Ultra-Realistic Flight Simulation

Explore the 3D cockpit of PMDG’s Douglas DC-6

PMDG has been creating high quality payware aircraft add ons for FSX & Prepar3D. The Douglas DC-6 will be their first aircraft created for X-Plane. Take a 3D look around the cockpit of the DC-6 via a video posted today on their Facebook page!


Meet X-Plane Developer Chris Serio

Question: What’s your “official” title with X-Plane?

Chris Serio: Official title? Mobile Product Manager/Senior Software Engineer/Mobile Marketing Manager/QA Lead/Social Media Specialist/HR Manager/Expert Scotch Drinker/Professional Ranter sums up the daily duties.

Q: Can you provide a little background on yourself?

CS: I’ve been contributing to LR since 2008 but I’ve been programming since 2000 in some capacity. My official background is in Electrical Engineering, not Software or Computer Science, but you can learn anything quickly when you do it for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I also have a Commercial Pilot’s License.

Q: What was your first experience that got you into aviation or X-Plane?

CS: I got my first flight in a Piper Cherokee back in 1997 as part of the EAA’s Young Eagles program. I grew up about 2 miles from a small GA airport and my house is on their downwind leg so I was always interested in aviation. My dad used to take me to airshows too. After the “first flight” I was hooked and my buddy and I signed up for ground school and started our flight training while in high school. We were absolutely obsessed with aviation.

When I wasn’t flying for real, I was flying FS98 and X-Plane. They each had their strengths and weaknesses. I used flight simulation heavily to practice. When I moved on to my instrument rating, X-Plane was especially useful. I’d practice approaches non-stop and then when I got in the real plane, they were routine so I was able to save a lot of money–which was huge because I was only 17 and still working 3 side jobs to pay for my own training.

Q: What type of computer set up do you use? Any hardware or accessories you couldn’t live without?

CS: It may surprise people but we pretty much all have average hardware…not super machines. It’s important that we do most of our testing and development on the type of hardware most users have. My main development machine is a 2013 27” iMac. I also have a PC for Windows and Linux work. It’s just barely average to today’s standards. It’s a Core i5-2500 3.3GHz with a GeForce GTX560Ti and 16GB of RAM. I also have a 2012 Macbook Pro and a desk that’s absolutely littered with every iPad/iPhone and popular Android device you can imagine.

For accessories I have a Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS, CH Products Pedals and a CH Yoke as well. I did a lot of development on making the V10 Desktop joystick back-end more modernized so I needed a device with a ton of buttons and the Thrustmaster looked perfect for that.

Q: Does this differ greatly when using X-Plane for work vs. fun?

CS: What is this ‘fun’ you speak of? 🙂

Q: What’s the most exciting part of working on X-Plane for you?

CS: X-Plane is unlike any other simulator out there because it’s not a flight simulator…it’s a world simulator. EVERYTHING has to be simulated just right in order for users to really feel like they’re in the real world. This means there’s never monotony. You’re always working on something new. Weather, physics, user interface, sound, controls, social media, missions, air traffic control, lighting…it’s all constantly evolving. In other jobs I’ve had, you did essentially the same kind of work over and over again and I would find myself getting bored.

Q: Do you have a favorite aircraft to fly, or a favorite location?

CS: In real life, I love to fly Piper Warriors, Arrows, Mooney and Cessna 172s because they’re readily available and “affordable” though I use the term very, very loosely. I have had experience in turboprops like the Cessna Conquest but mostly smaller GA planes. In the simulator, I love the King Air. I like how rugged and durable it is. It’s like a flying SUV. It’s a multi-purpose aircraft. If anyone reading this wants to bribe me for X-Plane features with some flight time in a real King Air…I can be bribed rather easily. 😉

Q: Do you have a favorite plug in or add on?

CS: Dataref editor? I don’t use X-Plane for leisure that much…if I have free time it’s usually spent trying to get ahead on more work, so I don’t use addons much any longer.

Q: You’re the lead on X-Plane 10 Mobile, and it’s about 1 year old now. Do you have any thoughts about how it changed over the year? Were there any surprises or feedback you weren’t expecting?

CS: I’m not ashamed to admit that I was partially wrong about what I thought users wanted. My goal for the product initially was a mobile flight simulator that was easy enough for a non-aviation-geek to use, yet deep enough in realism that even real world pilots could enjoy themselves…but users wanted more depth than I expected.

We actually do listen to feedback even if we don’t always respond directly to it. It was quickly apparent to me that we needed to add in all of the complexities that users wanted while doing it in a way that’s not frightening to new users. That’s been our new focus for a while now. It’s always a very difficult challenge on a mobile device. We’re limited on device performance, download size, memory and most of all, controls. Using a touch screen instead of a full keyboard + mouse + joystick poses some difficult challenges. Users often ask for MORE scenery, MORE planes but make the downloads SMALLER, make things FASTER. It’s difficult to find the right balance sometimes.

Q: Any insider news you can share about what’s coming up for Mobile?

CS: I can’t give away any secrets just yet but I can say we’re working on some major improvements that users can expect around the spring time as a free update. I think all users from beginners to professional pilots will be impressed. We’re also always working on new aircraft that will be available for in-app purchase. We have some really cool planes coming up!

GAMA 2016 Aviation Design Challenge

Registration is still open through January 31, 2016 for the GAMA 2016 Aviation Design Challenge.

The Aviation Design Challenge promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in high schools across the nation. Participating schools receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane.

Student teams complete the curricula in 4-6 weeks and then apply what they learned to modifying the design of an airplane to best complete a specific mission profile. A virtual fly-off will be scored on aerodynamic and performance parameters and judges from GAMA will select the winning school.

The winning team will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for up to four high school students, one teacher, and one chaperone to experience general aviation manufacturing firsthand.

Learn more about the results of the 2015 competition or complete the pdf registration today to participate in the 2016 challenge.

McDonnell Douglas MD-80 Released on Mobile

The update for X-Plane 10.2.1 Mobile has been released on both iOS and Android!

This update includes some minor bug fixes and the gorgeous new McDonnell Douglas MD-80 with 3 liveries and 3 missions.

Saberliner Cockpit Simulator

Happy New Year!

Flight simmer John Bennett has really gone the extra mile to make his set up as realistic as possible. He’s converted a real Saberliner cockpit into a sim in his basement. Feast your eyes (and your jealousy) on these drool-worthy photos he’s provided.

X-Plane 10 Mobile Holiday Sale

For the remainder of the holiday season, V10 Mobile in-app purchases will be on sale!

Happy Holidays to everyone from us at Laminar Research! We hope you and your family have a safe and healthy New Year.

We’ll have some news about exciting new features that we’re working on after the new year. Until then, go easy on the egg nog!


Patent Troll Update

We at Laminar Research, along with many other companies, are being sued by a company called Uniloc, which is owned by The Marathon Patent Group (NASDSQ: MARA) FOR USING THE GOOGLE STORE.

Uniloc, despite having no affiliation with Google, claims to own a patent that DESCRIBES the Google Store. Here is that description from their patent.

We at Laminar Research, along with other companies being sued, recently overturned this claim in court. Uniloc’s response was to say that we now infringe on some DIFFERENT claims by using the Google Store.

Uniloc offered to let the lawsuit against us stop if we just gave them $50,000.

We declined.

Laminar Research will continue to overturn Uniloc’s and the Marathon Patent Groups absurd patent claims as long as they continue to make them.

To learn more about the ongoing disaster that is our patent system, go to ThePatentScam.com.

X-Plane 10 Mobile Update

Last week, X-Plane 10 Mobile version 10.2 was released for all mobile devices. This is a pretty cool update with some major changes (a new airliner!), so make sure you grab it!

  • Added Game Controller Support
  • Added support for Android TV devices…specifically the Nvidia Shield TV
  • Flight School (Tutorials) for ALL aircraft are now FREE! No purchase necessary to fly the tutorial missions!
  • Added the Boeing 747-400 for in-app purchase (includes 3 liveries)
  • Added ‘wing-view’ as an available view now (based on numerous user requests)
  • Fixed difficulties using the map with the throttle
  • Fixed bug preventing speedbrakes/spoilers from working properly
  • Fixed bug preventing purchases from being available when offline
  • Numerous other miscellaneous bug fixes

We’re back to it now, working on some really big features for the future. More news on that as things progress!

X-Plane Use in 2015

X-Plane may seem lonely at times if you don’t fly online, but there are thousands of people like you enjoying virtual flights every day. X-Plane 10.40 started tracking data from millions of flights over the past few months and some trends have emerged. We put together a colorful visual to highlight some of the results. If you’ve ever wondered what the most popular plane is, or how your computer compares to others, you’ll find that info and more in the infographic below. (more…)

World Class Airports Coming in X-Plane 10.45 Update

Airport Scenery Gateway artist Jan Vogel has customized nearly 400 different airports using the free WorldEditor software. Jan’s newest creations rank among the world’s busiest airports: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (KATL), Beijing Capital International (ZBAA), and Dubai International (OMDB).  Each of these airports is provided for free through the Airport Scenery Gateway and will be included in the next major update to the simulator.

How many hours of work and hand-placed lights does it take to make awesome X-Plane scenery? Jan provides behind-the-scenes information and previews of the airports in the videos below.