I make frequent references in WoF to three things I love: (1) Cirrus airplanes, (2) Macintosh computers and (3) X-Plane flight simulator. And if you like riddles, what do those three things have in common?
Now for X-plane (and Austin Meyer) afficinados, you will surely correct me about the Cirrus. Yes, I already know Austin traded his SR22 for a custom Lancair Columbia 400, so no need to flood my inbox with vehement correction emails.
But this post is not about that...it is about a absolutely perfect story Austin posted way back in 2003 about his personal experience picking up Cirrus 8141Q at the Cirrus factory in Duluth. If you've ever fantasized about doing the same thing, then this story wil be a masterpiece you will bookmark and save forever.
Austin has a way with words, much like he does with designing great flight simulators. Here is a taste:
I was pointed to the far end of the very lobby I was standing in: A large, clean, white hangar was built right into the building I was in, with tall glass windows at the far wall of this lobby looking right into it. Within this pristine white hangar sat a curvy, angular, tan, sleek machine, segments of it visible through each of the vertical slit windows, but each window was a bit too narrow to take in the whole airplane. The door to the hangar was labeled "Acceptance Hangar 1." I pressed my nose up against a window to se the tail number on the airplane: N8141Q. Only numbers, but with so much meaning... I opened the door and tiptoed into the operating-room-clean hangar, devoid of any detail or distraction other than the plane itself.If you have never heard of Meyer and his flight sim, you can find out what you need here. X-Plane really is one great piece of software, worth many times the asking price. Here is an example of the highly technical content you will find on their site:
X-Plane reads in the geometric shape of any aircraft and then figures out how that aircraft will fly. It does this by an engineering process called "blade element theory", which involves breaking the aircraft down into many small elements and then finding the forces on each little element many times per second. These forces are then converted into accelerations which are then integrated to velocities and positions... of course, all of this technical theory is completely transparent to you... you just fly! X-Plane breaks the wing(s), horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer(s), and propeller(s) (if equipped) down into a finite number of elements. The number of elements is decided by the user in Plane-Maker. Ten elements per side per wing or stabilizer is the maximum. The aircraft linear and angular velocities, along with the longitudinal, lateral, and vertical arms of each element are considered to find the velocity vector of each element. The airfoil data entered in Part-Maker is 2-dimensional, so X-Plane applies finite wing lift-slope reduction, finite-wing CLmax reduction, finite-wing induced drag, and finite-wing moment reduction appropriate to the aspect ratio, taper ratio, and sweep of the wing, horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, or propeller blade in question. Using the coefficients just determined, areas determined during step 1, and dynamic pressures (determined separately for each element based on aircraft speed, altitude, temperature, propwash and wing sweep), the forces are found and summed for the entire aircraft. Forces are then divided by the aircraft mass for linear accelerations, and moments of inertia for angular accelerations. Now do the whole thing at least 15 times per second. Aren't computers great?Yes, Austin, computers are great. And I love the secret weapon he and his team uses. A visit to that page may forever settle the score that Macs are for artists and Windoze machines are the only PCs that can crunch numbers.