out in style. My aircraft choice was the recently released Aerobask DA50 RG. Although it shares almost nothing in common with the Aerobask DR401 that helped hook me with the sim, it does come from the same developer that’s provided many hours of general aviation joy for me.
My location is a place that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with in X-Plane 11. Orbx’s TrueEarth Washington state was a revolution for X-Plane scenery combining hand edited satellite imagery, excellent autogen and custom points of interest, upgrading my X-Plane experience with this made flying the sim worthwhile for someone like myself who values the scenery as much as I value the airplane.
My X-Plane also sports a number of plugins. For clouds, I’m using Enhanced Skyscapes and ShadeX to adjust the colour scheme for the sim. I also have AviTab and a few other items installed but for this flight I was keeping things very straight forward.
My goal was to view a bunch of different areas within the scenery pack in not too much time. Starting at Tacoma Narrows airport (KTIW), an airport I have some very nice Orbx scenery for, I headed east to Ellensburg (KELN), north to nearby Wenatchee (KEAT), back west to Skagit (KBVS), and then finally landing at Anacortes (74S). A mix of mountain, city, suburb, plateau and scenic river valley.
The first half of my fly had me flying out of the Tacoma Narrows airport. This is one of my favourite Orbx X-Plane airport scenery addons. It’s a reasonably sized field that can handle a small business jet and plenty of GA airplane types with no problem. It’s a short hop to Seattle and the scenery includes the Tacoma Narrows bridge. This is where I set off from.
After that it was climbing up and over Tacoma – located just to the south of Seattle. Then, as the clouds obscured my vision I started to get into the mountains. The DA50 RG has a decent climb rate, even when fully fueled, so a nice autopilot assisted 1,000 foot a minute climb had me up and over the ridges without issue. Off to the left was Snoqualmie Pass with a deep cut through the mountains that I-90 cuts through.
It’s around here that I got a new update from the X-Plane weather system and the sky changed dramatically. From heavy cloud to clear skies. Typical of the weather on the other side of the Cascade mountains. It was here that I was also appreciating the satellite imagery and the change in visuals as the green receded away and the burnt oranges and browns of this more arid section of Washington state contrasts dramatically with the agriculture in the region.
Once over Ellensburg, it was time for the turn to my next waypoint – Wenatchee. I’ve stopped over at Wenatchee’s airport a bunch of times on my various GA trips around this area and so I wanted to do another overflight.
Then it was time to turn back towards the Cascades and up to my next waypoint at Skagit.
I had to climb to 12,000 feet to ensure good clearance from the taller mountains in this area. And of course the scenery did not disappoint as I crossed over some stunning peaks and deep valleys. The thick clouds once again popped in all around me with another weather update and I continued on.
After about a dozen minutes cruising along I was nearing Skagit and the Skagit Regional Airport. This is another piece of Orbx scenery that I have and a great place to fly almost anything beneath an airliner out of.
Then I was out over Padilla Bay, then over the Marathon – Anacortes Refinery and finally over the Anacortes airport. Overflying the airport I made a turn and lined up for a relatively steep approach on Runway 36. It wasn’t my best landing but it was serviceable and before long I was pulling up to a parking lot at this fantastic little airport.
I genuinely enjoyed this tour, this victory lap, and a last big flight with the X-Plane 11 platform. It took me a while to build the kind of experience that I wanted to have here. Thanks to some excellent third party aircraft and addons, I was able to make X-Plane 11 look good and mostly function the way I wanted it to.
There are problems with this sim that I hope 12 will solve over the course of its introduction. Particularly with pieces like the weather which I suspect will be dramatically different.