About Me. About All This…
November 3rd. 1993. It was the night that would essentially define the person I would become. I had just celebrated my 11th birthday 3 days prior, my aunt at the time was making her way up the ranks to become the district attorney for the city of Los Angeles and her husband was starting his third year as the club scout for the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, my aunt decided to take me with her on this particular trip to Chicago to visit her husband. For me this meant 2 things, meeting a just retired Michael Jordan in person, and flying on an airplane for the very first time. As fate would have it, American Airlines had assigned us the “Super 80” workhorse. An aircraft that was assembled not far from where I lived at the time. It was a redeye from LAX-ORD and as we began to taxi, I began to wonder what all those yellow signs and colored lights on the ground meant. We turned onto the runway 25R and what happened next, completely blew my mind. Sure I had seen airplanes take off all the time but they always looked so slow for some reason. But this time, for the first time, being onboard and hearing the roar of the Pratt JT8D’s far behind me, I had absolutely no idea anything could ever go that damn fast! And faster and faster we went! Everything was a blur, loud and I could feel every bump on the runway as we continued to accelerate. Until…
God it was like a rocket! Hell, it was a rocket! I felt like I was on by back like a space shuttle astronaut on my way to space. It was at that moment I knew: “This is all I ever want to do for the rest of my life…” A week later, I got the DC-10 and compared to the MD-80 man it was HUGE! They played the just released to VHS Tommy Lee Jones / Harrison Ford film “The Fugitive” from an overhead projector onto a bulkhead several thousand rows ahead of me. I couldn’t see that far but I could plug in and listen as I stared out the window. This time it was a day flight.
I would not go on to fly again till I got my first aviation job at FedEx and took advantage of the free employee jumpseat program in 2000. I flew everywhere and sometimes for no absolute reason. I’d show up to the airport and hop on the next flight out with an open seat with no care as to where it was going. Once I got to whatever the hell I wound up I got on a flight somewhere else. And if there were no flights, I slept in the crew lounge.As this was prior to 9/11, It was all cockpit jumpseating and in many cases, I was not even security screened before boarding. This is funny because the only hijacking FedEx ever experienced was from an employee so you’d think… Anyway, I quickly became very acquainted with the entire FedEx fleet and flew so often, (the 727 being my favorite) several of the flight crews began to know me by name. Fast forward to today and I have been in the airline industry for just over 20 years.
But the story of my adventure into flight simulation really hangs in the years after my first real world flying experience.
1995. It was the year I experienced my first flight simulator. It was an F/18 combat sim on for Apple Macintosh, and looking back at it now, it was all colors and lines that vaguely resembled an airplane. But back then, it was cutting edge technology. My time to play was always in the weee late hours after dad had abandoned the PC for bed. As the years progressed so did the home computers and flight sim games leading to the changeover to PC when my dad purchased a Monorail PC alongside Microsoft FS98. Holy crap was that badass compared to anything I had ever touched before. I graduated in the year 2000 and moved out that year. I wouldn’t go on touch a flight sim again until 2002 when I traded a 6 month old PS2 with 10 games for a used PC. You could easly argue I got the bad end of the stick but you have to remember, quality PC’s were very expensive back then and an eMachine was simply not going to cut it. I headed out to Best Buy and grabbed myself a copy of the just released Microsoft FS2002. I went to Radioshack and got myself a $50 Saitek joystick and just loved it!! Then came FS2004 A Century of Flight. I bought a Sony Vaio Desktop PC the last one they ever made. It cost me $1,800. The world’s very first Pentium D dual core processor. That bad boy was lightening fast.
This is also when I began to travel overseas to Europe. And when I returned home, I began looking for more detailed airports to match the amazing ones over in Europe. I discovered Cloud9 Flight Simulations, Aerosoft, and FlyLogic where I began to spend money on my very first addons. The first dollars that would become thousands. I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But the bottom line was, flight simulation was an addiction. One that carries to this very day straight into my bank account.
We continue to fast forward and I come across a google blog called AirDailyX: “The Insolent European FS News Breaker” ran by a Frenchman by the name of Dominique Mason. What made this little blog so different from all the rest was his style. He had real opinions that he was not afraid to share and I really respected that. He had a lot of community support however, AirDailyX was never really meant to be a long term thing for him. I don’t think he ever expected it to grow the way that it did. So when he quit for the second time, I offered to step in and help. What happened next was amazing. We grew the little blog into becoming the most popular independent flight simulation resource on the internet. We got more help from a few others most notably member Mark Hrycenko throughout our time working together. But ultimately, over time, everyone eventually burned out in trying to keep up up with the day to day work ADX required. So when everyone left, I choose to shoulder on.
I started a new website and re-branded as AirDailyX.net (the original site is currently no longer accessible) but in all that time since joining Dom, I wrote over 15,000 news articles and nearly 100 product reviews as well as livestreams. It really takes someone with a strong passion to do all that and what can I say, my FS addiction lives on.
Back during the late summer of 2017 I received a job offer that promoted me the highest level I had ever achieved which meant ADX could no longer have a dominant place in my life. I had the choice to end it, but instead, placed it into the hands of others to continue forward just as it had been placed into my hands. Sadly, the third iteration of AirDailyX now just known as ADX did not ultimately flow into the direction I had hoped or understood it would.
And to add to it, January 2019 saw me being laid off from my job and the position I loved so much. So now unemployed and being a glass half full kind of guy, I have chosen to take this time as an opportunity to go back to what I love. the wanting to return to serve this community for which I so love. But returning to ADX just doesn’t feel right to meand quite frankly, there simply just is not an appropriate place for me there.
So what next?
Well besides from getting my butt kicked from countless people in both the respective consumer and development communities for exiting my community service after 7 years (and leaving ADX into the hands of the people I left it to) the other resources that have sprung up in my absence lack one fundamental aspect the FS world both loves and hates me for. My strong opinions, style. and viewpoints that quite frankly, no one else either has, or are too afraid to share openly. And so enters Flightlevel 350. My resurrection! Why this name you may ask??
Well this is where this long winded ass story comes full circle. Back on my fateful first MD-80 flight back in 1993, when the captain came on the PA after crossing 10,000, he noted that we would be climbing out to 35,000 feet where we would be leveling off. And that stuck with me. Something abut being 35,000 feet above the world was a shock to me. I stayed awake as long as I could watching the world go past. That also came at a very dark time in my childhood. Being up there took me away from all of it and honestly could have stayed up there for ever. It was a defining point in my life and it was that newly found passion in aviation that helped pull me through.
I didn’t name AirDailyX as I was not it’s original founder, but, whenever you see the brand name on this site, you’ll know it’s something special from my childhood and to serve as a reminder that all of the efforts you see here, is driving force from the passion of an 11-year-old boy that started so long ago and rages on.
I don’t have a community charter for you or anything like that. All I can say is you are getting me and all the baggage that comes with that. And if by some chance you’ve never heard of me, I suggest running a search of my name over on Avsim. That should paint a really colorful picture.
Nevertheless, I am so glad you are here to continue this journey with me. Flight simulation is a wonderful thing, something you and I share in common. So please try to remember that just in case I happen to piss you off at some point.
D’Andre Newman. 😉
FL350 Logos For Download
For those wanting to support Flightlevel 350 on their own respective websites and media, you can find the logo pack via this content link: FL350 Logo Pack
PC Specs / Hardware / Sim Settings
Jetline Systems Gravity GTX
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.6Ghz
Motherboard: ASRock Z170 Gaming i7
GPU: EVGA 1080 FTW
Case: NZXT H440
Soundcard: Soundblaster Z
Cooling: Corsair Hydro H100i
C Drive: Samsung 1 TB EVO SSD
P3Dv4 Drive: Samsung 1 TB EVO SSD
Gaming Drive: Samsung 500GB EVO SSD
Internal Storage: Western Digital 2GB 7200RPM
External Storage 1: Western Digital 1TB 7200RPM
External Storage 1: Western Digital 4TB 7200RPM
Monitor: ASUS 31” PA328Q
Keyboard: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
Mouse: Logitech G903
Mouse pad: Corsair MM800 Polaris
Yoke: VirtualFLY YOKO
Flight Stick: Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
Throttle 1: Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
Throttle 2: VirtualFLY TQ6
Rudder Pedals 1: MFG Crosswind
Rudder Pedals 2: VirtualFLY RUDDO
VR System: Oculus CV1
Eye Tracking: Tobii EYE X
Head Tracking: Track IR Pro
Podcast Mic: RHODE Podcaster
Headphones: SONY XB1000
P3Dv4 Standard Settings:
P3Dv4 VR Settings:
NOTE: VR settings only show the differences from standard mode. The low settings are not due to my PC hardware limitations, they are due to my experience with P3D’s direct VR integration limitations. I recommend the FlyInside P3D application which is coded to overcome much of these limitations. However, if you use FSFX Chaseplane, you will run into camera errors as each program fights to re-write the cameras entries within the P3D.cfg file. These settings yeld the best experience for me. However, overall, for VR flying, AeroflyFS2 is a far better option.
XPlane settings will be added once I add the platform. AeroflyFS2 runs at all maximum settings.
Product Reviews & Award System
Flightlevel product reviews consist of both written editorial reviews and livestreams. Reviews conducted live are for informational and entertainment purposes which allows audiences to directly watch my processes and understand how I arrive to my conclusions as well as counter or agree with thoughts of their own. However, regardless of written or live, I thoroughly analyse all products in private with a full explanation of my findings on each review.
4.6-5 Stars Gold. This includes sub categories 4.6 / 4.7 / 4.8 /4.9 / 5.0 Thus whereas it is possible to earn a gold reward, it may not be easy to achieve a perfect 5.0 Gold as I will almost always find something that could have been done better or missing etc. For example, if I am reviewing a mega airport scenery, and everything was done perfectly according to my standards classifications, but the airport perimeter fence was not included, could yield 4.9 stars. Alternatively, if reviewing an aircraft, the systems modeling & flight dynamics may be accurate to the real world counterpart, but internal / external visual texturing or sounds representation falls short of expectation, could yield a similar result. Or perhaps it’s a jet without cabin interior. It takes a helliva perfect product at a highly rich feature set at smooth performance to reach 5 stars. Again, may not be easy to achieve or even a goal for many. But if you receive one, very well done. This means you went well far above and beyond what many people might care to find or experience in a product. But also sets the very best of developers apart from each other.
Below you see panel images of the Cessna 310R from two separate development houses. Whereas both could achieve a Gold award, there is a striking difference between the two as the images depict. But ratings cant work on looks alone. Based on my findings, the aircraft on the right has better flight dynamics and sounds whereas the one on the left has a better external look and visual feature set. This means that a product can gain points in one important area, and struggle to gain points in another affecting it’s overall final score.
4.0-4.5 Stars Silver. This includes sub categories 4.0 / 4.1 / 4.2 / 4.3 / 4.4 / 4.5 Silver awards are a high ranking category. For example, the airport could be essentially perfect on both a visual and performance scale. However, what could yield a Silver award, may be based on a particular feature set or lack thereof. For example, regarding scenery products, if all your airfield hangars feature closed doors, this may detract from the overall “character” or immersion factor of the product as opposed to an airport that gives users the option to open & close hangar doors complete with objects inside such as animated maintenance workers repairing aircraft, tool boxes, and other typical clutter one may find in an aircraft hangar. Additionally, areas many users may not spend their time such as landside visitor parking areas. How much detail a developer adds or find is not worth the effort could be the difference between a Silver award or Gold award.
3.0-3.9 Stars Bronze. This includes sub categories 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.2 / 3.3 / 3.4 / 3.5 Bronze awards should by no means be considered as a source of discouragement. If one is achieved, this means the product is good, but it and / or the developer has plenty of room for growth and thus should serve as a source of encouragement. It’s most likely this award may apply to new and up-and-coming developers getting their feet wet for the first time in flight simulation product development. These awards will always be accompanied with a comprehensive layout of what the developer might consider working on, enhancing, adding, or improving as one advances.
These awards are not just a means of bragging rights or showing off. They may be. But they also serve as a source of the hard work, time, and passion developers put into their craft and as a benchmark of how they may independently consider pushing their craft and skills further in future projects.
2.0 Stars & Below. I really hate to say it, but this will happen. And when it does, I will be clear, and concise as to exactly why within those reviews.
Changing Review Findings / Ratings. Per examining my review and corresponding results, should a developer aim to take technical improvement measures within their respective products to address my findings through product updates post review, upon release of such product update, I will evaluate all changes / improvements made and if warranted, points may be allocated to change the star and / or medal rating. Simply put, nothing is set in stone with the ratings system and hopefully my methodology in this area will lead to encouragement. If and when any change to a rating is made, the review page is updated as well as a news post informing the community of my findings.
Tier Ratings System. As if all this is not complicated enough, tiers are also added into the mix. Tiers are rated by the size of the project. Note: the following example is only for analogy purposes to help you understand the process and has no bearing on how either of these projects may be rated in the future irrespective of the fact that I have written reviews on both in the past.
Lets say Orbx Damyns Hall Aerodrome achieves the same 4.9 Gold award rating as FlyTampa’s Dubai. Now if you were to read both reviews in depth, it’s perfectly understandable how this may happen. Both are terrific products developed a few years ago that both do extremely well in their individual respective classes of scenery types. But all the lazy person (lets lust call him time challenged) who just wants to know the findings right away without sitting through a 2 hour livestream or 500 page novel, will find that both products achieved the exact same result despite one being the size of a small backyard farm and the other being 1,588 sq mi (4,110 km2) and including a high quality rendition mega airport in the middle of it.
On one end it’s not fair to deny the small scale project by one person a Gold award simply due to it’s size, and on the other end, it’s not fair to give it the same exact classification as a project that’s several thousand times larger and took a team of people several years to complete. Additionally I want to put emphasis on the fact that regardless of scale, all tiers are important and deserve the highest ratings available for their respective classes. Hence this ridiculous tier system.
[AS-T1] Airport Scenery Tier One - Extremely small airfields with or without out much of a coverage area. The larger the coverage area, the higher the star rating score.
[AS-T2] Airport Scenery Tier Two - Medium to large scale GA airfields with or without out much of a coverage area. The larger the coverage area, the higher the star rating score.
[AS-T3] Airport Scenery Tier Three - Small-medium scale regional & international airports without large coverage areas outside the airport boundary.
[AS-T4] Airport Scenery Tier Four - Small-medium scale regional & international airports with large coverage areas outside the airport boundary.
[AS-T5] Airport Scenery Tier Five - Mega airports without large coverage areas outside the airport boundary.
[AS-T6] Airport Scenery Tier Six - Mega airports with large coverage areas outside the airport boundary.
Now we move into non airport cityscape sceneries.
[CS-T1] Cityscape Tier One - A cityscape that only focuses on the main financial center of any city such as Downtown LA, Frankfurt, and Singapore.
[CS-T2] Cityscape Tier Two - A cityscape that focuses on an entire city such as the entire LA basin, Manhattan Island and boroughs, London, and Bangkok.
Anything larger than that will not require a tier system as there are so few developers that develop projects of that scale thus there is not much to compare such largely vast projects to.
Aircraft tiers are far more simple.
[AT-1] All piston and turboprop GA airplanes & Helicopters: Aircraft Tier One
[AT-2] All commercial turboprop and business jets: Aircraft Tier Two
[AT-3] All commercial jet airliners: Aircraft Tier Three.
For the most part, many of you may simply not care about any of this. And to be honest this is probably more for me than it is for you. But because my review processes are so tedious, and because for the first time I have decided to branch into giving awards, it’s important for me to be as concise as possible in explaining my methods rather than just issuing the same medals to different developers and products without any regard to the differences between them. This also will explain why you see the stars with the ratings and acronyms accompanying each award given. If I am going to give awards, i’m going to it my way and not follow the pack. 😎
Below is the iconology to give you a visual frame of reference to put into perspective all this BS i’ve gotten myself into.