Sunday, August 1, 2010

A36 Bonanza

This review can be considered as sort of preview for my upcoming flight. I just discovered the DF A36, thanks to a friend who gave it to me as a birthday present.

For those who already know, the A36 is a great FS9 add-on. I found out it was a real classic and felt like a complete idiot for not knowing about it. That said, I wasn't a huge GA fan in the past, I only flew airliners, mostly the PMDG 737.

It goes a few months back when I discovered how fun and instructive GA was, although with a bit of encourgement of a fellow simmer. Without his advice I still would have been flying airliners exclusively.

Today's route

Seattle being the default airport in FS, I thought why not as it offers great scenery and decided to do my test flight around there. Another reason is I recently got a very cool Seattle sectional area chart (thanks Al!) so I wanted to use it as well.

Sea-Tac was busy as always (I've only been there in FS!) and as I sat on the GA ramp trying to figure out how to use the Garmin 430 the usual US carriers were coming and going. I remember hearing a lot of Alaskan callsigns so I guess it's one of the main operators here.

The weather was a chilly 13C with heavy clouds, overcast at 800 and 2800. The winds were calm from the south.

I plotted an angled route to Ozette passing over Diamond Point on to Neah Bay and then down to Ozette which took about a flight time of 50 minutes in total.

After getting the aircraft set, I headed excitedly to runway 16R for departure.

Following a Delta MD-90

KSEA was IFR only which I didn't understand since the visibility was quite good. FS ATC didn't clear me insisting that the airport was currently IFR, which of course I ignored and went on with my taxi anyway. Actually I don't ignoring the ATC but this was test flight anyhow.

I have no idea how the real A36 flies but the take-off roll felt "correct". The best part came once I was airborne. The aircraft felt extremely smooth to fly and responded nicely to trimming, a rare experience in FS.

Over Tacoma, lots of clouds

Seattle was very cloudy this Sunday. I encountered really heavy turbulence right after take-off and had to fly manually as the autopilot had a nasty tendancy to stall aircraft. Above 5000 feet the flight was smoother and the A/P worked much better.

More clouds and Alaskan 313 flying close by

I played around with the autopilot, banking the aircraft left and right in HDG mode, intercepting VOR radials, switching back to GPS mode to see how the aircraft reacted. The DF Bonanza was just like the PMDG NG in that matter, the flight dynamics and instruments are done very well.

I was getting low FPS figures and suspected the aircraft of being a frame hog but as the clouds cleared the frames increased so I guess the heavy clouds were more to blame than the add-on itself.

Approaching the TOU VOR

I loved the Garmin 430 and its FMC-like features making auto-flight very fun but the RXP weather radar is an exceptionnal instrument. It goes perfectly well with the radar pod on the starboard wing too. I'll add the wingtip tanks on my next flight as well. They look very cool on the A36.

Flying over the TOU VOR banking hard right, I began my descent into KUIL from 7500 feet. I leveled off at 2000 feet and flew the left downwind leg for the runway 04. The winds at KUIL were 050 at 3 with clouds 500 overcast and 2500 overcast, 12C. Not very different from KSEA.

Short final runway 04

I flew the whole approach manually and again loved the feel of the aircraft. The winds were calm so the approach was a piece of cake. My landing was quite good too, considering it was my first shot in this aircraft. I also loved the aural alerts of this add-on.

Nice animations by DF

Like I said in the begining, this was just a preview and my next review will be of a full IFR flight in this lovely aircraft. How about Africa, hmm...

Thanks for viewing


  1. No pilot report sent to me?!?!?

    Hey those low cloud shots are the best. AS6.5 does a great job making them look real!

    Getting close to the airline traffic too huh? KSEA is the main hub for Alaska Airlines.

    Love the google earth shot too!

    And of course short final...

    You know, I never even heard of Ozette until this post!

  2. That's the best part of FS, learning about new places even though you've actually been there!

    I went back to soft horizons for the sky textures but I'm quite happy with AS clouds.

    The pilot report is coming your way.