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Aircraft Review : Epic Victory Light Jet by Aerobask

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Aircraft Review : Epic Victory Light Jet by Aerobask
 
There was a grand idea of to revolutionise air travel and put the everyday personal experience of a quick short point to point flight to carry a few passengers in a executive style environment at an affordable price. Up to date personal jet travel is restricted to overpaid company CEO's and rock stars and while your average Joe is still flying the airline way. It was a big dream that nearly came off. New operators started up to use the new very small light jet under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and use it in a taxi style business plan that would have thousands of these VLJ (Very Light Jets) spread at all major and secondary airports and cover a taxi network on delivering passengers quicker and outside the conditions of airline schedules and more importantly the saving of time.
 
It failed to a point because it never got to the "Critical Mass" stage for where the air taxi service could sustain itself by having enough aircraft in the air to maintain profits and cover a large enough area of destinations to allow a constant supply of ready to fly aircraft. First off the cab-rank was Florida-based air taxi provider DayJet, which on October 3, 2007 began its Eclipse 500 service and planned to operate more than 1,000 of the VLJs within five years... they lasted a year.
 
The Eclipse 500 and the Honda Jet were the main contenders for the business. Where if you got your numbers correct there was sales of thousands of these 1 million to 2 million dollar jets. and so enter the Epic Victory which was intended to cash in on this lucrative emerging market. To a point Epic succeeded in creating the correct aircraft in the single Pratt & Whitney Canada PW600 powered "Victory" (The Williams FJ33 was used for testing) for the exceptional low price of US$1 Million. Certainly it was the right aircraft and at the right price for this emerging market...  but it all never came to pass, again.
 
There has only been 16 Victory aircraft built and flown and all as experimental aircraft. As the Epic Aircraft company that builds the Victory has been mired into a decade old bizarre history of court cases, lawyers, embezzlement, fraud and god knows what else. Then the Epic company was bought out by the Chinese and now the Russians that makes the whole lot sound more now like James Bond and his megalomaniac villains than just building jets.
 
The real tragedy of all nonsense is the aircraft, because it is an excellent little machine that could have changed in a small part aviation history...  the Air-taxi.
 
Aerobask Epic Victory
 
Aerobask has already covered one other Epic aircraft in the excellent E1000 which X-PlaneReviews covered last year Epic E1000 by Aerobask. This Victory aircraft is really an extension of the E1000 as it has the excellent Dynon "Skyview" that was developed from scratch in being autonomous from the X-Plane systems and was developed exclusively with Aerobask by Lionel Zamouth for the aircraft.
 
So X-PlaneReviews found itself in Bend, Oregon where the Epic company has it's company facilities based to look over this wonderful little light jet.
 
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The Victory is small at 33ft 5in (10.19 m) long and a wingspan of 36ft 4in (11.08 m), but it is packed with a lot within its frame. The PW600 is going to be the 1,350 lbf (6,000 N) thrust, PW615F version which has a 16 inch (40.64 cm) diameter fan. As the PW610F demonstrator engine only has the 900 lbf (4 kN) thrust PW610F engine that is installed in a twin-configuration on the Eclipse 500, and I feel that a single PW610F is not going to be enough power just installed by itself.
 
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Design wise it is an Aerobask aircraft through and through. Which means a very high quality and great design work of which we have certainly have come to expect from them. No doubt now a matured designer in Aerobask delivers again with the Victory as it is a beautifully rendered aircraft with a lot of great detailing. In a slight change this aircraft does not have really plastic look that you can get with these all composite aircraft, it is well molded of course but now with a more realistic quality a notch above.
 
Small detailing in undercarriage wing and door design is first-rate and you are missing nothing.
 
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Aerobask is also one not to stand still in ideas and features. The menu system in tabs in your left lower of your screen and are very well set out in three tabs in (From top to bottom) - Options -  Weight & Fuel - GPU Control.
 
The "Options" menu is quite light in that it covers hiding one or both Yokes (Which can be done manually inside as well) and turning on or off the window and instrument reflections.
 
The "Weight & Fuel' menu is the interesting one.
 
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Top of the pop up menu in yellow is the tag to add or hide the wheel chocks and the aircraft's parking flags. You have a fuel selector to add or empty the aircraft's fuel tanks (two), which is easy to use. But there is a gauge logo above and you think it relates to the tankage, but it doesn't, as it is just a graphic, which can be easily misleading. Lower right is a clever system of adding in weight and passengers. click on a seat or bag and you can load either an adult or a child in the seats (any except the pilot's) and with the baggage select a bag from the menu and it disappears from the adjacent baggage trolley, a full trolley of baggage means none on the aircraft. All the fuel, passenger and baggage weight is then calibrated on a display on the left to show you your actual aircraft weight. And it is all very well done and easy to do.
 
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You can close the aircraft's door from the menu as well and then the notice will note that everything is locked and secure. With this the baggage trolley disappears.
 
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The GPU (Ground Power Unit) is well done as you have a generator starter, and you press the green start button to start it up. Wait and the dial will show your power to the aircraft and "On" via the green light.
 
Cabin
 
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It is surprisingly very spacious inside the cabin considering how small the jet is, and it is very well appointed as well. There is also clever flip out table with a copy of the excellent English magazine "Flight International".  The overhead spot lighting is adjustable, and you can see the detail and quality in the lighting fittings.
 
Cockpit
 
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The panel is very minimalistic in design and operation, just a few groups of (very) small LED buttons to cover the various operations with their fuse breakers lower panel. Center console is the large throttle (very nice), ground brake and far lower fuel switch-off and tank selection.
 
You can as noted click on the nicely shaped yokes or use the menu to make them disappear. I found the aircraft easier to operate with them not visible and to activate the required buttons set out behind.
 
If you flew the E1000 you will find the set up in the Victory quite familiar, with the same grouped buttons and the three large Dynon display panels.
 
The grouped button arrangement is unique in that you start at the top left and work your way right across the rows to start up the aircraft and activate the systems, only one button is verboten!, and that is the red "Cut off" button which shuts down the engine.
 
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On the pilot's side there are two panels of button with the left covering engine and systems operations. Including "Pre-Start" which includes your battery power (If the GPU is connected you will see the power via a few lit buttons). Next is the Pre-Taxi which covers the engine start and autopilot power. The bottom row is your aircraft "Systems" which includes air pressure, valves and emergency oxygen buttons.
 
On the right button panel is the "Lighting" top and the lower selection of buttons cover the "Icing" or ICE protection and pitot heating. One note is that you have to be familiar with the buttons either by using a separate printout (hardcopy or iPad) or really study the buttons because at normal flying panel distance you can't read what they are, the text is too small. Certainly on the ground for start up you can zoom in (a lot) but otherwise you can't read them. You do quickly learn them, but really only the more in use aircraft functions and not the smaller optional items like icing.
 
Far right is the very nice undercarriage lever in UP-DN.
 
The Victory is only really a one person pilot aircraft, but you do have an extensive set of instruments for a Co-Pilot in the right hand seat.
 
On their right side there is only one major panel that covers the aircraft's air-conditioning and oxygen systems and that is mostly on-off in operation. The flap lever in Up - 1 - Full selections and far right the panel and cockpit lighting adjustment knobs covers the Co-Pilot's area.
 
Dynon Avionics Skyview
 
Aerobask is rightly proud of the completely ground up created Dynon Skyview. The older ideas were very good in past Aerobask aircraft, but you found the knobs slightly lagging in operation and the map view also slightly blurred (later updated versions are certainly better)...  that is not the case here as these screens have great clarity by using same resolution as the real instrument (1024x600px).
 
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Click the two power buttons on and then the avionics button and the three screens come to life, and yes you notice the clarity difference, they all look really good.
 
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Before we go to the Skyview system we will first cover the central items in the MVP50 EIS (Engine Information System) and positioned lower your communications Garmin GMA 350 audio panel.  
 
The MVP50 is an excellent display that gives you all your information on the aircraft's current engine performance and situation status. Covered is current N1 and N2 Engine status, Fuel and Oil status in left and right tanks and total fuel, Fuel/Oil Pressure, Oil temperature, Voltage & Amperes, Outside air temperature, Clocks (local and Zulu) Fuel Flow (FF) and remaining fuel and current cabin air temperature. Three lower buttons cover Exit - SCReeN - Menu. only the screen function currently works to show annunciators in the top of the display, a note says the Exit and Menu screens will come in a future update. Over all the EIS is excellent in showing you your current engine and fuel status and in flying operations.
The Garmin GMA 350 audio panel is the standard X-Plane version we all know and love.
 
A quick glance at the main PFD (Primary Flight Display) will show you two big X crosses over the engine data on the screen. This is realistic as the real Dynon in this configuration shows the same display as the EIS replaces that data in this aircraft. So no although it looks like it, the missing data is not a beta version with the data not working.
 
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All three screens are independent of each other and all can be configured to suit your preferences. Within each configuration you can select even parts of full screen views to cover the full spectrum. This includes a HUGE or massive Artificial Horizon with rate of turn indicators, speed and altitude tapes and heading rose (with Course (CRS) - double VOR 1 and 2 and Skyview - FMS pointers) in the lower portion of the screen. An Engine and Aircraft status block known as the EMS which can be positioned left/right or centre of the display and also the MAP/NAV screen. Personally I kept it all simple with just the main PFD in front of me and the centre MAP/NAV screen shared with the EMS to the right.
 
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There are a huge amount of selections on the Dynon menu driven interface, which selections are accessed by the lower row of buttons, or the two knobs (covering Altitude and Heading adjustment) that have also a built in joystick movement feature.
 
The main PFD menu covers PFD (Primary Flight Display) - AUTOPILOT - XPNDR - TOOLS - SCREEN (selections) - MSG (Messages)
 
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Under the Heading knob joystick selection is a secondary menu covering BARO - MDA - CRS (Course) - HDG (Heading) - ALT - VS - IAS - DIM, that use the knob as a selection tool with a centre push of the knob for selection.
 
The point of reference is if you like these menu driven interfaces? Certainly they contain a huge amount of information and selections, but that is also part of their problem? Just setting the VOR1 and VOR 2 pointers can take time going through all the various button selections to get what you want, were as two buttons on a standard panel aircraft can do the same simple job at well...  a push of a button.  Personally I find it all a bit distracting in the air where as you have too take your eyes off the horizon for far too long just to get something as a simple VOR pointer to point in the right direction...  Certainly a menu procedure manual is needed to be handy. The supplied manuals are however very good and do cover all the menu routes to the one you need, so keep them handy or print them out for reference.
 
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MAP/NAV screen is also very detailed. You can have your MAP (aircraft position) in either "Heading UP" or "North UP" modes. Airport or NAV-AID information is highly detailed and NRST shows you your nearest points of reference. It is important to understand the under driving information on the NAV display and the data used to complete or run flightplans as it is based on the powerful X-Plane built in GNS430/530 Navdata. If you understand the various areas of using the default GNS430/530 then you will quickly adopt to this system abet with a different interface. So loading or saving flightplans is the same as well in the .fms format, same as creating a flightplan from an outside database site and loading it into the aircraft in the .fms format.
 
So the displays are excellent but highly complex in operation until you become familiar with the maze menu of routes. Side of the displays are your backup instruments in left: Artificial Horizon top and a Altitude instrument below. Right side is the backup heading...
 
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On the glareshield are two Garmin GNC255 radios for controlling COM and NAV frequencies. You switch between the two with the C/N button and the left one is COMM 1/NAV 1 and the right GNC255 is COMM 2/NAV 2. Centre top is the excellent Genesys S-TEC 5000 autopilot that can also be set via the Dynon panel menus and you turn it on via the "autopilot" switch on the PRE-TAXI button panel. All panels and radios pop-out for ease of use and can be moved around your screen, this makes learning or setting out the flightplan far easier.
 
Flying the Aerobask Victory
 
All loaded up, flightplan set and the doors closed and you are ready to start up this light jet.
 
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The procedure is actually very simple and quick. Fuel tank selection by the lower arrow like selector, fuel pump on and set your beacon lighting.
 
Then you just press two buttons in sequence in "igniter" and "starter" and watch the EIS as the minute Pratt and Whitney PW615F starts up in the rear. Start up sounds are in the "oh wow, that is fantastic" category. Yes they are very good and very loud.
 
Gross weight is 5500 lb (2495 kg) and I am at 2404kg which means I am just slightly under it, in other words I am heavy. You feel that weight as you apply some thrust to get moving, but the aircraft is easy to move around and taxi. You set the flaps to the centre position of T/O on the flap display on the glareshield. The controls are really all very minimal, but you somehow have everything you need...   If aviation was like driving a car then this system would be the closest to that ideal.
 
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But cars don't fly, aircraft do and they are fast machines as well. Once lined up on KBDN runway 34, it was time to see what this Light jet had to offer.
 
Considering the size and the weight on the aircraft it moved with a nice push as you gather speed quite quickly, sounds went high and you heard the PW working hard, sound quality is really, really good. When tracking at speed down the runway your yaw inputs have to be very small, get it wrong and soon you are suddenly seriously over correcting and you will lose it. If you keep that line in check with as little movement as you can it will track fast and straight. On rotation you feel THAT weight, but the aircraft will handle well and you can turn your heading in my case towards the Cascade Ranges and Portland. You have to gauge your climb-rate, you can use all of the 1200fpm that is official, but keep just under that and you can climb quite quickly.
 
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I'm so heavy remember and the PW is being pushed into the red zone as a flicker every now and then, but the aircraft will climb easily to my set height of 15000ft to clear the Cascades.
 
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When turning on the Genesys S-TEC 5000 autopilot it came in with a nasty thunk which I didn't like. But it was from then on easy to use and set up. I tried to see what a 3000fpm climb would do, and the speed didn't fall off as quickly as I thought it would, and the little Epic actually handled the extreme conditions. But as soon as that speed did drop below 130knts the aircraft would shimmy and swing from side to side as it fought the forces beyond its control. It would do that if you placed the Victory slightly out of its comfort zone, but bringing it down to the usual 1000fpm and getting some speed back and then everything went back to calm and normal again.
 
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You have to admit the Victory is a pretty little aircraft. I love the clean lines and smooth modern design. Cruising at 15,000ft you just power along at around 235knts and you have say that is a fair click and that you can cover the ground at 319.70knts  (592 km/h) at maximum speed, Cruise speed is 250knts (463 km/h) with a huge range of 1,380 nautical miles (2222 km) at an maximum altitude of 28,000 ft (8537 m) and that is impressive performance.
 
Over the Cascades and it was time to descend into Portland International (KPDX), you throttle back and easily slip down around 1500fpm, once at the base I turned into a circuit to achieve a landing from the west on RWY10R. Portland Intl is a hard airport to find and hard to use with long approaches as it sits by the Columbia River, and mostly in a valley, any approaches are over hills or higher terrain.
 
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After a tight 180º turn I intersected RWY10R. The Victory has no aids in slowing down the aircraft in airbrakes and on the ground there is no thrust reverse, so your approach speed is critical in that you don't arrive too fast. At a slow speed around 125knts and full flap you can set yourself up nicely, but have to remember your speed still needs to go a lot slower yet to land.
 
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After all the noise from the Jet pack sitting behind you at this descending speed the aircraft is eerily quiet, just some wind noise and when the gear goes down some more heightened noise from the wheel struts. Coming in you realise your speed is slowing and you still need to wash off still more.
 
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If you use the ILS-Approach you will know when the aircraft is disconnected from the beams, and you have to be ready for it as the aircraft becomes more loose. In manual hands on approaches you need to be hands on, but it is very controllable. This is an important point to make. The Victory may look and be flown by it's simple needs but it requires a firm hand on the yoke and control by the rudder pedals, you work very hard as a pilot to keep this little aircraft as smooth and controlled as the very good pilot in you has to do a good job in departure and certainly in the arrival points to keep the machine in your total control and not losing it to its own devices, not that the Victory is a hard plane to fly because it isn't but it needs a firm hand and skills to be super smooth and controlled as possible in these certain phases.
 
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Over the fence and you need that speed low and in my case 85knts. Once you have put the wheels on the hard stuff you need to VERY fine in keeping the aircraft straight, get it wrong and as on takeoff your going for a ride into the scenery. Small inputs and corrections are needed until the rest of the speed rubs off and then you can let that breath out and use the brakes... tricky, yes very.
 
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Taxiing around KPDX in this VLJ and the heavies look huge and very heavy. Parking is way over on the north-east of the KPDX at the "FlightCraft" area, and here we shutdown the hardworking PW615F and open up the aircraft. And the flying for today is done.
 
Nightlighting
 
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You can adjust the display brightness and a part of the panel, but mostly the panel is quite dark. There is an adjustable spot light above you but overall the cockpit is a feel and touch area.
 
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The rear cabin is well lit with creative ceiling lighting, all spot lights as noted are adjustable to highlight areas.
 
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External lighting has been adjusted, but it still shows a very large set of orbs, I am not a fan of these sorts of lights.
 
Liveries
 
All liveries provided have been taken from real aircraft except one, a Coast Guard livery, a great house livery is default. All are liveries are exceptional by artist Jean-François Edange and my favorite is the twirly line version N971AR.
 
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Summary
 
In real life the Air-Taxi dream is at this point in time just that...   a dream. But that doesn't stop you from enjoying and flying an aircraft that should have and could have made that dream actually work. As an aircraft the Victory is an amazing perfect machine that can wizz four passengers and their baggage in speed and comfort nearly 1,400 nautical miles and at a economical cost in purchase price and running costs.  Shame it never delivered because of bad or inept management.
 
In a strange way the Victory is a bit of a contradiction of an aircraft. Easy to set up and basically fly. It does however need a slightly skilled pilot to get the very best out of it. Get it wrong or overfly and you are in trouble, and my guess is that the real Epic Victory would feel and fly exactly the same way. So that makes it challenging as well to hone your skills to ninth degree and get a very point to point perfect flight. Get it right and the Victory is highly rewarding.
 
Aerobask has always delivered excellent out of the usual and modern designs in aviation. Here they deliver again, but without doubt have also upped the quality up a notch this time around as well. Everything here is very well presented in aircraft, menus and features (external lighting aside). Design and quality is excellent, and their achievements in the outstanding design of their Dynon Avionics Skyview system is excellent. Yes it is complicated system with so many different menus and functions and does require a few reads of the manuals to get all the different menu routes correct, but overall it is a reflection of the real world system that is excellent in operation.
 
So a sum up in that the Victory is a little cracker of a light jet, an amazing aircraft really in design and great to fly with a little skill needed to get the very best out of it, certainly worth having in your hanger and whipping out to fly a few passengers on a small point to point taxi role. Overall amazing and different.
 
Note: When purchasing the Epic Victory from Aerobask you also get an extra aircraft in the package with the very different LISA Akoya which X-PlaneReviews reviewed here: Aircraft Review : LISA Akoya by Aerobask
 

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Yes! the Epic Victory by Aerobask is NOW available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here : Epic Victory

Price is US$29.95

As noted the LISA Akoya aircraft is also included FREE in this package and part of the above price

Features

Aerobask Quality 3D Model
  • High quality 3D model throughout
  • Flight model defined according to the specifications of public data. Fun to fly.
  • Ultra-High Resolution textures. 4K, Ambient Occlusion, Specular, Normal mapping and night lightning.
  • Fully functional and animated Virtual 3D cockpit.
  • Panoramic windshield with reflections, rain and icing effects.
  • Ground Power Unit
First ever modeled Dynon Skyview for X-Plane
  • 3 EFIS Dynon Skyview 
  • Extensive custom logic to match the real Dynon Skyview
    • Custom MAPs & FMS
    • Flight Plans Management
    • Transponder
    • AutoPilot and radio 
  • All EFIS can be displayed in Pop-up view
Other Systems
  • EIS MVP50, 2 Garmin GNC255, 1 STEC5000 Autopilot, ADL110B weather radar, TCAS and vocal alerts.
  • Can also be viewed as Pop-up windows
Dynamic Menus
  • Options Menu
  • Fuel & weight management
  • GPU
Custom 3D Sounds
  • Engine, gear, flaps, door, vocal alert, callout.
  • Enhanced 3D sound engine using SASL functions.
Liveries
  • More than 6 different paint schemes using 4K textures (more available at aerobask.com)
Documentation 
  • Victory general manual
  • Aerobask Skyview manual
  • Checklist normal operation
  • Online Flight Planner tutorial

 

______________________________________________________________________

Installation :   Download file size is 419.40mb to your X-Plane - Aircraft Folder. Installed file size is 472.40mb

Notes: None

Documents : Huge amount of documents and manuals including for the Skyview System, Checklist and Quicklook. Real documents include the original Skyview manual and S-TEC 5000 Autopilot manual.

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______________________________________________________________________
 
Requirements :
X-Plane 10.42+ - Running in 64bit mode
Windows 7+. Mac OSC 10.7+, Linux - 64bit Operating System
2Gb VRAM Minimum
The aircraft is quite heavy in framerate- not overly so but more than the average aircraft of this size.
Current version: 1.02 (Last updated February 12th 2016)

______________________________________________________________________

Aerobask site : aerobask.com
Aerobask Developer Support : Support forum X-Plane.Org

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Review by Stephen Dutton

11th February 2016

Copyright©2016: X-Plane Reviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:  - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb- Seagate 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Scenery or Aircraft

-  KBDN - Bend Municipal Airport 1.2 by Gendo (X-Plane.Org) - Free

- KPDX - Portland International Airport 1.02 by MisterX6 (X-Plane.Org) - Free

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