Bombardier Challenger 300
After a long hiatus from writing reviews for FlightSim.Com, I am finally back! Personal responsibility and life in general has kept me busy for several months and, frankly, flying in X-Plane 10 and writing reviews had to take a back seat. Also, I have found it difficult to maintain my interest in flight simulation somewhat as all of the newest aircraft files keep getting better and better looking and consequently more demanding of the resources. Meanwhile, I am still trudging along running my mid 2011 iMac, which simply cannot handle the latest and greatest HD files from Carenado and Alabeo (much to my chagrin).
Now that I finally had some time to sit down, take a breath, and get back into the old X-Plane "cockpit" I decided it was high time to start getting back into writing reviews. I contacted my good friend, Dom Smith, and asked him for some file suggestions that would not destroy my poor computer and make me bemoan the fact that I desperately need a new one. Dom, being the helpful individual that he is, gave me a couple excellent suggestions, and I eventually settled on the VMAX Bombardier Challenger 300.
For those of you who are familiar with my past reviews, you'll know that I'm all about general aviation piston singles (and twins to a lesser extent) so at first I was a bit apprehensive of testing and reviewing a mid-size business jet. Climbing out to 30,000 feet for an hour's long flight from point A to point B isn't exactly my idea of a fun time spent sitting in front of my computer, not to mention the daunting task of managing all those complex systems that I know next to nothing about. I want to enjoy the scenery around me and it just isn't the same from the virtual flight levels with mediocre rendering settings. Denis Krupin's Challenger 300 is also a somewhat aged file having been around since X-Plane 9, so it isn't exactly the "new hotness" that simmers are clamoring for. Still, I had heard nothing but good things of the "bizjet" built for a simulator that is practically devoid of them. So, I somewhat reluctantly decided to take up the challenge (yes, pun intended) and stretch my horizons a bit. Would the Challenger 300 disappoint and leave me pining for a Piper Cub or open my eyes to a new world of simulated flight? Let's find out!
Sights And Sounds
Once I downloaded the Challenger 300 and installed it into X-Plane 10.51 I immediately started to peruse the provided documentation. Two pdf files entitled "Challenger 300 Quick Flight Tutorial" and "CL300 manual" are supplied and should greatly assist the customer in the operation of this complex aircraft. Both files are laid out in a logical manner and have a professional polish to them that one would expect to find in a $30 piece of software. To be perfectly honest, I was a little daunted at the prospect of flying a high fidelity business jet in X-Plane but the well-executed documentation put my mind at ease a bit.
Having done a little reading I booted up the sim and started out at one of my favorite airports, KTIW Tacoma Narrows. Switching to an exterior viewpoint I was thrilled to hear birds (House Sparrows to be exact) chirping in the background. While this may seem somewhat superfluous to some, I find that these sort of auditory details go a long way toward lending a degree of plausibility to a simulated flight. It takes the sterility out of the equation a bit and, for me at least, is somewhat soothing as well.
The acf file looks absolutely gorgeous from the exterior. Sure, these aren't the latest HD textures found on most of the newer generation of aircraft add-ons, but Denis Krupin's provided reflections plugin make the Challenger 300 look stunningly realistic. I love panning my camera around the aircraft and watching as the reflections shift in a dazzlingly authentic manner. For those of you who aren't aware, this is really pioneering technology for X-Plane at least, and decent surface reflections have never been a standard feature in the sim until the highly anticipated X-Plane version 11 made its appearance.
Admiring every angle of this beautiful airplane is an absolute joy and it is clear that Krupin captured the sleek lines of the Challenger with a high degree of precision. Yes, even a "dyed-in-the-wool" piston engine guy like me who generally prefers the looks of something like a Mooney, J-3 Cub, or Spitfire over anything with jet engines, can appreciate the sleek aesthetic of a business jet like the Challenger 300. In all honesty, I have long loved the looks of a "bizjet," and have always found them to be far better to gaze upon than their airliner big brothers. Something about them oozes speed, style, and attitude that a "tubeliner" completely misses. Krupin's not only captured the artistic beauty of the Challenger 300, but he hit a home run when it comes to the more logical aspect of measureable visual fidelity. His Challenger holds up to scrutiny when compared with photos of the real world aircraft, a talent that is sadly lost on far too many airplane designers for X-Plane. Thankfully, you won't find any glaring inaccuracies here.