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  1. NEWS! - vSkyLabs update Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project to X-Plane12 It's the weird and the wonderful, it's of course a Rutan design, the Model-158 Pond Racer, now this over-powered machine is available in X-Plane 12. First is the name "Pond Racer"... it is not an aircraft designed to fly over water, but the designation is taken by the person who wanted to compete in air-races, Robert J Pond, he also created the Palm Springs Air Museum in California. Bob Pond commissioned the Model-158 design with the idea of developing a modern aircraft that could compete with the vintage warbirds in the Unlimited Class at the Reno air races. Bob Pond was concerned that each year at the Reno Air Races, valuable and historic aircraft were being crashed and destroyed, not to mention many engines being damaged or wrecked beyond repair. The Pond Racer was hoped to be an alternative to vintage aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the Hawker Sea Fury that would be as fast and spectacular in the air as the warbirds. To do this he turned to the most avant-garde of all the aviation designers in Burt Rutan, and Scaled Composites. The Model-158 airframe was constructed of composite materials, carbon fiber and Kevlar. This resulted in a very light, strong aircraft. And to power the plane, then two Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines were chosen. These were based on the Nissan VG30 automobile engine. The engines were originally developed for auto racing and were turbocharged to produce 1,000 hp (750 kW). However, those fitted to the Pond Racer only ever achieved a peak of around 600 hp (450 kW). The engines drove 4-bladed propellers via propeller speed reduction units. The result was something out of Star Wars or the racing machines in "The Phantom Menace" episode one of the series. Huge massive twin engines are connected to what is basically a glider cockpit, it flew, and by the results it actually flew very well, but overall it was a flying death trap. This is the full X-Plane12 version of the Model-158 XP12 - version 3.0 (25th January 2024): Deep flight dynamics engineering: PT6A-28 tune-ups to include the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ turbo-prop engine simulation features and calibration variables (including propellers and power gradients). Overall aerodynamics tuneups to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ features and calibration variables. Systems: New 3-d Heads-Up-Display. Cockpit night lighting systems re-engineering. Graphics and modeling: Remodeled cockpit compartment to include engineering improvements (lower floor, improved rudder pedals). Extensive PBR tuneups for the cockpit to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 lighting physics. Textures enhancements in and out. XP11 model is still available and is in version 2.1 Project's Main Features: Fully Optimized for X-Plane 12 X-Plane 11 version still available as a bonus VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Model-158. Highly defined PT6 turboprop engine simulation (PT6A-28) including its associated peripheral systems. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. In-depth systems simulation: Fully equipped aircraft with deep systems simulation (electrical, lighting and warning systems, comprehensive fuel system, fire protection, bleed air and pneumatic systems, ice protection systems, pressurization system, landing gears system, flight control, oxygen system, canopy system, auto-feathering and auto-ignition systems and more). 3D Heads-up Display. VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. 50-pages, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. Skunkcraft Updater. Project updates are fast and efficient! Included Paint-Kit. X-PlaneReviews review (Early beta X-Plane12 version) is here: Aircraft Review/Tutorial: VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project Price is US$39.00, on sale for US$29.00, You Save:$6.00(17%) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 XP12 (January 25th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 26th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  2. Aircraft Review: SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS for X-PLane 12 By Michael Hayward Introduction The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a mainstay in the US Air Force for three decades, was renowned for its high-speed, long-distance reconnaissance capabilities. Constructed by Lockheed Martin in the 1960s, it initially took shape as the YF-12, then the A-12, serving as a successor to the older and slower U-2. The Blackbird was created under the stringent secrecy of Lockheed Martin’s Clarence “Kelly” Johnson as part of the “Skunk Works” programme. It was publicly unveiled by President Johnson during his 1964 election campaign. In this review, we delve into the intricacies of the recently released model from VSKYLABS, a developer acclaimed for their meticulously detailed recreations of both military and civilian aircraft, as well as helicopters, for X-Plane. VSKYLABS, with their reputation for intense detail and realism, offers a plethora of features in this model, which I aim to explore comprehensively. Boasting full VR compatibility and an intricate FMOD sound system, this add-on presents us with a wealth of details to examine. Let’s dive in, shall we? Installation & Manuals The installation process for the SR-71 adheres to the standard procedure for most X-Plane models. Upon purchase, you receive a zip file containing the model. Run the installer, direct it to your simulator folder, and the aircraft will be ready in your virtual hangar. Alongside the aircraft, you gain access to a comprehensive, 982-page 'declassified' document. Initially, this manual may seem daunting, but it becomes more approachable with familiarity. For those seeking additional support, VSKYLABS maintains a dedicated SR-71 support forum at the .org. This forum serves as a professional support hub and a growing knowledge base for the SR-71, continuously expanding to cater to user needs. Within this support forum, you'll find several 'EXPLAINED' topics. These are designed for on-the-go information and instructions, including various 'Cheat-Sheets' to enhance user-friendliness. Initially, navigating through the SR-71 manual might feel like a heavy task, but these resources are structured to ease users into it, gradually transforming it into an easy read. The SR-71, with its complexity, invites you to delve deeper into its intricacies, and these additional resources, including the forum and 'EXPLAINED' topics, are invaluable for learning the ropes. Exterior Modelling & Visuals Right from the outset, it's clear that VSKYLABS has invested considerable effort in accurately recreating the SR-71, ensuring it mirrors its real-world counterpart. The model boasts a sleek, black, pointed body, supported by a rear delta wing, and is powered by two Pratt & Whitney J58 engines with vertical stabilisers on top. This aerodynamic design enabled it to surpass the speeds and altitudes of nearly all contemporary fighter jets, while remaining undetected by most aircraft radar and defence systems. Its capability to penetrate deep into foreign territories, including the USSR, for reconnaissance was unparalleled. Attention to detail is evident in the flight surface animations. Close inspection reveals intricate detailing around the landing gear extension, engine movements, and lighting. Particularly noteworthy is the operation of the afterburners, complete with trailing shock diamonds, adding to the realism. As for liveries, there are three options available. The aircraft's surface features weathering effects, giving all three a “lived-in”, brushed appearance, further enhanced by X-Plane’s PBR rendering. Bump mapping is judiciously used around different panel gaps to add depth and texture. The textures are rendered in ultra-high resolution, with 8k and 4k options, allowing for fine detailing on the body, as well as subtle weathering effects. These nuances bring a sense of realism and age to the aircraft, making it a standout within the X-Plane world. The SR-71 is not just a model; it's a visually stunning representation that is as much a joy to behold from a high-altitude perspective as it is up close. Interior & Environmental Systems Mastering the cockpit of the SR-71 is a formidable task. Initially, the plethora of switches, gauges, and buttons scattered across the panels can seem overwhelming. Having reviewed and flown a significant number of jets from the mid-50s and 60s on platforms like X-Plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and DCS: World, the SR-71 still presents a unique challenge, comparable perhaps only to the Space Shuttle in its complexity. The aircraft is replete with a myriad of systems, ranging from aircraft functionality and engine controls to pressurisation and life support. It's difficult to know where to start. In this regard, I strongly advise consulting the manual or watching YouTube playthroughs to visually grasp the necessary steps for flight. I often emphasize in my jetliner reviews that practice is key to mastering the flows, but in the SR-71's case, I find myself repeatedly heeding my own advice to avoid getting lost in the cockpit. While it might seem that the exterior overshadows the interior, the sheer volume of activity within the cockpit argues otherwise. It's so densely packed and 'busy' that focusing on any gauge requires full attention to the plane's operation. Forward visibility is limited due to the large window framing, necessary to withstand the intense pressure and airflow. This requires some adjustment, especially in VR, where you might find yourself sitting slightly off-centre or tilting your head for a better view. Every gauge is meticulously modelled in 3D, offering depth and functionality. The central console is a labyrinth of systems and gauges, all designed to be fully functional within the simulator. Like the exterior, the cockpit benefits from full 4K textures, complete with weathering effects that add realism and a sense of history to the interior. Every detail has been included to ensure the cockpit looks authentic from every angle. While it's easy to get lost in the complexity, with practice, the intricacies of flying and managing the aircraft's systems become more manageable. Flight Controls & Instruments The fidelity with which the control system of the SR-71 has been recreated within X-Plane 12 is remarkable, and much of this is owed to the expertise of former SR-71 pilot BC Thomas. A legend in the Blackbird community, Thomas, with over 1,000 flight hours in the aircraft, has provided invaluable technical support to VSKYLABS in the development of this model. In flight, the SR-71 demands a delicate touch. Pilots will often find themselves fine-tuning control sensitivity curves. At altitudes of 80,000 feet and speeds reaching Mach 3.5, the slightest movement of the joystick can result in a course deviation of several hundred miles. Even a minor bank or roll at such speeds can dramatically alter your trajectory. Mastering the SR-71 is about understanding and adapting to these subtle control inputs. The aircraft's behaviour changes significantly during descent. From being a supremely agile, high-speed vehicle slicing through the sky, it transforms into a much heavier, more cumbersome machine at lower altitudes and speeds. This is a common trait among aircraft designed for high-speed stability – their performance characteristics vary greatly with speed. An interesting anecdote about the SR-71's recruitment process highlights the immense responsibility bestowed upon its pilots. Reportedly, the key question asked was, “are you married?”, symbolizing the need for a sense of responsibility and stability. This also hinted at a strategic consideration: married pilots were perceived as less likely to defect to the USSR with such a valuable asset. The SR-71 is at its best at high altitudes and speeds. While takeoff and landing require a period of adjustment, once airborne and with the afterburners engaged, the exhilaration of flying the SR-71 comes to the fore. It's a thrilling experience that combines technical mastery with the sheer joy of high-speed, high-altitude flight. Systems VSKYLABS’ SR-71 is equipped with an array of systems and switches, offering a comprehensive virtual experience. We've already discussed some cockpit functions, such as the afterburners and fuel systems, but there's much more to explore. A key feature is the functioning autopilot system, located on the right-hand side of the cockpit. It includes standard controls like heading, altitude, and pitch, but also a unique KEAS bleed and hold function. This system is crucial for managing aircraft pitch during high-altitude climbs as you accelerate from Mach 2.6 to 3.0. The autopilot is complemented by a default X-Plane FMS, facilitating easier navigation compared to the ANS, which requires manual coordinate inputs for flight plan formation. VSKYLABS has also integrated an air-to-air refuelling feature. For this operation, you need to stabilize your aircraft in the cruise corridor of the tanker plane (26,000-30,000ft) and reduce speed to around three hundred knots. The autopilot is invaluable here for maintaining stability. When you request refuelling, a green indicator light and an audio cue are activated, featuring real radio recordings of air refuelling processes provided by BC Thomas. A KC-135 tanker then spawns above, connecting to your fuel probe for refuelling. It’s crucial to fill your tanks completely to prevent air from entering the system, as this could ignite when afterburners are activated. VSKYLABS is committed to the long-term development of this model, with plans for numerous future updates. These include a manual control for the pressurisation schedule and overhauls of the electrical and hydraulics systems. Additionally, they plan to introduce interactive pressure suit support systems, a unique feature that allows direct interaction with the pilot's wellbeing during flight. With the current level of detail in the SR-71 model, these upcoming features promise to add even more depth and realism, and as such, this is a project I’m excited to follow closely, as it continues to evolve. Night Lighting The night lighting is executed with exceptional attention to detail, both inside and out. The cockpit comes to life after dark with an array of adjustable dials, allowing precise control over the intensity of side panel illumination as well as gauge and switch lighting. This functionality not only adds to the realism but also enhances the pilot's experience during night flights. Externally, the aircraft is equipped with tail, taxi, and positional lights, all performing flawlessly. Under the right conditions, the SR-71 takes on a rather imposing and menacing appearance in the dark, embodying the intrigue and awe that this legendary aircraft inspires. Conclusion In summary, the experience of flying the SR-71 has been nothing short of extraordinary! Soaring at 85,000 feet and cruising at speeds surpassing Mach 3, one truly appreciates the thrill of speed and the finesse required to pilot this engineering wonder. The SR-71 is a top-tier add-on that astounds in its visual, tactile, and auditory fidelity. It’s a must-try for anyone with an affinity for high-speed flight or a keen interest in detailed military systems. While there is a learning curve, the sense of achievement and enjoyment you gain after mastering the aircraft's nuances is immense. The authenticity of this recreation owes much to the technical guidance from a real SR-71 pilot, coupled with VSKYLABS’s expertise, evidenced by their background with the USAF F4 Phantom. This collaboration has resulted in a remarkably accurate representations of one of the most iconic military spy jets in history. The commitment to long-term support further enhances the appeal of this add-on, which at $37, is exceptional value. With advanced systems and updates in the pipeline, users can look forward to an evolving and deepening simulation experience. VSKYLABS has thoughtfully included a log within the aircraft's file structure to keep users informed of new developments. With more enhancements on the horizon, I highly recommend keeping a close eye on future updates from VSKYLABS for the SR-71 Blackbird. The journey with this aircraft is set to become even more captivating! ______________________________________ SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS is available from the Org store here: SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS Priced at US$37.00 Features: Early Access phase - The project is being updated rapidly VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project - Utilizing X-Plane 12 cutting edge systems and flight dynamics models Highly engineered SR-71A flight dynamics and propulsion systems (including spikes and bypasses simulation) Authentic SR-71A SAS/Autopilot (including all authentic modes of operation, KEAS bleed and with extended usability using on-board FMS as replacement of the SR-71 ANS). Authentic SR-71A performance and handling characteristics Highly accurate climb and cruise profiles Air-refueling (including tanker visualization and authentic radio recording of SR-71 during air-refueling session - courtesy of B.C. Thomas!). Deep systems simulation (including TAB injection and counters, automatic fuel scheduling, nitrogen pressurization of the fuel tanks, surf-limiter, stick shaker/pusher and much more!) D-21 Mach 3 Drone (currently as a piggy-bag payload, takes part in the physics. In later versions it will have launch capabilities) AG-330 Starters simulation for authentic start-up procedure Comprehensive FMOD sounds Designed for VR (optimized for 2-d) The project is under constant development - future updates are free to all existing customers Full Simulation scope and update log are available here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/topic/297854-vsl-sr71-tb-simulation-scope-and-update-log/ Highly responsive, professional support in the VSKYLABS Special contribution: BC Thomas is the famous, high Time SR-71 Pilot During the air-refueling sequence in the simulation, an authentic SR-71 air-refueling radio recording is being initiated, adding immersion and excitement! The audio recording was implemented into the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': SR-71-TB following Mr. BC Thomas approval. BC Thomas is the famous, high Time SR-71 Pilot who spent 1,217 hrs and 18 min in the cockpit of the legendary SR-71! Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac, or Linux 8GB VRAM Minimum Current Version: 1.05 (January 2nd, 2024) Download Size: 424 MB Reviewers System: Windows 10 Professional AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor 32GB RAM Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro Aircraft Review by Michael Hayward  17th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)  
  3. NEWS! - F-19 Stealth Fighter updated v1.3 by vSkyLabs vSkyLabs have updated the F-19 Stealth Fighter to version v1.3. In 1986, as speculation about Lockheed’s Northrop built what it called the YF-17 technology demonstrator to compete with General Dynamics’ YF-16 in the lightweight fighter program. When the F-16 won, the U.S. Navy hired Northrop to base the Navy’s next fighter on the -17, with the result designated F-18. Testors assumed that in order to deflect radar waves, the F-19 would be sleek and streamlined and would somewhat resemble Lockheed’s other-worldly SR-71. This VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter Project is an Educational/Research based development effort that "brings to life" and realizes the hypothetical 80's Testor's F-19 concept in the most advanced flight simulation environment up to date: X-Plane 12 by Laminar Research. The simulated VSKYLABS F-19 it is not an 'arcade' aircraft...nor a 'generic jet fighter' that only looks like the F-19 externally; Extensive, professional real-world experience and knowledge of jet-fighters design, systems, performance, handling and operation were involved in the making of the VSKYLABS F-19. The result uncovers a scientific, graceful, powerful aircraft that holds a few weaknesses as well...just like any other *real* jet fighter, what makes flying a true-to-life and fascinating experience, especially when exploring the flight envelope and its performance characteristics. Project Highlights : Takes full advantage of X-Plane 12 latest technology. Advanced concept aircraft simulation, including detailed, fully functional 3-d cockpit environment with realistic, working systems. Extensive, professional real-world experience and knowledge of jet-fighters design, systems, performance, handling and operation were involved in the making of the VSKYLABS F-19. Designed for X-Plane 12 cutting edge flight model environment and presents superb flight dynamics with presumably authentic performance and flight handling characteristics for the hypothetical F-19 aircraft. Developed for VR: Development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a genuine, default X-Plane 12 aircraft. The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Comprehensive FMOD sounds for 'As Real As It Gets' experience! Perfect challenge for beginner and expert pilots: Provides a very wide flight envelope with comfortable control from ~140 knots to Mach 1.1. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: VSKYLABS offers continuous professional support, from all aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter Specifications: Country of Origin: USA. Type: Single-seat shipboard and shore-based strike stealth aircraft. Power Plant: Two 11,000 lb st dry and 17,700 lbs st afterburner General Electric F404-GE-100A turbofans. Dimensions: Span, 31 ft 5.4 in; length, 62 ft 3 in; height, 12 ft, 10 in. Performance: (F404-GE-100A) Max speed 750 mph, or Mach 0.99 at sea level ; 655 mph, or Mach 0.99 at 38,000 feet; Max speed Mach 1.2; Service ceiling, 53,000 ft; ferry range (with full internal fuel load, cruise at 28,000 ft, Mach 0.85), 1400 miles. Combat radius (air-to-ground low altitude mission), 550 miles (non-afterburner). Weights: Operational empty, 24,000 lbs; Maximum internal fuel, 14,000 lbs; Max takeoff, 41,300 lbs. Armament: Three internal weapon bays designed specifically to carry two AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs and a single AGM-158A JASSM low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile. Overall weapon bays carry-weight, 190 lbs*2 + 2150 lbs (max 2600 lbs.). Design by VSKYLABS © 2022 Support forum for the F-19 by VSKYLABS Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The F-19 Stealth Fighter Project v1.3 by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore, or update via the Skunkcrafts Updater. ___________________________ Yes! - F-19 Stealth Fighter by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter Current Price is US$32.95 Retail Price:$37.00 You Save:$4.05(11%) Requirements X-Plane 12 - Not compatible with X-Plane 11 X-Plane 12 - Not compatible with X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.3 (January 16th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 17th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  4. Aircraft Update : Robinson R44 Raven ll to X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company at Zamperini Field in Torrance, California since 1992. Based on the company's two-seat Robinson R22, the R44 features hydraulically assisted flight controls. It was first flown on 31 March 1990 and received FAA certification in December 1992, with the first R44 delivery in February 1993. The R44 has been the world's best-selling general aviation (GA) helicopter every year since 1999. It is one of the most-produced GA aircraft of the 21st century, with 5,941 deliveries from 2001 to 2020. "Raven" moniker comes with those hydraulically assisted controls and adjustable floor pedals. Then in July 2002, Robinson introduced the Raven II, featuring a more powerful Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and the wider blades, this "ll" variant also allows for a higher gross weight and improved altitude performance. The R44 from vSkyLabs was first released in late 2020 for X-Plane 11, this is the updated v3.0 X-Plane 12 version, but the original X-Plane 11 version is still available as part of the package. It's an upgrade, so no costs are associated with these XP12 changes. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. VSkylab's always do great modeling and detail, and here it is no exception, however there isn't that what you would call ultra-realism feel, if even a more model style bland with no say of the real world wear or tear feel, so the R44 feels pristine factory new. The detailing is however very good, and realistic, and now there is that more of that X-Plane 12 depth and shine, or better PBR than the XP11 version. This is very evident of the metallic look and pearlescent feel to the skin of the aircraft. All Robinson's are very recognisable by their high tower to rotor hub arrangement, so the control rods are extremely short. The connected twin-aluminum skin blades are 198 inches long and are modeled here to droop very nicely... the Xp12 update also has Improved rotor blades simulation to the more advanced XP12 dynamics. The rotor hub is fully animated in all control movement, collective, throttle and pitch. Tailrotor Yaw is also nicely animated with clever moving parts and joints... ... notable is that the tail rotor direction of rotation on the R44 is reversed compared to the R22 for improved yaw control authority. On the R44 the advancing blade is on the bottom. All vSkyLabs aircraft only use the X-Plane "Hotspot" selection system, so no menus, and only the clickable options are available (for VR users). Click on any small catch externally or the metal loop handle internally for the door to open, or press the front door hinge to hide all the four doors. Glass is very nice, thickish and slightly tinted, but totally clear of marks or dirt. Somewhere along the updates is the change of the leather seating colour from a tan to the bright red... the new seat colour certainly helps in bringing out the cabin to the more detail... Power on and you get inserted the fully (arms and legs) animated pilot, add in weight in the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu for each of the three other passengers and they appear in their respective seats. ... all Robinson's use the T-Bar Cyclic, but this one is not a twin grip, but a single grip to the right, HYD switch and red side engine "Starter" button. Notable is the revolving Speed placard on the T-Bar and you can hide the T-Bar via pressing the cover lower. Landing light switch is mid-mounted on the T-Bar, and note the animated centre window pillar "Whiskey" compass (it "shakes") The main instrument panel "Classic 7" has two rows of dials, top row is (LtoR) Vertical Speed (V/S), Artificial Horizon with Slip Indicator, Speed (knts), and engine readouts RPM %. Lower row is Altimeter, Heading Dial and Engine Manifold Pressure. Very simple but effective. Note the excellent rolling turn bubble and you can adjust the Horizon bar. The instrument detailing is very, very good and of good quality. Left centre pedestal is top a large clock, and a Quartz (Hobbs) meter set below, Right pedestal is all the engine and fuel gauges with an Amp gauge and Oil Pressure top, Aux Fuel Tank (17.0 US GAL/64 Liters) and Oil Temperature centre, Another Main Fuel Tank (29.5 US GAL/112 Litres) and a CYD HD (Cylinder Head) Temperature gauge is bottom. Lower centre pedestal is the electrical panel, with Lighting, Instrument Panel (adjustable) top, Nav Lts and Strobe lighting below. Clutch (Eng/Diseng), ALT (Alternator), Master Battery, and (Pump) Prime switch. Lower centre console is a basic KX 155 NAV/COMM Radio (NAV 1/COM 1) that can be switched from Com1 to Com2. The knob above turns to open a vent. Two features are aimed directly at VR (Virtual Reality) users. There is a Handbook down right, but it is only a single page "Checklist" held right under your nose, but it is well done. Second feature is the Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin intergration, the iPad is a basic install, but it is here in a good set position, there is no rotation to portrait mode, a feature I grumble about every time, and you can't turn it off either, so you have to just make it disappear if you are not using it (you click the sucker mount). Single Collective is simple (the R44 here is not a dual-control), it has a twist throttle and on the end is the Governor switch (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the bulkhead behind... Internal detail overall is very good, and you have gotta love those hanging headsets and cables when the power is switched off. Note the central (operating) pull down (handle) rotor brake. The internal cabin is the same one as the X-Plane 11 version (except for the red seats), but with the transition to X-Plane 12, it creates a totally different 3D environment than the flat bland X-Plane 11 feel, everything now is so much more highly realistic in view and lighting... night and day! Flying the (updated) R44 Starting the R44 chopper is still a slightly complicated set procedure, and it is wise to understand and read the enclosed R44 manual, but the R44 needs to be mostly started via the extensive pop-up checklist. Several things to know... clutch has to be disengaged, you PRIME, then switch to BOTH, and the Fuel (Mixture) knob has to set to RICH (or in) there is a animated cover to note to "not to pull it out, or you will fall out of the sky" marker. Governor switch is on the end of the Collective (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the rear bulkhead. ... starting is via the red starter button on the right Cyclic. Throttle is controlled on the Collective, and you move it left or right (left for power which is reflected in the Twin-RPM% dials). When all correct the Heading Compass will shake to the clatter rotor rotation, which has that twin-blade Huey "chop,chop" sound at idle. Sounds are highly re-tuned for X-Plane 12, with the move to the FMOD 2+ sound system as well. They were pretty good originally, but better is still better and you feel and hear that here. Also new are the Implemented physics-based blade-slap sounds. I really like the vSkyLab nose detail with the built in twin-nose (Landing) lights, they are as we shall see are quite powerful. You have to make a decision early on of what sort of flying feel you want with the VSL R44. Last review didn't have the extra (weight) of the optional three passengers, so the R44 was slightly nervy (Not as bad as some sporty choppers), but add in the passenger weight of the three other passengers in this a small machine, and the feel and handling of the Robinson changes quite a lot, actually to the better, as the weight gives you more control. The bonus is that the extra weight is now set more central, so that gives the R44 a more balanced poise when in the hover, it is far easier to stay static and in not having to fight the machine to stay in one place. Slight touches of the T-Bar cyclic will give you your manoeuvrability, either front, backwards or slightly to either side, but the tail (yaw) needs a lot of focus to keep the nose straight, as you can't just hold a position, but have to constantly have to change your yaw slightly to counter the nose moving around. Obviously it feels rather (or slightly) different from the XP11 version with the X-Plane 12 better dynamics, tuned new in here, so yes it is far better than I remember. Sink the nose (pitch forward) and your quickly moving forward with a gradual lift of the collective. The R44 will gather speed very quickly, even with a full load on board... The R44 has a maximum speed of around 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h), but mostly you will cruise around 109 kn (125 mph, 202 km/h), with a range of 300 nmi (350 mi, 560 km) with no reserve. For a little chopper the R44 is quite smooth, once you get into the groove, and the Robinson does have quite a nice control feel. in 1997, a Robinson R44 was piloted by Jennifer Murray for the first helicopter circumnavigation of the world by a woman, covering a distance of 36,000 miles in 97 days. For me personally I couldn't fly that far manually, but an R44 also holds the piston speed record of 227 km/h. Tricky that, as in the VSL R44 we have no SAS or Stability Augmentation Systems to take over the flying, so it is always a physical manual flight. Untrimmed... you have the cyclic forward, but also holding the stick slightly to the right to keep the course straight. Wearing after a while with the consistent pressure to hold the said position, but feedback is very good... let us be honest, this is a basic helicopter to fly, basic all round, but it does deliver a good simulation in the dynamics of which vSkyLabs are renowned for... Notable is that the "Autorotation" has been improved in X-Plane 12, this is when you use the blades with no power and still fly via the automatic lift (like an autogyro), This is a qualification requirement to flying helicopters. I push down the collective around 70 knts and keep the power in the green band, then you use your nose high pitch to control your descent under just autorotation. Tricky is slowing down as the R44 is so light, I remember this from the earlier XP11 R44, trying to rub off the speed can be very hard, so throwing yourself towards the ground takes a lot of nerve. Then as you descend you time and return the power via the collective while balancing the yaw, smooth collective action is important. So too much collective pull, and up too quickly will balloon your landing, but get it right and you should go straight into a 5 knt forward hover. The VSL R44 is ideal to practise this manoeuvre, as by here in this video. But the R44 also has that very light tail, so it needs a fair bit of practise to learn how to control it, as you get closer to the ground, your movement on the pedals have to be varied and also super-smooth. Another change in XP12 is the skids now have more movement (animation), they move out and spring upwards when touching (or leaving the) the ground. Personally I don't like the jerky movements, better solid as this as it does not look very realistic as just some bendy skids. Lighting Lighting is okayish and upgraded here for XP12... Very nice Instrument lighting is only one knob adjustable. The overhead spot light does a fair job for map reading or for general lighting, but lighting overall feels a bit dull. External lighting is average, but far better than the earlier XP11.. I like the twin red and white strobe lights on the long beam tail, and the better navigation lights... but those twin-nose Landing lights are super-bright... There was originally only two liveries, a Black and a shiny Blue... but now six more have been added, they are all however of the same scheme of colour and with stripes lower... a bit more creativity in schemes would have been nice. Grey is default. _____________ Summary The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company, and based on the two-seater R22. This one is the more slightly heavier Robertson R44 Raven ll, a light helicopter that seats a pilot and three passengers with hydraulically assisted controls, it also features the more powerful Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and has the wider twin-blades. Note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Overall most vSkyLabs aircraft are all mostly basic, but they are also fully detailed to the extreme. There are also no menus or static objects or extensive features, as the focus is totally on the dynamics and flying performance, updated here to X-Plane 12 dynamics. But the R44 also delivers a very credible flying performance. Only interactions are with the few interaction zones that; lock the mixture, move the throttle, change altimeters, open the four doors (you can remove them as well), have a 3d checklist and hide the T-Bar Cyclic control column. AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. X-Plane 12 update includes, Improved rotor blades simulation, Improved throttle governor, Autorotation regime tune-ups. In sounds FMOD v2.0+ and physics-based blade-slap sounds. Better PBR is now matched to the latest X-Plane 12 rendering engine and creates a better metallic look and pearlescent feel to the external, and a more realism effect internally. There are also six new/additional default liveries. Skunkcrafts Updater is also now included. Although one of the most popular helicopters built, the R44 is a bit of a challenge to fly, so yes some helicopter skills are required here, but when acquainted to the dynamics, it is also highly enjoyable. If you love the VSkyLab's philosophy, then you will love the R44. So another nice helicopter from VSkyLab's updated to X-Plane 12, you want more of course in features and details, but that is not what VSkyLab's is about... it is all about the flying pure and simple, and in that area the Robinson R44 Raven ll really delivers... recommended. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ___________________ Yes! the Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' On sale: $32.95 US$21.41 Project Main Features: Optimized for the latest X-Plane 12 Flight Model Robust and Highly Defined flight dynamics model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, built around the powerful, native X-Plane 'Experimental Flight Model' environment Highly detailed model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter Autorotation capable Comprehensive systems which were designed to follow the real R44 Raven II POH, as authentically as possible within X-Plane 11 flight simulator limitations Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready: highly interactive cockpit environment including levers, switches, guards, 3D checklist viewer, modular cyclic and more Equipped with Robinson's classic 7 holes analog panel R44 Auxiliary fuel system. Removable doors Fully featured GNS530 Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included) Multi-Layer FMOD 2.0 sound pack The project is under constant development: development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements Skunkcraft Updater is included: project updates are fast and efficient! Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Note: latest version is for X-Plane 12 . XP11 version still available Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (January 5th 2024) AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com. Aircraft download is 265 Mb, and unpacked then installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 413 Mb Documents How to INSTALL your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf How to UPDATE your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf VSKYLABS Robinson R44 POH.pdf VSL R44 Essentials.pdf Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Robinson R44 by VSKYLABS _____________________ Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00 - KJAX - Jacksonville International Airport (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.99 ___________________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 10th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  5. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : Tensor 600X v3.1 - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' The vSkyLabs Tensor 600X German two-seat tandem configuration autogyro prototype has been updated to v3.1. By all accounts this a very small update as there are only three items listed (X-Plane 12 conversion was done in April last year). But the changes are interesting and you gain some significant features. First is the 3D HUD visualization, or the instruments are now reflected in the screen in front of you. Secondly is the additional 'Test-Pilot' instruments cluster, that can can be turned off by disabling the said cluster. The third item is a nice graphic cleanup. Version 3.1(January 8th 2024) 3-d HUD visualization was implemented: Part of the additional 'Test-Pilot' instruments cluster (can be turned off by disabling the cluster). Minor graphics refinements. The VSKYLABS Tensor 600X is a high definition autogyro simulation of the Tensor 600X, based on development information which was provided by ‘TENSOR AG.’. However, not all of the information, specifications and data, system descriptions and flight instructions in this manual are necessarily representing the real Tensor 600X specs and data, and should not be considered as official information with regards to the Tensor 600X. The real Tensor 600X is still under development and its complete specification and performance figures will be available once ‘TENSOR AG.’ will release it in public. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. Project Main Features: Flight Model tuned to X-Plane 12 New Rotax 915iS engine Systems: G1000 autopilot is now inverter-dependent, with a safe mechanism for gound operations. New interior lighting systems for the instrument gauges. Interaction: Added option to hide the front stick (similar to 'hide-yoke'). Graphics: Extensive PBR update to fall in line with the latest XP12 lighting engine updates. Pusher prop visualization update. Liveries update. Additional 2 liveries. Enhanced windshields. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sounds pack. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project of a real world prototype Autoupdater included The project is under constant development. Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Tensor 600X ___________________________ The Tensor 600X - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tensor 600X - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Your Price: US$29.00 On sale: $29.00 US$18.85 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.1 (January 8th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 9th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)
  6. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : SR-71-'Test-Bed' Project by VSKYLABS The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a retired long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by the American aerospace company Lockheed Corporation. The SR-71 has several nicknames, including "Blackbird" and "Habu" This is not the first "Blackbird" project for the X-Plane Simulator, as there was a default "Blackbird" for X-Plane 10/11, but discontinued in X-Plane 12. Some elements of the vSkyLabs aircraft do come from the actual SR-71 default aircraft, but obviously a lot, as absolutely this SR-71 is built from the ground up. This is a far more in depth version than that original but definitive version. Note this is an X-Plane 12 only aircraft. Fully VR compatible / comprehensive FMOD sounds / Free future updates to existing customers / Highly responsive support and knowledge base for the SR-71 aircraft. VSKYLABS SR-71 Flight Dynamic Model: Highly detailed, comprehensive SR-71 performance and handling characteristics. The simulation follows the SR-71A performance charts and climbing/cruise charts with high accuracy (speeds, power settings, time-of-climb, distance and a LOT more!). Project version v1.0 includes flight model version 'VSL-SR-71-Block-1'. This will keep on updated and tuned side by side with flight testings and X-Plane 12 future evolution. 'BLOCK-2' is expected to be released about a week after project version v1.0 will be released. To know which update block you are flying, see the included update log. Authentic SR-71 flight and handling characteristics are being simulated: Chines and delta wings lift, CG movement through flight and fuel loading, high AOA tendencies of the SR-71, takeoff and landing handling and performance and more. Authentic climb schedule. Supersonic drag profiles. Engines and Afterburner: Advanced Engines flight dynamics simulation ('VSL-SR-71-Block-1' in project version v1.0). Ram-Jet aspects of the SR-71 propulsion system are being simulated: comes into practice at high supersonic speeds and power settings (thrust, fuel consumption and so forth). Throttles: simulated 'cutoff' and 'burner' regimes, to allow 'conventional' operation where fully aft is 'cut off'. Chemical Ignition (TEB) System: Simulated authentically, including TEB counters when the throttles are advanced from 'cutoff' to 'idle' and from full dry to afterburner regime. Afterburner ignition is not possible when the TEB counter hits 'zero'. Same for ground startup. TEB ignition visualization (the green flash): simulated. Exhaust Nozzle & Ejector: Variable-are iris-type afterburner nozzles are visualized, including ENP (Exhaust Nozzle Position) indicators. External Starters: Two AG-330 starter units are simulated, visualized. Air Inlet System: Spikes: Spikes algorithm is simulated, authentically, for both automatic and manual modes (spikes ratio due mach, altitude etc..). Spikes animation included. Spikes restart switches are functioning. Engine unstart: Infrastructure for future implementation exists. Due to the 'unexpected' triggering of real engine unstart in real-life conditions (such as spikes failure and other reasons), this feature is currently partially disabled. You can unstart the engines when manually positioning the spikes in the wrong position during high-supersonic flight. But it will not occur spontaneously. This is still a WIP element. Aft Bypass: Aft bypass doors are animated according to the actual conditions. Fuel system: Authentic Fuel-tanks system layout: simulated authentically, including realistic shift in CG due fuel consumption in the various phases of flight. Fuel feeding and sequencing: In current version, all fuel management is done automatically (automatic transfer to maintain CG within limits while it shifts). Manual, full capacity fuel system simulation is scheduled to be implemented in the future. Air Refueling System: simulated, including tanker visualization and authentic SR-71 air-refueling radio recording (contributed by Mr. BC Thomas, high Time SR-71 Pilot with 1,217 hrs and 18 min). Nitrogen tanks pressurization: Simulated authentically. Fuel fumes will exceed flash-point and will be ignited in the tanks unless the inert-gas-pressurization cycle was established (by completing an air refueling session up to full-tanks). Electrical system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified electrical system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Hydraulic system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified hydraulic system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Landing Gear System: Comprehensive landing gear system. Manual Gear Release Handle: currently not functional in v1.0. Might change until release of v1.0. Will be implemented in the future. Landing gears position lights, handle, warning light and Audible warning: Simulated authentically. Nose-wheel Steering System: Simulated authentically, including engagement lights. Works as in the real SR-71, with a toggle push button located on the stick. 1st push engages the system, 2nd push disconnects it. Require authentic taxi and takeoff nose-wheel steering practices. Wheel Brake System: Simulated authentically with ANTI-SKID/Wet-Dry switch. In Wet mode, brake anti-skid sensitivity is increased. Drag Chute System: Simulated and physically-accurate, including lights etc.. (version v1.0 includes default drag chute visualization. This will be replaced in the future with an authentic one). Primary Flight Controls: Control stick throws: Simulated authentically (both visually and physically). Elevon Control System: Simulated authentically (inboard, outboard, mixer). Rudder Control System: Simulated, authentically. Surface Limiter System: Simulated authentically. Including the SURF-LIMITER T-handle operations and indication light. Authentic throws and conditions (speed dependent). Lateral (roll) control stick travel and rudder displacement are restricted by the surface limiter system. Pitch, Roll and Yaw trim: Simulated authentically, including operation and indication. SAS Control: Simulated authentically, with high accuracy in all flight regimes. Autopilot: Simulated, not the authentic SR-71 interface and modes. It includes APP/NAV/HDG/ATL/VVI modes. Automatic High Angle of Attack Warning Systems - APW shaker and pusher: Simulated authentically via the various conditions of operations and flight envelope regimes. Two separate modes are simulated authentically: Shaker and Shaker+Pusher. Aural AOA indication and warning system: Did not exist in the real SR-71, however, it was implemented in the VSKYLABS SR-71-TB aircraft, to allow better AOA monitoring during flight (which is needed when flying without 'sensing' then real aircraft and real control stick forces..g forces and so forth). Flight & Navigation Instruments: Fully functional LR CDU 739 along with a fully functional EFIS/MAP display: covering 2*com, 2*nav, 2*adf, transponder. Windshield: Deicing System: Simulated. Lighting Equipment: Exterior lighting: Simulated. Interior lighting: Simulated. Environmental Control Systems: Pressurization schedules: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Life Support Systems: Oxygen System: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Pressure suite support systems: Not simulated. Listed for future implementation. Emergency Warning Equipment: Master Warning System: All active-systems warning, caution and condition lights indications are operational. Indicators and warning lights test button: Simulated. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the reconnaissance systems officer operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path. The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's nickname "Blackbird". Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the SR-71 TB ___________________________ The SR-71-TB by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS Your Price: US$37.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 424 MB Current Version : 1.0 (December 8th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 9th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  7. Aircraft Review : Hungarocopter HC-02 by vSkyLabs The project was born in 2007, and as the experimental stage progressed with more continuous and sophisticated solutions, the main and innovative component constructions were further developed into the first ultralight helicopter designed and manufactured totally in Hungary by Hungaro Copter Limited of Verpelét, an affiliate of the Hungarian SteelRiders company. The result was the HC-01, basically a single pilot airframe with a four-cylinder, four stroke 135 hp (101 kW) Subaru EJ22 engine. The HC-01 is very much like the VS-300, the first ever practical flying rig helicopter built by Ogor Sikorski in 1939. The experimental HC-01 by the lead engineer Zoltán Juhász has now been developed into the more commercial HC-02, a twin-seater machine with now being powered by a Rotax 915 IS four-stroke air cooled engine, with 141 hp (105 kW) for take-off, 135 hp (101 kW) in continuous flight. The aircraft is supplied as a kit for amateur construction, but still incorporates all the clever innovations of the first HC-01 design. These innovations include an Electrical Rescue System, Automatic anti-tip device, a Center of gravity offset, compensation with movable fuel tank system and Self-developed, high-efficiency and quiet-running rotors (Silent Type). The HS-02 also comes with an enclosed cabin... this aircraft reminds me in design of the Schweizer S300CBi, more so the Dynali H3, in being another ultralight helicopter design, spaceframe based with a long circular tail-boom. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. The HC-02 design is modern and clean. vSkyLabs have done a remarkable job in translating the Hungarocopter to the X-Plane 12 Simulator (to note the HC-02 is only available in X-plane 12). The composite feel is very evident, but in a finished well made production model sheen. The development here is based on 1st hand, actual materials, with real-world HC-02 pilots input. Note the door latches, with hotspot clicks to open the doors. Glass is excellent (nicely tinted), deep and well reflective. Under the smooth exterior however is a 25CrMo4 welded steel tubing spaceframe, supporting the Rotax 915 IS which is sticking out of the back, and the forward HC-02 cabin. Note the well modeled skids and supports attached to the spaceframe. The design is very clean, but this is not a working aircraft, but a demonstration machine directly out of the factory sort of way. Detailing is excellent, anyone that has supported in vSkyLabs philosophy knows what they will get, with all this great detailing, but no frills, and that same philosophy is again very evident here. The HC-02 is a single main rotor and tail rotor configuration, and the tall rotor tower and hub is very well modeled, as all the fittings and bolts are very well represented. It all feels modern and fresh in design, in a forward moving approach to an old idea. The collective twist movement is animated, but not the pitch or sideways cyclic movements. Note the innovative blade design at 7.0 m (23.0 ft), all carbon-composite for strength, reliability and low noise. The boom-tail stabilizer wings are quite pronounced for a ultralight machine, and they adapt (move) in flight for better stability. Rear rotor assembly is detail is excellent, with the full construction visible and authentic. The Yaw blade movement is well animated as well. The vSkyLabs aircraft all use only "Hotspots" and comes with no menus as their feature control. Both doors can be opened by their latches, but press the upper part of the outer windscreen (both sides) and you can also hide the Swan styled doors off the aircraft. Internally there are two lay seats, set in a bright red with black inserts, and the (nice) seatbelts are HC (HungaroCopter) branded. This is a full dual control machine, with both dual cyclics and collectives. So either pilot can fly the machine. Central is a large instrument panel/console. The cyclic is simple with no features except for a PTT (Push To Talk) button, the collective has a working rotating throttle and end button governor. The fuel tank valve is on the floor between the seats. Rudder pedals are just basic aluminium. The main instrument panel is dominated by a state-of-the-art EFIS NESIS III, a navigation, flight and engine system for ultralight aircraft and helicopters. Noted here it is only showing the "Engine Screen", as there is also a "Classic" (flight instruments) and "Navigation" (MAP) screen pages also available on the NESIS lll, but not reproduced here. Top of the instrument panel are a row of Warning/Caution lights. Flying instruments include, far left a Heading/Compass, Altitude/Speed/Baro (top), EMSIS Engine/Rotor Tachometer (bottom). Engine readouts (NESIS) consist of; Fuel Level/Pressure/Flow, Engine/Rotor Percentage %, Amp/Volt, Oil Temperature/Pressure, Gearbox Temperature/Pressure and Cylinder EGT - Exhaust Gas Temperature (per cylinder). If you press on the Amp/Volt gauge, it will change to an Artificial Horizon... Lower right is an instrument/light test button that works, lower console is a Upper/Lower (rotor) bearings Temperature readout, and ERS System Status Display (The ERS is a UAVOS’ Drone Parachute System, but currently non-operable, but maybe added in later as a future feature) Lower is a Radio/Communications panel... Centre Console has a switch panel for External lights (Land/Nav), Fans and Power/Standby/Clutch switches. Bottom is a clever Transponder, turn the outer manipulator for the first two digits, then the inner manipulator for the last two digits... easy. far, far bottom is the FAN switches. On the roof are two panels... left is the circuit breaker/fuse panel (non-working), right the MASTER start switch, Strobe (tail) light and A/B Busses, Start relay cover switch is up here as well. Top Instrument panel is a AviTab (plugin required) tablet, you press the area on the top of the glareshield to make it appear. It's quite large, good for reading, but helicopters are all about visual references, so it can be a bit of a distraction being so big if in restricted areas. External lighting is all very basic. A single white strobe light tail, and side Red/Green Navigation lights, there are two LED landing lights in the nose. Finally there is a really well dressed young pilot, with trendy torn jeans flying the HC-02. He has great arm and leg movements to the control changes, but no head movements, but he does look great. _________________ Flying the Hungarocopter HC-02 First recommended with the HC-02 is to adjust the "Flight models per frame rate", usually to three or four models per frame. This will help out with fluctuations of the flight dynamics model, usually resulting in 'jumps' of the aircraft. The settings can be found on the X-Plane/Menu/General page. It generally makes the HC-02 easier to fly. As the HC-02 is not a gas-turbine sort of machine, but basically just a normal Four-stroke piston engine. It is as easy to start as a car engine... Power on, fuel pumps on... adjust the throttle to mid-turn, then turn the overhead switch to START. The whine comes from below, then the rotors take, wait until you are at 100%. And your ready to fly! You will hold the 100% unless you go back into a "Low Idle", then it drops down into 70% yellow zone. Basically the output is automatically governed at the high output, usually 105%, no matter what mixture setting you have, or be set within the green zone. Full throttle is of course required to takeoff. This is an "UltraLight", so it is very ULTRALIGHT. This means with the full power setting the aircraft will jiggle, feel nervous, so control inputs are minuscule small. You will have a nervous tail as well, so a lot of left foot is needed to correct the yaw thrust. The drive system incorporates a clutch system that allows the engine to start without load, as well as a freewheel that allows autorotation (free rotation of the main rotor) regardless of the operation of the engine or transmission system. First slightly airborne, I went first drifting right sideways, but the tail under control. With a slight counter on the cyclic, and I was nicely hovering in one spot, and I could easily hold it there. It is not recommended to put the nose down and increase the collective and to do a usual move away from the low hover position. Basically here you will need a bit more height to do that. I increased the collective and held the hover, but a bit too much as I climbed straight up high to 300 ft. Now I can do the standard 5º nose down to move forward. Finding the correct pitch to move forward is important, too little and you will simply climb (and climb), too much and you lose nose down altitude very quickly, the line between them is extremely fine. You need to find it, and quickly, in finding a balance of a forward cyclic and collective position, then you will gather speed in a forward motion without gaining (or losing) height. You can see why you can't do this forward manoeuvre close to ground until you are more skilled with the HC-02, as you will mostly crash, or simply lose control. As you have to feed in your skills as you get more confident in the way the machine behaves, with plenty of space (mostly to the ground) to find the centre of the machine. This aspect is also explained in the well conceived POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook) "A pushover (forward cyclic maneuver) performed from level flight or following a pull-up causes a low-G (near weightless) condition which can result in catastrophic loss of lateral control. To eliminate a low-G condition, immediately apply gentle aft cyclic. Should a right roll commence during a low-G condition, apply gentle aft cyclic to reload rotor before applying lateral cyclic to stop the roll." Once you get there it is then a simple fingertip touch to go forward, or sideways. With both doors installed, a solo pilot weight of 70 kg or greater will ensure the CG is within limits, or that the aircraft (in being so light) can be balanced. In the air there is a lot of movement around the aircraft. The spinning Rotax is highly visible, as are lovely twin-red cooling fans under fuselage, underside detail is simply excellent. There are no helpers obviously, no SAS (Stability Augmentation System)... just the right trim and balance to fly the aircraft. But then the HC-02 is sweet to fly... Up to 3000 feet density altitude speed (vne) is 100 KIAS, doors off you are restricted to only 70 KIAS. I found that the average speed was around 60-70 KIAS, that is if you can get to that speed, as it take ages to build up momentum depending on the right nose pitch. View reminds me a little of an underwater sub, the forward windows look like portholes, but the sides are not, and the view to your side is excellent. You fly sort of head down. As you want to have the top of the instrument panel with the Altitude/Speed/Baro instrument and the Artificial Horizon visible, and in this position it does restrict your forward view, but you will fly mostly by these two instruments. Lighting and sound are standard, even basic. Internally there is only the instrument lighting, externally the Landing lights, nav and tail strobe lights. An annoyance is that the strobe flashes in the cabin, on the window frame. Sounds are very good, but nothing special in spatial awareness, it sounds and flies like a Rotax, and you can feel and hear the four-stroke working hard, the blades are very refined, and there is no blade-slap, no matter how hard you try to make it appear. What works against you in taking off, works for you in landing. Lift the nose and the speed drops off very quickly, but to go lower, you need to push the nose down low. Get the two actions right with collective (power) control and you can drop and slow down at the same time. Effective Translational Lift (ETL) is almost non-existent, you feel the transition, but the dropping of the speed goes smoothly into the lower forward speed, yes the collective is very fine here and it needs a little skill, but otherwise it is very easy in the approach and hover phases. You can't get too complacent, this is still a very, very lite spidery machine. Getting closer to the ground and you have to be so smoooth, with fine touches on the controls, and the rudder yaw. But as you are now more in tune with the aircraft's dynamics, you can feel it better and control the HC-02 with more experience, no doubt the pro's will throw this one around the sky, but for the rest of us it is still a bit of a learning curve. I'm down and back at base... and to do the full circuit was an achievement, but fun as well in the Hungarocopter! Anything I want to add. Yes I would like more EFIS NESIS III pages in "Classic" (flight instruments) and "Navigation" (MAP) screen, I think it would add in a lot more to the aircraft instrumentation, and even maybe a spotlight on the skids. There are no extras or even liveries with the vSkyLabs HC-02. Summary Created and built by Zoltán Juhász in Hungary, the commercial HC-02 Hungarocopter, is a twin-seater Ultra light machine powered by a Rotax 915 IS Four-stroke piston, air cooled engine. Evolutionary from the earlier experimental HC-01, it incorporates many of the earlier machines innovative features. And all relevant technical and other information of the Hungarocopter HC-02 from the actual company was used in designing the HC-02. Most users are well aware of the vSkyLabs philosophy, in that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%. There are also no menus, or external features on the aircraft, and any changes are usually via hopspots. Design and modeling is always one of vSkyLab's most strongest attributes, plus add in an almost perfect set of flying dynamics, makes any aircraft highly realistic to the real aircraft from this highly experienced developer. Systems are excellent with a lot of realistic detail of the state-of-the-art EFIS NESIS III, a navigation, flight and engine system for ultralight aircraft and helicopters. Sadly it does not have the Classic" (flight instruments) and "Navigation" (MAP) screen options. But all the systems and aircraft specifications are very well covered in the supplied POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook), that also comes with checklists. These very lightweight machines can be very tricky to fly. But the HC-02 has a lot of interesting attributes that will keep both the Professional and novice pilot's happy. As once mastered it is a fun machine to learn and use without too many of the usual distractions. It is totally VR - Virtual Reality certified as well, always a good thing with Helicopters. The aircraft is X-Plane 12 only, so no X-Plane 11 will be available. But this is another great and interesting helicopter that has a lot of interesting innovations to fly... It's a lot of fun as well, as well as in being an ongoing project. Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the HC-02 ___________________________ Yes! - the Hungarocopter HC-02 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Hungarocopter HC-02 Price is US$29.95 On sale: $29.95 US$14.97... You Save:$15.00(50%) Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (October 6th 2023) _____________ Installation and documents: download for the HC-02 is 209Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopter" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 372MB AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: How to INSTALL your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf How to UPDATE your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf VSKYLABS HC-02 POH.pdf VSL HC-02 Essentials.pdf Four documents cover setup, configurations and the general options on the aircraft available, excellent supplied POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook), that also comes with checklists. Review System Specifications Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.07r1 (This is a release candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - Airport Marseille XP by Aerosoft - (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.99 ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 10th October 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  8. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : Hungarocopter HC-02 by vSkyLabs What is a Hungarocopter? obviously it is a helicopter created and built in Hungary. Overall it is a ultralight helicopter of which two versions have been built, the single-seater version HC-01, and two HC-02 (Two Seater) aircraft. Powered by a Rotax 915 IS. The HC-02 was designed and manufactured using state-of-the-art technology, with the combined result of excellent handling characteristics, high payload, passenger and crew safety compared to empty weight. Patents and innovations built into the Hungarocopter HC-02 include: - Electrical Rescue System - Automatic anti-tip device. - Center of gravity offset, compensation with movable fuel tank system. - Self-developed, high-efficiency and quiet-running rotors (Silent Type) Now this innovative aircraft is available to fly in the X-Plane 12 Simulator... to note, there is no X-Plane 11 version of this aircraft. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. Features include VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the HC-02, built around the powerful, native X-Plane 12 flight model. Development is based on 1st hand, actual materials, real-world HC-02 pilots inputs, relevant technical and other information of the Hungarocopter HC-02. Highly detailed model of the HC-02 helicopter. Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included). Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. The project is under constant development: development road-map includes flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater (XP12 only) - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support. Purchase of the HC-02 is usually US$29.95, but currently the aircraft is 50% off at a very reasonable US$14.97 So be QUICK! Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the HC-02 ___________________________ Yes! - the Hungarocopter HC-02 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Hungarocopter HC-02 Price is US$29.95 On sale: $29.95 US$14.97... You Save:$15.00(50%) Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (October 6th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 7th October 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  9. Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 Midway though 2017. Established developer vSkylabs released a classic aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in the form of the Douglas Commercial 3, or DC-3 as it affectionately became known. The earlier release was of the C-47 variant, or the military "Skytrain" version that won World War ll. Well the aircraft had a big part in winning the logistics side of the war. But in reality the main success of the C-47 was post-war with the huge surplus of these ex-military aircraft becoming an aviation legacy that will never be repeated. The earlier vskylabs C-47/DC-3 aircraft was an analog design, but that all changed around Christmas 2022, when the aircraft was then divided into three separate variants... The original C-47 Skytrain, a new DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane). VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. The "DC-3 Airliner" split included a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the original C-47B Skytrain variant, as the C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12. Both variants have now received updates a week apart, v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. There is a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in separate changes to the Airliner variant in this update review. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. But first let us have a quick look at the two aircraft. C-47 Skytrain Over the years, the vSkylabs C-47 has evolved quite considerably since it's debut back in 2017, in fact not much of the internal design has survived. Some aspects I miss, like the very worn window surrounds, but overall the original design and great modeling has survived very much intact, that Dakota aspect is also still very strong. Bonuses currently is the much higher quality of the design with the changes and PBS effects, certainly now with X-Plane 12, were as the aircraft has a far more realistic feel to the eye. There are no menus with vSkylabs aircraft, so everything is accessed via "Hotspots", but they are cleverly done. The cockpit is the antique look of the post-war era, but if you have checked out the earlier C-47, it is a huge and significant difference in detail and change. The X-Plane 12 infused lighting is also a huge bonus on the overall feel and look of the iconic cockpit. The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is thankfully still installed here, but added in is also a few mod-cons, like the S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, and the two Garmin GNS530 GPS units (they drop down mid-window)... another thankful retention from the original aircraft, which is the huge middle windscreen "bouncy wouncy" authentic whisky compass. Although a significant improvement over the original release, the cabin is still pretty basic in design, it could do (or is due) with another overhaul to make it more authentic like what was done to the "Airliner" variant, or a cargo aspect would be nice. DC-3 Airliner Put side by side and there are some quite considerable differences between the two aircraft variants. Externally it is the same "Dak", but in the cockpit it feels and looks very different with the Laminar G1000 Avionics in place, the panels eyebrows are different as well. It's also a greeny-blue in here, more than the older darker green diamond blanket look of the post-war aircraft. It is a taste thing, some will like the modern approach, a lot would probably like the earlier darker feel... the Laminar G1000 displays pop-out as well, but only one of each panel, for the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre single MFD (Multi-Functional Display). In other changes the two GNS 530 GPS units are gone and so is the large whiskey compass, to be replaced by a smaller (non-floating) version on the top of the instrument panel, another item is the massive window de-mist piping, once on the C-47 (as an option) but removed to the DC-3 variant, personally I didn't like it? as it significantly blocked a lot of the view out of the front windows. Cabin has the different diamond padding and colour, and very realistic 3d passengers, very good they are as well. But the seats are actually the same as in the C-47. There is full review of the DC-3 Airliner release here; Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs Updates v6.0b2 C-47, and v2.0b2 DC-3 Airliner Common changes to both aircraft in these companion updates is with the New "Mixture and Carburetor" systems, here now replicating the C-47/DC-3 mixtures operation with better authenticity. Mixture levers are now set in 'steps' with; (Idle-)Cutoff, Auto-Lean, Auto-Rich and Emergency positions. So the text is still there, but now not just for show... they actually work with the mixture lever setting. Auto-lean and auto-rich are fully automatic modes, with separate control for each engine. To take advantage of the mixture lever settings, you have to set them to different axis modes... the Left-Engine mixture lever is set to the "Wing Sweep" axis, and the Right-Engine axis is set to the "Thrust Vector" axis... I set those settings here with the Saitek X-56 Throttle, I don't have extra levers on the add-on throttle, but only knobs, but it worked fine. You do have another option, that is to lock both mixture levers together. Press the area side-plate, and the right mixture lever knob turns yellow to signify that the levers are now locked, to unlock just press the side-plate again. In this locked guise, the left lever controls both. So the "Thrust Vector" action will now move both levers together. The lock set up however does also allow you to use both Saitek throttle levers, with the left "Throttle" setting, and the right "Mixture" setting, but you can't adjust both of the Throttles separately (you can't anyway) or the Mixture levers separately... of course any lever can be set manually, or to be used hands on. Personally I like my Throttles separate... the reason I found was the Dakota has a habit of drifting to the right over a longer distance, so a slight reduction of power on the right engine (or more power to the left engine) would keep you more on the heading. The new fuel system in these updates now allows you full control of all four tanks, feeding into each engine in separately... This is done by the cocks/valves each side of the pedestal, with each noting the L Main, R Main, L AUX, R AUX and OFF. Shown here in the OFF and MAINs running, with L-R cocks opposite, all four tanks all are accessible, here with accessing the only the L-Tank, and R-AUX. Reading any tank capacity is via a switch lower right Instrument Panel, which is totally authentic. Fixes in the update relate to the Fuel level indicator, which is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode, and the Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation has been changed to provide better a reading, and to be more accurate. But currently when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines. This is an (X-Plane) limitation and changes are coming (from Laminar Research) to rectify this restriction. Fuel capacity is - Main tank (front) each - 202 U.S. galls. Auxiliary tank (rear) each 200 U.S. galls. Total each side: 402 U.S. galls, with total 804 U.S. galls fuel capacity. Carburetor air-intake heat controls now also work... Two levers top right pedestal controls the carburetor heating, for the left and right engines. The third (lock) lever is a dummy. Oddly it works back to front, forward is COLD, rearwards is HOT, or the rear selection brings the heated air from around the cylinder heads into the induction system to clear the ice, or for running in very cold temperatures. Carb heat is shown far right centre Instrument Panel C-47, and lower dead centre Panel DC-3 Airliner. What we are talking about here are authentic or realism in these operations. Yes a lot of aircraft have the same options, but these systems are created to be very authentic to the operation of the DC-3. The huge pitch trim wheel has been totally redone, or re-modeled to be more authentic to the real one. I personally would like more dirt, wear and tear on the wheel, it is supposed to be over 80 years old, but it looks like it came out the spares store yesterday. The cockpit PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone has been updated in both aircraft, bringing it up to X-Plane 12 specifications. We are now in X-Plane 12.06 and that comes with the better lighting adjustments, it shows in here as the detail now just jumps out at you... a far cry from the past vSkylabs cockpit environments. (note we are now actually in XP12.07r1, but it was in X-Plane 12.06 that the lighting adjustments were made). It's a quirky machine to fly is the DC-3/C-47... It is always a good idea to do a quick look through the (very explainable manual) in what is what, and how all the quirks work. Like the gear... as it is a two-operation, operation. You have to unlock (or lock) the gear up or down. This is done by the lever on the floor, before you can raise or lower the undercarriage. You also have to check (via the large Hydraulic Pressure gauges) if the pressure is working for gear operation. If all fails there is a manual gear pump to do the action, it is set behind the cockpit. There is also the two engine-driven pumps to operate the vacuum system. They provide air suction for the operation of the artificial horizon, directional gyros and turn indicator. Check suction indicator on automatic pilot instrument panel for vacuum indication of 3375" ti 4.25". Again very authentic to the post-war aircraft. It's a tricky aircraft to fly as well. You use a lot of rudder movement on takeoff to keep control, mostly far worse are the exaggerated movements required once the tail lifts. In the air it is a lot to handle as well, but you will soon get the feel of this very big taildragger design. Once you settle the "Dak", then it comes into it's own... but flights are usually long, because they are low and slow by modern, even regional propeller aircraft standards. You get a Maximum speed of 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), a cruise speed around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). But the range is excellent at 1,370 nmi (1,580 mi, 2,540 km) (maximum fuel, 3500 lb payload), but you get there very slowly, the Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), or regional propeller driven aircraft altitude... climbing is with a Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.7 m/s), but usually around 1,000 ft/min. The odd thing is I have had some really brilliant epic Journeys in this aircraft (maybe because they took so long), but thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe this is why I'm a little bit defensive on in there being too many changes away from the original concept of the DC-3. The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is something I love. So adding in the S-Tec is going against my grain. Saying that it works very well, the Sperry is also very tricky to use... If connected to the S-Tec then the heading is adjusted by the RUD (Rudder) knob and the upper compass drum, but tricky is the alignment of the heading as the lower compass drum is adjustable... ... so the lower compass drum needs to be aligned with the main whisky compass. You do this by pressing the centre of the lower adjustment knob, known as "Cageing" or Cage, and that will align the two compasses together. If the lower drum is out of alignment, it gets seriously confusing on where your heading actually is, or set. If you want fly on the Sperry alone you still can. And the heading is adjusted manually by moving the AIL (Aileron) knob to bank the aircraft to the new heading and then adjusting it back again to keep the heading. In both adjustments the heading can still be very vague, but as noted... adjusting the throttles or power outputs on the engines can keep you on the heading a bit tighter. Odds in the updates includes a better (or brighter) tail beacon, the landing/taxi lights also now have that X-Plane 12 flare look as well... ... DC-3 Airliner only changes include Fuel pumps sounds tuneups, which now have reduced intensity (sounds overall are excellent). Also the DG sync, and a manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob. Back at Keflavík BIKF, and I'm on approach. I'm not going to say the DC3 is an easy aircraft fly, because it isn't, even demanding. It takes skill to get it all right, and is a big challenge to your perspective. But that is also the attraction, the wanting to fly the aircraft again and again... .... my advice is to get in there, stay in there and learn it thoroughly. The systems, the odd handing traits, and yes... even do a lot of practise. But when the aircraft comes to you, you'll be glad you did all the time and effort... it is an authentic all round experience. Summary vSkyLabs have updated their C-47 and DC-3 Airliner to versions v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. This is after the earlier three way split of the original 2017 release of the C47/DC3 into three different variants; C-47 Skytrain, DC-3 Airliner and the coming Tri-Turbo-Three. The update covers about a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in a separate change to the Airliner variant in this update review, these include different FMOD pump sounds and DG - Sync. The main changes are with new mixtures, carburetor system algorithm and mixture control is now also fully differential. Fully automatic. Mixture levers have now working detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency, and all auto-modes are fully automatic. New fuel system now allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, and the Carburetor heat system and levers are now also operable. Both aircraft have a lot of attention on the PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone of the internal areas to make them ultra realistic. It's sweet set of updates to an iconic aircraft. There is as noted a very authentic feel to these pre-war designed aircraft, with a few modern twists in the systems. My preference is still the analog C-47, it recreates the era, and has that Type A-3A autopilot as an added attraction. In X-plane 12, with it's more advances lighting, effects and features.... the original release C-47/DC-3 feels very far away now and the aircraft with it's current updates reflect that aspect. Go low and slow for a long flight, and you will love the "Dak" in all it's post war glory... it's an excellent simulation of the most iconic aircraft in the world. Currently both the vSkylab's C-47/DC3 Airliners are 50% off in a sale... ___________________________ The C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2/DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Your Price: US$34.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF. Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 6.02 (September 14th 2023) VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner Your Price: US$34.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF. Requirements X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 2.0b2 (September 19th 2023) ___________________________ Review System Specifications Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.07b1 (This is a beta review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - BIKF - Airport Keflavik by Aerosoft- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.20 _____________ Update Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 23rd September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  10. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 by vSkylabs Back in December 22 (last Christmas). VskyLabs split the versions of it's DC-3 into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, a new DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane). VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. The "DC-3 Airliner" variant had an significant update back at that same date, including; a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the C-47B Skytrain variant, and here is an update for that aircraft. C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with still an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. This v6.0b2 update is mostly focused on systems and new controls (mixture levers)... Flight Dynamics and Systems: New mixtures, carburetor system algorithm:Mixture control is now fully differential, and fully automatic, replicating the actual C-47 mixtures and carburetor operations. Mixture levers have detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency. All auto-modes are fully automatic. For more information refer to the included manual. New fuel system:The VSKYLABS fuel system in v6.0b2 allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, directly (identical to real-world C-47 operation). (known issue - due to a system architecture restriction in the VSKYLABS C-47 v6.0, when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines.The fuel system is under development and this ‘feature’ will be fixed in future updates. Carburetor heat system - levers are not being operated internally via sliders (for more information refer to the included manual). Vacuum system - vacuum system re-wired. On-board DG are now vacuum-powered. DG sync - Manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob. Bug fixes: Fuel level indicator is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode. Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation changed to provide better reading, more accurate. Enhancements: Pitch trim wheel re-modeled, re-textured. Carburetor heat levers now showing 'L' / 'R' for better interaction. Various PBR fixes all-around in the cockpit. Manual/POH update: Rev 007 Although not noted, this aircraft is updated to X-Plane 12 (as long as you pick that version), the Skunkcrafts Updater has also been added into the mix as well. This is a project update, not like the DC-Airliner new aircraft version, so it is a free update, via currently the Skuckcrafts Updater or download from the X-Plane.OrgStore. Project's Highlights: Project is 'VR Ready' for use with X-Plane: VR functionality is a part of the project aspects which are constantly under evaluation and development for reaching a higher level of immersion as the VR features and possibilities are growing. Highly Realistic Handling and Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47, along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of hundreds of flight testing and evaluation, tested and refined by a real-world C-47 pilot. Workhorse for DC-3/C-47 pilot skills: Experience authentic flight performance and handling practices (takeoff, landing, single engine operations, flight planning, long range flights and old school navigation). It is a perfect platform to recreate and fly historic routes using authentic performance. Unique look and feel: There is nothing to hide - the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design. Two C-47 variants included: The C-47 and the XC-47C floats-equipped variants. Systems: All the relevant systems are being simulated. Here are **some** of the more unique systems: Two speed Supercharger blowers - based on the PW-1830-90C engines model, equipped with lo/hi blowers. The high blower configuration allows high altitude cruise. Oxygen system - including crew dilution/regulator, pressure indicator and functional flow-indicator ("Blinker"). Do not forget to enable hypoxia in X-Plane's general settings menu. Fire Extinguisher system - including fire indication system. The fire extinguisher control panel is located behind the hinged cover on the cockpit floor, between the pilot/co-pilot seats. Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up. Engine mishandling will result in severe damage to the engine/engine fire. Stressing the airframe will result also in severe damage, following a visual representation of the damages. Blown tires are also being visualized and simulated. Engines/propeller systems - designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic propeller feathering systems, for highly realistic single engine simulation. Landing gears and flaps simulation - are being simulated with a high level of authenticity. Sperry Autopilot - Old school autopilot is configured. Optional modern avionics - dual GNS 530, S-TEC autopilot, AviTab compatibility. Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems - including icing and rain visualization. Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model. Passengers/cargo configurations. Comprehensive FMOD sounds. AviTab plugin compatibility included (AviTab plugin not included). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support system (including C-47/DC-3 operational knowledge and support/assistance). Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) ___________________________ The C-47 Skytrain by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Your Price: US$35.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF . Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 6.02 (September 14th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 15th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  11. NEWS! : SiFi Release - VSKYLABS Skyscenders 76' X-Plane is all about the experimental... a word there to pause on is "Mental". So how mental is this from vSkyLabs, in three out of this world experimental aircraft, certainly within the X-Plane spirit of adventure.... The VSKYLABS Skyscenders 76' consist of 3 cutting edge fictional aircraft, which are "brought to life" using X-Plane 12 cutting edge physics and flight dynamic model, with the purpose of exploring X-Plane 12 physics, scenery and weather environments. Version v1.x of the project is designated as 'Beta': All 3 aircraft are fully operational yet still under constant development. Autopilot is not available in version v1.x (due to the nature of the various aircraft, it is not required as well). One of the aircraft in the package is a hypersonic low-orbit spacecraft. This aircraft can stretch X-Plane 12 flight dynamics and physics capabilities to extremes, sometimes into unknown territory, where no add-on aircraft have been flown before (for example: low orbit trajectories, hypersonic flight and more). It is highly recommended not to try and challenge X-Plane 12 with the hypersonic low-orbit spacecraft: Trying to get shot into deep space, or trying to exceed high hypersonic speeds in X-Plane's lower atmosphere may result with unexpected X-Plane 12 behavior! Features 3 aircraft included (Turbine-VTOL, Jet-VTOL, Hypersonic spacecraft). Highly capable aircraft designed specifically for X-Plane 12 scenery and weather exploration. Ultimate fun, provides hours of challenges for novice and expert pilots! Automated systems. Designed for VR (optimized for 2-d). FMOD 2.0 sounds. Projects under constant development - updates are free. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Design by VSKYLABS Support for the Skyscenders 76 You gotta admit... it's pretty awesome! Skyscenders 76' by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore, only 15 bucks! ___________________________ Yes! - the Skyscenders 76' by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : SKYSCENDERS 76 Price is US$30.00 On sale: $30.00 US$15.00... You Save:$15.00(50%) Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 840MB total - 3 download links Current Version : 1.0 (June 29th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 30th June 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  12. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs The Aeroprakt A22-LS is a versatile and modern light sport aircraft that offers exceptional performance and capabilities. Manufactured by Aeroprakt, a leading Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer, the A22-LS is designed for pilots who seek a reliable and efficient aircraft for recreational flying, flight training, and aerial photography. The A22-LS features a high-wing configuration, tricycle landing gear, and a spacious cockpit that provides excellent visibility. It is powered by a Rotax 912 ULS engine, known for its fuel efficiency and reliability, and offers a comfortable cruising speed and a range that makes it suitable for cross-country flights. Here is another vSkyLabs project updated to X-Plane 12, the choice this time is the Ukrainian Aeroprakt A22-LS light sport aircraft. I will note that the A22-LS was already available for X-Plane 12, but this v3.0 update will refine the aircraft to the full complete X-Plane 12 standards. The X-Plane 11 A22-LS review is here: Aircraft Review : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Feature changes to v3.0 Flight dynamics model: Complete overhaul and performance verification. Rotax 912ULS engine tuneups (power, power gradients and fuel consumption). Update and tuneups for XP12 latest landing gears physics. Systems: Implemented the Alpha Systems AOA indicator. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sound pack. Graphics: Remodeled 3-d cockpit panel. Remodeled 3-d gauges bezels, compass case, AP case, yokes. Improved PBR and textures all-around, in and out. Remodeled 3-d landing gears. Paint-Kit update. Interactions: Replaced 3-d checklist element (paper only, placed in a dedicated placeholder instead of being above the main panel). Projects main features VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane's cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a default X-Plane aircraft (Like all VSKYLABS projects). The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots: The VSL A22-LS is featuring the standard, basic analog cockpit suitable for VFR + night flying. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an optional experimental LSA-grade autopilot. Alpha System AOA indicator included! Fly like a pro with an authentic angle of attack indicator. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater (XP12 only) - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive and professional support: VSKYLABS is offering continuous professional support from aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. Design by VSKYLABS Support for for the Aeroprakt A22-LS Project The Aeroprakt A22-LS by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project Price is US$29.00 (Currently on sale for only US14.50!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (May 4th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 5th May 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  13. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Tensor 600X v3.0 VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' The Tensor 600X is an innovative German two-seat tandem configuration autogyro prototype, designed specifically for urban air mobility, transport and surveillance-efficient missions. The Tensor 600X gyrocopter has several unique design features including the ability to use multiple energy sources such as full-electric, gasoline engines, fuel cells or hydrogen engines, wings with winglets and a sleek futuristic look. A single propeller connected to a central located engine allows for multiple energy sources. In addition the company has revealed their gyrocopter has a low noise footprint, the cost is low to purchase and to operate the aircraft, its ultra-safe and has low emissions. Currently the prototype is powered by a Rotax 915iS, and can reach speeds of 200 km/h (124 mph). The Tensor gyrocopter has a flight range of 600 km (373 miles) and can fly safely at very low speeds and at speeds over 161 km/h (100 mph). The company has stated their gyrocopter is quieter than helicopters, light aircraft, drones and eVTOL aircraft. It has one-third (1/3) less drag compared to multicopters and half (1/2) the drag compared to helicopters. The VSKYLABS Tensor 600X is a high definition autogyro simulation of the Tensor 600X, based on development information which was provided by ‘TENSOR AG.’. However, not all of the information, specifications and data, system descriptions and flight instructions in this manual are necessarily representing the real Tensor 600X specs and data, and should not be considered as official information with regards to the Tensor 600X. The real Tensor 600X is still under development and its complete specification and performance figures will be available once ‘TENSOR AG.’ will release it in public. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. This is a major update in v3.0 for the 600X, not just a total refine of the X-Plane 12 configuration and performance, but a new engine, and gearbox adaption, full new FOMD sound package and two new liveries. Full update details are here. Version 3.0 (April 16th 2023) Flight dynamics model: Complete flight dynamics re-engineering and validating in X-Plane 12, including drag refinements, updated pusher prop, main rotor system, flying and control surfaces. Engine updated to Rotax 915iS. Engine reduction gearbox adapation to the Rotax 915iS. Semi-automatic Pre-rotation mechanism was added. New landing gears physics. Systems: G1000 autopilot is now inverter-dependent, with a safe mechanism for gound operations. New interior lighting systems for the instrument gauges. Interaction: Added option to hide the front stick (similar to 'hide-yoke'). Graphics: Extensive PBR update to fall in line with the latest XP12 lighting engine updates. Pusher prop visualization update. Liveries update. Additional 2 liveries. Enhanced windshields. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sounds pack. Project Main Features: Flight Model tuned to X-Plane 12 New Rotax 915iS engine Systems: G1000 autopilot is now inverter-dependent, with a safe mechanism for gound operations. New interior lighting systems for the instrument gauges. Interaction: Added option to hide the front stick (similar to 'hide-yoke'). Graphics: Extensive PBR update to fall in line with the latest XP12 lighting engine updates. Pusher prop visualization update. Liveries update. Additional 2 liveries. Enhanced windshields. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sounds pack. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project of a real world prototype Autoupdater included The project is under constant development. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Tensor 600X Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Tensor 600X by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Tensor 600X Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tensor 600X Price is US$25.00 (Currently on sale for only US14.50!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (April 16th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 17th April 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  14. NEWS! Update X-Plane 12 : Aeropro EuroFOX Project v8.0 by vSkyLabs The very popular Aeropro EuroFOX by vSkyLabs is now configured for X-Plane12. The Aeropro Eurofox is a Slovak-built two-seat light high-winged aircraft. It qualifies as a light-sport aircraft in the United States. The aircraft is a high wing STOL aircraft with class leading handling, specification, payload and performance that cannot be matched by its direct competitors and is powered by the Rotax 912 series engine. The project consists Three versions of the EuroFOX; The Tricycle (Known in the US as the 'Aerotrek 240'), the standard Tail wheel version ('Aerotrek 220'), and the Tundra tires Tail wheel version ('Aerotrek 220 STOL'). All three variants are equipped with the Rotax 912/100 hp engine. Aircraft variants: EuroFOX-3K: Tri gear version. Sold in North America as the Aerotrek A240. EuroFOX-2K: Tailwheel version. Sold in North America as the Aerotrek A220. EuroFOX-2K/STOL. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. The upgrade to X-Plane 12 v8.0 is quite extensive XP12 - v8.0 (20th March 2023): FDM - Physics and aircraft performance (all 3 variants): Aircraft drag update. Engine power update. Propeller design update. Fuel consumption update. Cruise performance update. Landing gears update, including suspention and ground handling characteristics. A240 - landing gears design update (new wheels, removed wheel-pants from the mains). A220 STOL - landing gears design update - new tundra-tires with updated physics. A220 STOL - LE slats performance update. Systems: New analog panel layout. Remodelled panel, switches, gauges and gauges. New altimeter (dual system). Remodeled/re-wired VSL Autopilot panel. New 'Alpha Systems AOA' Eagle AOA indicator. New GNS530 (old VHF radio removed). New Transponder (old transponder removed). Avionics wiring change: All avionics are tied to 'avionics' switch with separate GPS, and AP servo switches. 3-d modeling: Complete re-mapping of the aircraft (externally) and massive re-mapping for the interiors (older liveries are not compatible with the v8.0!). New added paint-kit. New 6 liveries included. New propeller 3-d model. New landing gears for A220 tundra, A240. Aircraft internal architecture re-engineering (shared parts, various fixes). Interior aircraft 'shell' - remodeled. Cockpit floor - remodeled, retextured. Rudder pedals - remodeled. Texture enhancements all-around. Windsheilds remodeled and re-textured. New prop-disc textures. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sound pack. New engines sounds in and out. All-around improvements. Manual/POH: Whole new pdf manual/POH. Project Highlights Three aircraft included (A240/A220/A220-STOL). Designed for X-Plane 12 cutting edge flight model environment. Authentic flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Built for VR: Tailored for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a genuine, default X-Plane 12 aircraft. The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots. Practice your skills through the Tricycle landing gears EuroFOX, Tail-Wheel variant, and a STOL Bush-Plane variant. Equipped with Alpha Systems AOA 'Eagle' indicator replica. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). FMOD 2.0 sound pack. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: VSKYLABS offers continuous professional support, from all aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. EuroFOX background and history This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously without the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Aeropro EuroFOX by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Aeropro EuroFOX Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Aeropro EuroFOX Project Price is US$29.00 (Currently on sale for only US14.50!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 8.0 (March 20th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 23rd March 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  15. NEWS! - X-Plane 12 : Revolution Mini-500 by vSkyLabs Oddity aircraft are part of X-Plane's DNA. And vSkyLabs love producing project style aircraft. This one is the Revolution Mini-500, outwardly it looks like a small Hughes 500, but it isn't, but an American single seat light helicopter, designed and built in the 90's by Dennis Fetters, as a home-built kit. The X-Plane version of the Mini-500 was released back in January 2019. This is the fully upgraded X-Plane 12 version, is not just an adjustment to configure to fly the helicopter in X-Plane 12, but a full redesign of the original project, details include... light dynamics latest tuneup to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 related helicopter simulation physics. Sounds - new sounds (FMOD 2.0). 3-d external - skids flex animation was added. 3-d external - tail-vibration animation was added. 3-d external - (experimental) damage due mast-bumping visualization was added. 3-d external - rotor-blades flex animation was added. 3-d external - rotor-disc visualization refinements. 3-d int - new PBR textures for most cockpit elements. 3-d int - new higher resolution airspeed indicator plate. 3-d int - new higher resolution VSI indicator plate. 3-d int - new Altimeter with dual pressure system. 3-d int - improved VSL autopilot LED system. 3-d int - new built-in avitab support. 3-d int - new ignition switch. 3-d int - fixes to yaw-string. 3-d int - new hour-meter. 3-d int - added better animation to fuel-tank selector. 3-d int - new high resolution mapping for canopy pieces (in and out). Avionics - new GNS 430. Avionics - new Transponder. Avionics - autopilot, gps, radios are wired via 'avionics' switch. VR interaction - new/improved VR interaction for the entire cockpit. Manual/POH - new manual (please read before flight). All-around refinements and optimizations. Aircraft features include; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project - Professional-grade physics, handling and performance characteristics. Highly defined and engineered flight dynamics model of the Revolution Mini-500, built around the powerful X-Plane flight model. The Mini-500 performance was analyzed by experts. Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality). Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack, composed with actual recordings of the Mini-500 helicopter engine and rotor sounds. Unique aspects of the Mini-500 helicopter are simulated and are part of the flying experience by definition: Manual engine/rotor RPM management, low rotor-inertia aspects, in-flight nose tuck during engine-stop, rotor RPM management, retreating blade stall condition (Vne), typical Mast bumping, typical autorotation capability and more. The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Revolution Mini-500 is designed as if it was a real kit-built helicopter, awaiting for it's first test-flight. Was it built exactly as instructed? Will it fly as expected? wow there is only one way to find out! You will have to get familiar with it step by step...or you might get yourself into serious trouble when mistreating it. Mastering the Mini-500 will sure make you a better helicopter pilot! The original pilot's manual and other 1st hand references contributed by the Mini-500 real-world designer were one of the core-materials during development of this project, and the VSKYLABS Mini- 500 pilot's manual includes the actual data and information of the actual Mini-500 manual. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater (XP12 only) - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). The project is under constant development. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Revolution Mini-500 by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Revolution Mini-500 Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Revolution Mini-500 Price is US$26.50 (Currently on sale for only US13.20!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (March 9th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 11th February 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  16. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : He-162 Project v3.0 - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series Released in July 2020. This is another project aircraft from vSkyLabs, called the He-162 Project. Now Updated to v3.0 and is also X-Plane 12 compliant. The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger (German, "People's Fighter") was a German single-engine, jet-powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in World War II. Developed under the Emergency Fighter Program, it was designed and built quickly and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and also prioritised for other aircraft. Volksjäger was the Reich Air Ministry's official name for the government design program competition won by the He 162 design. Other names given to the plane include Salamander, which was the codename of its wing-construction program, and Spatz ("Sparrow"), which was the name given to the plane by the Heinkel aviation firm. The aircraft was notable for its small size; although almost the same length as a Bf 109, its wing was much shorter at 7.2 metres (24 ft) vs. 9.9 metres (32 ft) for the 109. Most distinctive was its top-mounted engine, which combined with the aircraft's ground-hugging landing gear allowed the engine to be easily accessed for maintenance. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Project's Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project Highly defined flight dynamics model of the He-162 First Generation Jet-Fighter Comprehensive damage simulation Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. Highly detailed model of the Heinkel He-162 aircraft. Comprehensive manual - 50 pages booklet Systems simulation: All core systems of the He-162 are modeled Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack Auto-Updates and Support Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums XP12 - v3.0 (22nd February 2023) Flight model deep validation to fall in line with the latest XP12 flight model updates (phase #1/2). Variable-area Nozzle performance enhancements (thrust, temperatures, speeds, altitudes). Landing gears physics overhauled. Weight and balance tune-up due latest XP12 aerodynamics updates. PBR rework for interior/exterior (to fall in line with the new XP12 rendering and lighting updates). Fix to 'aircraft is being initiated with nose-up attitude'. Engine RPM tuneup for ground idle. New 3-d modeling of the Revi-16B sight and internal 'projected' mechanism. New 3-d modeling of canopy air-vents. 3-d modeling fixes and improvements, including textures, for throttle quadrant, and cockpit panel. Fix for active gyro sounds in cold and dark, without electrical power. Notable was that the Skunkcraft's updater was added in November 2022 This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The He-162 Project v3.0 by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the He-162 v3.0 Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : He-162 Project Price is US$25.00 (Currently on sale for only US12.50!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (February 22nd 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 24th January 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  17. NEWS - Aircraft Update : Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project XP12 - v5.0 VskyLabs VSky Labs have released two consecutive releases for their Scheibe SF-25C Falke glider. v4.3, then a day later v5.0, a bit odd, but we will go with it. The Scheibe SF-25C Falke is a German touring motor-glider which flew for the first time in 1963. The two-place powered sailplane is featuring a low wing configuration, an 80 hp engine (Limbach 2000 L) and side by side seating. High performance in its operation range, easy handling, robust construction, reliability of both airframe and engine are the main features of the SF-25C Falke. The VSKYLABS Scheibe SF-25 Project development for X-Plane was approved by Scheibe Aircraft GMBH (although it is an independent VSKYLABS project which is not endorsed and/or affiliated with/by Scheibe Aircraft GMBH). The project is featuring the SF-25 C variant (Falke 2000), which is equipped with a 80 hp engine, driving a two-blade wooden fixed pitch propeller (alternator and electric starter are included). The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Features VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Superb Flight dynamics: A highly defined SF-25C flight performance and handling qualities. Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots: The VSL SF-25C Falke features a standard, basic analog cockpit suitable for easy readings and orientation. With its superb handling qualities and docile behavior, it will serve as a safe training platform for powered flight, as well as for gliding. It is a motor-glider, so it's perfect for thermal-hunting and cross-country flights as well. Wonderful FMOD sound package that includes authentic Limbach 2000 engine recordings and an interactive set of dynamic sound layers that will "wrap" your flight perfectly, setting a whole new level of flying experience! Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). Detailed manual included. STMA Autoupdater plugin is included - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: VSKYLABS is offering continuous professional support from aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. I have put the two updates together; XP12 - v5.0 (18th January 2023): Cockpit re-engineering - correction of full-scale measurements. Cockpit floor level reduced by 15 cm. Struss structure modifications. Rudder pedals re-scaling. Older 'fork' control sticks were replaced with the newer two spearate sticks modification. XP12 - v4.3 (17th January 2023): PBR Tuneups for interior and exterir elements to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 lighting engine updates. New default livery, new additional livery. Paint kit modifications. Notable there was two earlier updates for X-Plane12, so this an X-Plane 12 compatible aircraft. Version 4.1 (November 23rd 2022) Added the Skunkcraft Updater Version XP12 (September 5th 2022) Added link for the X-Plane 12 version There was a brief overview of the Scheibe SF-25C Falke, back in 2018. This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The VSKYLABS Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project v5.0 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project Price is US$25.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac and Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 5.0 (January 18th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 19th January 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  18. Aircraft Released : Tecnam P2006T X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs vSkyLabs have released the X-Plane 12 version of their popular Tecnam P2006T. The Tecnam P2006T is an Italian high-winged, twin-engine all-metal light aircraft built by Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, which is based in Italy. The P2006T is the lightest twin-engine certified aircraft available, and is a four-seat aircraft with fully retractable landing gear and liquid-cooled Rotax 912 engines. Yes it is actually all new... as the VSKYLABS P2006T Project was originally designed following the Tecnam 'MK-I' model which was commonly used at the time that VSKYLABS developed it for X-Plane (2016-2017). Tecnam introduced the production 'MK-II' models to the market in May 2017. The P2006T 'MK-II', which is not included in this product, includes several enhancements such as the G1000 Nxi (instead the G950), new seats design and improved lighting system. Features Major Update Release. Flight model validation, tune-up and modifications to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 flight model related features and nuances. Engines - Power rating gradient, fuel consumption, rates. New FMOD 2.0 sound package. Cockpit - All-new PBR textures to fall in line with X-Plane 12 latest lighting-engine features and nuances. Cockpit - Newly modeled and textured pilots and passengers seats. Cockpit - Newly modeled and textured fire extinguisher. Cockpit - Newly and improved various modeling. Cockpit - Modified and tuned interior lighting system. Propellers - Improved 3-d and textures. Improved prop-discs. Landing gears retraction animation now fits perfectly into the gear bays. Pitch trim gauge re-calibrated. Exteriors - All-new PBR normals, textures and paints. New default liveries. New v9.0 Paint-Kit. To note the VSkylab philosophy, is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed and 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, all updates to the aircraft are free but changes can come infrequently if sometimes slowly. This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Tecnam P2006T X-Plane 12 Project by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - Tecnam P2006T X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tecnam P2006T Price is US$33.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 215 MB Current version: 9.0 (XP12 - January 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 10th January 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  19. Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs vSkyLabs have released the DC-3 Airliner for X-Plane 12... DC-3? Confused yes? We have been flying the vSkyLabs DC-3 for years? Well you have actually been flying the C-47 (Military) version for years. So let us clear up the biggest confusion first. Yes to a point this new release is the (same) DC-3. But the aircraft design has been split into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, this DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane). VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. So this is a new aircraft (totally based on the C-47), not an update, not an upgrade, but a totally new version of the old one. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Externally the DC-3 is an exact replica of the C-47 Skytrain, not one difference, even the same liveries work fine (thankfully) as I can still use my lovely G-AMSV Air Atlantique livery, so I'm very happy. One thing though is different to the exterior, in that it now has that X-Plane 12 shine and realism, the DC-3 looks sensational in X-Plane 12, but only in X-Plane 12 and this aircraft not available for X-Plane 11 or earlier versions (the C-47 Skytrain is). Engines are slightly different, the C-47 has PW1830-90C (1,200 hp - 890 kW, but this version has the later -94 Engines (1,350 hp - 1,010 kW, Twin Wasp air-cooled radial aircraft engine, so more power. We know that there are no menu's from vSkyLabs and just hot spots to open doors and turn on certain features. X-PlaneReviews did an original review here; Aircraft Review - DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project Notable is sheer differences in the quality between the updated versions, it's come a long way, but basically it is the same aircraft. There was another major update in 2020; DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 that gave you a lot changes, and a move away from the original pre-war feel. Here is another change into the future again with modern avionics... .... it's very blue in here, also a little odd. If you are used to the analog dials and a pre-war feel, then it all comes at quite a shock, as it is all very clean and modern... in a DC-3! It is well done as a modern conversion and everything is in a modern blue metal. Does it have a Russian aircraft feel? interesting thought. Note the lovely scratch markings on the displays, very nice. Above you are the same three electrical switch panels with Volts and each Generator output, centre are Collins radio ADF1/ADF2 and DME-4 selectors. Oh yes and the diamond sound-proofing blankets are blue as well... there is a lot of blue. The DC-3 uses the Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, the normal layout with the two outside PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre MFD (MultiFunctional Display), with Flightplan and MAP modes. Two Comm radios are set between the displays, and the AP (Autopilot) is set lower left MFD and left PFD. Obviously the G1000 PFD (Only one, but either one) and the central MFD pop-out. Top panel are the three analog backup instruments, Artificial Horizon, Speed and Altitude dials. Upper centre console is the wiper assembly, and the Compass is now attached to the top, gone is the springing "bouncy" animated Compass, damn I really loved that thing? Vertical Speed V/S, Clock and Rate of Turn indicator are far Left of the PFD. Lower instrument panel... Left; VOR 1 and VOR 2 pointers. All Engine read-outs are Dual-pointers... for RPM, Manifold Pressure, Oil Pressure, then twin Cylinder head Temp, Carburettor/Air and Oil Temp. Far right lower panel is the Fuel Tank (Amount/GAL) switch, Flap position, Temperature Hydraulic Pressure and De-Icing Pressure, and a Static Pressure switch. Right side is the Landing Gear (Hydraulic) Pressure, and Hydraulic System (large) Pressure Gauges, and the Cowl (Open/Close) selectors. Centre is the complex lever pedestal, same as in the other C-47 Cockpit, but still well done with excellent detail. Note the Fuel Tank Switches. AviTab is available and the tablet is attached to the centre of the yoke. You have to set a slider (#5) on/off option to make them appear, the AviTab plugin is also required. Overall it is a very nice cockpit and very well done... _______________ In the early (DC-3) days you flew with a half-completed cabin, and a poor one at that. Here the cabin is finished and it now comes with a plane load of passengers and their baggage... Passenger 3d modeling is excellent (Nice to see a realistically loaded aircraft), but it does look like a wild student getaway weekend, except for one guy and his very, very young wife, or daughter, no wonder he is smiling? Seats are nice and modern (For a DC-3), so it is a very nice interior. _______________ Flying the DC-3 Airliner The DC-3 is a tail-dragger, fun if you want it. Turning is done via throttle power and toe-brakes, still very tricky though. You can use the "Novice' tool to lock in the rear drag wheel to the X-Plane (joystick) yaw, and that really helps, but I really still don't like the poor weak effort from the toe-brakes, no pressure unless almost flat, means the DC-3 is hard to steer manually on takeoff and landing. Off the ground and the gear won't retract? Oh I forgot about the "manual lock" on the floor central by the pilot, pull it up and retract the gear, then put it down again to lock it up, if not it will drive you crazy in dropping the undercarriage every five minutes, just remember to do the opposite on landing! Note that ski's are also available on the aircraft. In the last big update (C-47/DC-3 v4.0r1). There was a completely new and improved FMOD Sound pack, with multi-layer engine sounds for the interiors and exteriors, aural indication system recordings for the mixtures, autopilot and tail-wheel, plus 3d sound effects with doppler movement around the aircraft and changing sound internally and that extensive update has been passed over here in full. I've always loved the DC-3 sounds, but now they are really good. Open the window(s) and the noisy wind comes into the cockpit with all that 1,350 hp power... cockpit sound is also far more different than the cabin, so its really good. All the mod-cons... in a DC-3, it's hard to get your head around that, but it makes it far easier to fly, navigate and then there is an Autopilot! You remember were the switch was? of course you do... hard to use though in being buried down there lower left pedestal. But a more modern autopilot is far more efficient than the old VOR C-47 pointer version, it doesn't drift off-course now, and needed to be consistently corrected every 10 NM. The view out is quite (X-Plane 12) sensational, both forward and from the cabin. Better still when it is raining! Yes folks... Librain is back in X-Plane 12, and you not only get the thick front window streams, but the cabin windows as well, but the wipers are pretty ineffective. Iceing was always a great feature on the vSkyLabs DC-3, and with the better X-Plane 12 icing it is very good here... front windows, even the cabin windows ice up.... wings ice build up is spidery and realistic, but turn those boots on before you fall out of the sky. You don't as much fly, but trundle along with all that noise (yes it is good to turn the volume up). VR (Virtual Reality) is built in from the start, so the aircraft is excellent with all the VR features, so the DC-3 must look awesome in 3d. Maximum speed is 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), but you might squeeze out a few knots more with the extra power here with the -92 engines, Cruise speed is around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), but you wouldn't really go above 10,000 ft - 12,000ft. Head up and the backup instruments which are nicely positioned in your eyeline, are however bit dark, if actually too dark to use? The "Panel Inst Lts" adjustment is full on, but quite ineffective. Lower with the two tone lighting in X-Plane 12 RC5 the lighting is not bad, but I feel more instrument brightness would be nice in the daylight. Lighting At night however it all goes "Very Nice", and the instrument panel glows very well, the G1000 screens are quite bright, but you can tone them down nicely. Other lighting covers; Overhead Hatch, Aisle, and the rear Passenger (cabin) lights. Emergency Lights I couldn't find, but the Seatbelt/No Smoking is well done on the cabin walls. Upper panel lights are also very reflective and well done. In the cabin it looks a bit like a Manhattan Disco circa 1989, bright purple and reds? It's nice... I suppose? Externally the lighting is very good... I particularly like the red left and white right landing lights, pre-war, but nice anyway. Navigation, Beacon (upper red, lower white) Strobe and very nice Ice (wing) lights. There are wheel well lights as well. As noted X-Plane 12 is a big attraction here, Norway vistas are sensational in winter, so is flying slow and ponderous at 6,000ft. Arrival at Bergen ENBR, RWY35... I have to admit in doing a lot of flying in the vSkyLabs DC-3 Series, and this cross from Oslo to Bergen has to be one of the best, obviously X-Plane 12 makes a huge difference to the simulation, with not only the vistas, but the effects as well in rain on approach... Gear down and locked early, for no mistakes... ... same with the pump flaps (continuous) in getting the aircraft perfectly right in height and speed early in the approach phase. Modern avionics means modern tools at your disposal, so APP via using the ILS is available, not your usual tail-out and wide rudder approach, but great for novices... don't get it wrong though, this is still a heavy Pre-War aircraft, it feels like it, and it handles that way as well... ... nervous? It's icy! It's Wet! 20,000lbs of aircraft... Tricky! You can't do too much flare, as you need to land pretty square on the main gear, another tricky part is between having the aerodynamic control and then losing it (Rudder) when the tail drops... note the great water spray from the wheels Yes you pulled it of, well done, but it's harder than you think, it needs skill to get it right... but your a good simulation pilot right! __________ Liveries We are up to v3 on liveries. The v2 liveries still work and are worth collecting. You get four liveries with the DC-3 version, a new Buffalo Airways 2022, Bare Metal, Military Transport and "That's all Brother". Honestly I don't like the new Buffalo version, it is bland, the older tired version would always fill my heart, I've shown it here with an excellent Icelandair classic. There are also whole series of professional liveries available for the DC-3 Series... Liveries for VSKYLABS Aircraft Most cost around US$10 per package. __________ Summary The vSkyLab's DC-3 has been around for a few years, since July 2017. It is a capable if always in development aircraft of the famous iconic DC-3/C-47 Skytrain aircraft, a pre-war marvel. But for X-Plane 12 the DC-3 aircraft design has been split into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, this DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three. All three are now (or will be) also separate projects. Pricing is now also separate for each variant, so there are no discounts or updates, so it is a full upgrade to the version of the DC-3 that you want. Notable is that the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, and the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. The C-47 Skytrain (original) can still be used in X-Plane 12, but this DC-3 Airliner is the same aircraft in absolute X-Plane 12 form, and changed as to be a modern take on the aircraft, with the installation of Laminar Research's default G1000 three display panel installation... Different, yes. Basically it is a very different cockpit (in blue) with modern avionics. as usual things are changed around, and missing here is the floating (animated) compass in being replaced with a static one, it's still currently in the C-47. In the cabin it has also been totally reworked with modern seats, nice 3d people (mostly students) and their baggage. vSkyLab's aircraft don't use menus but datarefs and hotspots to open doors or activate items or areas. It's a quirky machine to use and fly, so a though study of the POH is highly recommended, but modern instruments can make it accessible to the more novice flyer. VR (Virtual Reality) is built in from the start, so the aircraft is excellent with the VR features, and the Skunkcraft updater is now also available. Lighting and sounds are overall excellent, certainly the excellent sound package that has been refined over the years, lighting internally is excellent if a little 80's disco in the cabin. negatives are weak toe-brakes (required with a tail-dragger), daytime instrument lighting is too dark, hard to steer even with "Novice mode", but practice helps... missing the 'bouncy" compass. The real star here is X-Plane 12. It makes the DC-3 shine and feel very realistic, gives you great rain and icing effects, and this is an extremely satisfying aircraft to fly, if challenging if you like your aircraft that way, but to note on this review, X-Plane 12 is still in RC (Release Candidate) mode, so expect changes from not only the simulator, but also from the developer. But also notable that this aircraft is for X-Plane 12 only. So what this DC-3 Airliner is, is a very modern take of a classic aircraft. The avionics are interesting, even very easy to use, but the word "Classic" here is what to have to debate, if you want this approach, then you will absolutely love this Classic modern airliner, or the best of "both worlds". Highly recommended. ___________________________ The DC-3 Airliner by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner Your Price: US$29.95 This is a new product, so no updates or discounts apply Project is 'VR Ready' for use with X-Plane: VR functionality is a part of the project aspects which are constantly under evaluation and development for reaching a higher level of immersion as the VR features and possibilities are growing Highly Realistic Handling and Flight Performance DC-3 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of hundreds of flight testing and evaluation, tested and refined by real-world C-47 pilots. Workhorse for DC-3 pilot skills: Experience authentic flight performance and handling practices (takeoff, landing, single engine operations, flight planning, long range flights). It is a perfect platform to recreate and fly historic routes using authentic performance. Unique look and feel: There is nothing to hide - the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 projects are a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design. Compatible with the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain project liveries! Advanced avionics and autopilot: Fully featured glass cockpit avionics based on the LR G1000 (including the G1000 autopilot), along with complementary analog instrument gauges and navigation displays. Comprehensive systems: All the relevant systems are being simulated. Here are **some** of the more unique systems: Engines/propeller systems - Highly defined PW-1830-92, 14 cylinder engine simulation, designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic DC-3/C-47 propeller feathering system, for highly realistic single engine simulation. DC-3 Fire Extinguisher system - including fire indication system. The fire extinguisher control panel is located behind the hinged cover on the cockpit floor, between the pilot/co-pilot seats. Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up (experimental feature). Engine mishandling will result in severe damage to the engine/engine fire. Stressing the airframe will result also in severe damage, following a visual representation of the damages. Blown tires are also being visualized and simulated. Landing gears and flaps simulation - are being simulated with a high level of authenticity. Advanced glass cockpit and autopilot system - based on the LR G1000. Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems - including icing and rain visualization. Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model. Making use of X-Plane 12 advanced weight and balance system for station based passengers loading. Passenger and luggage 3-d visualization. Comprehensive FMOD sounds. Auto-update based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater. Built-in AviTab compatibility. (AviTab plugin not included). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support system (including C-47 / DC-3 operational knowledge and support/assistance). Requirements X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (December 12th 2022) Installation and documents: download for the DC-3 Airliner is 439Mb and is deposited in the "Aircraft" X-Plane folder. The AviTab plugin is also required to use this aircraft, and it is deposited in your X-Plane Plugins folder. Full Installation is 0.99Gb Documents supplied are: SKYLABS_DC-3_MANUAL-POH.pdf (80 pages) VSL-DC3-Airliner-ESSENTIALS.pdf (2 pages) Plus "How to Install" pdf POH is extensive (80 Pages), with set up notes, custom assignments, checklists and project details. ___________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 15th December 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved  Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 - X-Plane v12.00RC5 (note this review was done in the beta revision period) Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick, Throttle & Rudder Pedals : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 :: RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 Scenery or Aircraft - ENGM - Airport Oslo XP by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95 - ENBR - Bergen - X-Plane 12 Global Airport (free)
  20. Aircraft Update: Aeroprakt A22-LS Project XP12 by VSKYLABS By LPNils Introduction VSKYLABS has modelled the A22-LS version, tailored for the American market as a Light Sport aircraft, which means a max gross take-off weight of 1320lbs (600kg) for land planes and 1430lbs (650kg) for seaplanes. It also means the aircraft cannot stall at speeds higher than 45 knots. Other limitations are a fixed pitch or ground adjustable prop, two seats maximum, one engine, fixed gear, unpressurized and a maximum speed in level flight that does not exceed 120 knots. Fear not though, as this plane certainly won’t get near those numbers! Purchase and installation The VSKYLABS A22, like the developer’s other work, is available at the X-Plane.org store, for a very reasonable price ($27.50 at the time of writing). The pack has download links for both an XP11 and 12 version of the aircraft, but for the purpose of this review, I tested the XP12 model (even though 12 is still in Beta!). Reassuringly, the developer Huss has committed to keeping the pack up to date with changes still happening to the X-Plane Beta. He always tends to stay on top of updating models, so no worries in that regard. The download size for the A22 is just under 200MB. Installation is very straightforward, just drag the A22 aircraft folder into your X-Plane Aircraft directory as instructed by the manual found in the download. Documentation Inside the aircraft folder, you will find an installation manual, which is very clear and to the point. The most important piece of documentation is the Instructions Manual / POH. Huss compiled the manual as some sort of Pilot Operating Handbook Supplement. In it, he is very clear about what this Aeroprakt add-on does and doesn’t do, how it compares to the real-life aircraft and the limitations of X-Plane and how he worked with or around those. In all, it’s extremely clear and transparent, which is superb! If you would like to configure your hardware to the A22, Huss has written a detailed list of what control assignments are required for specific interactions with the aircraft. In this list, he again mentions some of the X-Plane limitations and how you should work with those. VR users will be able to find all interaction zones described in the manual, with visual representations. Huss also goes on to explain the Experimental or LSA Autopilot included in the X-Plane model. The “POH Supplement” ends by referring to the real-life Pilot Operating Handbook and you can download this POH for real-life operating instructions and performance. Exterior The VSKYLABS A22 is well-modelled and really does mirror its real-life counterpart. There’s plenty of detail on the external model, but not so much that it’s overly excessive. I love the triangular windows on the aft sides of the cabin. An Aeroprakt A32 regularly visits the airfield I work at, and it does have a cool look to it (also it’s entirely black) …except for the extended range fuel tank covers, which do slightly odd. It’s a lot less odd looking in this A22 model though and flying this VSKYLABS rendition sort of made me get used to them. The real A22 has these bigger fuel tanks as an option (57L each instead of the standard 45L) and I am glad Huss went for the larger tanks. Another feature that stood out to me was the design of the wings (TsAGI wing profile, Soviet equivalent of NACA). These are slightly swept forward which after talking to a local aviation buff (CFI, examiner, airport manager) was told is sometimes done to add more flexibility to weight and balance. The empennage of the A22 is equipped with some sort of ventral fin with a small wheel to protect the stabilizer. I doubt it can take excessive forces of incompetency, but it is incredibly nice to have, especially since it has an elevator with plenty of authority, although, in backcountry operations, or rougher strips, I wouldn’t advise getting the tail feathers down that low (protect them from debris). Speaking of the backcountry… it also comes with decent size wheels and mudflaps, which are great options to have on STOL planes. The mudflaps probably won’t stop all the muck from slinging onto the aircraft (wings in particular), but anything’s better than nothing, plus it looks cool. The flight control surfaces of the A22 are huge, and this is well represented in the metallic & orange livery. It also doesn’t come with separate ailerons and flaps, it comes with flaperons. A wing has only a limited span to add ailerons and flaps, so why not combine both so you get a decent lift increase from the flaps and good roll authority at low speeds? It’s also simpler to implement than let’s say drooping ailerons and flaps, and again, it looks cool! It’s interesting to see what the flap settings do to roll deflections and in particular to deflection limits. The A22 comes with five liveries in total, with the standard livery being fully yellow. In addition, there’s a blue version with yellow door/window frames, a metallic grey body variant with orange frames, flight controls and cowl (black on top to block reflections), a red and black body version with white frames and number 22 (air rally look?), and lastly, a blue frame with yellow wings and stabilizers (reminds me of old USAAF basic trainers). Personally, I really like the metallic and orange livery. Interior & Functionality The first feature of the Aeroprakt A22-LS that catches the eye is the optional yoke! The standard control is a Y-shaped stick mounted in the centre console. This can appear an odd configuration at first, but on an earlier flight in a Zenith STOL, I learned that it feels nice, and on longer flights, you can lean your forearm on the Y and chill out a bit. I like it, as it suits my Honeycomb Alpha yoke very well. Upon a cold-and-dark start, the gust lock pin will be installed, which can be removed by clicking on the tag. Also, the yokes can be hidden by clicking where the rod enters the panel. Another huge plus of this model is the Garmin GNS430. It’s getting old for a Garmin GPS/NAV/COM, but for its size, it’s a very suitable instrument for this cockpit. I imagine in this modern age; one may be looking for a newer setup if you have funds to spare and that’s where the tablet comes in. I do not have the AviTab plugin, so I cannot elaborate too much on it, but I think it’s a welcome feature to this pack. Tablets are what most modern pilots use to fly with nowadays, using apps like Foreflight or SkyDemon. One oddity is the location of the (battery) master switch! It’s under the left-hand seat and is a plastic key that with a quarter turn switches on power to the battery (12V DC). Then there’s another master switch on the panel, with a regular key, which also acts as a starter switch. The ignition switches are two separate toggles on the panel, rather than included in the master/starter switch. You may see them mentioned as mag switches (magnetos), but the Rotax 912 uses two electrical ignition boxes (of Ducati make) instead of antique magnetos. This brings me to another thing that is a little off or confusing depending on how old the aircraft/engine is. If you click on the checklist at the top of the panel, it will come up for you to read. When looking, you’ll see that it mentions Coolant Temperature but if you look at your engine instrumentation you will only find a Tecnam brand CHT gauge (Cylinder Head Temperature). However, the Rotax 912 has air-cooled cylinder bases and liquid-cooled heads. Older Rotax 912s had the temperature probe on the bottom of the #2 or #3 cylinder and picked up Cylinder Head Temperature, whereas more modern cylinders have the probe on top of the cylinders, dipping into the coolant. So Rotax, in 2015, published Mandatory Service Bulletins (SB-912-066 & SB-912-068). This requires owners or operators to change the temperature limit numbers in the documentation and get rid of the potentially confusing usage of both terms “CHT and CT”. With a newer engine (or cylinders) you just go with Coolant Temperature. Along with that, a CT gauge gets installed instead of the CHT gauge (in consultation with the aircraft manufacturer). I also notice that the engine instruments stay live even with the master is off, so this is a slight bug at the time of writing. Another cool feature of this VSKYLABS model is the clickable airspeed indicator as this can change units between a joint MPH/Kts (BK-3) or KPH (BK-240) backplate. Rotax-powered aircraft can have different RPM gauges and since the Rotax 912 is a geared engine, the engine RPM and Prop RPM differ (this rendition in X-Plane has the engine RPM indication). The gearing is included in the engine to maintain enough torque on the prop while the engine itself has rather tiny pistons (compared to a Lycoming O-320 for example). As mentioned in Huss’ aircraft manual, the choke doesn’t work quite the way the real one works. You see, Rotax engines don’t have a mixture control. In a legacy engine, you would use a full-rich mixture to start the engine, after which you can lean pretty aggressively. Rotax requires you to add more fuel to the mix upon starting and has Bing carburettors with membranes to maintain a proper mixture after that. So, it’s not even a real choke (which chokes the air to enrich the mixture), it just injects a little more fuel. To start a cold Rotax, you use full choke and close the throttle. After it fires up, remove the choke and increase the throttle to a minimum smooth RPM (1900-2100ish). A recurring mistake is that pilots want to add a little throttle while using the choke. Of course, it won’t start that way, you’re just draining the battery. I noticed some other small details where it differs from the real deal: if you leave the choke on, RPM will not drop below 2400 engine RPM. For reference, I have had plenty of students and renters come back complaining that the engine idles too high, and this nearly always means that they have forgotten to take the choke out after starting. If you try and add choke quickly while it’s already running, the engine starts to shake and tells you it is not happy with what you’ve just done. Also, adding carb heat should induce a very slight RPM drop, not as much as a legacy carbureted O-320, but just slightly. But hey, for a sim this will do just fine. The flap(eron)s are actuated manually and the handle is located on the ceiling. It comes with three positions: up, 10 degrees and 20 degrees. Manual flaps are great for this type of STOL aircraft as you can use them to push it off the runway by using ground effect for minimum take-off roll. If you search YouTube, you’ll see this used in STOL competitions. Being a modern light aircraft, it comes with a BRS (ballistic rescue system) recovery chute, and you’ll be pleased to know, it works in XP! Make sure you pull the locking pin before you fly (as per the checklist). The sound of the BRS activating in the sim is slightly underwhelming as I’ve experienced a real deployment up close, and boy does it grab your attention with that rocket being fired! But then again, I’m amazed this model even comes with a working chute. Apart from the autopilot, which is displayed by clicking the compass, the VSKYLABS A22 doesn’t come with many other features. It’s a very basic aircraft, but what I can say is that what’s included is done to a very high standard. Another attribute of the A22 is that its visibility is very good, being a high-wing aircraft. I very much appreciate being able to look down and forward, so I can still sort of see where I’m going while on final approach. Handling Now on to the real fun! Before I begin though, I have to say that I have noticed the model tends to fall on its tail when parked slightly nose-high, which can be an issue in the backcountry. However, I have a feeling this may be the same for its real-life counterpart, as some are very light on the nose. When treating the brake system like the real thing, I felt it sometimes lacked some nose wheel steering authority (I added some toe-brakes to help it turn). Nose wheel steering is effective enough to make relatively tight turns with no help from brakes needed, though for sim use I don’t feel this is a large issue. During takeoff, it’s highly apparent that the elevator has plenty of authority. I say this because it’s easy to over-pitch, leading you to potential tail dragging, which risks damaging the stabilizers and adding drag on your roll. Be very gentle when applying back pressure and once you have a feeling for it, it’s easy to do a soft field departure with the nose wheel just slightly off the ground. The A22 will fly off rather quickly after a very short run as it’s very light, and with a ~100 horse Rotax 912ULS, you have plenty of power for a decent climb. At low speeds, the aircraft feels mushy, and it really does depend on those huge control surfaces to make its way around turns, but they do work, which is incredible, especially when you realize just how slow the air is moving over them. During the cruise phase, the controls are very light and direct, with plenty of airflow over them. Stalls are relatively docile. You can make the plane descend in a stall by keeping the yoke pulled and then power right out of it. Letting the nose drop also ends the situation. It can however snap on you, dropping a wing if you wrestle it just too much. On landing, it depends on the weather, location and other variables as to what technique you want to use. You can drag it in with some power to do spot landings without obstacles, or you can drop it in from high and use all the drag you can get from the flaperons and maybe even some forward slip. Again, the roll control feels sort of mushy, so you need large deflections sometimes, but this means it’s easier to make small corrections. During my testing, I can’t say I’ve got the landings nailed quite yet but it sure is fun getting to know the character of this low-and-slow fun machine. Sounds The sound pack is OK as it sounds like a Rotax 912. The starter sound is there, and you can hear the gearbox slapping on shutdown, which always hurts my “mechanic feelings” a bit. In real life, I close the throttle and while spooling down, I cut the ignition. Tough to nail, but oh it’s so nice not to hear the gears rattle, so yeah, it does sound and feel like it should! The sound does change when you open or close the doors, which makes for a nice and loud experience when flying with the doors open. There are sounds for the buttons and switches, but it appears to be rather generic. Overall, the sound is fine for what it is and does a good job of mimicking the Rotax engine experience. I suspect the price of the pack would go up if a high-detail FMOD soundset was included (I’ve seen the process of how SimAcoustics records those, quite professional and has lots of expensive-looking microphones). Those are nice but aren’t a must-have. Conclusion Well after my testing, I must conclude that this is a highly enjoyable model from VSKYLABS, especially for the price and what Huss is trying to do with his VSKYLABS range. I say this because Huss uses the default X-Plane flight modelling instead of resorting to all sorts of plugins and ‘dirty’ tricks often employed by others. This means there are some compromises made when it comes to specific systems and handling. In saying that though, the A22 is right there in the ballpark, where it should be. The documentation is very clear and transparent about it, which is a trademark of VSKYLABS. To sum up, the A22 looks great, includes some good quality liveries, sounds realistic enough and is interesting and enjoyable to fly. Sure, if you want to go somewhere in a rush, it might disappoint, but if like me you enjoy the magical world of low-and-slow flight, then the Aeroprakt A22-LS makes for the perfect companion. _______________________________ The VSKYLABS- Aeroprakt A22-LS Project for X-Plane 12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: VSKYLABS- Aeroprakt A22-LS Project Priced at US$27.50 Project's Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane's cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a default X-Plane aircraft (Like all VSKYLABS projects). The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots: The VSL A22-LS is featuring the standard, basic analog cockpit suitable for VFR + night flying. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an optional experimental LSA-grade autopilot. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). STMA Auto Updater plugin is included - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive and professional support: VSKYLABS is offering continuous professional support from aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: XP12 - September 5th 2022 1.0 (April 29th 2021, XP11) Review by LPNils 17th Nov 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Ryzen 7 3800X - 32GB RAM - Gigabyte RTX 2070 2X 8G - Windows 10 64Bit (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  21. Aircraft Update : Maule M-7-235B Project XP12 v1.15 by vSkylabs Weeks, well only two months actually. The Maule M-235B Project from vSkylabs was the first third party aircraft created just for X-Plane 12, a significant moment. The Aircraft came in two variants of a Tundra tyred machine, and the second is the Amphibian or Float option. X-PlaneReviews full review of the original release aircraft is here; Aircraft Review : Maule M-7-235B Project XP12 by vSkylabs The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. There has been already two updates for the Maule M-7, the first Version v1.1 (October 24th 2022), and now this version Version v1.15 (November 7th 2022). The October version (v1.1) focused mostly on the Flight Dynamics, personally needed as I found the aircraft far too touchy to fly, landing was also a bit hit and miss. Version v1.15 First change is on your X-Plane Flight Configuration menu. Now there is another aircraft (acf) to choose from. Before there was the M-7-235 Aircraft and the M-7 Floats variants, now added is the G1000 variant. The original M-7 has been renamed "Analog". So here is the "G1000", variant. If you have read my release review, then you would know I complained longingly and loudly about one element of the aircraft, the "Bouncy Wouncy" Tundra tyres, great for that odd wilderness adventure, but horrible for any regular flying. So you just couldn't see the objective of fitting them on the aircraft as standard. But now in v1.15 you are (thankfully) now given the choice of standard wheels (noted as "classic") or the 35" balloon tyres, that also gives the aircraft a more realistic stance (you touch them to change them over). The contrast of the different type of wheels is also adjusted to the flight dynamics (affecting the ground handling and aircraft performance). The three variants together, Standard, Tundra and Floats. If the Tundra wheels 35" are used, it is noted on the top of the instrument panel. Second big change is the option for G1000 (Laminar default) Avionics, in the standard two panel PFD and MFD display arrangement. The system is all totally Laminar default in features, pop-out PFD and MFD panels, built in Autopilot, Radio set in the centre, nothing here to relearn or study. Nice is the surrounding bezels, they have a great realistic texture that looks extremely realistic in the light. It is one of the best G1000 installations I have seen. Another instrument change is the addition of IFR instrumentation (Arrowed - RMI/CDI), missing from the earlier version (top). It feels very different inside the cabin as well? Overhead there has been installed a Sunroof and it makes a huge difference inside and externally to the aircraft in creating light and space. The glass window tint and the reflections has also been adjusted. Flying the updated M-7 Power up and we are away, definitely differences between the two versions if only separated by a couple of months. Sounds have been redone, and are now quite magnificent and have a bigger range. Yes I like them a lot. Taxiing is far easier as well... but you have to watch the mixture cutoff point, as it is now about mid-way between closed to full open, so you can easily shut off the fuel supply to early by wanting a leaner engine. Taildraggers are a handful, but I am finding a lot of differences here. Without those large balloon tyres the aircraft is not bouncing around as much on the takeoff, staying more controlled and far more in line. I hated them, now I can see why and now I feel why as well... this is much more better. There has been extensive flight model updates to refine STOL performance and ground handling, that also includes landing gears modifications physics (in other words the gear is more giving), It was a wonder I could fly it at all before? Climb rate is the same 1,650 fpm, but you keep it under 1,000 fpm to keep the climb in check and to get some forward speed, but that huge wheel drag is missing (unless you use the Tundra tyres), so you feel your not dragging the planet with you in climbing out now. This is a very different aircraft dynamically. You still have to however brake the wheels to stop them revolving though. I am enjoying the Maule a lot more in this version. Originally it was good, but this update makes it far, far better all round. The G1000 installation is in my mind better as well. We like the clockwork feel authenticity, but the G1000 gives you far more options including an automatic pilot option, easier flight planning and those far bigger displays. The extra light doesn't make the cockpit feel so cramped either, it has now a nice lighter and more airy feel in here... all to the good. Performance and flying dynamics are more refined and the plane feels far better, yes I'm smiling this time around. The better FMOD sounds, here are far more aurally realistic, certainly with the powered 0-540-B4B5, 235 HP Carbureted engine. Throttle up or down or lean the mixture and the sounds instantly respond in feel and tone, very nice. I do recommend the RK Apps XPRealistic v2 for the visual movements, in making the M-7 relate to the engine vibrations and again that syncs back in with the sounds, all round in creating a very authentic flying experience. The five liveries are the same... (also the same for both Wheeled and Amphibian) Gull-Grey-Black is default. the other four are; Big Sky-Blue-Red, Dune-White-Brown, Glacier-White-Brown and Solar-Yellow-Black. Then there is X-Plane 12... brilliant. The issue comes back when wanting to return to land, only worse. Before the huge wheels gave you a lot of drag, but that drag effect is not there anymore, so the aircraft is even now worse at floating with full flap and low speeds... you start to get a bit frantic as the aircraft WILL NOT GO DOWN, even at a stall speed which is 49 mph (80 km/h, 43 kn) full flaps down. So your sitting high, and not going down there... ... so if there is a heavy headwind then that wind just gives you a ton of lift, so your flying like on a pin, low speed, ballooning lift, and trying to keep the aircraft level, its fun... sort of nerve-racking fun if you like that bush pilot feel. Finally I lose height, at 58 knts I feel the aircraft sinking, so I focus on the runway... this is essentially a STOL aircraft, and those performance figures were tuned up in v1.15, you can feel that, but it would need a few flights to see if it is to the positive or the negative. A bit of flare and 48 knts and I'm touching the asphalt, that is the easy part, it gets tricky on the ground... ... it is very, very easy to lose the M-7, as it will twist on you in a second, and so it needs (a lot of) skill to align it back forwards while slowing down the aircraft, hard, but not impossible. But I will rally for the standard wheel configuration, it does help in this case again... a lot. Overall the Maule M-7 a nice modern bush pilot's aircraft. Two notes to wrap up, there is an annoying STMA auto updater that keeps coming onto the left of your screen, but handy for updating the aircraft. And the Maule is not compatible with X-Plane 11. Or can not be purchased for XP11, as this aircraft is for X-Plane 12 Only. ___________________ Summary Less that two months ago the Maule M-7 from vSkylabs was the very first aircraft released for X-Plane 12. Since that release there has been two updates v1.1/v1.15. The earlier update focused on the performance and bugs, but the second update is far more significant with more features and a lot more tuning to the aircraft. Added in v1.15 is the G1000 Avionics package with pop-out screens, more importantly you now also have the option of classic or 35" Tundra Bushwheels, the original Tundra wheels were just too unwieldy for just a light bush plane here. Nice new Sunroof also makes the cabin a far more brighter and open place to be. The analog cockpit also received IFR instrumentation (RMI/CDI), and the FMOD sounds have been totally redone to great effect. Noted the dynamic and performance tuning has greatly enhanced the flying, but the M-7 is still tricky to land and needs a lot of taildragger experience. So overall a great step forward. In the first review I asked for more options and features, that aspect to a point has been covered here, this Maule is now all round a more pleasant flying experience, not only in the dynamics but also in the new features and the better sound package. Most fliers that purchase vSkylabs aircraft know what they are purchasing, and the ongoing commitment to the project. This time around I had more fun and enjoyed the experience a lot more... it's overall a fun sweet little aircraft. _______________________________ Yes! the Maule M-7-235B Project XP12 v1.15 by vSkylabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Maule M-7-235B Project XP12 Price is US$32.95 Three Models in One - All are included in this package Maule M-7 Land Maule M-7 Amphibian Maule M-7 G1000 Requirements X-Plane 12 - Not compatible with X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.1.15 (November 7th 2022) Installation and documents: download for the Maule M-7-235B is 235Mb and is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. The AviTab plugin is also required to use this aircraft, and it is deposited in your X-Plane Plugins folder. Full Installation is 375Mb Documents supplied are: HOW TO INSTALL VSKYLABS M-7-235 POH Two, a basic manual (26 pages) and "How to Install" pdf _____________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 11th November 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - S1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 12 beta B3 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  22. NEWS! - Released : VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter The what! We know all about the F-Fighter definition of American Fighter Jets, and there are some extremely famous ones in there, notably; F4 Phantom, F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F16 Fighting Falcon, F22 Raptor... and maybe even a few favourites I have missed out. The F-19? Nah, don't know that one? F-19 is the designation for a hypothetical US fighter aircraft that has never been officially acknowledged, and has engendered much speculation that it might refer to a type of aircraft whose existence is still classified. In other words it is an experimental aircraft that keeps getting recognised as a UFO or foreign invader, it looks like a blend of an early lifting body (Lifting bodies were a major area of research in the 1960s and 70s as a means to build a small and lightweight crewed spacecraft), and a stealth fighter. So here is the hypothetical 80's Testor's F-19 concept in the most advanced flight simulation environment up to date and it can fly in X-Plane 12. Following thorough analysis made by experienced/professional pilots with deep relevant background, the VSKYLABS F-19 was designed from scratch and was engineered as close as possible to an actual, plausible jet-fighter aircraft. The 80's concept did include some general specifications, however the hypothetical aircraft was never fully realized with the use of high fidelity or levels of comprehensive propulsion, control and stability, electrical, hydraulics, pneumatic, aerodynamics, avionics and all the required mission related/peripheral systems that forms together a plausible jet-fighter aircraft simulation. Project Highlights (Early Access Version): Early access version! A new aircraft for X-Plane v12.00 beta. Advanced concept aircraft simulation, including detailed, fully functional 3-d cockpit environment with realistic, working systems. Extensive, professional real-world experience and knowledge of jet-fighters design, systems, performance, handling and operation were involved in the making of the VSKYLABS F-19. Designed for X-Plane 12 cutting edge flight model environment and presents superb flight dynamics with presumably authentic performance and flight handling characteristics for the hypothetical F-19 aircraft. Developed for VR: Development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a genuine, default X-Plane 12 aircraft. The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Comprehensive FMOD sounds for 'As Real As It Gets' experience! Perfect challenge for beginner and expert pilots: Provides a very wide flight envelope with comfortable control from ~140 knots to Mach 1.1. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: VSKYLABS offers continuous professional support, from all aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. **EARLY ACCESS VERSION, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER**: The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter product has gone through the entire development cycle alongside X-Plane 12.00 early development. The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter product is still under constant development to allow close proximity and tracking of X-Plane 12.00 expected beta updates and bug fixes. All future updates and fixes of the The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter product are free. NOTE; THIS IS ONLY an X-Plane 12 aircraft, no X-Plane 11 version is available. VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter Specifications: Country of Origin: USA. Type: Single-seat shipboard and shore-based strike stealth aircraft. Power Plant: Two 11,000 lb st dry and 17,700 lbs st afterburner General Electric F404-GE-100A turbofans. Dimensions: Span, 31 ft 5.4 in; length, 62 ft 3 in; height, 12 ft, 10 in. Performance: (F404-GE-100A) Max speed 750 mph, or Mach 0.99 at sea level ; 655 mph, or Mach 0.99 at 38,000 feet; Max speed Mach 1.2; Service ceiling, 53,000 ft; ferry range (with full internal fuel load, cruise at 28,000 ft, Mach 0.85), 1400 miles. Combat radius (air-to-ground low altitude mission), 550 miles (non-afterburner). Weights: Operational empty, 24,000 lbs; Maximum internal fuel, 14,000 lbs; Max takeoff, 41,300 lbs. Armament: Three internal weapon bays designed specifically to carry two AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs and a single AGM-158A JASSM low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile. Overall weapon bays carry-weight, 190 lbs*2 + 2150 lbs (max 2600 lbs.). Design by VSKYLABS © 2022 Support forum for the F-19 by VSKYLABS Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The F-19 Stealth Fighter Project by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore ___________________________ Yes! - F-19 Stealth Fighter by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter Current Price is US$29.95 Retail Price:$34.95 You Save:$5.00(14%) Requirements X-Plane 12 - Not compatible with X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (October 21st 2022) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 22nd October 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  23. Aircraft Review/Tutorial: VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project By Alan Ashforth Introduction The VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 being reviewed here in X-Plane 12 is closely based on the Pond Racer, designed by Burt Rutan for Bob Pond, and flown at the Reno Air Races back in the early 90s. Only one was ever built and was sadly lost in an accident in 1993, killing the pilot Rick Brickert. What we have here in X-Plane, is a clever, plausible variant, that extends the racing aircraft, into an all-weather, cross-country sports plane, which allows it to be far more adaptable and useful in X-Plane. Its racing heritage is clear to see (there is no mistaking those sleek lines), which makes it very fast but also incredibly challenging to fly properly and safely, especially when landing. The model presented here features twin turboprop engines, with each one delivering about 600shp, which enables the Rutan Model-158 to achieve a top speed (TAS) of about 450mph/380kts, and a cruising range of 500 miles/ or 1.5 flight hours, coupled with a service ceiling of over 30,000ft. Installation The VSKYLABS Rutan Model-158 is available for both X-Plane 11 and 12, with Stephen from X-PlaneReviews offering a highly comprehensive review of the X-Plane 11 model back in March 2021. This review, whilst not as in-depth as Stephen’s, will hopefully give you an idea of how the model performs in X-Plane 12, albeit, in beta form (at the time of writing beta 5). With my purchase completed and downloaded from the X-Plane.Org store (extracted size was 407MB), it was just a straightforward task of placing the model into my X-Plane Aircraft folder. Included with the download is a 50-page, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. Exterior The Rutan Model-158 is quite a distinctive-looking aircraft, especially with its twin booms housing the two PT6A-28 propulsion free-turbine turboprop engines. Being a relatively small aircraft, these design characteristics portray an aircraft that is both highly dramatic and powerful in appearance. Although a taildragger, its stance is shallower than say a WW2 fighter, which has the added benefit of offering a forward view, even if it is somewhat limited. The engine covers of the two PT6A-28 engines can be removed to show the nicely modelled details within. The main gear is also modelled to a high level and even includes the names of all the people who made the original Pond Racer on the covers, a very nice touch, and one which could have easily been left out! The original aircraft was designed in 1991, and as such incorporates a variety of useful features, such as satellite navigation, full safety lights, and interior lighting, which makes night flying entirely possible, not to mention great fun! One feature of the VSKYLABS model which I was highly impressed with, and which is new to the X-Plane 12 model, was the excellent rain effect on the canopy. In terms of liveries, there are three included: No. 2 in white, Marines in grey and finally Storm Chaser in red, all of which have been created to a high standard and really make the Rutan Model-158 stand out. There’s also an included paintkit for those artists among you. Interior The interior of the Rutan, much like the exterior, is finished to the same high standard, with some great texturing on offer, including some excellent weathering effects (scuffs, marks etc), which gives the appearance of the cockpit being suitably authentic. This also has the benefit of making the cockpit a highly enjoyable place to be, particularly when navigating and manoeuvring the aircraft during flight. Both the seat and rudder pedals have excellent detailing, as do all the dials and switches, in fact, everything on offer is a class act. Of course, for an aircraft of this type, complete engine information is included for the pilot in the form of numerous gauges and dials, along with oxygen levels, cockpit pressure, etc. There are also the usual trim levers and autopilot/transponder settings, along with a rather handy cancel button on the stick. However, it’s perhaps the two Garmin 430 satnav units located in the centre panel housing which probably stand out the most, with the option of having the AviTab unit displayed for occasional use (a freeware download that you must acquire separately). Cold & Dark Start Before starting the engines, we need to set the desired fuel and oxygen levels required for the flight (in weights and balances). With that done, set the battery to on (right panel), then engine one igniter, and engine one starter, which will, in turn, slowly start the left engine spinning. Soon after this, you will hear an audible beep, which is the signal to push in the engine one fuel tap. When the engine is idling, turn off the igniter and switch on the generator. Lastly, switch on the engine one inverter, located on the right panel, and turn on the avionics. You then partially repeat the procedure for engine two. We are now ready to close the canopy and enter our flight plan into the first Garmin. This unit has a VOR and CDI to help you navigate and land, unlike the second Garmin which is not configured with a VOR or CDI. However, it is still extremely useful as it can be used to show the distance and range page, whilst the first unit displays the map. When it comes to landing, you can use the autopilot’s APR mode to get lined up properly, but that’s about it, there is no glideslope ability. From here on in, it’s all manual flying, and as the Rutan Model-158 is quite a hot ship, you’re going to have to keep your wits about you. With no flaps or speed brakes fitted in which to manage airspeed, you must rely on adjusting and setting the props correctly, which is an important skill to master. Flying Experience When taxiing from cold and dark, it’s crucial to remember that the props will be in beta (reverse) which can be fun to use if you’re starting on a stand! With that knowledge firmly cemented in your mind, gently slide the levers forward to about halfway, release the brakes, and then control your speed with both brakes and throttle. The minimum prop speed in alpha (forward thrust) is 1,200, while the maximum is 2,200. VSKYLABS recommends full forward props and 80% throttle for takeoff unless you’re at or above max takeoff weight, in which case it’s full throttle, which provides exceptionally swift acceleration. Once you have left terra firma, reduce acceleration (prop and throttle) so as to allow the gear time to retract. This is done below 180kts, as any higher, and the likelihood of damaging your undercarriage increases significantly. With this done, you are now ready to accelerate and continue with the climb out. As you proceed, you’ll notice that the Rutan is highly stable in the roll; not as fast to roll as a single-engine fighter, but at low speeds (below about 250kts) the elevators are highly effective until they tighten up with speed. For this reason (at low speed), I’d make sure you adjust your trim accordingly. The climb performance of the Rutan is exceptional, and as such, reaching our target altitude of 25,000ft is achieved in almost no time at all. According to the documentation, this cruising altitude achieves the best economy (500 miles), which for a cross-country sports aircraft of this type, is not too bad at all. One thing to note when climbing, is that if you’re going past 12,000ft, you’ll have to seal the canopy and adjust pressurisation accordingly, as failing to do this will cause you to blackout. Also, if you only have pressurisation on, and not oxygen (there is a separate oxygen control for your mask), then you will begin to blackout above 25,000 to 28,000ft, so if you’re going above that altitude (maximum ceiling is 33,500ft), you will need to adjust pressure and use oxygen. If there happens to be a fault with the pressure, you’ll need to use oxygen above 12,000ft. The procedure for accomplishing all the above is mentioned in the AviTab tablet, so it’s well worth setting up prior to takeoff. Achieving the desired course/route in the Rutan Model-158 is a relatively simple task, as the supplied Gamin 430 units should be a familiar site to quite a few X-Plane users. However, if they’re not, and you’re new to X-Plane, then I highly recommend downloading and then reading the Garmin 430 PDF manual kindly provided by X-Plane.com As you head towards your target airport, reduce your speed by first pushing props fully forwards (2200rpm) and then throttling back, which provides a steady and controlled reduction of airspeed. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can simply whack the props into full reverse (beta) position and lose altitude at an even greater rate. However, don’t forget to put the props back to alpha to land though! When your airspeed has been reduced to below 180kts, it’s safe to lower the main landing gear, and with your trim adjusted, you can reduce your speed to 150/130kts for landing. Gentle braking is advised, as from my experience, the Rutan has a tendency to flip if applied above 90kts. Landing is perhaps the most challenging aspect of piloting the Rutan, and will no doubt take a few goes to get right, but that’s what makes flying this unique aircraft so special…it’s the replay feature, and the desire to get it right the next time around. Conclusion During my testing, I found the VSKYLABS Rutan Model-158 to be both challenging and fun to fly. It’s well-modelled, especially the cockpit, includes some wonderful engine sounds, and is topped off by having a highly rewarding flight model. Considering X-Plane 12 is still in beta form, I was also impressed with how stable the model was in the sim. Quite often during the initial stages of an X-Plane beta, it’s not unusual for third-party add-ons to either freeze or crash the sim, so that was an additional bonus. For someone like myself who enjoys experiencing the thrills of flying powerful and challenging aircraft, I found the experience to be nothing short of exceptional, and as such would have no hesitation in recommending it to other like-minded X-Plane 12 users. Note: if you’re looking to add a few additional liveries to the Rutan, then there are some excellent and fun repaints available over at the Org by SimSmith and Criminy. _______________________________ The VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project for X-Plane 12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project Priced at US$28.50 Project's Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Model-158. Highly defined PT6 turboprop engine simulation (PT6A-28) including its associated peripheral systems. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. In-depth systems simulation: Fully equipped aircraft with deep systems simulation (electrical, lighting and warning systems, comprehensive fuel system, fire protection, bleed air and pneumatic systems, ice protection systems, pressurization system, landing gears system, flight control, oxygen system, canopy system, auto-feathering and auto-ignition systems and more). VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. 50-pages, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. STMA Autoupdater is included: Project updates are fast and efficient! Included Paint-Kit. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums. Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: XP12 - September 5th 2022, 1.0 (March 14th 2021, XP11) Review by Alan Ashforth 13th Oct 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows 11, Intel i7 10,700 Processor, 32GB RAM, 2TB SSD, GeForce RTX™ 2070 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved