Amsterdam and X-Plane 10

Hello, fellow X-Plane pilots!

Well, we’re back from Amsterdam, and while tiring, it was a pleasant trip! One of the things I look forward to most on trips like these is meeting up with other X-Aviation developers and X-Plane enthusiasts. There’s no better place to do that than a flight sim enthusiast conference, right? Right!

This trip was rather spur of the moment. I had been teeter tottering heading out to Amsterdam for FS Weekend for a few weeks prior to the event, but never fully committed. Ultimately I had decided I may skip it this year and work on some pressing matters here at the X-Aviation office. Tom Kyler flew out here to work with me as he normally does on an almost weekly basis. We have a nice setup here with a bunch of latest generation Apple brand computers, so it’s a great work environment with good hardware. Tom is usually busy working on X-Plane 10 at the desk behind me, while I tend to do various coding projects for the Saab 340 or back-end overhauls to the X-Aviation server. Lately it seems to be more mixed with X-Plane 10 beta testing, however. We’re doing our best to ensure everything works smooth in the transition!

It was day two of Tom being in the office with me when I decided I should probably commit to going to Amsterdam. It’s good for us to be dedicated and know where the X-Plane market is headed, as well as what the Microsoft Flight Sim users think of this upcoming X-Plane version. Given this fact, I turned to Tom and gave the proposition that we fly out to Amsterdam and see what it’s all about. Austin was there, and Tom was already feverishly working on getting the new Seattle-Tacoma scenery finished in preparation for Austin’s presentation at the conference. There was one requirement for us to get over there, and that was flying First Class from the USA to Amsterdam. Tom needed the workspace to “set up shop” and ensure he could get his work done on time for Austin if we were to do this, and coach doesn’t have the room needed to get the job done. With this little tidbit of “workload” in mind, we set out to get our tickets booked and prepare for the trip. Delta was our carrier of choice. They classify their First Class service as “Business Elite,” and our trip would take us through Memphis and then non-stop to Amsterdam.

Memphis Bound

Jetting off to Memphis, TN


When we got to Memphis we had about two hours left before departure to Amsterdam, so we grabbed a light bite to eat. One thing about international First or Business class on any airline is they stuff you to the brim on your flight, often times making it so you’re full before you’re near done with what they have planned for you to eat. We ended up settling on a small BBQ restaurant and headed back to our gate only to find out the emergency slide had been pulled on the inbound aircraft, so they had to wait for additional parts coming in from Atlanta before we could depart. This ultimately led up to a four hour delay, but we made do!

Once on-board, we took our seats and got comfy for the long haul. I planned to sleep most of the journey after dinner, while Tom planned to work through a good portion of the flight mixed with some much needed rest to prepare for some busy work once we got to Amsterdam. There’s not much to say about the flight going over, so I’ll share it in picture form:


Appetizer - Salad, Tuna Steaks, Tomato Basil Soup


Main Course - Pan Seared Fish, Wild Rice, Green Beans

After this it was bed time for six hours. I opted not to go with the additional meal selections, which was a cheese plate followed by ice cream sundae. It’s a lot of food!

But, six hours later….


Eggs, Sausage, French Toast, and Fruit Bowl

And an hour later we arrived into Amsterdam…

Landing at Schiphol

Yep, we're in the Netherlands!

Once we got off the plane we cleared customs relatively quick and proceeded to the train station. Due to our delay in Memphis it was already four in the afternoon and the sun was quickly going down.  Our hotel was a very nice place directly across the street from Amsterdam Centraal Train Station. This was a great location, as I had never been to Amsterdam before and wanted to explore without much hassle. This was also perfect for Tom, as he could work away in the hotel as needed and hop out into the “party” of people for a quick bite or sight see during mental breaks.

Austin’s presentation wasn’t till Sunday, and we arrived on Friday. We decided we would spend Friday evening and all of Saturday in Amsterdam proper to be a bit touristy, and just go to the conference on the one day that really mattered to us (Sunday). Friday ended with a nice dinner along one of the busier areas in the city followed by a quick walk through the red light district and then it was time for bed.

Red Light District

The Red Light District


The Grasshopper - Marijuana, Alcohol, Steak House, and Coffee Bar spread across three levels.

On Saturday morning we woke up to some relatively nice weather and I decided to go sight see for a good chunk of the day. Tom stayed back to work on X-Plane 10 stuff. If you’ve never been to Amsterdam before you should definitely pencil it in as a “To Do” in your lifetime! It’s a rather busy place, but it has a lot of history and beauty as well. Just walking around the city itself is a great experience, which is precisely what I chose to do.


Amsterdam is full of many canals like this

Another Canal

Another Canal...lots of boats!

After a while we headed back to pick up Tom for a quick walk over to the Anne Frank House. This is the one “exhibit” we decided on between the Van Gogh Museum or the house. It was a good choice, as seeing something like this smacks you in the head and reminds you that it wasn’t long ago when certain parts of the world were killing innocent human beings for unjustified reasons. This is also a must if you go to Amsterdam!

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

After the house we walked back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Tom had a long night ahead of him to prepare for Austin, and Ben Supnik had informed us that we were to be the back up unit if the demo machine failed to run X-Plane 10 the next day. Dinner wasn’t anything special for us (fast food, really).

Off to Lelystad…

Sunday came after a long night of little sleep. I was slightly turned around on time, and Tom was on and off working on the X-Plane 10 download to have as backup for Austin. That said, we were excited to get on the train to Lelystad, so the little sleep wasn’t wearing us down. The weather, however, wasn’t the most optimal. Overcast, cold, and sometimes foggy.

Marry Poppins

It's almost like a scene out of Mary Poppins!

Amsterdam to Lelystad was about a 50 minute train ride. From there it’s another 10 or so minute bus ride to the Aviodrome. The conference started at 10 in the morning, and we arrived shortly after.

Lelystad Airport

The walk along the Lelystad Airport perimeter to Aviodrome


Welcome to the Aviodrome!

Once we arrived and got inside, the line had already been quite long to purchase tickets for the event. We had shown up just 30 minutes after opening, so it was nice to see a relatively large crowd so early. As we were purchasing tickets, the first display we saw was the Aerosoft and X-Plane 10 booth. Austin was busy demoing away for people, showing them the eye candy provided in X-Plane 10.


Austin showing off X-Plane 10

X-Plane 10

X-Plane 10 in use

Tom and I decided to walk around all of the exhibits to see what people had going on. This place is really quite large, being multiple stories, and a total of three buildings. There were plenty of people to talk to, and lots to see! If you wanted to get away from the simulation side of things you could walk outside and check out the real aircraft on display there ranging from small GA aircraft to a KLM 747. All in all, it’s really a neat place!

Display Tables

Just a small section of the exhibitors


3D effect motion simulator

JRollon CRJ

The setup for the Take Command! series CRJ-200. Javier and Philipp were here!


Some 737 Custom Sim Hardware


The KLM 747 on display

Aircraft on Display

Other aircraft on display

Some more exhibits

Some more exhibits

Some more exhibits

Some more exhibits

More Exhibits

...and some more

The backside of the Aviodrome

The backside of the Aviodrome

Austin’s X-Plane 10 Presentation

At three in the afternoon Austin held his presentation. It was essentially the first time any of us (including him) had seen X-Plane 10 as one piece. Up until this point the Laminar team and the beta testers had been using only bits of X-Plane 10 for testing specific items. The presentation was held in a rather small room on the opposite side of the Aviodrome building. It was a cozy room, but Austin managed to fill it up to over-capacity. It is without doubt that everyone has their eyes on X-Plane 10, including MSFS users. This was nice to see, as it was just the kind of audience I wanted to watch reaction from.

Unfortunately, Aerosoft’s computer was acting up, and once one of the computers was finally working it happened to be an older system and by no means extremely capable to run X-Plane 10 without very toned down settings. This, added with the off-color wall the projector was casting on, made the presentation of eye candy not look the best. Additionally, Austin is more of an engineer than eye candy person, so his presentation left a lot to be desired to the folks of the Microsoft Flight Sim World. While Austin carried on with talk about flight model, Microsoft people come from a sim full of eye candy. This is where I feel the presentation should have stuck to, but it didn’t. I looked over at Tom Kyler and we were both feeling the same way. It was at this time Tom jumped up and got the MacBook Pro out. It had the latest version of X-Plane 10 on it, has a very “pretty” display, and showed the rendering settings set to extreme levels. This is where many people came to huddle in around the laptop screen with many “Oooo’s and ahhhh’s!”

Now, I have read from various websites about things Austin or Aerosoft stated, and I wanted to make some clarifications here. There’s really two main one’s:

1. There has been a misconception that PMDG (a Microsoft Flight Sim development group) was showing off beta’s of their products in X-Plane. This is not true at all, and what caused this rumor was a statement made by an Aerosoft executive stating that PMDG was provided with a gratis copy of X-Plane 10 in beta form for evaluation. This meant nothing more than they have a copy and are free to check it out if they so choose. Transitioning products like PMDG’s to X-Plane is not and will not be an easy task if and when it ever happens.

2. Somehow people got off on saying that Austin stated X-Plane 10 would essentially ship really buggy. During his presentation the application was freezing up due to “memory issues.” A rumor started about that Austin said X-Plane 10 would ship with this bug. This is NOT true. Austin’s statement was that this would be ironed out by the time the DVD cut was to be made. These memory issues were just a mix of a rather non-optomized X-Plane 10 running on a not so great machine. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches during live presentations!

Austin's Presentation

Austin's Presentation

This pretty much concluded the day at Aviodrome. After the presentation, I gathered up some of the guys for a photo prior to heading off. Javier Rollon, Tom Kyler, and myself opted to go out to dinner in Lelystad before we headed off to Amsterdam on the train.

The Gang

Austin, Cameron, Tom, Philipp, Javier

I made plans for Austin to meet Tom and myself in Amsterdam for a night out. Austin is taking some much needed time off after a few years of development to enjoy Europe with his wife and child in tow, and this was a great way to kick off some relaxation time. We started the night out with a walk through the Red Light District. Austin had never seen it before and was curious to see what it was all about. In reality, it’s full of tourists and surreal to see. Add that to your “To Do” list if you go to Amsterdam!

After our little tour of the district we ventured out to find a coffee shop where we could sit, talk, and relax. It’s very hard to find a quiet coffee shop in Amsterdam. Nearly all of them sell Marijuana and are filled with people and smoke to a near unbearable degree (I suppose this is subjective)! We finally found a small shop with only three people in it playing cards, and we figured this would be a great place to have a few drinks before ending our night.

Cameron, Tom, and Austin

Cameron, Tom, and Austin

Well, we TRIED to get out there without the high, anyhow. Some people just don’t have “high” tolerance…

Austin and Tom

Austin and Tom

…and with that we concluded our night AND trip.

I walked away from this trip satisfied. The time and effort was worth it if only to see the reactions of enthusiasts from around the world. I will use the knowledge obtained here to drive X-Aviation forward over the next year. Thanks for “coming along” on our journey, and for your continued support!


In Amsterdam for FS Weekend

I landed in Amsterdam yesterday afternoon. We have a few X-Aviation people here, so it should be a good time!

I’ll have more info as the FSWeekend X-Plane presentation goes on, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, here’s a few photo’s to kick some stuff off…



The Happenings At X-Aviation

Todays blog post is going to be slightly different than the previous one’s here, and I plan to make posts like this one a staple to this blog. There’s a lot that goes on at X-Aviation daily, weekly, and monthly. We have a dedicated team, and all of us pour our hearts into making the add-ons we do, as well as providing top notch support for each and every product we offer.

As you can imagine it’s a busy time for us at X-Aviation. We are preparing for the X-Plane 10 release, and we’re on a feverish schedule to do it! I have been testing all of our products to ensure compatibility with X-Plane 10. When an issue arises I immediately report it over to Laminar and work as long as needed to make sure the fixes are put in place so your experience and transition as a customer is a pleasant one. X-Plane is all about fun for many of us, so why make it harder on our customers? We’re working hard for you!

With the above said, X-Plane 10 is a beautiful application. The amount of detail and hard work that has gone into making this product a reality is at astronomical levels. The team works countless hours, and having been a part of the long term development phases and a first hand witness I can tell you there’s not a moment that goes by that the people assigned to X-Plane 10 aren’t working their tail’s off (with the exception of sleep, of course)! From the new lighting, shading, atmospheric scattering, default aircraft, to the new default airport…it’s all there, and in style. It is without doubt that X-Plane 10 is above anything the X-Plane fans of today were expecting, and the Microsoft people will get their socks knocked off (finally)! This is only affirmed with the alliance of companies like Aerosoft joining the fray. I’ll post some new screenshots of X-Plane 10 here very soon, so stay tuned!

Another ongoing project at X-Aviation is a collaborative effort with ICON Aircraft. I flew out to Los Angeles, CA this week to work at the ICON corporate offices and work towards our next iteration of the motion flight simulator we have developed for them. ICON generally uses this simulator in showcasing the aircraft to potential investors and buyers, so you can understand the importance of this product to their company. That said, the simulator really shines when people at the Oshkosh Airventure get a chance to sit in and fly it for themselves. We have now gone to Oshkosh the past two years with this motion platform and each year the popularity grows. It’s not uncommon to be walking around the various displays at the show only to overhear some people talking about what a fun experience they had in the sim. My objective this week was to iron out some new flight model requests, and discuss the future of the simulator experience itself. Needless to say, the future of the ICON motion simulator is exciting and I’m overjoyed with X-Aviation’s involvement in this project. We have many contracts with big name companies, but this one is unique and a standout among our contract projects! It doesn’t take much to see why…




The last project I wanted to discuss that is receiving a lot of internal attention is the upcoming new release from RealScenery. Which one? Norther California, of course! This has been a big project, both for X-Aviation and RealScenery. We have worked collaboratively on this project now for multiple years, as we believe this will be a product that many will purchase over any of the others. California is a very popular place, so it’s only natural we have such an assumption!

One of the things many of our users are aware of is our RealScenery Downloader. We host these sceneries on premium bandwidth servers in order to better serve you, so our delivery platform for these products differs from our aircraft products. As you can imagine, serving up single orders that can now get up to 30GB of a download is no small task. The infrastructure needs to be well planned, and over the years we’ve tried to emerge as a leading tech company on many fronts. This is not to say we have been trouble free. I have listened to every customer complaint and compliment that has come through over the years. I am happy to say that thanks to your feedback we are releasing a brand new RealScenery downloader. I have just completed compiling a new version of the application for testing, and it’s safe to say this one is the most robust and customer friendly yet. The interface is intuitive, and I have now wrapped it into our installer platform. This means when you download your RealScenery purchases your downloads will auto install on the fly for you! There is no documentation to read prior to install, no manually unzipping files, and we provide this service with improved, ultra fast download speeds.

There are also two new items that are worth mentioning with this announcement. The first item is that today I am working on the launch of our new Asia Pacific server. This will ensure our customers in that region get the best download we can offer. As it stands now we have a few United States based servers, and last year we introduced a new server in Europe based in Ireland. The second is that with this new platform we will now support Linux for RealScenery product downloads! Prior to this, the only method of delivery was DVDs for Linux users.

So that’s the happenings at X-Aviation this week! As you can see, we have our work cut out for us, and we rarely slow down. The most important thing is that we’re working hard to earn your trust and business, and we appreciate you being supportive of our efforts.

Thanks for reading!