I was originally looking for a freeware Baron that was better than default, and instead this Duke came up in search, as a package of both piston- and PT6A turbine-power variants. The latter intrigued me, as I love turboprops, so I snagged and installed it. Once I fired up the sim, these were my impressions:
* The model and texture are second-to-none, absolutely beautiful. Right down to the engine nacelles and the prop blades that actually move when you change pitch, a neat visual treat!
*I can cope with a 2D KingAir panel and no VC; in fact, if I was so gifted, I'd do up both and offer them for free to Mr. Craig to throw in, but my strengths lie in .cfg files and hyperaccuracizing airports with AFCAD and Google Earth. I really should get whatever graphics software it takes to do up modelling...seems intriguing.
* Sounds are great, even start-up. Nothing sounds as awesome as a turbine starting, running or shutting down. It's addicting.
* Steers very well, but she sure likes to go! Whoa, Nellie! I pulled up the throttle quad on-screen and selected "Low Idle" on Condition...that helped. Don't need so much Beta to manage taxiing, just a blip of the power levers here and there, that's it. Trots as well as a stallion. Impressive.
So, now we're at the end of Runway 22 at Nelson, BC (CZNL), my favorite STOL testbed. With very steep hills at both ends, too. I whip around on the keys, stop on the 22, drop flaps to APPR...that's a pretty menacing hill dead ahead...and I'm not gonna trace the river. So, be bold: power levers ahead smoothly, listen to her spool up, brakes off. She launches like Eddie Hill on his 4.990, the runway's a blur, backpressure on the yoke, she's off. Gear up, smoothly pull yoke back to make 3,500 feet/minute, flaps up. She's climbing...and accelerating. Within seconds, the hill is cleared, so reduce 'er to 2K/minute, set a course for McCall, Idaho (KMYL), leveling off at FL200.
At cruise, screaming along at 280 knots GS (220 KIAS) on autopilot, I just keep an eye out for traffic and enjoy the ride...until 12 minutes out, so I set the ALT bug for 7,500 at a 1,200 fpm descent (I went into the .cfg and modified the autopilot default vertical speed to 1,200 from 1,800), power back for 180 KIAS, reach target altitude and trace the mountain valley north-northeast of McCall until she comes in view. 160 knots, flaps at APPR, autopilot off. I tweak the trim and the plane suddenly noses up, I have to pressure-forward the yoke to stabilize and then mitigate with lots of trim. Don't know why it did that...but we keep going. 2 miles out and 130 knots, down go the gear, flaps to FULL, adjust power for glide slope into Runway 16. 10 feet to go, power at Ground Idle...Ow, a bit harsh , that's my fault. Beta, brakes, slow enough for halfway turnoff. Taxiing is a breeze to the north end parking by the windsock (I modified McCall, it needed it badly). Wobble in, parking brake, fuel cutoff and shutdown. Whew!
Conclusion: Like any turboprop, she'll get away from you if you're not careful, especially in ground handling. But she doesn't disappoint. She's a thoroughbred, for sure, glad I got 'er. Thanks again, Paul!
*** $$$ ***
Run on FS2004 with 9.1 update, both subject airports hyperaccuracized with AFCAD and Google Earth. Computer is 2006 Dell Optiplex 745 with Core 2 Quad 2.39 GHz and 4MB RAM, using motherboard chipset (that'll change soon, just got the PC), PC is brand-new, sat in original, sealed factory crate for 10 years until I bought it 2 months ago. FS hardware: Saitek Cessna yoke, Saitek Cessna rudder pedals, Saitek Cessna trim wheel, two Saitek throttle quadrants set (from L-R) to spoiler/speedbrake, power/beta, power, prop/fuel cut, prop/fuel cut, flaps. More hardware to follow... *evil grin*