Captains-A few years ago, we made a number of staffing changes at PMDG in order to bring on more talent, and to expand our product line offerings. At risk of sounding too "business school," we started to plan out the next five-to-six years of development at PMDG, and we realized that we had troughs in our development cycle where various members of the team would be under-utilized as their role in various flagship airliner projects wound up and down.At about that time, Henning van Rensburg (of Aeroworx fame... yeah- that guy!) joined the team- and my charge to Henning was to fill these development troughs with projects that would be different from our usual run-of-the-mill glass/FMS/computer driven airliners. Henning chewed on this a bit- and then asked rather hesitantly, "anyone around here like old airplanes?"Truth be told- I think most of us around here are more engaged by old airplanes than the modern ones- since we all grew up in the age of 707s, 727s, DC-10s and the like... But for some of us (me, Henning and Dr EV(il) for example) are HUGE fans of the big old radial engine beasts. There is just something visceral about the snorting, belching, fire breathing monsters that plied the airways and showed the world how to travel. THOSE were the glory days!So back in late 2010, while the NGX was deep deep deep in the heavy work cycle, Henning (or, "H" as we know him around here) approached with an opportunity that we just weren't going to turn down. He was friendly with a fellow who ran an airline out of Windhoek, Namibia that was still operating two of the nicest DC-6 Cloudmasters to be found anywhere in the world... Henning asked, "do you think this is something we should...."Before we knew it- a couple of guys were out in the African bush getting the experience of a lifetime... (Henning occasionally complains about his "hardship assignment to Namibia." Nobody around here listens much... I mean- just look at him here... Does that LOOK like a hardship assignment?)
So as the NGX wound down, and it became time to give everyone on the development team a rest from the brain-bending work that is required to produce a product like the NGX- various folks on the team started to tinker with this gem of an idea for a "fun" development project for the team.Yes- occasionally even we need a break from the endless glass/FMS cycle... and what better way to recharge the batteries than with an airplane as beautiful as an old Douglas propliner?So- beginning early last year, work was begun on what is envisioned to be a new, fun series of products from PMDG: The PMDG Classics.First bird out of the (classic 1940s style) hangar is the Douglas DC-6B Cloudmaster!
The PMDG Classics line of products will be an "occasionally released" line of products that come out of our love for old airplanes. These products will bear a clear lineage to our well established penchant for realism on the airliner products- but instead of managing an FMS- you'll be learning to juggle pressures, temperatures and things measured in inches, torque and RPM!
(This is one of my favorite images of this airplane. Notice the subtle pressurization induced pillowing of the metal? The detail around the nose gear and the gear doors looks almost photographic!)At the heart of the PMDG Classics line, you'll find an incredibly immersive flying experience that completely different than anything you might be used to from the jets! Low climbout angles, slow acceleration, carefully planned descents with plenty of drag so you can keep the power up in order to maintain engine temperatures and avoid torque loading the engines! (Don't worry- we'll teach you what all of that means!)
With the external model, you can see we have included plenty of detail including maintenance stands. (If you operate an old radial piston pusher, you need lots of maintenance stands!)We're going to give you an extremely realistic, feature rich flight deck, too. Detailed to the same degree as the much loved NGX- the PMDG DC-6B is without a doubt a busy place. But we'll get you started and in no time you'll feel just as home here behind all of these levers and switches as you do in the NGX!
No detail has been spared, as you can see. Nicks/chips on panel edges, the slight fading/yellowing on older instruments... The overhead is at once marvelously complex and extremely well thought out in terms of systems operations and grouping items together.We've gone all out to make sure that classic airplane lovers will get the same level of visual detail as our glass airliner pilots.
For those that enjoy the process of learning a new airplane as much as they enjoy flying the airplane- the PMDG DC-6B will certainly not disappoint! Everything you see here works... From the adjustment levers to the radios to the trim indications... It all works. You'll be doing a bit of learning when it comes to leaning the engines, setting RPMs properly, and of course making sure that you manage fuel correctly to keep the airplane operating as expected!
But even a classic old airplane like this needs the occasionally modern upgrade. So we've included the exact cockpit layout of the airplane we surveyed in Namibia, complete with a couple more modern digital upgrades- and a Garmin GPS to help you get around in case the NGX has caused you to completely forget how to tune/fly a VOR course!
In terms of realism, it is not intended that this product be as detailed as, say, the NGX. While you will need to learn how to correctly (and effectively!) manage the engines and systems on the airplane, it will not have a failures module, nor will we be adding in some of the character driven amenities that our friends over at A2A have done so well with in their vintage airplane line.(Lest anyone worry- this product line doesn't create any conflict with the development plans at A2A... We are big fans of Scott and his team. In fact, the only person outside of PMDG to know about this product and product line was Scott, so yes there has been a bit of conversation about it!
)We are looking forward to seeing you guys get a chance to do some "old school" flying in our DC-6B very soon. As usual, we aren't going to talk about release dates because we just don't do that here... But as you can see she has been a project of enthusiasm for members of the team transitioning off the NGX and onto the 777!We'll have more preview images for you in the near future!Okay- so now you know the identity of one of the secret projects... And remember- don't let H fool you... that was no hardship assignment... No matter what he says!