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Found 21 results

  1. Aircraft Review : PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project by VSkyLabs Armed services around the world when revitalising their fleets, usually do what they call "Off the shelf" purchases, or take an aircraft already built, and then reconfigure the aircraft to suit their services requirements, it is supposedly to save you money, buy an already produced aircraft and not pay the development costs... but it never really seems to work out that way, and so they usually end up with a far more expensive result. Sometimes you also may need an even more specialist configuration to the aircraft to meet your specialist requirements, then even an "Off the shelf" option won't fit those requirements either, in this case you then have to build the aircraft yourself, or to meet the needs of the role the aircraft has to fulfill. This was the situation the RAAF (Royal Australian Airforce) and RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Airforce) was in, in the early 70's, as they needed a specialised trainer aircraft that was relatively cheap, but still a nice aerobatic aircraft to train RAAF/RNZAF pilots on. The solution was to take an already successfully built Australian aircraft in the Victa Aircruiser (and yes Victa is renowned in Australia for their lawnmowers!) and reconfigure the aircraft to be an all-metal-construction, single-engine, two-place with side-by-side seating (with a single rear seat), and was also to be a fully aerobatic, piston-engined, basic training aircraft, and this development and assembly work was done by the maintenance firm Aero Engine Services Ltd (AESL) in New Zealand. Externally the CT/4 differs from the Airtourer and Aircruiser designs by its larger engine and the bubble canopy of which was redesigned in to an aerofoil shape. Structurally there are changes to the skin and upgrading of the four longerons in the fuselage from sheet metal to extrusions. Earlier aircraft were powered by a 210 hp Continental piston engine and was later upgraded to a 300 hp Lycoming and with a three-bladed propeller and the wing was also moved 5 cm rearwards to compensate for the altered centre of gravity (to balance the extra weight of the Lycoming) this is this vSkyLabs version in the CT/4E . The vSkylab philosophy is in 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. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Second is that the aircraft is designed around the powerful, native X-Plane 11 'Experimental Flight Model' environment, so that means in the Menu/General "Use the experimental flight model" tickbox has to be selected on. Only two months on since their release of the excellent Aeroprakt A22-LS Project, VskyLabs are already back with another project, this time it is the PAC (Pacific Aerospace Corporation) CT/4E trainer aircraft. The Victa was a small but very sweet designed aircraft by the famous Henry Millicer. Then AESL's chief designer, P W C Monk redesigned the Airtourer/Aircruiser into the CT/4 for it's trainer roles that were then built in Hamilton New Zealand to a total of 155 aircraft. Initial views are that this is a nice tight little aircraft, and you knew it was going to be as sweet in the air. vSkyLabs are already well known for their really excellent modeling skills, and that aspect is certainly evident here, the CT4 is superbly done in design and detail. From front to rear the detail and mapping is first rate, all the rivets can be counted and the flying surface louver panel work is also bang on... ... I'm not really sure about the fully coloured in navigation lighting, but overall you can't fault the work here. One area that stands out is the white rear beacon tail assembly. Outwardly it looks bland, but on closer inspection it is really quite good, it is the way it looks and not actually what it is... The landing gear is extremely basic in design, but again like the earlier Aeroprakt A22, the front strut looks a little under-developed, or really basic as do the two engine exhausts that just protrude out of the cowling, with the no surrounding cowling cut-outs to accommodate them, a small but significant detail folks. The canopy is however a masterwork. Brilliant and detailed glass, surrounded by the metal frame, is exceptionally well done, no matter what angle you look at the canopy, you can see the construction and rivet work of the frame, and the glass is perfectly worn and marked. To open the canopy, there is a lever externally, and a twist handle internally (arrowed), that disconnects the latch, then you push the canopy upwards... ... the mechanism and animations are excellent and also very realistic, and when open below the canopy is a very highly detailed interior. There are three seats in the aircraft in the tight space, two front trainee pilot seats and an instructor seat in the rear, all seats are a metal can based design, with just a rear and cushion base, but all looks totally authentic here. Note the large roll-over bar centre cockpit. Nice smaller details include a large first aid kit and on the floor fire extinguisher, both bright red to stand out in an already complex cockpit... overall the detailing is masterful in here. The instrument panel facia, is also metal, but superbly nice and worn with wear scratches and whatnot... very very nice. Instrument detail is also off the charts, clear and highly legible... perfect. There are two sets of Throttle, Propeller and Mixture levers, one set for each pilot, but there is also a second flap lever built into the left hand assembly (arrowed)... There is a centre panel of where the main flying instruments are positioned... not really in a three instrument across layout as the Speed indicator is central left and not top, with a Rate of Turn indicator below. Centre instrument down line includes a ball Artificial Horizon top, with a nice adjustable setting line (orange line). Lower is the Heading Dial compass, and bottom is an OBI twin pointer compass (note the heading bug, is on on this instrument, and not on the above heading dial)... right row (top to bottom), is the Altitude Instrument, Vertical Speed (V/S) and lower a Course Deviation Indicator (CDI). Each side of the primary flight instruments are to the left, Fuel Quantity (75 lts per tank) and lower are the Trim Indicators. Right side are the RPM indicator, Manifold and Fuel Flow pressures, and bottom a combined Oil Pressure/Temperature and Cylinder Head temperature gauge. Centre panel top there is a main Temperature gauge, the Ignition Start/Off Switch, Ampere/Volt meter (push knob to activate the volt readout) and G-Meter (acceleration) bottom. Top of the panel are three lights for; Low Oil Pressure, Low Voltage and Engine Fire. The avionics stack is quite stock standard X-Plane... S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot top, Then both a Garmin GNS 530 and a GNS 430 gps units below. The transponder is a Garmin GTX327 and bottom is an ADF Bendix/King KR87. On the right pilot's side is a simple four instrument layout of primary flight instruments. Including a Speed indicator with a Rate of Turn indicator below, then the Altitude Instrument and Vertical Speed (V/S) instrument to the right. There is a Whiskey Compass on the top of the centre panel. Lower panel has the electrical switchgear array, and on the right the fuses (Circuit breakers) that are non-workable, but note the odd switch on this panel is to power the AP - Autopilot. Below are three instrument lighting knobs. It is all a very non-fussy but a good training instrument panel, not complicated or messy to use. Center console is quite basic... top is the left side pilot's Throttle, Prop and Mixture levers. Below is the cabin heat and (right side) Flap lever in UP-HALF-DOWN selections, but in reality it is a more fluid flap selection then that you need by selecting any degree selection you want. Rear is the Fuel Tank selector and Parking Brake. The AviTab is attached to the far right side of the screen, and a bit small where positioned for the pilot to read? Selection is via selecting the point on the screen (AviTab plugin is of course required). Important to note the Trim controller is a HAT switch on the nice joystick, it moves your trim; UP-DOWN and LEFT-RIGHT via the knob, of course you can set the same HAT on your own joystick or by the keyboard commands, but it is a very authentic set up and shown on the right panel indicators. There are two nicely modeled trainee pilots, the main pilot is female and a secondary pilot is also of the fairer sex. Selection is done via the Payload Weight slider on the X-Plane IOS screen. When exceeding the 80 kg / 176.4 lbs of payload (by using the slider), the second pilot will then be visible.... the main pilot is visible all the time. The main pilot's arms are also animated to the movements of the stick. vSkyLabs don't do menus, popups (except for standard X-Plane elements (i.e. GNS units)) or static elements, so there are few extras to note, anything that is not an "Interaction zone" is not added into the aircraft. But the PAC CT4 is highly compatible for VR-Virtual Reality and it is marketed that way. As with all vSkyLab aircraft the "Experimental Flight Model Mode' must be checked on. ____________________ Flying the PAC CT4 Trainers are pretty basic aircraft, nothing more and nothing less is required not to mess with the new flyers introduction to aviation, as it is here with the PAC CT4E Airtrainer. The 300 hp Lycoming is also quite a powerful engine for such a small airframe, so you have to be aware of that factor. Starting up the Lycoming is very, very easy... mixture lever forward, fuel pump on and turn the start switch and the engine sprightly springs into life, then you just wait for the instrument readouts to settle down... Start up sounds are very good as are the running engine sounds, but the external sounds are far, far higher than the internal (yes the canopy is down, and you do have a helmet on) but you always have to turn your speakers down or adjust the external sounds lower on the X-Plane sounds panel to a more even balance. Highly notable is the amount of turn on the front nosewheel compared to the rudder movement... the CT4 has this restriction, and also the use of using the braking on the main wheels to give a wider turn (which is like in turning a taildragger)... ... it means a lot of wider turns and a lot of space in manoeuvring around the taxiways. The small nosewheel movement can also catch you out if your speed gets to fast and the aircraft will start to weave, so you need to keep your taxi speed down a little, overall though, with half a throttle the CT4 will taxi quite nicely. You also need to set your trims to neutral... you need control of your trims either by the HAT on the joystick or keyboard control (any training aircraft should be set this way anyway to learn about aircraft trims)... ... instrument backlighting with the full setting is quite average in the daytime, the instruments are actually lit, but only bleakly so... so it makes the instrument panel look darker than it actually is. The VOR Pointers on the OBI are not working either, here the VOR array is just the over the other side of the field, but the pointer is not registering it or is it an ADF pointer only? Which is pretty useless nowadays. When trying to takeoff on my earlier test flights of the CT4, I found that front nosewheel restriction a barrier to taking the aircraft off and landing cleanly, or mostly impossible to do so, as once you reach a certain speed the aircraft just weaves incredibly badly and you simply lose control... I tried the fast throttle up approach (really bad), and the slow, slow throttle input approach and both failed with a loss of control.... ... the problem is that the rudder and nosewheel are totally out of sync in angle, so when you need more rudder to counteract the powerful asymmetrical thrust, the nosewheel is at the wrong pitch or position, hence you weave and badly... my solution was to kill the tighter movement via the "nosewheel steer toggle", and that gives you back full control of the nosewheel again, but also making it again in sync with the rear rudder movements, cheating, I don't know, but at least I can takeoff and land the aircraft normally without consistently destroying the scenery. As noted that asymmetrical thrust from the 300 hp engine is quite strong, so you need a very firm hand to control it and keep the aircraft straight, 90 knts and you can slightly pull back on the stick and grab the air... ... once off the ground, you need to quickly realign the balance to the centre and get the aircraft level and straight. So the CT4 is tricky to takeoff and for the initial control of flight. Climb out or rate is 9.3 m/s (1,830 ft/min), so quite high, but watch your speed does not trail off. So a climb of around 130 knts at 1500 fpm is about ideal. Note the Vertical Speed indicator is very wide, it looks quite high, but you are only pulling 1,000 fpm. the 2,000 fpm marker is directly and right around to the right (3 o'clock), so it can be a bit disorienting. Once at your altitude, then your first job is to set your trims. You are surprised on how much trim you actually need, especially the rudder trim to get the aircraft balanced and flying straight and level and the controls back to their neutral position... but it is important you have to trim it out before doing anything else. Turns are slightly odd in that you don't nudge the CT4 in the direction and centre the stick again, but sort of hold the angle of the turn, it becomes natural quickly, but it is a more physical way to fly.... so in the air the PAC is a very physical aircraft to fly. The CT4E is a semi-aerobatic aircraft, so you can do some pretty extreme manoeuvres in the aircraft, within reason. But when pushing the aircraft to it's limits you do get great feedback and control response, that extra power really helps as well, overall the PAC is a lot of fun with it's excellent and superb flight dynamics, authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Lighting The lighting is quite basic... In the daytime as noted the instrument panel feels quite dull, but it is not as bad in the dark. There are three knobs to adjust the overhead and overhead (red) seat lighting, but they both have no light sources, the panel lighting adjustment is the third knob. There is a switch on a light between the roll-over bar, and that activates the X-Plane white flashlight to use on the panel or wherever, not as good as say a proper animated spot light, but I suppose a clever workaround... only the background instrument lighting is okayish, but the dials are clear, so that is what matters, but overall in the cockpit I wanted more brightness everywhere. External lighting gives you Navigation, Red, Green and a White tail-light, Landing and Taxi lights are blobby, and not tuned. Strobe lights are connected to the upper beacon (also white) and all are also very blobby, but effective at night, so is the blobby bright lower red beacon. Once adjusted, overall I like the sounds, not extremely dynamic, but still quite good in realism. Maximum speed of the PAC CT4 is a fast 387 km/h (240 mph, 209 kn) at sea level and the cruise speed: 282 km/h (175 mph, 152 kn) at 2,590 m (8,500 ft) (75% power)... Range is 963 km (599 mi, 520 nmi) (max fuel, 75% power) and the Service Ceiling is 5,550 m (18,200 ft), but do the last two performance figures matter? not really. I miss the VOR pointer to find the airport... so I use the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI), to centreline the runway, and use it to turn directly into the approach path... I am not on the Autopilot or using the APP selection, but it is available if you need it, but in just using the instruments to guide me in... Flaps are as noted variable, so you find the best degree to suit your speed, but I never got under the white marker banner on the speed dial, until I had almost full flap and 90 knts. You can adjust your altitude easily with your power or throttle inputs... more power to climb and less power to descend, and the CT4 reacts very, very nicely to your inputs of power, so it is very easy to get the perfect right speed and slope into the runway... ... you have to focus, but overall the CT4 is great on the final approach and responds nicely to your inputs, once close to the threshold you let the power drop slowly and you sink nicely and gradually, Stall speed is 82 km/h (51 mph or 44 knt) flaps down. So at FULL flap the final landing speed is of 70 knts, and the CT4 feels a bit fast, not much, but I expected around 65 knts or even slightly less, but that does not say you cannot do a nice sweet touch and a no bounce landing at this speed... ... also give yourself a slight nose up flare to show off your landing skills and the CT4E will respond nicely. I have already done about eight landings in the PAC Airtrainer, and each one was absolutely checkbook perfect, so the aircraft is very, very good in this area with great feel and control. vSkyLabs uses the STMA Plugin for aircraft updates thoughout the project, the updater can be found on the left side of your screen as a pop-out... personally a loath these sort of annoying pop-out affairs, and in most cases usually remove the plugin from the aircraft folder, I up date by inserting it again, doing the update and then remove it again... it is a seriously screen hogging popping out annoying tool. Liveries Three... in a RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Airforce) "Red Checkers", RAAF (Royal Australian Airforce) and RTAF (Royal Thai Airforce) liveries, all well done and highly detailed. ______________________ Summary In only another few months since their last release with the excellent Aeroprakt A22-LS Project, VskyLabs are already back with another project, this time it is the PAC (Pacific Aerospace Corporation) CT/4E Airtrainer aircraft. A New Zealand built aircraft for both the Australian and New Zealand Airforces, The Royal Thai Airforce also bought 24 aircraft. Designed out of the Australian built civilian Victa Aircruiser, the CT4E here is a twin (with a third if required) seater trainer for a specialised single-engine trainer role. You would never fault vSkyLabs quality modeling, and very good in detail it is here as well. Nice externals, but the cockpit detail is exceptional, not crazy about the coloured navigation wingtip lights, or the poor front nosewheel assembly, but the canopy and glass quality is extremely good. Blobby external lighting and daytime instrument lighting is also a few marks down and I didn't at all relate to the restricted nosewheel movement... but overall the aircraft is first rate. There are very few extras or no menus at all... there is however AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. If you have purchased or tasted before any of vSkyLabs project aircraft, then you probably know what you will get here. Great modeling, great detailing and an extraordinary flight model. They are great projects, but to note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Updates maybe infrequent if sometimes at all. The PAC CT4 requires the experimental setting, and as usual for vSkyLabs the aircraft delivers a very credible if brilliant flying and performance related machine, always interesting and always a very interesting aircraft to fly, then flying the PAC CT4E a lot and you will get a big rewards for your investment... simply another winner from vSkyLabs. ___________________ Yes! the PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project by VSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project Price is US$32.95 Project Main 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. 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, including aerobatics. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not 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. The project is under constant maintenance and development. Requirements: X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (July 1st 2021) The 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 217 Mb, and unpacked then installed 367 Mb Documents VSKYLABS CT4E POH.pdf Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the CT/4E Airtrainer _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 8th July 2021 Copyright©2021: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.55 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 (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 : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs Well it makes a change from very light helicopters. vSkyLabs are back again with another of their Project 'Test-Pilot' series, and this time it is another Very Light Aircraft (VLA) in the Ukrainian built two-seat, high-wing, tricycle landing gear ultralight aircraft, called the Aeroprakt A-22, also known as the A-22 Foxbat, and in the US as the Valor. The small aircraft is manufactured by Aeroprakt in the Ukraine, and is expertly designed by Yuri Yakovlev. The A-22 first flew in taking its maiden flight on 21 October 1996, and a German-certified version entered production in 1999. The Aeroprakt A-22 is supplied either as "ready-to-fly" factory built aircraft, or as a kit consisting of 152 pieces. The kit can be built in about 500 man-hours, and currently over 2000 examples of the A-22 have been built or assembled. The vSkylab philosophy is in 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. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Second is that the aircraft is designed around the powerful, native X-Plane 11 'Experimental Flight Model' environment, so that means in the Menu/General "Use the experimental flight model" tickbox has to be selected on. The space-frame design is highly evident here, as the fuselage panels are fitted around and are not part of the airframe, centre panels are metal (and strangely not composite except for the engine cowling, wing fillets and wheel spats), and the fabric covered wing and flying surfaces. vSkyLab's modeling is always very good, and the detail here is excellent in the clever construction methods used for frame strength and lightness. Don't expect that grungy wear and rust sort of detail from vSkyLab's as that is not their angle of design, but the clean and out of the box design certainly is. The A-22 has a 3-bladed Aeroprakt ground-adjustable propeller, 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in) diameter that looks powerful and air grippy. There is a lot of perspex glazing, on both sides including the convex doors, rear panels and very large rear window, and the amount of glazing gives the aircraft a very open and light feel. Note the excellent rear window and rivet detail. The perspex is absolutely perfect here with the fine glazing markings showing real world realism. curvature, depth and reflection is about perfect as well.... impressive. The flying surfaces fabric feel is very good, and you want to run your hands over the undulated surfaces, but it is not actually a fabric in a sense but more a heavy plastic film, but the realism is very good. The A-22 uses flaperons in the place of ailerons and flaps, giving the Foxbat a stall speed of around 52 km/h (32 mph) with the flaperons fully down. Note the three stage flaps 0º-10º-20º. Undercarriage is a standard tri-cycle arrangement, but note the neat small tail-wheel (above) in case you over-rotate or get the loading balance wrong. Gear detail is very, very basic but neatly done, with nice mudflaps set on the rear. Nose gear is covered in a metal shroud that supports the hub and tyre, clever... ... but I was seriously not impressed by the unconnected front gear-wheel when turned, very average? Both front doors can be opened by clicking a hot-spot lower (all vSkyLab aircraft only have hot-spot zones, and no menus). The doors open up and wide. There are only two seats in the A22, but both are beautifully done, in a leather outer bolstering and a fabric inner design, seatbelts look natural and flexible, hence realistic. You are very aware of the twin frames inside. One is the main full box frame, then the attached tube piping supports, it is all expertly done and original. The control cables are highly visible running through the rear section of the aircraft. Above you centre is the flap lever and the two fuel tank selector levers are situated up high on each side of the main frame... ... centre lower is the storage area for two "Remove Before Flight" pins, one is yoke lock pin, and the other is a disarm for the Parachute Recovery System, in the rear area (right), the red pull handle is set at your right elbow. Instrument Panel The main instrument panel is very nicely done, but quite basic in instruments and avionics. There is a lower centre panel with two dials and the aircraft's switchgear. Then a centre console with a very large throttle, another large brake handle, Choke lever, Control Throttle Friction lever and Parking Brake valve lever. The twin yokes are huge and square, and big for the size of the aircraft... but thankfully can be hidden via touch-spots at the rear. The instrument panel is dominated by a very large heading compass top centre. There are four main flight instruments, with the Airspeed top left, Altimeter top right, Artificial Horizon (with built in rate of turn) lower left and Vertical Speed (V/S) lower right. A set of four dials centre panel cover, RPM, CHT (Cylinder Head Temp), Oil Pressure and finally Oil Temperature. , Cockpit heater and Carburettor push-pull knobs are very far left and right is the standard GNS 430 GPS and below is a Garmin GTX327 Transponder. Basic right... Notable is a VSI-AP-1 LSA Grade autopilot system. It is located on the very left of the panel, and is activated by pressing (hot-spot) on the top of the Heading Compass. This autopilot is very basic, there are four buttons to go up, down, left or right and one button to hold the ALT-Altitude... Simples! there is also a power switch on the lower panel that is needed to activate the unit. The centre console is also quite basic, with top the twin fuel gauges (40kg per tank). Below are six switches that cover (LtoR) Landing Light, Nav (navigation) Lights, Strobe Lights, AVNCS (Avionics), Auto-Pilot and INST. (Instrument) Lights. Around the red bands are the two IGN-A and IGN-B really busses, a set of well done fuses, and lower the main key (power) and Starter, and left is an hourly Hobbs meter. The twin bar rudder pedals are really well done and are quite clever in operation when you look at the idea. Two VR (Virtual Reality) features are both accessed again by hot-spots. One is the AviTab (Avitab Tablet plugin is required) on the left Yoke, accessed by touching the iPad set right of the passenger seat, and a clipboard checklist, sitting on the top of the instrument panel, as noted there are no menus in this aircraft nor a Weight or Balance sheet. There is a very nice female pilot, that is very nicely animated to the yoke and even with footwork movement on the rudder pedals. The control rods to the flaps are also animated and visible rear. Flying the A-22 Foxbat For any student or wanna be pilot, this A-22 is perfect. Everything is quite simple here, the instrument layouts, the controls, but more importantly is the feel factor on the way you fly this aircraft. If you want to learn to fly, and want to know what the "Seat of your pants" flying is all about then the Foxbat is perfect. So the A-22 is all about the flying and the basics. The A-22 is powered by a Rotax 912ULS 4-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine, 73.5 kW (98.6 hp), not much power, but not a lot of grunt is required either in this lightweight frame of a machine, plus the deep 3-bladed propeller is very grippy... If you want to know what the LS stands for in A-22LS... it is for the "Light-Sport" version for the American market with a higher gross weight of 600 kg (1,323 lb), the standard weight is 450 kg (992 lb). The Rotax starts easily and settles down to a clatter idle, so I check all the control movements, left/right, back/forward and the rudder left/right... everything feels light and easy to move, and you are very aware of the aerodynamic surfaces moving around you. I am flying with both doors open, you feel more free and have more space for controlling the aircraft in this configuration, than blocking yourself into the tiny space with the doors closed... I'll fly this way anytime if I can, certainly any VLA. The A-22 does not hunt or want to move if you let off the brakes, but just a little throttle will get it moving forwards... lovely. Taxiing is easy as are the excellent sounds. vSkyLab's have used these Rotax sounds before, so they are not new to your ears... but still very good. There is no need to use a full runway length at PACV-Merle K Smith in Cordova Alaska, I'm not a Boeing 737, but a tiddler aircraft that needs only a very short runway to get airborne. Brakes are nice and you only need a movement of the throttle to jump the A-22 off the line and get the aircraft swiftly moving... ... you are very quickly aware of the very strong asymmetrical thrust that pushes you left almost off the line, and it takes a lot of control to keep the aircraft aligned straight as you increase the power. At 65 knts you are flying, the A-22 will just leave the ground and want to fly... .... as you get the lift you are already dancing on the controls to keep the machine straight and level, that wide rudder position is going to transfer the angle into the air into something odd, so you have to play to get the aircraft up, wings level and the nose pointing straight ahead... it sounds hard, but it is not really any effort at all, just skill and being a pilot in control.... the little Rotax powered machine is a lot of fun if now noisy. Whoa! the bugger really wants to climb out, the official rate of climb is 5 m/s (980 ft/min), but to be sensible then a 500fpm to 700fpm climb is about right, so almost instantly you are adjusting the trim to bring the nose down, even if you set it as per neutral as required for takeoff. If I don't control this quickly, I will easily climb stall out as your speed goes through the floor. A note that a more forward set trim on takeoff will dial out a lot of that severe climb-out, but you will use a lot more runway in taking off as well, there is that sweet-spot to find and use between the two settings. It all sounds a bit dramatic, but it isn't really, the Foxbat is very easily controlled and basically a lot of fun to fly... ... the A-22 responds very well in every area, control feel, trim and with any adjustments you make... you feel very comfortable and even safe in here, even though you can look straight down at the ground swirling past below you, very open... very fun. Settling the aircraft is very easy, without even using the autopilot, once trimmed the Foxbat will fly like this all day, just skimming along and feeling the breeze. The fastest speed is 170 km/h (110 mph, 92 kn) and the Cruise speed is around 160 km/h (99 mph, 86 kn). The range is an amazing 1,100 km (680 mi, 590 nmi) with a maximum fuel load, but you are not going to go very high as the Service ceiling is set at 4,000 m (13,000 ft). In reality this is a 5,000ft to 6,000ft maximum altitude flying aircraft, I think only rarely would you go higher than that. You do rest your feet with the rudder slightly to the right... there is no rudder trim and so you have to manually adjust the direction heading with your feet, but it all comes very natural, almost normal to do so. You don't do serious aerobatics in aircraft like this, twisting, heavy stalls can get you easily into trouble, it's just not the A-22 thing to do. The VSI-AP-1 autopilot is very simple to use. (but make sure it is switched off on the ground before flying). When at the correct position even while still climbing, just switch on the system via the switch on the lower panel. When at your correct altitude just hit the ALT button to level off at that height, then to turn, just hit the left or right button and hold it down to the correct turn angle you want... ... to straighten up, just hit the opposite button until you are central again... just too easy, if you want to go up or down then use the UP or DN buttons, again hit ALT to reset at your correct altitude. Skimming... ... is the best thing, flying at 500 ft and just skimming the treetops. The Rotax purring (if a little of a sort of rattle purr), and the sound reflects upwards from the open door, perfect. From this low 500 ft altitude PACV-Merle K Smith's runway 09 is very wide angled and challenging. Slowing to flap speeds (around 65 knts), and the torque on the nose is pulling you left, and the tail is going all the way out there to the right, you need to find the balance of the pulling of the thrust sidewards to the wind pushing the tail out the other way, so a lot of rudder and yoke control is required to keep you direction correct... "Flying by the seat of your pants", you feel the airframe and your need to control the fragile machine correctly, it is flying in it's truest sense, love it! I adjust the speed slightly faster to 75 knts to get the right descent angle to the runway, I have sort of got the direction angle sorted, the A-22 is more now aligned to the runway. You always feel the high pull of the lift in these VLA's, they float more like with a huge parachute canopy than a hard wing... ... it creates an uplift as well, all of a suddenly I am in a worse crab as I approach the field's boundaries... whoa! Again dancing on the pedals and swiftly manoeuvring the yoke I get my line back, speed is now dropped through 60 knts and get slowly down to 50 knts for the right descent to the runway... Bugger! It does it again... this time ballooning, yawing and drifting to the right as well. I am very aware of my approach, I don't want to land too fast, or I'll bounce myself off the runway, so slow and easy is the key, I touch the runway at 40 kts... Stall speed is a very low 55 km/h (34 mph, 30 kn), but you are very aware in easily not stalling the Foxbat. I'm smiling broadly, I'm straight and pointing the right way while simultaneously while not also bouncing this ultra-light machine all around the runway, skill and lots of fun in one package. The roll out is very short, but braking needs careful control to take take the speed off cleanly. Once back on the apron, I wonder on how to stop the engine? No mixture lever here? It is done by switching off the power, via the IGN-A and IGN-B switches... humm that was fun... lots of it! Lighting Lighting is very, very basic. One switch lights up the instruments, and it has no adjustment, there is no overhead (dome) light either and a moveable spotlight would certainly be very handy in here?. Externally is also very basic, Only the red and green navigation lights and a white blobby Strobe light on the top of the tail, another even larger blobby light is your single landing light, nose left. Liveries There are five liveries provided, All-Yellow (Default), All-Blue, Bare-Metal, Black-Sporty-22 and Blue-Yellow. Summary If you have purchased or tasted before any of vSkyLabs project aircraft, then you probably know what you will get here. Great modeling, great detailing and an extraordinary flight model. They are great projects, but to note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Updates maybe infrequent if sometimes at all. Overall though most vSkyLabs aircraft are all mostly basic, but they are fully detailed to the extreme. There are also no menus or static objects or extensive features as the focus is fully on the dynamics and flying performance. The A-22 requires the experimental setting, but delivers a very credible if brilliant flying "seat of your pants" performance. Only interactions are with the few interaction zones that; open the doors, move the throttle and console levers, show an autopilot and clipboard. There is also AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. There are only a lot of the basics in the lighting and options, but you won't care when flying low over the trees with your doors open to the roar outside, great for learner beginners on how to fly with the very basics, and a lot of sheer fun for the experts, so another hit from vSkyLabs that really delivers... recommended. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ___________________ Yes! the Aeroprakt A22-LS Project is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Price is US$27.50 Project 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 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (April 29th 2021) The 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 174 Mb, and unpacked then installed 251 Mb Documents VSKYLABS Aeroprakt A22-LS POH.pdf Designed by VSKYLABS Support for for the Aeroprakt A22-LS Project _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 12th May 2021 Copyright©2021: 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
  3. Aircraft Review : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project by vSkyLabs The bizarre and the unorthodox is littered with examples in aviation, more than really any other medium. Then aviation pushes the boundary on what can and even the unexpected of what has been achieved in relation to leaving the boundaries of not only above the ground but to go even beyond the planet Earth itself. The experimental aspect of flight is strewn with examples that pushed the boundaries forward, but was also the death of many a good pilot... the Model-158 Pond Racer is one such example. 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. VskyLabs has taken liberty with the design, basically it is a reproduction of the original "Pond Racer", but the aircraft is powered by twin PT6A-28 propulsion free-turbine turboprop engines with around the same output (640 kW) as the V-6 original installations. Instrumentation is quite different as well, as the original aircraft quite basic, and didn't have extras like GPS or iPads and all the required complementary systems, providing the needed instrumentation of; environmental control, fuel capacity, navigation-aids and all- weather flying capabilities. The aircraft was fitted with a new type of fuel-system layout, pressurization, oxygen, pneumatic, electrical and avionics. A lot however is original as well, mostly in the aircraft's detail. The design results though are pure Rutan, a very composite aircraft with slender fine forward-swept wing in which the quarter-chord line of the wing has a forward sweep, with slight uplifts at the wingtips. It is a twin boom-fuselage that supports a central rear fine cockpit, in other words a pure racing machine, note the nice upward and downward fins that make the tail really a tri-tail configuration. Brilliantly conceived in you have to admit is in its clever design. Modeling is a mixture of textured and untextured components, and in areas the two do slightly conflict as you can see the differences... But to note first the VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft that 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 the changes however can come infrequently, if sometimes slowly. The landing gear (twin front) is basic modeling, and in parts not even textured, but overall it serves it's purpose in the right links and uprights and in design it is authentic, this is also a tail-dragger aircraft with only a (very) small caster wheel at the rear. A nice touch is the names of everyone involved in the Model-150 are listed on the left and right gear doors. Cockpit is tiny and gliderish in concept, the textured and untextured sections are highly noticeable of the canopy to the tub section. Glass is simply excellent, or would it have been perspex as with the lovely graining on the cover, the canopy shaping is perfect and highly realistic. The highlight on the aircraft is that you can remove the engine covers (press on the covers directly) and then see those awesome PT6A-28 turbines in all of their glory, and they are both amazingly well done. Another nice touch is the fuel tank fillers (four) with two set in the inner connecting wing (21.3 GAL per tank), and two on each outer pod (50.7 GAL per tank), nice tank instructions are noted as well. The Pond Racer has a complex fuel system with the main tanks in the front, and the two pod feeder tanks aft. Cockpit The long thin canopy is opened by a pull rod on the left inner side, and revels a striking interior, highlighted by that padded bright red-orange cushion like seat, a seat is really not what it is, but more a padded material between yourself and the composite frame. The interior detail is both exceptional and realistic, even for an experimental aircraft such as this Pond Racer. Note the blue marks show when the canopy is open or locked. From the external view there is an exceptional pilot in a flight suit, he is also animated to move the stick, throttles and even the rudder pedals. Most of the detailing focus is certainly on the cockpit, as it is really well done. The instrument panel is really quite big for an aircraft of this size and it is also very well fitted out with instruments. I am going to be quite suspect and say the original instrument set up is nothing like this and be quite basic, because the original aircraft was only an experimental aircraft and not a production machine. Top of the panel are two GNS 430 GPS units, which do sort of stick up in your viewline with an attached Whiskey Compass. Below on the panel are the fire switches and starter switches for the left and right engines with the first of two annunciator panels that covers warnings. The Standard Six instruments including the; Airspeed Indicator, Altitude Indicator, Artificial Horizon top, Heading dial with built in VOR Pointers, Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) and V/S Vertical Speed instruments are all grouped together top left of the panel. Below the SS is the second (larger) of the two annunciator panels, this panel covers Systems. Most of the rest of the right instrument panel is taken up by the duel engine instruments and there are sixteen of them (or eight per engine)... top row is the (twin) Propeller RPM and ITT (Inter Turbine Temperature) dials. second row is a G-Meter, Ampreres/Volts and Torque dials. Note you can switch between bus volts and generator load indication via the knob on the Amp/Volt meter. Third row consists of two fuel gauges and RPM dials, and finally the fourth row has (twin) Fuel Flow and Twin Oil Temp and Oil Pressure gauges. The panel looks complicated, but overall it really isn't. There is a box panel beneath that is mostly hidden by the joystick, which can be half-hidden by pressing the base. Top panel is a Garmin GMA347 radio unit, with the external (left) lighting switches and internal Flood and Instrument lighting switches right. Note the exquisite rudder pedals. Top left panel is the parkbrake, Gear lever and twin engine Throttle (black) and Propeller (Blue). Rear panel is a sensational trim section, with nice large wheels to adjust your Yaw, Roll and Pitch trim, with the pitch and yaw noted on the dials. Canopy seal and Firewall shutoff is set mid-panel. Top right panel is the Cabin Pressure gauge, and below your Oxygen Supply (Liters). Mid-Panel top is the Oxygen Regulator, and are controlled by three big switches that cover your Emergency supply (Red), 100%/ Normal (White) and PBG -Pressure (Green). There is a PSI dial for the pressure and a flow indicator. Mid-Panel bottom switchgear that covers Pressurization, PWR (Power/Electrical) and Bleed/De-Ice Systems Rear right panel are the rest of the avionics. There is a S-Tec Forty-Five autopilot, which is odd in a pylon racing machine? but there you go... and a Garmin GTX 327 Transponder... final switches cover the fuel boost pumps. Overall the instrument and system layout is exceptional, and a full description of all the systems including the 28-VDC electric system configuration, that is powered by a 24-volt, 42-ampere hour battery and the two 250- ampere starter generators of the electrical system and the complex fuel system is also well documented in the manual. Also noted in the manual is the full settings for the X-Plane JOYSTICK/KEY ASSIGNMENTS. As the project is designed and optimized for VR (Virtual Reality) usage, therefore, all on- board equipment, switched, lever, handle, knobs and other relevant functions are all accessible through on-screen manipulators, for also use with the mouse in 2D mode, or with the touch controllers in VR mode. X-Plane 11 Experimental Flight Model environment must be ON to fly this aircraft, the checkbox is on the X-Plane/Settings/General menu The cockpit and instrument panel lighting (adjustable) is lovely, the "Flood" light is not a full on bright light, but a nice glow on the panel and underneath it... any side dial is nicely also lit up. STMA AutoUpdater The vSkyLabs aircraft also comes with the STMA AutoUpdater. This tab pops out on the top left of your screen and will update the aircraft version automatically, the same can be accessed via the X-Plane/Plugins Menu. Personally I am not a big fan of this STMA updater as it pops anytime you access this left side of the screen real estate, so (seriously) "annoying" is the word for it. Flying the Pond Racer The real aircraft did not actually taxi... it had a rear wheel puller that positioned the aircraft on the end of a runway, and so that is the best way to start. Starting the twin PT6A-28s is actually quite easy... Boost pumps on, Firewall (Fuel) Shutoff on, Prop levers to full forward, a little throttle. Then Switch up IGN#1 (or IGN#2) and then flick up the starter (START#1 or #2), then above 15% N1 you push in the Fuel cutoff handle. It takes time to wind up and power up the engines, so you have to wait until the Prop RPM is showing around 21x100 percent, before you have fully completed the start procedure. The Model-158 is not at all as noisy as you would expect it to be and even quite smooth, mainly I think it is set with you wearing a full face helmet and oxygen mask... either way it isn't what you expect, but in not being really loud, seriously noisy and rattling your brains out. The view forward is horrible, the view sideways is totally unrealistic... in reality you are flying the machine between the small gap between the font of the pods, al la a Star Wars racer. The sounds are more high buzzy than noisy, but it sounds... well interesting. With the park brake off you gingerly push up the twin throttles, and they require quite a fair amount of throttle to make the aircraft actually move... when moving the Model-158 will immediately pull heavily to the right, I found a way of keeping the racer more on the straight line was to give more power to the right (throttle) engine than the left, it gives you more straight line control... so you steer more with your throttles than with your rudder pedals... you can use the rudder toe brakes if you set them, but the throttle control is more agile in your straight line control... ... the Pond Racer takes a fair amount of time, and runway to gather enough speed for takeoff, part of the effect is caused by you, yourself as in the way you have to nudge the throttles higher and higher while remaining in control, you know with a certain feel, that with just one mistake, it will simply send you barreling off the runway to a certain death. At around 170 knts you will finally have enough grip in the air to fly. The Model-158 will climb out savagely if you let it... there are no official vertical speeds, but around 2,000fpm is pretty close to realistic, no doubt with this much power it could go right off the scale, but let us be realistic here. immediately you are aware that the view forwards is very hard to see with those GNS 430s blocking out the vision, worse is that you need to also see the instruments, and getting (some sort) of forward view and seeing the instruments together creates an odd, if weird viewpoint angle... ... I found very quickly is that the best way to fly the Pond Racer, is actually via the instruments and not so much in the visual, a more head down and level sort of approach. Surprisingly the Model-158 is very nice to fly, the controls are light and the machine is easily trimmed. And very, very fast... Maximum speed is 400.0 mph (643.8 km/h, 347.6 kn), and the real aircraft did achieve that astounding speed. The full history of the Pond Racer makes for unbelievable reading "The aircraft made its debut at the 1991 Reno air races having been flown from the Scaled Composites factory (at Mojave) under escort. Gasoline/Petrol was used as the fuel for the flight to Reno as this gave a greater range. The onboard engine control computers were replaced with equipment for metering methanol in the race configuration. Methanol was the preferred fuel because no intercoolers were needed, and so the associated drag was eliminated. After the day's running had concluded the engines were again configured to burn gasoline/petrol to preclude the corrosive effects of methanol. The aircraft was entered in the Silver class and qualified at 400 mph (640 km/h), flown by experienced test pilot Rick Brickert. The aircraft sadly developed mechanical problems before the race was officially started and dropped out as a DNS. The decision was made by Pond to attend Reno with the same engines used for flight testing. In fact, a vibrator was still attached to the left vertical stabilizer to initiate flutter as part of the planned flight test program. There was no expectation of victory the first year. It was viewed as a "dress rehearsal" more than anything else. After takeoff for the final event on Sunday, the left engine threw a rod out the side of the block and created a tunnel of fire 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and about 15 feet (4.6 m) long. An onboard halon extinguishing system put the oil fire out and an uneventful single-engine landing was made. The engine installations were very compact and "close cowled", meaning the bodywork covering the engines had little clearance. The carbon fiber engine cowling was a structural component of the aircraft and as such had to be protected from heat-soak after shutdown. This was accomplished via two 2-stroke weed blowers immediately after the blades stopped turning, quickly followed by two air conditioner blowers attached to the air inlet "scuppers". The engine cowlings were lined with corrugated inconel of .007 thickness. Airflow was vital to structural integrity. Conversely, the powerplant units had to be preheated to nearly operating temperature before the engines were fired up. This was due to the tight tolerances of the engine main bearings. Because methanol burns much cooler than gasoline/petrol, cooling was never an issue. Actually the cold nature of the methanol gave the team a problem with oil viscosity. The thick, graphite laden oil would "puke" overboard for the majority of the time while airborne. Eventually it was determined that the oil drain holes were undersized in the rocker area of the heads as they were not intended to run at a constant high RPM in an automobile application. Fully half of the radiator inlet ducting was blocked off after the first test flight on March 22, 1991. Dick Rutan himself was the initial test pilot. Mike Melvill also flew the plane as did Steve Hinton as part of the test program. On September 14, 1993, the Pond Racer was entered again in the Reno races and once more it was piloted by Rick Brickert. During qualifying, the aircraft began leaking oil and suffered an engine failure leaving the right propeller unfeathered. Brickett pulled up, lowered the landing gear, and chose to perform a belly landing by retracting the gear again. The aircraft then overshot a smooth landing area and crashed in rough terrain, killing Rick Brickert the pilot." (wikipedea) If being cowered down behind the instrument panel is not enough, you can select down by your right seat (arrowed) an "AviTab" VR-compatible tablet, that can be positioned over the twin GNS 430s Now your forward view is completely blocked, so you certainly can't use the AviTab in visual flying. The S-Tec Autopilot is actually very good, but a note to the developer as it is needed in a pop-up panel with it's very hard far right (almost out of sight) position for a more ease of use... The AP will however give you a chance of a rest, and to finally pop your head up for a look around. If you drop the nose too quickly. You do get this weird and very loud helicopter sounding blade slap, authentic? it "scared the bejesus" out of me, so I am not so sure of that one. This machine is created in reality to do only one thing... go extremely fast around a circuit, so ultra manoeuvrability is not the Pond Racer's forte, yes it will turn, climb and go very fast, but you feel you better not push it beyond it's boundaries in case it bites you back in being nasty... just keeping it on the straight and fast is the game on here. Landing takes a lot of skill, and bravery... holding your breath for long periods helps as well. Again trusting you instruments is everything, as the horizon or your view of here the water, can be misguiding to your actual height.... and you can very easily get it all very wrong. You have no airbrake, or flaps to lower your speed? using the huge propellers set at idle can create a drag effect to lose speed, but you have to be careful in not stalling the aircraft... gear down also creates a slowing drag as well. But ultimately you are still going to come in fast... this is what killed Rick Brickert remember. I approach KHAF at 150 knts and 300 ft. The coastal wind is pushing me left as the Pond Racer is extremely lite, but I am holding it, and getting closer to the centreline of RWY 30, I like KHAF as you have a wide runway (meaning lots of space) for these sort of aerial antics. You are extremely aware of those two HUGE spinners on the front of the engine pods, plus the fact you line of view is not quite level either, this creates a sort of abstract view of the ground, in that you dare not put the nose too far down, so you approach in a sort of tail down aspect fear of being too nose down when getting close to the runway. You approach high and super fast, and it take nerves of steel and skill to get this landing right... ... you can easily panic as you feel you are too high, and want to drop the aircraft quicker, but just let it down in it's own time, but also be aware of the X-Plane downward pull, it is severe here, so you have lower your height as you control that sinking rate. Finally the wheels touch, but you are still going fast and furious... ... thankfully the tail drops quickly as does then the speed. VSkyLabs recommend a long runway, and so do I, as you can't touch those brakes heavily unless you want to cartwheel nose over end, but was able to do slight touches of the brakes to rub off a lot of the final speeds. Finally I stopped, took in a lot of oxygen and realised I had survived the landing in one piece... good "plain olde" luck, believe me was part of that landing more than anything else. Personally how could you actually race this thing... it is a deathtrap! External Lighting The Pond Racer is not really an aircraft you would fly at night. You have the three Red, Green and rear White navigation lights, two beacons in a top tail large white and underside red... a large blobby landing light is set in front of the cockpit. Liveries There are only three liveries in the original "Pond Racer" white and red, grey. A Marine Grey and a Red StormChaser livery. A paintkit is provided. ________________________ Summary The famous Model-158 "Pond Racer" was created by the more famous aircraft designer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites fame. The "Pond" in the name is the as famous Bob Pond, who 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. It did actually fly in a few tests and in a race, but then crashed and in killing it's pilot, Rick Brickert. vSkyLabs have recreated the racer, and it looks like something out of a Star Wars film. The shape and aerodynamics are perfect, but some liberty was taken in changing the engines from the original (Gasoline/Petrol) Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines, to a more aviation based T6A-28 propulsion turbine turboprop engines with around the same output (640 kW). The cockpit is also not really an experimental layout, but a more standard instrumentation fitout, with full avionics packs like two GNS 340s, GMA347 radio, S-Tec Autopilot, GTX 327 Transponder and even a popup AviTab tablet. The twin T6A-28 turbine engines are also viewable by removing the covers. Modeling is pure vSkyLabs, very good and not fussy. Internally the cockpit is exceptional. With great materials and instrumentation and even an animated single pilot... so the aircraft delivers a lot, in so little a package. Flying the Model-158 is an experience, even frighting to the uninitiated. View is highly restricted and you have no flaps or speed brakes to get you out of trouble. But there is a real challenge to master the machine and build your skill set on it, overall in that aspect and with it's pure high speeds (400 mph), the Pond Racer is an overall exceptional experience, and good value as well... a final note is that all vSkyLab aircraft are always development in progress (even if this aircraft is far more complete than most), and the purchaser are aware of this handshake deal when purchasing the aircraft. Fast deadly... experimental, the Rutan Model-158 "Pond Racer" has it all... Highly recommended. _______________________________ Yes! the Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project Price is 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 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (March 14th 2021) ___________________________________ Installation and documents: download for the Rutan Model-158 is 285Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the Aircraft" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 460.60Mb "AviTab" VR-compatible tablet is required, download is free, and installation is in your X-Plane/Plugins Folder. Document supplied is: VSKYLABS Rutan Model-158 POH.pdf Manual is excellent with full system references, aircraft features, and a full "Pond Racer" description and history. Support forum for the Rutan 158 by VSKYLABS ___________________________________  Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton  18th March 2021 Copyright©2021 : X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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 Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.52 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00
  4. News! - Released : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project by vSkyLabs The Rutan Model-158 was a twin-engine racing aircraft, developed by Burt Rutan (at his company 'Scaled Composites'), for Bob Pond (1924-2007), a honorable aviator and inventor, to be flown at the Reno Air Races back in the early 90's. The Pond Racer's made its first public appearance at the Reno Air Races in 1991, but dropped out due to mechanical problems. On September 14th 1993, during qualifying, the Pond Racer, which was piloted by Rick Bricket, crashed following engine failure, killing the pilot. The crash of the Pond-Racer ended its development. The VSKYLABS Test-Pilot: Rutan Model-158 Project introduces a plausible aircraft variant, based on the original "Pond-Racer" aircraft. Initial project's objective was to explore the Rutan Pond-Racer aircraft design features, estimated performance and flight envelope using X-Plane flight simulator as an advanced flight simulation lab. The second objective was to design a plausible variant that extends the Pond Racer usability as a racing aircraft, to an all weather, cross-country sport plane. The VSKYLABS Rutan Model-158 variant is an advanced flight simulation model of a high-performance turboprop aircraft, capable of flying approximately 1.5 flight hours up to ~30,000 feet while cruising and can cover more than 500 nautical miles in a single flight. As with all VSKYLABS projects, actual and relevant real-life pilot-experience had a major part in the design, development and test flights process. In this specific project, several aspects of the aircraft had to be addressed or to be designed from scratch, to allow all required systems simulation and integrations. The core of the project is a highly defined flight dynamics and PT-6A propulsion model which was built and refined to simulate the Model-158 variant in the most plausible and accurate way. In VSKYLABS perspective, this project reflects the basic concept of X-Plane flight simulator, where fictional aircraft concepts can be challenged and tested in the most advanced flight simulation environment nowadays. Although it is a *fictional* variant of the Model-158, it is NOT a "science fiction" project. It is a highly defined concept demonstrator. Features 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. 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 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project Price is US$28.50 Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (March 14th 2021) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 15th March 2021 Copyright©2021: 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! - Update : Tecnam P2006T Project by vSkyLabs vSkyLabs have done a very significant update to their Tecnam P2006T Project. The update list is very long and detailed so this is quite a big step forward. Here's the full list of v7.0 (build 2021) Features: Build 2021 (v7.0) 14th January 2021: Flight Dynamics: Thorough flight model validation for aircraft performance, throughout flight envelope regimes. Systems: Systems overhaul (both versions). Operational trim switches (G1000 version). New transponder (analog version). New ADF radio (analog version). New DME display (analog version). Improved annunciators panel (analog version). New fire-system test circuit (analog version). New engine Choke system (both versions). New cockpit and instruments lighting system (both versions). Interactions: Thorough re-mapping of all cockpit and switches to allow comfortable cockpit mapping using default X-Plane assignments (both versions, for home-cockpit builders). Sounds: New and improved FMOD sound package (both versions). Modeling: Extensive 3D modeling and improvements including PBR (both versions). New default livery. Manual/POH: New Manual POH / Essentials files in PDF format. Note is that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and all that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. The update to current purchasers is free. For more information, complete update history log and more, visit the project main pages at the VSKYLABS website: https://www.vskylabs.com/vsl-tecnam-p2006t ____________________________ Yes! the Tecnam P2006T Project by vSkyLabs is Now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tecnam P2006T Project Price is US$33.95 Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 215 MB Current version: 7.0 (January 14th 2021) v7.0 update is free to current purchasers, just go to your X-PlaneStore account and download. Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs ____________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 16th January 2021 Copyright©2021: 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. Aircraft Update Review - DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project Changes on VSkyLab's DC3/C47 is increment by increment. That is not a bad as long as it goes forward of which this project always has done, and note the word "Project" as any aircraft by VSkyLabs is an ongoing project and there is more to come as it is developed out more and more. This is part of the deal with the developer, and at least he keeps his side of the bargain. It was noted that v3.0 was always going to be a significant overhaul, and it is... and it isn't as well? Confused, well that will be explained. First the external textures was changed or gone from 2K to 4K textures, now the mapping has been changed as well, and to the better or worse is again debatable. My beloved Air Atlantique livery needed some significant changes to match the new v3 texture requirements with items moved (propellers and detail), as the mapping has been now totally redone... but now the rivet lines don't match up to the older livery, but you can certainly see the better quality in the detailing and far better rivet detail, and overall I am quite happy about with changes. Overall all the earlier liveries will still work, but if you are fanatical about detail then you will need to spend the time to fix them up to the v3 specifications. Version 3 was always about the internal changes, and there has been some significant changes in every internal area. The cockpit is vastly revised... .... the changes can be dividing depending on your mood and inclination, I know I am. The main visual change is from the older grey quilt insulation to a more wartime green webbing insulation, I actually like it, but I liked the grey quilting as well, so the cockpit now feels more military than commercial. Another big change are that the windows lose their dirty ageing banding for black tinted banding, personally I think this is a backward step as the older wear of dirt gave the aircraft this dated appeal, were as the tinted black makes it feel more modern. And that is a major point to note here in v3.0. The instrument panel is laid out the same, but different in details. First changes are that you lose the lovely "Douglas" logo on the metal rimmed yokes.. ... they may come back in a future update, other changes are that the Standard Six instruments are now yellow boxed which I like a lot, and the landing gear and hydraulic gauges are now a lovely detailed white than black... here is the original panel. First are the missing rings of screws that holds the panel together to the bulkhead, and yes you really miss them visually, another work in progress, I do hope so... Added is a really nice wiper switch assembly set below the whiskey compass and above the main instrument panel... but they don't work... switches do, but the wipers don't? but the assembly is a great visual filler of the instrument panel detail. Note the new S-TEC autopilot panel (arrowed), a modern addition, again I would have liked an option on this visual aspect as I really love the original if very misguided Sperry Type A-3A autopilot, I am not sure if that Type 3A still works, I'll test it in flight. New instruments are lovely, but feel like the new black panel facia in they are now very modern, clean, new and certainly lose that 70 year old wear and tear feel? Everything now has the feeling that the old has been pulled out and a new layout has been installed to up date the aircraft to a more modern version? ditto the new clean heel plates on the floor, no wear or tear like the tired older plates... at least the excellent pedestal is the same. Pilot and Co-Pilot seats are all new and are more military surplus than the older black chairs, they are however really well done and highly realistic. So this updated cockpit overall will certainly be divisive, even I are in two minds with the changes, overall it is certainly far better and with a far higher quality of details with those lovely instruments, but that aged aircraft feel is not in here anymore and even the more militaristic feel adds into the changes, but the loss of the ramshackle wear and tear feel of certainly an very old aircraft is not going to give you now that wartime dated appeal anymore either... and that was the biggest attraction of the aircraft for me, if I want new and modern then I'll fly a newer aircraft, not an old wartime Dakota. Behind the cockpit is a main frame computer? because it looks like a 60's IBM 360 mini-computer, but it is actually an avionics rack? I expected a metal drilled rivieted wartime set of racks, not banks of medical equipment... odd. Crew entry door is now completed opposite and yes it now opens. Upper observation dome requires you stick your head up into it, well done internally and externally. Cabin The original cabin with it's stick like seats was always a stopgap measure. v3.0 was all about a proper cabin, and so it is. The quilt insulation is a lighter green and looks authentic, but it does make the cabin look dullish, the feeling is there is simply too much of it, some lower below the windows paneling would have broken up that over quilty feel. The passenger seats are a bit squared off and blocky as well, and nothing like the excellent forward pilots seats, texture is fine, but the seats have no shape in the cushions or blockrests (sorry back rests), rear seat detailing though is very good. Green curtains replace the bright red ones... more green. Kick the computer (sorry touch the avionics racks) and the passenger version changes into the very much wanted cargo version. First you notice the ventilation tubes now added that both run around the cockpit windows and into your forward view? Invasive, yes very much so as most tubing in images is not this large or so deep into your personal space? I like the detail, but not so close to my face while flying the aircraft, again so divisive.... Cargo consists of three wooden crates and three army surplus bags, no weights are given and there is no adjustment in cargo in volume or types of cargo... those lower blanket walls would not last a day in any real rough cargo operations? Huge twin cargo doors open (with a push) and you can see why the DC-3 is such a brilliant regional cargo aircraft, the right size vs the right volume in loading capacity... the aircraft is so hard to replace for those wilderness "way off beaten track" fields. Door detailing is very good, but they feel a little thin, ditto the door fuselage frame. EGGD - Bristol to EDIW - Dublin Startup and those lovely Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines burst into life, and the authentic sounds are really good. I do absolutely recommend XPRealistic Pro v2 by r.k.Apps effects plugin with this VSkyLabs DC-3/C-47... it gives the aircraft a life like no other with shakes, rattles, sounds and movements that I seriously love... the twin G530 GPS units are still two of the best intergration systems that are perfectly slung from the top of the windshield, but I am not going to use them here as this is strictly a VOR to VOR flight, but they are there if you need them. There is a change on how you control the tailwheel in this new v2 version... the tailwheel lock lever is still there down on the lower pedestal, but there is now a button far left panel that switches between "Pro" and "Novice" It is a little insulting to be called a "Novice" after flying X-Plane seriously for twelve years or so, but I need the lock between the rudder and tailwheel movement, yes you can go "Pro" and have a loose and twirly tailwheel if you can control that, but I haven't got the time in mastering it all over again. The Douglas needs a heft of power to get it moving, and a huge amount of power to the left engine to turn the aircraft onto the taxiway... ... the taxiway feels tight with the nose up - taildown movement, and there is the need to find the time to set up the correct trim for takeoff. Half-power up and your moving... then gradually increase the RPM until the tail lifts, you have to be fully in control and give the DC-3 a bootful of right rudder to keep the line ahead straight... At around 85 mph you will become unstuck from the runway, the DC-3 is very hard to feel the ground at this point of aerodynamic lift. A wheel can lift as you fight the rudder, in fact grasping the yoke and pushing pulling hard on the rudder pedals is what this aircraft is all about... The DC-3 has a climb rate of 1,130 ft/min but you keep it around a 1,000 ft/min as so not to strain the Wasps, but she will climb nicely with no fuss or loss of speed. Total ceiling is around 23,000ft (7,100 m) but I will climb only to 8,000ft for this trip. In the air I go from pushing the right rudder to heavily pressing the left to keep the aircraft flying straight, and then in a moment remember an old trick in using the engines to balance out the drifting, pull back a little on the left hand power and the DC-3 will straighten up, while letting the right engine pull the forces into line... that denotes the way you fly this aircraft, it is very physical, and it comes with a lot of pressures on the controls and using the power to control the direction. (Yes there is a rudder adjustment lower pedestal, but it is in an impossible place to use) Once at altitude you use the trim to level up the aircraft. The rudder knob is then used to adjust the upper section of the twin compass... The NAV 1 is set to BRECON VOR (117.45 Mhz) BCN, and so I align the compass heading to my VOR heading, There are loads of Collins CTL 22's and CTL 60's set out on the roof for adjusting the required frequencies. So the aircraft is balanced between the trim and throttle power position on keeping it level and straight towards the BCN VOR... The autopilot switch is again on the lower pedestal, but you can't use an X-Plane servo toggle or keyboard selection, it as it has to be switched on manually. Switching on the autopilot turns on the S-Tec 55x servos that over-rides the older Sperry Type A-3A autopilot? you can adjust via the Type 3A controls, but you can't use just the Sperry Type A-3A? which is not a great step forward as I loved the basics of the older tool? surely you could have a choice? Worse is that the over-ride causes the aircraft to sway, in a wing up - wing down movement that is very hard to dial out, you can use the pressure on the yoke to minimalise the annoying movements, but otherwise flying in the aircraft is like swinging in a hammock. Yes the older Type 3A would drift off course, but you could adjust for that, but this is annoying flying? Turn and sway gets worse until you finally sooth the wings down again. At BCN we reset for VOR-STRUMBLE (133.10Mhz) STU. Turn and the sway gets worse until you finally sooth the movements down (again), but it takes ages. But I love this VOR to VOR flying, it is a discipline of getting everything right, airmanship or now airpersonship? Turns have to be on time and perfect to connect into the next VOR, if not you are adjusting the heading to get it right on the line again for ages. The DC-3 has a range of 1,500 mi or 2,400 km (1,346nm), which is very impressive, but in most cases around 400 to 500nm is usually the go, speed is around 180mph or 156 knts, and so you are not going anywhere really quickly, but that is missing the fun of these aircraft, it is in the journey than the arrival that is the attraction. Fishguard is under the DC-3's nose so it is time to head out into the Irish Sea, the DUBLIN (114.90Mhz) DUB VOR does show, but I took the course 335º and the KILLINEY (378Khz) KLY NDB setting as a backup pointer. The Douglas swayed around like a fishing boat in a large swell as the horizon moved enough to start to make you feel seasick... I tried everything to dial it out, but the swaying just kept on waving around. The Irish coast was now thankfully getting closer. Even if you set the S-Tec to a -800 negative descent, you will get no loss of altitude unless you reduce the power, so like a lot of General Aviation aircraft, then throttle control is crucial in controlling the changes in altitude in the DC-3 as well.... so the Douglas is a very feely, feely aircraft to fly. I used the GNS 530 to get my entrance bearings in to EIDW's Runway 34 (RNP 12-4). My approach was fine and on the money, but the DC-3 would simply not go left, I had to manhandle the aircraft to get it closer to the centre of RWY 34's centreline, wind was 5knts, but it felt more like a heavy sidewind of 18knts-20knts.... I found that time on the frame helps in using the throttles (or power) as much as the controls to keep the DC-3 going in the direction you want it too, but this is a seriously physical aircraft to fly, to a point you are at war with the machine to get it to do what you want it to, and no doubt in time with skill you will master it. Flaps are split underwing and variable with no set positions, and the position indicator (arrowed below) is set low and to your left and hard to read while your eyeballs are literally on centre through the windscreen... Finally I wrestled the aircraft to the touch down point and all things considered it was a good landing, slightly too fast but passable in the circumstances... So do I like flying the VSkyLabs DC-3/C-47, certainly yes, but I absolutely don't like that swaying under the autopilot, the DC-3 had it's foibles under the Type A-3A but you could sort of refine them out, but I couldn't do that with the S-Tec? But highly challenging it is too fly, for the pro's they will revel in the machine, but for first termers it could be quite a handful, even I know I would need more time (a lot) on the DC-3 again to totally master it. __________________ Liveries As noted the liveries and mapping has been updated in v3. The older liveries do work, but need adjustment. Four new liveries are provided with the update, these include; Buffalo Airways, Thats All Brother (D-Day), Bare Metal and Military Transport (default). __________________ Summary VSkyLabs has noted for a while the v3 update for their DC-3/C-47 Douglas was always going to be a significant update for the aircraft, that it is, but it has also muddled up the project into a stranger context. Focus was always on the new interior with v3 which here consists of a complete rework of the cockpit and cabin. New instrument panel, pilots seats, different webbed insulation replaces the padded quilting and loads of new details abound including a nice wiper assembly, windows have lost their lovely worn light surrounds to be replaced by a black tint. In the rear you get the same heavier and darker webbing insulation, new passenger seats and now a cargo version with crates and bags and a odd looking avionics rack that is more 70's than 40's. Odd notes are that the pilots seats are excellent, but the new passenger seats are strangely boxy average, the lovely working fans have been removed and when in cargo mode there are ventilation tubes added that both run around the cockpit windows and obstruct your forward view. Overall the changes are of a seriously higher quality and very good. But this is where the update get confusing. If you want a more military C-47 style Dakota then the internal updates fits better than the earlier civilian versions layouts, so put on a wartime livery and it fits all very nicely. But the instrumentation layout (but I am guessing is still not yet completed in the missing screws), is now a far more modern clean than a post war tired, worn and worked hard DC-3, ditto the newly added S-Tec autopilot that over-rides the older but very authentic Sperry Type A-3A, now it is a mish-mash of both autopilots with a weird wing swaying that is more like flying a fishing boat in a heavy swell. So what was once a civvy post war DC-3 Gooney Bird is now a military 90's updated and not so authentic modern take on the original aircraft, the only thing missing now is the installation of the two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AR turboprop engines to finish off the modern take of the DC-3.... Confused, I am? So it comes down now to your take on what you want out of a DC-3, if you are looking for a post war civilian worn out machine then the VSkyLabs project is moving away from that context, it is slowly being replaced is a more military feel, with modern avionics, it is all very good, even excellent.. but I am not sure how Joe McBryan (aka "Buffalo Joe") would now make of it, I certainly don't know? ______________________________________________ The DC-3/C47 v3.0b1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain / DC-3 Flying Lab Project Your Price: $29.95 Features: New: Two variants included DC-3/C-47 Plus XC-47C Amphibious version VR Ready X-Plane 11 Native VR ready. will be updated as needed Features: Fully compatible for VR (with fully featured cockpit for touch controllers operations). Highly Realistic 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. Two Variants included: Standard C-47 and XC-47C Amphibious varariant. Equipped with portable Skis for snow operations. Comprehensive systems: Two speed Supercharger blowers - based on the PW-1830-90C engines model, equipped with lo/hi blowers. The high blower configuration is allowing 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 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. Smoke ventilation algorithm is incorporated into the cockpit side-windshields. 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. Engines/propeller systems - designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic propeller feathering system, for highly realistic single engine simulation. Sperry Autopilot - Old school autopilot is configured. Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems. Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model. Rain and Icing conditions visualization. Aircraft handling and performance based on real-world C-47 experience: 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. Additional features: STMA AutoUpdater plugin included: You always have the most updated project version. Fully automatic. Highly responsive support: Support system to answer all your C-47/DC-3 related questions! Still under development: The project is under constant development, following a long-term development road-map, and also following X-Plane evolving features! If you have already purchased the DC3/C47 from Vskylabs then just login to your X-Plane.OrgStore and go to your account and download the current v3.0b1 (note - that you download the b1 revised version!) Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: v3.0b1 (August 11th 2020) _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 14th August 2020 Copyright©2020 : 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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1Tb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 (Tested in v11.50b17-fine) Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: : XPRealistic Pro v2 effects US$19.95 (highly recommended with the DC-3), Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 Scenery or Aircraft - EIDW - Airport Dublin V2 by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95 - EGGD - Bristol International Definitive by Pilot+ Plus (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$25.95
  7. Aircraft Review : Dynali H3 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series Most recent releases from VSKYLABS in their "Test Pilot" series have been ultra-light helicopters, and here is another one in the Dynali H3 after the Cicaré-8, Guimbal Cabri G2 Heli and the Mini-500 Project, so there is now definitely a pattern going on here... The Dynali is a Belgian ultralight two-seat helicopter with a side-by-side seating configuration. It is authorised in several European countries under the ultralight helicopter category to comply with the European Class 6 microlight helicopter rules, in particular the French Class 6 Microlight Category, at a gross weight of 450 kg (992 lb). The H3 is supplied as a ready-to-fly helicopter, or as a kit from the manufacturer. H3 was designed for the flight training, utility and personal-use roles. Remember the VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed and is 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is ongoing. Small, inimate, teeny, dinky, pocket-sized, tiny and compact it is the whole thesaurus of a mini sized helicopter, with barely space for one human-being and never mind squeezing two inside that H3 tight cockpit. Detail is of course VSkyLabs quality and brilliant... Modeling quality is breathtaking... just look at the realism of the cockpit cowling and the hinged front canopy, the numbers must be very high to get that sort of smoothness and curves, the glass in shape and realism is also top notch. The highlight is of course the innards of the flying machine. The airframe is highly visible, as is the Rotax 912ULS four cylinder, liquid and air-cooled, four stroke aircraft engine that pumps out 75 kW (100 hp). The four-belt drive of the tail-rotor is really well done, and authentic in motion and note the under belly twin-fan cooling arrangement with working fans. Heat resistant material between the powerplant and basically your backsides is also highly realistic, so overall the reproduction of the machines internals are all very good. Details of the rotorhead in design and linkages are very good, but.... the main assembly is static in that nothing moves when you move the control stick, the collective however does move the blades to bite into the airflow... .... pusher tail-rotor looks and feels very small and fragile, components and assembly looks really well done and the rudder movement is active and visible. Internal Detail The whole canopy hinges forward for access. And the carbon-fibre seats look like the perfect fit... Seat detail is phenomenal even outstanding in realism, note the tank switch on the rear panel. Overall though the cockpit is basic and so is the instrumentation... .... flying controls are a twin-crossbar between the pilots. The T-Bar can be hidden by touching the base. Across the top of the instrument panel are seven warning lights, Instruments left to right/top to bottom are... Airspeed indicator (Km/h), Rotor/Engine Temp, Manifold Pressure - CHT Indicator (Cylinder Head Temperature), VSI (Vertical Speed Indicator), Altimeter, Engine Oil Temp - Battery Voltage, Engine Oil Pressure and MTG Temp (Main Transmission Gearbox). Lower is a row of seven power switches, All start but for a single light external switch. Lower panel has a Garmin GNS430 COM/NAV panel that pop-up (default Laminar), Garmin GTX327 Transponder. There is a working Circuit Breaker panel with seven breakers active, Power switch (starter button is on the T-Bar) and a low RPM indicator. Far bottom row is the Fuel Gauge and OAT (Outside Air Temperature. Hanging left of the main instrument panel is a very nice H3 Engine Information System and on the right is the heading dial and Vertical Card Compass. The Altimeter can be changed via clicking on the instrument from hPa to both hPa/in.Hg, but the in.Hg is however more blurry in detail to read? The AviTab Plugin tablet is also now fitted onto the canopy. It is a fixed unit that you can't move or hide, but it is well placed and a nice tool to have. You get a pilot who is oddly in the left hand seat?, you can hide him if you want to via pressing his seat. He comes with excellent hand and feet movements that look very realistic, but take the internal view external and he loses his head! Click on the passenger seat and a very attractive female pilot appears. There is no weight for the extra pilot noted but it is added, and the maximum total human weight allowed is 200 kg (440 lbs). There are no menus or static elements with the Dynali H3, and only the clickspots noted. There is the REALLY annoying STMA auto-updater that constantly pops up on the left of your screen, I usually pull the plugin out and throw it away. Flying the Dynali H3 The H3 is a Ultra-Light machine at 688 lbs empty, so that means it is a very nervy experience. vSkyLabs note to have the "Experimental Flight Model Mode" switched on (Menu/General). Twist the throttle on the collective to increase the power, and when the instruments have settled down then slightly raise the collective. I found even trying to hover above the ground a very tricky experience, even the slightest touch in movements sent the machine in directions I didn't really want to go in, but I sort of felt my way back to the zero movement point. The tail (rudder) feels very light with not a lot of power, that is more of the light weight of the machine than thrust from the tail-rotor, but even small changes for side-slip and changes in direction by yaw is hard... If you are used to more larger machines like the Bell 407 then you are going to have to relearn your skills, coming from vSkyLabs earlier light-weight machines is not as bigger a gap, but it is certainly the lightest chopper I have tried to fly. There is no doubt the high-range dynamics are at work here, this H3 is EXTREMELY responsive, so you have to adapt, but sorta carefully. There are Vertical and Horizontal marks on the canopy to aid your horizon orientation, but I also mixed up the lines up with the surrounding lighting masts around Bristol Airport? In a more distant situation then the lighting masts blurred into the same as the etched lines on the screen... very odd. Once you get a bit of a speed forward the machine very quickly comes back to you with a standard helicopter feel, the flying smooths out and the machine will cut through through the air very quickly... "Brisk" is the word I would say comes to mind, but you have to be aware of the red limiter zone above 155 km/h, VskyLabs notes the full four set of flying zones as: Red zone .......................................................................... 0 km/h – 85 km/h : Green zone......................................................................85 km/h - 130 km/h Yellow zone .................................................................. 130 km/h - 165 km/h : Red zone (VNE) ............................................................................. 165 km/h With also the first IAS red zone as marked between 0 and 85 km/h, and which is the recommended flight profile during any take-off and landing. There is a sort of Go-Kart in the sky feel as you power along, and certainly if you cruise fast and (very) low over the landscape... Sounds are in a dynamic Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack and sounds great, and certainly the aircraft is carefully aimed towards VR... Virtual Reality, so that full on VR experience must be exceptional. Specifications include: Cruise speed: 130 km/h (81 mph, 70 kn) and a never exceed speed of155 km/h (96 mph, 84 kn). Endurance is set at 3 hours, with a Service ceiling of 3,000 m (10,000 ft), and the Rate of climb is 4.6 m/s (900 ft/min) There are no flying aids in here, so it is all about the stick and rudder feel and being in one with the light machine. Coming back to translational-lift in from flying forward to the hover position is quite easy... then it wasn't in the actual very slow speed to the still hover zone... .... I landed, but under duress, as when in that hover zone the H3 was a bit of a handful or squirmy.... ... I got back into a static hover and was able to finally hold the H3 there, but I also completely lost the Dynali sometimes with some nasty results. Practise... of course and with time I would master the machine, but it requires a lot of skill in the hover zone as the H3 can very easily get away from you. Lighting The Dynali H3 is not the sort of aircraft you would really fly at night? But there is a nice reddish glow over the instruments that is pleasing, but the AviTab is quite bright in the dark, so there is a need to be able to turn it off or tone it down? External lighting is very basic, with red and green navigation lights and a tail-boom red beacon. Liveries There are four quite cool liveries, with the H3 Experimental as the default. H3-Orange, H3-Racer 14 and H3-VR Driver are all excellent. Three liveries have the carbon-fibre grey instrument panel, but the H3-Orange has the Orange instrument panel colour. ________________________ Summary This Dynali H3 is another Ultra-Light Helicopter from VSkyLabs, and now the fourth in a series of the same type of ultra-light rotor based machines. Extremely light the H3 carries two pilots in a tandem seating arrangement, it is quite fast, nervy, squirmy at slow speeds so the light-weight machine requires a lot of skill to fly professionally, obviously the highly skilled will revel in the dynamics, but the rest of us will just have to do a lot of practise to get it all right. Note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and all that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Overall most vSkyLabs aircraft are basic, but is fully detailed to the extreme. There are no menus or static objects or extensive features as the focus is on the dynamics and flying performance and in that area the Dynali H3 really delivers. Only interactions are with the few interaction zones to select pilots, change altimeters, open the canopy and hide the T-Bar control column. AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. Well designed and highly dynamic then the Dynali H3 is a challenge even for the medium helicopter pilot's out there, but that is also the attraction of mastering these Ultra-light machines... If you love that, then this Dynali H3 will be at the very top of your list. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Dynali H3 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Dynali H3 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Price is US$29.00 - Currently on special for only US$17.00! Project Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project. Highly defined model of the Dynali H3 helicopter Built around the powerful, native X-Plane 11.40+ 'Experimental Flight Model' environment (must be selected in the General settings window in X-Plane 11 Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) compatibility 3D Pilot and passenger visualization for increased VR immersion Built-in Avitab compatibility (Avitab plugin not included) Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack STMA Autoupdater included Easy-to-use paint-kit included The project is under constant development Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums Requirements: X-Plane 11 (latest stable version) Windows, Mac or Linux 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (April 29th 2020 ) The 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. Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Dynali H3 ______________________________________________________________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 2nd May 2020 Copyright©2020: 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)
  8. First Impression : 'Test-Pilot' Cicaré-8 Project by VSkyLabs This helicopter is another in the series of "Test-Pilot" from VSkyLabs. The VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed and is 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, but this Cicaré-8 is certainly a far more a completed aircraft than most of the releases than from VSkyLabs in the past. It is also the third light helicopter from VskyLabs after the Guimbal Cabri G2 Heli and the Mini-500 Project. At first glance you actually think it is the Cabri, with the same scale, same size and even the same in look, but the Cabri had a Fenestron anti-torque shrouded tail rotor and this Argentine helicopter manufacturer's Cicaré-8 however has the standard twin-blade tail rotor on a boom tail. Modeling detail from VSkyLabs is the usual excellent quality, there are a few shortcut straight modeling lines, but overall it is very well done, from the external it all looks quite basic, but under the rear of the cockpit there is a very highly detailed EPA Power R917 Ti horizontal 135 HP engine which is based on the ROTAX 900 Series. The highlights here are the twin animated fans, buried internally, but can be easily seen, they turn on when the coolant temp goes over 85ºc, and turn off again at 84ºc, If you hover over 10 min, you can actually damage the aircraft, then you either have to land or fly to cool the engine. The full internal structure is also highly exposed and very authentic. It is a tight fit in the cockpit for two people (early CH versions were single-seaters). View is excellent and the glass work is really well done... Single central instrument panel is basic, but again well done. A full (Alarm) annunciator lighting panel, with test function that works is top. Instruments left to right are: Vertical Speed, Altimeter, Air Speed, Rotor/Engine %RPM... Dials lower left are Turn Indicator, and L/R Fuel tanks (32 lts each), Dials lower right are Engine Information System, EGT/Temp. Two suspended instruments (both can be hidden) with on the left a Custom VSL AP-1 Auto-Pilot, and to the right a Heading dial. Avionics include a GNS 430 and a Garmin 345 Transponder. Positioned on the top of the panel is a Avitab Tablet (plugin required). Overhead panel is basic with Fuses (non-working), Hobbs meter and lighting switches. Test panel lighting function is very good. Custom Auto-pilot is also very basic, but it can hold your atlitude ALT, change altitude ATT and do Left or Right turns, there is a full section in the manual on how to use the settings. You can have a single or double yoke by selecting the zone in the centre part (join) of the yoke assembly... both yoke handles can be set up in a Y or straight or lower level. Fuel tank switch is between the seats, as is the basic collective. Cabin detail is very good, with some nicely detailed twin-seats Both doors can be manually opened or removed altogether Rotor assemblies are well done, but the main rotor links and animation don't work or move, the tail-rotor yaw movement however does. Sounds: There is a Multi-Layered FMOD sound pack included and it is brilliant, the sounds are very dynamic and highly-realistic, I loved them, and put them together the vibrating SimCoder Headshake plugin and you will feel like you are in the real Cicaré-8, externally they can be a bit cyclic.... but they still bring a smile to your face. The aircraft is full VR (Virtual Reality) ready and VSkyLabs always makes sure the VR experience is first rate. Annoying though is the STMA updater with the version noted, a great tool, but forever popping up on the left screen... I pulled it out of the package for my sanity. Lighting: Lighting is very minimal, internally there is only an overhead light and no instrument back or side lighting, and no adjustment either? Externally there is a beacon, navigation lights and a single blobby landing light? Only one livery is boring, and considering there is some really great livery designs on the real aircraft is also a missed opportunity, there are no menus or extra features, but there is an extensive set of interaction zones for 3d and VR users. Overall these project aircraft don't have a lot of flashy features, the focus is on the flying and not on extensive or changeable features. Sampling the Cicaré-8 Flying these very small and intensively light helicopters can be a very nervy experience. Any heavy movement can easily throw you. But I was at home at the controls of the Cicaré-8 right from the start... yes movements have to be kept to a minimal, but otherwise control was quite easy, movement from a slight foward motion, to a standing hover was easy, and I stayed in the same place without any drift either, yaw left or right and you feel the complete control.... HIGE- Hovering In Ground Effect is very good, but you have to be aware to have the new "Experimental Flight Model" box checked. The transition to forward flight was very smooth with complete control of the collective in keeping of the same height while gaining speed... ... you need a slight yaw to keep the aircraft straight and there are no helpers in here in trim, it is all manual flying, but easy flying as well, I relaxed pretty quickly and enjoyed the machine and the view. In flight I loved it, it is a very casual aircraft to fly and yes a novice could learn the dynamics quite quickly if they understand the basics of vertical flight. Using the custom autopilot is very easy, press the ALT to hold your current altitude and then to go faster or slower then just adjust your collective. LT to turn to go left, and RT to go right, but you will need a few button pushes to get the bank you need, turn off the ALT to transition back to manual control which is pretty seemless. Returning to KHAF - Half Moon Bay the change with the translational lift to the hover was also seemless and also was controlling the forward motion into the hover itself, which is one of the hardest areas of vertical flight as you have no brakes in the air. However the sink-rate felt a bit low, to a point your not sure if the autopilot is actually still active, a bit of fine tuning there. Yes yoke and rudder inputs need to be the absolute minimal for max control, but a nice touchdown was quite easy here. Overall excellent and to get a very non-uneventful first flight from takeoff to touchdown is quite hard without a bit of time and a bit of practise on any chopper, but here in the Cicaré-8 it all felt quite natural. I will note the Cicaré-8 is more nervy with the Experimental Flight Model switched on which is more focused for the pros, turn it off if you are newer to flying helicopters. Features include: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project. Highly defined model of the Cicare-8 helicopter. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane 11.40+ 'Experimental Flight Model' environment (must be selected in the General settings window in X-Plane 11). Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) compatibility. Built-in Avitab compatibility (Avitab plugin not included). Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. The project is under constant development. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Cicare-8 Project is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Cicare-8 Project Price is US$26.00 Requirements: X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (November 20th 2019) 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. Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the VSkyLabs Cicare-8 ______________________________________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 23rd November 2019 Copyright©2018: 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)
  9. Aircraft Review : Flight Design CTLS Project by VSkyLabs This is the next new project released by VSkyLabs and it is a high-wing, tricycle, two seat light sport/ultralight aircraft and part of the Flight Design CT series family of Germany. But to note first 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. Basically small ultralights or light sport aircraft are aviation's version of Buzz lightyear's set of wings on your back, the fuselage is there just to carry the wings and put an engine in front of you and in the case of the CTLS that is a Rotax 912ULS (Carburated, 100 rated BHP @ 5800 RPM) engine with a Propeller gear reduction of 2.43:1, the rest is a pure plastic body. At first glance the tiddler CTLS feel like one of those packaged toys that you get where you click in the wings, click in the elevator, click on the three wheels and finally put the propeller on the nose to create an aircraft, only in full size. The design is very, very simple with an plastic or composite molded fuselage with the wings and appendages fastened together.... or a pure ultralight design. The look and feel is a bit like a large fish, bulging nose, wide centre to a flappy tail. VSkyLabs detail is very good as their modeling usually is. Plastic composites always come across as plain in simulators, and there are shades of that aspect here, but the modeling's tight lines and curves does eliminate a good part of those areas and making it interesting. Appendages and aerodynamic surfaces are thick, even clunky but perfectly designed here. Tri-cycle gear is all aerodynamic covers and not much in assemblies, but again they are well done. Glass is very realistic and nicely reflective, the doors can't be opened in flight like a lot of these light designs, but the huge panorama windows compensate for that, and again they have been well created. The fixed pitch Neuform CR3-65-47-101.6, 3 blade, composite propeller has also been really well rendered. Open the quite thick side door and there is the well designed instrument console and to the right the highlight of the aircraft with two very modern design sport seats. Both seats are insanely well created in detail, with the hard shell with the rubber body hugging insert is excellent work, the full detail can be observed by just admiring the sheer detail of the six point harness and straps. Note the nice rubber seals around the doors for quality work. Rear shelves have areas for bits and pieces with a rubber string restrainers, both wells are well done here but don't expect to get any sized bag in here. Looking forward the CTLS comes with two instrument panel configurations. One is the standard, basic analog CT VFR + night pack panel (Left) and the other the enhanced panel, which is including the addition of a notebook-based glass PFD (Primary Flight Display) along with a Dynon style AP74 and HS34 avionics package (right). In the review I will use the avionics package version. To change the panel then press the glass PFD (Primary Flight Display) and it changes over to the analog dials. The only difference instrument wise is that the top two instruments in the Airspeed and Altimeter are replaced with an electronic version, lower two instruments are the Artificial Horizon and the Vertical Speed instruments are both represented in either configuration. The overall panel design is very nice, as for the raised chrome nuts that hold the metal panels with the instruments in place is all expertly done with skill, realism 101. The glass arrangement is simple but highly effective for an aircraft of this class, and it feels right up to date. Centre panel has the default Laminar Research GNS 530 but enclosed in a custom housing, pop-out is standard GNS 530. Lower is the GTX-327 transponder. Right panel is top a large RPM dial and alternator warning light, lower are four engine dials that cover CHT (Cylinder Head Temperature), Voltmeter, Oil Temperature and Oil Pressure and right is a Quartz Hobbs meter. Lower are fifteen circuit breakers, and all are active (to note when starting from cold all breakers are out or off, so you have to click in to use). We will look at the Dynon AP74 and HS34 panels in flight. Centre forward console has the lighting and avionics switchgear top (6 Switches). PS Engineering PM3000 4-Place headset Intercom. Below is the ELT panel. The red lever to the left is the fuel valve (cutoff) that covers the start-key when in the lower position. Main Battery and Generator switches are set right, and we will look at the flaps in a moment. Centre console has left the stabilator (stabiliser) trim wheel, then the choke lever... right are the throttle lever and the brake lever, rear is the brake stop switch. Rear console between the seats are both the Rudder and Aileron trim wheels, and the BRS Ballistic Chute handle. Flap selections are interesting, there are five selections with Zero as the main position... dropping flaps are positions 15º, 30º (not shown) and full flap set at 40º... .... the interesting one is a setting in the negative at - 6º or the flap is set upwards, we shall see how this works in flight. There is the feature of a Avitab screen, stuck on the right side window and it is free and available here: AviTab: VR-compatible tablet and a Navigraph account is also required for active charts. This is a nice installation that can be hidden via pressing the suction cup, a lot of these 3d tablets are too large and hard to see around while flying, and if real you would bang your bonce on it if you moved your head around, but this one is about perfect in size and functionality. Window blinds are nice, and the left hand one has the checklist applied on the surface, very nice. The frame mounted compass is nice as well If you are aware then you will be wondering in "Where are the fuel gauges?" There are two left and right, both visual and are both set up in the wing roots, top up the tanks to see the volume of 17 US Gal (65 litres) in each wing. Note the "Carbon Monoxide Detector", but personally what could you do if it went into "Danger", jump out? The whole internal cabin comes in this motley composite texture, it looks good... but you feel it is more like your kitchen bench top than a quality internal aircraft design. As with most of these tiddler aircraft the instrumentation and controls are fairly basic in use and layout, but you get a great balance here. Flying the CTLS Is the CTLS difficult to start? no not really. Lots of circuit breakers to click in, main power BAT (another breaker really) Choke to "On", Throttle to 10% and that big red fuel cutoff lever to up... which exposes the start key and to note the avionics have to be switched off to save power. Then a twist of the key a few times and the Rotex purrs into life. One thing you expect is what you don't get is... movement? These Rotexs shake violently, so you need that visual feel, so I grabbed and installed "Headshake" by SimCoders to add in the shake effect, again I wanted more shake even when set with the plugin's full 100% settings, but some movement was better than nothing and gave you at least some vibration. But before you bombard me with emails on instead in using XPRealistic Pro, I will note I won't use the FlyWithLua plugin as it creates too many conflicts with my system. Another note is that the Experimental Flight Model checkbox on the X-Plane/General menu page has to be selected for this aircraft, a restart is required. Put the Choke in after about 30sec, but keep the revs up until the aircraft's vitals are showing normal, then turn on and set up the avionics. But before you can leave you have to arm the BRS emergency ballistic chute system by removing the pin, it is stored in the left lower pocket. Two things to note, you can adjust your horizon pitch target in the Artificial Horizion and set one and it sets in the glass version as well, secondly is that to set the Baro you can to switch over to the analog version to adjust to inHG or use the "Value" knob on the on the glass version via the right side Dynon HS34 panel for hPa. When warmed up and the throttle at idle you are ready to go, brake safety off and off goes the park brake, the braking has three settings, park and off, but also the standard X-Plane 50% braking action. Sounds are FMOD, and very good, but not highly dynamic in rotation and direction but more than enough for this type of aircraft. Tuning the stabiliser trim needed careful setting to be exact, if not the whale stabiliser will flutter badly, line it up correctly and it will calm it down. Taxiing is very nice with just a slight throttle to get you moving, yes the aircraft needs fine control to taxi, but it is a very short small aircraft and all of these types require that control, ditto going too fast, and if you do there is the feeling you will lose control and flip the aircraft. Power up but gradually and even just over 4000 revs is enough however VSkyLabs say 4800 rpm, but that feels too much for me, max I would do would be 4500 rpm... and almost straight away the nose wheel wants to lift, so for the first few hundred yards you need to keep the stick pressure forward... ... VSkyLabs note you can takeoff with the flaps set at 15º for a short almost handglider of a cliff-face lift off, but even the 0º setting will have you off the ground in a very short time at around 60 knts (official 54 knts) so you don't need to do that. Climb-out is around 500ft per minute and official max climb is 960 ft/min. Finding the right power position is critical, as too much power will rise the aircraft more and making it harder to trim. Trimming is tricky, even hard to get right because if you use keys (like I do) to trim, you have to hold them down to move the trim wheels, just clicking will not change the trim. So holding hard can make you go too far past your trim position, or the other way in in being too low... you work it out, but finding that sweet spot is kinda hard but doable. Once sorted you do have the option of using the flaps now in the -6º position to balance the aircraft better and gain more speed, again it is best to sort this out and manually trim it out before using the autopilot. But the aircraft never seems happy, with constant slight climbs and drops and sometimes as much as 300fpm either way no matter how much you try to flatten out the curve via the stick or manual trim, the CTLS is nice to fly and even very realistic, but not over time and distance a smooth experience. The Dynon Avionics autopilot system is very basic, but quite innovative for an aircraft of this category. The AP74 panel has the main engage selector, HDG (Heading), TRK (Track), NAV (Navigation GPS) and (hold) ALT (Altitude), the value knob does not work but is noted as Multi-Purpose) Left of the glass display is the Dynon HS34 panel that knobs adjusts top Value (Baro), Heading (middle) and Course (Lower) all push to sync. Other selections include NAV-SRC (NAV or GPS), BRG-SRC (just resets pointer). Like with the manual trim the aircraft's Dynon AP struggles also to keep the climbs and drops under control even in 5 knt wind conditions. It is a good little system that will take all on all the flying work from you, and with a 850 nautical mile range a requirement, top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph; 124 knts) but you cruise around 112 knts. Big huge side windows give you a helicopter panorama view... ... and the particle effects are effective on the tinny exhaust. There are no liveries except for the default N5623X VR (Virtual Reality) is a big feature here with designated zones for interaction and is fully operational with the use of mouse manipulators or VR touch controllers. Any manoeuvring for the CTLS has to be under 100 knts, and aerobatics are for the insane... The AP won't let you descend even if you disconnect the ALT button, so the only way to lose height is to disconnect the AP completely and then manually adjust the trim. You can come down quite quickly if you want to but be aware of that nose pitch... ... you also can turn on a dime, so short approaches are easy to do, but running off the little speed you use anyway can be quite hard. The problem is if you lift the nose to slow the aircraft it will then easily gain height, working the throttle helps, but even that action is not always totally effective, dropping the flaps is... but you still have to be well under 80 knts (15º) to do so, so be aware to get your speed down ready for an approach, 35º is 63 knts. You will need to have a few practise landings to find that perfect zone of speed and lift, too fast and you pitch the nose too far down, too slow and of course you lose height, so you tend to favour the former and safety. But the tiddler is very responsive to inputs, even to a point a bit nervous... .... so flying skills are everything here. Final approach is 55 knts and down to 48 knts in flare, and 42 knts is stall, you can land in -6º flap but add on a few more (2-3) knts to the approach speeds. Once those wheels contact then active steering control is everything to keep the CTLS straight until the speed rubs off, if not you will end upside down in the grass. So your first circuit in the CTLS will be a bit of a shocker, but after a few takeoffs and landings you will find your groove and understand the aircraft's limitations. Avitab is very handy (with a Navigraph account) to find your way around airports, then time to put the tiddly machine home to bed, but remember, that before shutting the engine down to switch off the avionics! The BRS emergency ballistic chute system works very well, you get thrown around a lot at first, but then gradually descend to the terra firma. Lighting Instrument lighting is basic, but adjustable. In fact it is quite good with the limitations. Glass and analog are nice to use and there is one overhead light that is not really very bright, but illuminates the glareshield nicely.... External is average with non-refined lighting (landing light is very blobby) and this light can then only be switched on and off via the panel switch and not by a key input, which I have set on me throttle system. Summary You sort of know what sort of aircraft project that comes with a VSkyLabs release. They are well if even extremely well done models with a lot of clever ideas. What you don't have are detailed menus and lots of active features, but this CTLS from Flight Design has more features than most with both glass and analog instrument panels and with the glass version there comes also a very nice if basic Dynon AP74 and HS34 autopilot system. They are clever and extremely dynamic flying aircraft, but I found the CTLS a bit nervous with the trimming and the up and down constant adjustment while in the air, and in both manual and auto trimming selections. It is certainly an aircraft to fine-tune into to get out the maximum rewards that it can deliver, but to note the aircraft is built to Sport/Ultralight rules and is just a step away from being just an upmarket handglider. You do also get great responsive service from VSkyLabs as part of the project, but remember the purchase deal just that, access to a project and not a fully designed and completed aircraft, but to me with only a few refinements needed the CTLS overall feels pretty well completed here. So overall this is another great little VSkyLab project, clever, different and challenging... it is all that and more. The VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project is now available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project Price is US$27.50 Project Highlights: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane 11.30+ cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring a 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 CTLS is featuring the standard, basic CT VFR + night pack panel. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an enhanced panel, which is including the addition of a notebook-based glass PFD along with a Dynon style AP74 and HS34 (these are incorporated with simplified, yet functional features). Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not 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: Professional discussions which results in incorporating users feedback into the on-going scheduled development plan. Real-pilots inputs (as well as sim-pilots feedback) are always welcome, and in practice sets the the VSKYLABS projects within solid, professional margins over time. The project is under constant maintenance and development - updates are free. Requirements: X-Plane 11.30+ Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended - 8Gb+ VRAM for VR Current and Review version: 1.0 (Aug 8th 2019) Installation and documents: Download for the Flight Design CTLS Project is 189.20 Mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 265.30 mb. Download of the"Headshake" by SimCoders effect plugin is highly recommended with this aircraft, Navigraph account also recommended Documentation: Manual included VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS POH vSkyLabs Aerospace Simulations also has a full extensive website on all projects for updates and information including aircraft manuals available here: www vSkyLabs.com All VskyLabs projects are also available for purchase from the source developer here: VSKYLABS ______________________________________________________________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 15th August 2019 Copyright©2019: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.31 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft) Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : Headshake by SimCoders - Free : Navigraph Charts - Subscription Scenery or Aircraft KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00
  10. News! - Released : Flight Design CTLS by VSkyLabs This is the next new project released by VSkyLabs and it is a high-wing, tricycle, two seat light sport aircraft and part of the Flight Design CT series family. The CTLS is powered by a Rotax 912 ULS engine, and thanks to its design efficiency the CTLS is fast with a cruise speed of approximately 115 knots, spacious and capable for cross country flights, and can do a maximum range of up to 850 nautical miles. 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, but this CTLS is certainly a far more a completed aircraft than most of the releases than from VSkyLabs in the past. Project Highlights: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane 11.30+ cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring a 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 CTLS is featuring the standard, basic CT VFR + night pack panel. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an enhanced panel, which is including the addition of a notebook-based glass PFD along with a Dynon style AP74 and HS34 (these are incorporated with simplified, yet functional features). Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not 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: Professional discussions which results in incorporating users feedback into the on-going scheduled development plan. Real-pilots inputs (as well as sim-pilots feedback) are always welcome, and in practice sets the the VSKYLABS projects within solid, professional margins over time. The project is under constant maintenance and development - updates are free. Requirements X-Plane 11.30+ Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended - 8Gb+ VRAM for VR Current version: 1.0 (Aug 8th 2019) The CTLS Project is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore The VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project is now available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project Price is US$27.50 ______________________________________________________________________ vSkyLabs Aerospace Simulations has a full extensive website on all projects for updates and information including aircraft manuals available here: www vSkyLabs.com All VskyLabs projects are also available for purchase from the source developer here: VSKYLABS _____________________________________________________________________________________ Release notes by Stephen Dutton 9th August 2019 Copyright©2019: X-PlaneReviews (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)
  11. Aircraft Released : ICON A5 by VSkyLabs - Test Pilot VskyLabs have released their next project for their "Test pilot" series in the ICON-A5, which is a LightSport amphibious aircraft. The A5 seats two people in an enclosed 46-inch-wide (116.8 cm) cockpit and is powered by a single 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912iS engine driving a three-bladed pusher propeller. Dornier-style sponsons provide hydrodynamic stability, housing the retracted main landing gear, and also act as a step for crew and passenger. The wings can also be folded aft for ground transport and storage. To date (January 2019) 90 A5's have been produced with orders set currently at 1,850 aircraft. 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, but this Icon-A5 is certainly a far more a completed aircraft than most of the releases than from VskyLabs in the past. Detail is finished certainly to a far higher grade than in the past, with some nice noted features.... Highly detailed, fully animated aircraft exterior and interior 3D model. Fully functional, authentic A5 Angle of Attack display system. Unique and authentic iconography, embedded into the display systems in the cockpit. CAP system (Ballistic Parachute system) modeled along with automatic gear retraction upon activation. Bilge water build-up and purge system are modeled. Removable cockpit windows. The A5's unique custom designed, authentic Landing and Taxi lights. Custom built PFD Companion and a fully functional Autopilot system included. High quality, animated pilot figure for highly immersive experience in 2D/VR modes. Built-in Avitab Plugin compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). FMOD Sounds. The project is under constant maintenance and development, updates are free. VR (Virtual Reality) compatibility is very good and a focus on the design here... The A5 is surprisingly easy to fly, even to land on water. I found myself very at ease from the start and in control of the aircraft, as the A5 has a very nice flow to it. Water takeoffs and landings are quite easy as well, without resorting to tricks to get airbourne, but wave height is obviously important with such a small craft, 004 metre wave height is about the limit, 1m will crash you around. Particle effects are well done, as the heat outlet from the Rotax is part of the propeller housing you get a nicely blurred propeller feel as part of the effect. Only issue was the very dark instruments on the centre upper console and radio frequencies, full lighting adjustment in place they are all still extremely hard to read or use? But VskyLabs usually fix issues like this quickly. Requirements are: X-Plane 11.30+ Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended - 8Gb+ VRAM for VR And the Download Size is 195Mb The VskyLabs Icon-A5 is now avaliable from the X-Plane.OrgStore, details are set out below... The ICON A5 by VSkyLabs - Test Pilot is now available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Test-Pilot: ICON-A5 Price is US$32.95 ______________________________________________________________________ vSkyLabs Aerospace Simulations has a full extensive website on all projects for updates and information including aircraft manuals available here: www vSkyLabs.com All VskyLabs projects are also available for purchase from the X-Plane.OrgStore here: VSKYLABS _____________________________________________________________________________________ Release notes by Stephen Dutton 16th March 2019 Copyright©2019: X-PlaneReviews (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)
  12. News! - Aircraft Update : Tecnam P2006T v5.0b1 Analog/G1000 by Vskylabs This is a small but excellent update to the vSkyLabs Tecnam P2006T... Changelog includes: Built in AviTab plugin compatibility - this is allowing 'on the fly' integration of the freeware AviTab plugin. The plugin is not included in the project and is optional by user preferences. 3D modeling refinements for glass objects and other bug fixes. Cockpit night textures expended, reworked, Various bug fixes to textures all around. The project has gone through several internal-engineering-maintenance actions, preparing it for the planned, upcoming future updates. The AvITab is a third party application/plugin, that can be downloaded here: AviTab - VR - Compatible tablet X-PlaneReviews release review is here: Aircraft Review : Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 by Vskylabs  If you have already purchased the Tecnam P2006T then update now to the new version either from the X-Plane.OrgStore or from vSkyLab's directly ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Tecnam P2006T v5.0b1 Analog/G1000 package by Vskylabs is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T G1000 Price is US$28.50 Features: New Version 5 Two aircraft included for the price of one: P2006 Analog + P2006 G1000 variant Includes the LR G1000 GPS VR Compatible Support for Avitab Plugin Features Designed for X-Plane 11 Fully functional G1000 with integrated autopilot Analog cockpit is featuring GNS G530 + G430 Highly detailed and FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane FMOD sound pack project for both variants Highly accurate flight dynamics model Checklists text files included Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T is a project under constant development. All updates are free. Requirements: X-Plane 11+ only (no longer compatible with X-Plane 10) Current version: 5.0b1 (Last updated Sep 25th 2018) Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). ________________________________________ Update News by Stephen Dutton 26th September 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews
  13. News! - Released : Guimbal Cabri G2 Heli by vSkyLabs Is there nothing that vSkyLabs can't do? We have had from them... classic aircraft, experimental aircraft, lightweight aircraft and even pre-war aircraft, now here we have a helicopter in the Guimbal Cabri G2. The Guimbal is a two-seat light helicopter produced by Hélicoptères Guimbal, it is powered by a Lycoming O-360-J2A piston engine, 108 kW (145 hp). It was designed by Bruno Guimbal, a former Eurocopter engineer. Remember that all vSkyLabs aircraft are projects and not final release aircraft, you sorta participate in the development more than the final result... in saying that then this Cabri G2 is already very well formed and quite complete. Cockpit is very well appointed and detailed, and surprisingly the Cabri G2 very easy to fly, so it is a great nice little heli to learn on if you want to try to fly helicopters. Rotor head is very well constructed, and animated but only in the collective pitch and not direction. Doors can be opened but not removed. Currently provided are two liveries. The Guimbal is optimized for VR functionality. This means that the cockpit can be operated with maximum comfort and fluency using VR controllers... Features include: Project under constant development: Development plan and evolution are including EVERY aspect of the project (3D modeling and textures, flight dynamics modeling, fmod sounds, interactivity, systems etc...). Highly engineered, robust helicopter simulation which pushes X-Plane's out-of-the-box features and flight dynamics model to its extent. Highly detailed visualization of the Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter. Designed for Virtual Reality experience, including a FULL-VR mode which enables to operate and fly the Cabri without using physical hardware for the pedals. Engineered as a 'Native X-Plane aircraft': Maximum X-Plane compatibility without the use of 3rd party plugins or external coding dependencies. Day/Night VFR instrumentation. Electronic Pilot Monitor (EPM) - Simplified yet authentic and effective EPM display. Built in compatibility with the AviTab plugin for 3D and VR AviTab visualization and interaction. Optional Experimental/LSA grade autopilot included. Perfect for new helicopter pilots and for helicopter conversion for fixed wings aircraft pilots - due to its docile flying characteristics and simple yet effective design features. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Guimbal Cabri G2 Heli by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Guimbal Cabri G2 Project Price is US$29.00 Requirements: X-Plane 11.25+ Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current version: Version v1.0b5 (Sep 12th 2018) 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. Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Guimbal Cabri G2 ______________________________________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 13th September 2018 Copyright©2018: 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) 
  14. Classic Aircraft : Rutan Model 61 Long - EZ by VSKYLABS In the early evolution of aircraft design it was the singular force of an pioneer engineer that drove the design and innovation. Think of the names of Curtiss, Boeing, Douglas, Hawker, Dornier, Junkers, Hughes and many more. But as the designs became more complex and they required more od the differential skills then most of these individual pioneers were replaced with teams or companies to build the aviation industry into what we know today, most of these manufacturers were still exceedingly clever in what they produced, but were also very conservative in the same sense in that their expensive products had to also be sold and be highly reliable, and so the maverick pioneer of the early times was reduced to the outcast nutjob the dreamer who lacked funds to create their designs. The only major aviation advances then mostly came from the expensive military aspect of pushing the boundaries, and then out into space itself. But one man in the last half decade has still been a total maverick an honor back those earlier pioneers and in the process has turned the principals of aviation on their heads, his name is Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan. Burt Rutan is now retired but his legacy is certainly amongst being one of the aviation's greats. A "maverick" and yes that title is perfectly acceptable for Rutan, but his list of achievements is simply extraordinary... early designs were mostly homebuilt aircraft and specialized research aircraft, but it was the Voyager project in designing an aircraft that could fly a nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world, and do something that had never been done before. In December 1986, Voyager took off from the famous Edwards Air Force Base in California and flew around the world (westward) in nine days, fulfilling the aircraft's design goals. The oddly shaped Voyager was retired and now hangs in the Milestones of Flight exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) main exhibit hall, alongside with the Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis and Bell X-1 and all barrier breaking aircraft.Then came the GlobalFlyer which set a record for the longest flight in history at 41,467.53km (25,766.73 mi), and in doing so gaining the third absolute world record set with this aircraft. Then later again came Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne and its carrier aircraft in the White Knight Two, and that is the spacecraft to bring space travel to everyone or anyone that can afford the 200,000 seat cost. His name is forever associated with the company he formed called "Scaled Composites" or SCALED and they are based in Mojave and only a stones throw from the huge Edwards Air Force Base complex in the high southeastern California and southern Nevada desert were Burt started his career in 1965 to 1972 , when back then Rutan was a civilian flight test project engineer for the U.S. Airforce. Rutan's first personal projects were the VariViggen and VariViggen SP which first flew in April 1972. It had the large rear wing, forward canard, and pusher configuration design elements which became his trademarks. But it was the VariEze and Long-EZ that came next that became the default Rutan design, in that with the unusual aerodynamic surfaces they were also built of the then new composite design. It was a collaboration with the great English Formula One designer Colin Chapman that both men wanted the new material to create both extremely light but far stronger racing cars and aircraft, but sadly Chapman died before the ideas were brought to fruition. (John Barnard created the first carbon-fibre composite chassis that was first seen in 1981 with McLaren F1 Racing). Rutan Model 61 Long - EZ Although the VariEze was a successful design, Rutan thought the idea could done be better with the use of the more readily available Lycoming aircraft engines in lieu of the VariEze Volkswagen-derived engines and so the Long-Ez was clean-sheet scaled-up total redesign of the earlier aircraft. Changes from the VariEze included a larger main wing with modified Eppler 1230 airfoil and less sweep—the canard uses the same GU25-5(11)8 airfoil as the VariEze—larger strakes containing more fuel and baggage storage, and a slightly wider cabin. Plans were offered from 1980 to 1985. As of late 2005, there is still approximately 700 Long EZ's are FAA registered in the USA. At that time Scaled Composites was then known as Rutan Aircraft Factory, Inc. But some owners complained of the "rain trim change" that had been experienced by all Long-EZ pilots. This trim change is usually a nose down trim change experienced when flying into rain and then requiring a small aft force on the stick to maintain altitude, which is easily trimmed out, using the bungee trim system. So a new canard was designed with the Roncz R1145MS airfoil, which produces considerably more lift than the original GU25-5(11)8 airfoil. Any Rutan design is always going to throw the aviation rule book out of the window, and so the Long-Ez looks nothing like your standard GA or even a homebuilt aircraft. It looks more like a sports racer from Star Wars film or any futuristic video game. Performance: Maximum speed: 185 mph (298 km/h; 161 kn) (max cruise) - Cruise speed: 144 mph (232 km/h; 125 kn) (40% power) - Range: 2,010 mi (1,747 nmi; 3,235 km) - Service ceiling: 27,000 ft (8,200 m) and the rate of Rate of climb: 1,750 ft/min (8.9 m/s) There are two liveries provided with the original test aircraft N79RA and a "Thunderbirds' (aerobatic display team) Red, Blue and White scheme, there is a very nice Swiss version but that is not included here. I'm going to stick with Thunderbirds as the original test livery is a bit bland. My thoughts of these series of aircraft was to create an aircraft that were extremely easy to fly, more car like in operation with fewer controls and sturdy handling than the rather with the complexities of flying normal aircraft. It feels and certainly flies that way compared to a normal general aviation aircraft There is a double-seater glass canopy, but the high lower sides means only your heads sit right above up there in the glass, it feels all very 70's Formula One one sitting in here with the high sides and with the front canard also highly visible... The view all round though is very good and the aircraft would certainly be great as a VR (Virtual Reality) candidate and is already VR compatible and the Long-Ez sorta also handles like a flying F1 car as well, tight but with flowing in directional changes. Instrument panel is quite comprehensive for such a small tight aircraft. Top row are all the electrical power and lighting switches... Standard six flying instruments are not all here with just the four in... Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the Vertical Speed Indicator bottom far right. An excellent EXPERIMENTAL/LSA autopilot type system is far left (we will come back to that instrument in a minute) and a Garmin OBS VOR indicator (VOR1) dial centre, below is a Bendix/King KT76 Transponder with a Mitchell Volt meter left... note the Heading Dial down lower centre. Key start and panel lighting knobs are far, far left. Native X-Plane GNS 530 also the standard pop-out, a floating compass is far right. Engine gauges are grouped lower left with a large manifold pressure (inHg) and fuel flow (gallons per hour) and RPM gauge. Oil temperature and Oil pressure gauges are above and below the centre Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT) gauge. On the right side wall are three gauges that cover both 26 GAL fuel tanks and an outside VDO temperature gauge ºC. Left side is the connected canopy release with below a trim lever and BRKE (airbrake). Mixture, Throttle and Carb Heat levers are front. Right side lower is the joystick and Aileron trim rear... The aircraft design plate is nicely well done here as well. The big handle is to retract or extend the front landing wheel gear, but the X-Plane key setting will do all the work for you... the (arrowed) hole allows you to see if the gear is down. Behind is the fuel tank switch in Left - Right and OFF. The internal cabin materials are excellent, with the weaved carbon-fiber matting and exposed fibreglass surrounding you and your single passenger... ... the aircraft has "EXPERIMENTAL" pasted across the glareshield, but that is what this aircraft actually is, a basic bare-bones flying machine, there are no comfort features in here, and the well created detailing also gets that message across, and you also feel the slight age now of the aircraft as well (1980) as that aspect has been very well recreated, in the wear, tear and soiled fabrics as this X-Plane aircraft has been designed around the original Long-EZ (NR79RA) prototype. Some Long-Ez's are equipped with a rear-seat fuel tank, and a Long-EZ has flown for 4,800 miles (7,700 kilometers) in this configuration. Flying the Long-Ez Externally the aircraft is of composite construction, and in X-Plane that aspect can come across as a little bland, but if you look closely then VskyLabs have created some nice wear, tear and visual points to give the fuselage some detail and aging, but it is still a hard aspect to cover completely. The pods beneath the wings are not fuel tanks but luggage containers or really places just to stow items than say full sized luggage. The undercarriage is unusual in that the rear gear is a one piece molded s-fibreglass/epoxy (resin) set out as two struts that is extremely strong but also flexible with excellent energy absorption, and also highly efficient aerodynamically. The front gear is as noted manually retractable, but again immensely strong. Most owners usually retract the front gear when parking up the aircraft to create a sort of nose down attitude and to start the engine via handpopping, the nose down in the dirt stops the aircraft running away from you... which when you think about that it is a good idea. One of the most interesting aspects of the aircraft is it's rudder arrangement... the rudders are on the end of each wingtip. But when you yaw or use the rudder pedals then only one rudder then moves while the other rudder stays straight, and vice-versa, both rudders can also go outwards to act like an airbrake but that is not simulated here. That nosewheel can be tricky? It is freewheeling or a bit like a taildraggers loose tail wheel situated on the nose and not the tail, so if you try to turn too tight it flickers from side to side... there is a trick to turning and taxiing smoothly and you will soon master it, but it is a strange feel to get right at first. Sounds of the Lycoming O-235 air-cooled flat-four engine, 115 hp (86 kW) are spot on and highly realistic, a pair of headphones can highlight the air-cooled engine. Sounds are 180º FMOD and I particularly liked the lower idle throbbing... With the Long-Ez I use the XPRealistic Pro dynamic movements plugin, which I highly recommend here, make sure you have the engine throttle movements (shaking) quite high to get the engine shake for realism... Throttle up and it is a neck back snapping experience, the Long-Ez just goes like a rocket with so little weight and the power of the 115 hp Lycoming. Rotate is around 70knts, and watch for any directional wind as this light aircraft can easily be buffeted off line by even just a breeze. There are no flaps at all, just rudders and aileron's, and the huge canard forward which does the lifting and the balancing act. If the trim is correct the Log-Ez is super easy to fly as you would expect it to be, as the turns and manoeuvrability are excellent, but don't go doing over excitable acts as this aircraft does have odd performance areas that you just don't want to go there, full performance and their limits are provided in the manual. The EXPERIMENTAL/LSA autopilot type system is an interesting tool. It has a built in rate-of-turn indicator by the red five boxes set either side of neutral. Then to hold an altitude and the heading you press the "ALT" (mode) button which acts like a hold and you get a green marker to say that action is activated... ... if you use the UP (Climb) or DN (Descend) buttons the green turns to yellow for the ATT mode, pressing the ALT returns you to the (ALT Mode) or straight and level. If you press the LT (Left Turn) or RT (Right Turn) buttons it stays in the ALT mode but banks to the required turn red box, clicking the opposite direction button will neutral the turn. I found that when in the normal ALT mode you need to centre the LT/RT to keep it tight on the heading or you will drift to the left or right (sort of trimming the heading), once set right the heading will stay on course. To disengage the LSA just press the ALT again to disconnect (cycle). The LSA is extremely easy to use and is very effective for long flights like In 1997, when Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Rutan Long-EZ aircraft that they had built, side-by-side around the world. This "around the world in 80 nights" flight was called The Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour, and some of the flying legs lasted for over 14 hours. Landing can be a bit tricky with no flaps, but you have a great almost fishbowl outside view that helps in the coordination and focus of the runway. You have a two stage airbrake situated under the fuselage that helps in controlling the excessive speed, but the full position can easily stall you if you use it wrongly, but it is good in the case of losing height and speed. The single extension gives you the best option, but again you use it sparingly... The trick is to believe in the aerodynamics in that both that huge delta wing behind you and that canard in front of you will totally support you and give you the efficient lift you require, it takes a few landings to trust them, but in doing so and then the landing phase become easier, although I did find I used a lot of runway before accepting the ground as the ground effect lift is quite strong... You need to keep the approach above 70knts, but you landing speed target is usually around 55knts, but I found just under 60knts was fine, and overall the aircraft is quite stable unless you have a strongish crosswind, and then it is simply horrible! Lighting The Long-Ez has very simple lighting, the two knobs on the instrument panel control the main instrument lighting and the avionics lighting... ... but the instrument lighting does look nicely aged and authentic, as all the dials glow sweetly in the dark. External has the navigation lights and a two stage single light in the nose that covers the different taxi and landing light brightnesses, not totally effective, but most Long-Ez's don't have landing or taxi lights either. The strobes are very bright at night and it feels like your are flying through a bad lighting storm most of the time... Summary It is important to note that all VskyLabs aircraft are "Projects", and are not completed aircraft, in other words the work is on going and you must be aware of that in the purchase, this aircraft doesn't even have rudder pedals? which seems to be a really odd missing item, even on any launch aircraft. But they will come in an update soon, as with more canopy detailing (internal - strut), back cockpit detailing and extra liveries. The aircraft is basically a simple machine, not only to use but to also fly, but that is also the same brief set out by it's designer in the first place. There are no menu's, static elements, pop out checklists (they are checklists in the supplied extensive manual) or any other fancy features to devour, this is all about the unusual flying characteristic of a very if again unusual design and a Burt Rutan design at that. In that context VskyLabs have done a brilliant job in creating this classic aircraft, it is far harder to do than you can imagine as the flying performance is quite different from your usual GA aircraft, but the Long-Ez does fly and perform very much like the real aircraft. Certainly a lot of thought, sweat and tears have gone into the aircraft to do justice of it's original design and honor one of aviation's greats. So here is the test... would you fly right around the X-Plane world in the Long-Ez, and that alone is great challenge, but a worthy one. So overall this Long-Ez is a great aircraft, but still slightly unfinished in a few areas, but that is the "project' aspect of the deal. So if you like the very different, challenging experimental style of aircraft then this is your type of aircraft, it is certainly different and also very interesting at the same time. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Rutan Model 61 Long - EZ by VSKYLABS is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Rutan Long-EZ Project Price is US$27.50 Features The project is designed and engineered around the original 1980 'LONG-EZ Plans' and 'Pilot Operating Handbook' (N79RA). As a result, the VSKYLABS Rutan LongEZ Owner's manual is based on the real LongEZ owner's manual. The manual for the VSKYLABS LongEZ aircraft can be downloaded for free. The core of the project is a superb flight dynamics model with authentic aircraft performance and handling characteristics. Aeromatic propeller configuration (fully automatic variable pitch propeller). Highly detailed and animated aircraft model along with 4K textures. VR-READY - Highly detailed and functional 3D cockpit environment. FMOD sounds engineered with a 'rough and tough' feel for enhanced flying experience. IFR capability. Autopilot - Experimental/LSA grade autopilot included. Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS Rutan LongEZ Project is under constant development. All updates are free. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Requirements: X-Plane 11 - (X-Plane 11.20+ is required for VR) Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM minimim. 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended Download size: 220Mb Installation Download of the Lon - Ez is 216mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as a 302mb folder. Documents Documentation is excellent with one (large) manual included: VSKYLABS-Rutan-Long-EZ-POH-001 (download) More Information: BurtRutan.com: Burt Rutan's web pages - contains interesting articles, 'must read' PDF documents etc... Burt Rutan Wikipedia page: The Aerospace Legend Burt Rutan Wikipedia page. Rutan Long-EZ Wikipedia page: ez.org - A community of Rutan canard aircraft enthusiasts: Includes Forum, articles, links, various downloads (drawings, POH plans etc...). Canards for X-Plane: An interesting resource of freeware, good quality models for X-Plane: _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 9th May 2018 Copyright©2018: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.20 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 Scenery or Aircraft - KMHV - Mojave Air & Spaceport - Scenery Packages (v11,v 10, v9) (X-Plane.Org) - Free
  15. DC-3/C47 v2.7b by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project Ice! The airman's nightmare... Laminar Research has added in a great new ice feature into X-Plane that uses an icing algorithm. Never one to miss an opportunity when you see one, then vSkyLabs has added the feature to the DC3/C47 Skytrain aircraft. So this release version is interesting in that we new get to see the new Ice feature in action, and very good it is as well. The DC3/C47 already had a great visual feature with the excellent rain effects that are very effective and realistic... ... you can almost feel the damp wet moisture trickling down your back, never mind the windows. So if you thought about leaving your valuable classic Gooney Bird out in the elements now, then you need to think again? As what you will now get is a very frozen bird... solid! So visually it is very effective and the ice creeps up and over the aircraft gradually and slowly if you leave it out in the snow and ice or like this in a cold Norwegian winter. Not just on the outside airframe but the windows are also frozen all over from the inside as well. So what does the ice look and feel like in the air. Of course you have to have the right icing conditions set in X-Plane, so anything below -5 and a bit of rain/snow (precipitation) and a bit of low dense stratus are for the best effects. And it didn't take long to get some nasty icy bits to starting to form on the wings. So how far can you press the ice factor? and is that as far as you should be going as is this to far and you can't see out of the window... ... or even blizzard far? No you can't go too far past that caking ice point without switching on the wing boots... because soon you will start to lose speed and altitude till the stall point, then it is... all over, your going down. The note says it is an "Icing issue!"... "No kidding" Switches for activating the wing de-icing boots, Propeller de-icer and Carburetor de-icer will keep you airborne and the window de-icer will mean you can see where you are going... They do all work, but the wing boots are a little bit too efficient, one moment you are heavy with snow and ice, the next a absolutely clear clean wing? I would have liked a more less abrupt look, a sort of clean leading edge, but a still slightly dusted wing to be more realistic, or to peel away the ice in sections. It will be interesting how other developers will approach this same icy feature. But icing does look and works very well in practice and flight so the feature is a great addition to the aircraft. And note the now more damage when hitting the ground, as the aircraft fragments on impact... not good, but good at the same time. other v2.7b1 notes are: XC-47C Amphibious variant added to the package. The variant is including EDO78 floats for land and sea operations. Airframe icing visualization - 4 step effect, working with X-Plane icing algorithm. Windshield icing visualization. Deice wing boots switch added. Damage visualization - "first step": Exceeding Vne, over-g, flaps overspeed, high velocity propellers seizure. Night Lit textures added to the default Buffalo Airways and to the VSKYLABS liveries. STMA AutoUpdater plugin included. The STMA update plugin is also now included, but I am not a fan of the way the STMA intrudes constantly on to your screen if you go over to the left side, I find it annoying and turn it off in the plugin menu. But it will ease the way for quicker updates. monoblau on the X-Plane.Org has put up a set of float livery textures for this v2.7b1 aircraft (won't work with the earlier versions). The top float design is the default one with the aircraft... the others are clockwise : Aluminium, Galvanised Metal, Blistered Yellow, Rusted Metal Plates, Copper and Orange. Overall I wasn't really excited by them, the only standout was the really good realistic rusted metal plates (above) that didn't look as plastically as the rest. Summary Another quick update here for the excellent DC3/C47 aircraft from vSkylabs. It is very feature driven and a cabin and opening doors are promised in the next major update v3.0 that will certainly lift it to new heights again. All updates including this one are free to current users The icing effects are excellent and very realistic, and very detrimental you your flight if you push your luck too far. So they work well, but I would have liked a slightly more realistic after effect when using the wing boots... and like a lot of the effects in here they are all very on - off. Only thing you need now is some engine and wheel cover blankets for the Dacca, anyone know where I get a set cheap... ______________________________________________ The DC-3/C47 v2.5a by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project Your Price: $26.95 Features: New: Two variants included DC-3/C-47 Plus XC-47C Amphibious version VR Ready X-Plane 11 Native VR ready. will be updated as needed Features: Project under constant development Two packages included: X-Plane 11 + X-Plane 10.51 Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of more than 200 hours of flight testing and evaluation, made by real world C-47 pilot and aircraft performance expert. This model is stretching X-Plane to its limits in terms of delivering the authentic flying characteristics of the DC-3/C-47 Windshield rain visualization effect Windshield Icing visualization effect Airframe 4-step Icing visualization Aircraft Damage visualization (exceeding Vne/g limits/flaps overspeed/propeller high velocity seizure) Fully equipped with Radio and Navigation aids: along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems, it is also equipped with a built-in 3D 2xGNS530 (folding terminals) Comprehensive FMOD sounds. Workhorse for practicing 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 simulation Unique look and feel: The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design and “feel” of the DC-3/C-47 Systems - easy to operate by beginners: All relevant systems are simulated but with the focus on getting the “Flying Lab” airborne without the need to go through a long “ground school” Systems - easy to operate by beginners: All relevant systems are simulated but with the focus on getting the “Flying Lab” airborne without the need to go through a long “ground school”FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane STMA AutoUpdater plugin you always have the most updated project version. Fully automatic Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab is a project under constant development. All updates are free. If you have already purchased the DC3/C47 from Vskylabs then just login to your X-Plane.OrgStore and go to your account and download the current v2.5a (note - that you download the 5a revised version!) Requirements Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 9th March 2018 Copyright©2018 : 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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.10 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 (highly recommended with the DC-3) Scenery or Aircraft - ENGM - Airport Oslo XP by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95 - Winter Textures - MOD by Xflyer (X-Plane.Org) - Free
  16. News! - Added Version : DC3/C-47 v2.7 by vSkyLabs VSkyLabs have added in a new variant to their excellent DC3/C-47 aircraft that is coming in the next v2.7 update, as details noted by the developer... "The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project (FLP) upcoming update to v2.7 will include a second variant! The new variant will have a new designation within the package: XC-47C. The XC-47C was an amphibious C-47 floatplane, fitted with Edo Model 78 floats. The metal floats featured retractable landing gears, allowing it to operate on land and sea. The XC-47C will be added to the base package, which will include two variants from that moment on. Release window for update v2.7 is planned to be opened within the end of February/mid March 2018. Cockpit: at first, cockpit will be the same as in the initial DC-3/C-47 variant v2.5e. There is an ***extensive development plan*** for the interiors, which is including a new PBR-textures-layer for the cockpits, which will be executed for the future v3.0 update. Wow...it seems that the development plan for this exciting project has just begun! X-Plane 10 note: The VSKYLABS XC-47C variant will be added also to the X-Plane 10.51 version of the package, but it will be the last planned update for X-Plane 10.51. Although the package will continue to include both the X-Plane 11 and the X-Plane 10.51 versions, the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project will continue to evolve for X-Plane 11 only." Just repeat that point in from now on is that this DC3/C-47 project is X-Plane11 only. Last vSkyLabs update overview is here: Developer Updates and Aircraft Release : vSkyLabs ________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 16th February 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews Images and text are courtesy of Just Flight/Thranda
  17. Developer Updates and Aircraft Release : vSkyLabs Nobody is as prolific in developing and updating their aircraft as vSkyLabs are. So here is an overview of their current releases and updates. VskyLab's is unlike other developers in that they don't have a single product to develop and then release, but they have instead a lot of projects on the go at the same time. That is good in one way in the fact that their aircraft are updated very often, but that also means a lot of downloads of the same aircraft concurrently. Most developers only update when they have a significant amount of fixes and bugs cleared up, but with every download of a vSkyLab project aircraft it could just be two or three items and so both development approaches have their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Currently there is the release in the Scheibe SF-25C Falke and three other updates to other projects of the Tecnam P2006T, Air Phoenix U-15 and the DC3/C-47. The updates to the last three aircraft are mostly focused on VR - Virtual Reality compatibility for use with the X-Plane VR beta that is now available. But first a Motorised Glider... Scheibe SF-25C Falke (Falcon) This SF-25C is a is a German touring motor glider developed from the earlier Bergfalke glider by Scheibe Flugzeugbau. Developed in 1963, the original SF-25 was a high-wing powered glider, but the wing was lowered to create the SF-25B/C. There are a lot of variations of engines powering these gliders, but this model known as the Falke 2000 is using the 60 kW (80 hp) Limbach 2000 EA, and driving the propeller at 3,450 rpm. The aircraft is of basic construction with a single underfloor nose wheel and two support wheels under each wing. It is a twin-seater, but with a tight cockpit. The Fuel Gauge is located on the rear panel of the cockpit, which makes it slightly difficult to read while in flight, lock above is for the canopy. The instrument panel is particularly well done and looks quite professional. The main flying instruments are to the left, with a - Vertical Speed Indicator, Airspeed Indicator and Altimeter. A Rate of Turn instrument is far left. Centre panel is a large Cylinder Head Temperature Gauge, with the RPM gauge centre right. As this aircraft is a glider it uses a dedicated Variometer and this Energy Variometer gives information regarding the change in total energy of the aircraft. This is expressed in vertical speed (Meter per Seconds) and has an audio on/off switch and a dedicated volume control. Right side of the panel consists of a large aileron trim gauge, then engine gauges far right with a Suction Gauge, Oil Temperature and Oil Pressure. Far right is the Voltage dial and Radios in COMM 2 and Transponder. The Aircraft comes with a GNS 530 that covers the COMM 1 and VOR 1 frequencies. Switch gear and (working) circuit breakers are lower panel and there is a really nice Elevator trim lever to the left, but a warning on using this trim lever, a little movement is still a lot of elevator trim movement, so use with care. Canopy holds a compass and a yaw string. The free flowing string is used to find the correct the yaw of the aircraft, mostly for landing. Canopy opens forwards with just a touch of the glass. A note that this aircraft like all the latest vSkyLabs Projects are now VR compatible, so turning switches and pressing knobs can be done with the hand controllers and so are all items for 100% VR usage of the stick, throttle, spoilers, circuit breakers, levers and handles, but remember all VR in X-Plane at this point in time is in the beta stage, so things may change later. So how does the Scheibe fly? Well it is a very, very simple aircraft, and the it flies in that manner. The low output engine is there only to pull you up to an altitude or to get you out of trouble, so once the engine is shutdown, you are in gliding mode and all the tricks of flowing on warm rising air is at your disposal. So this is an aircraft for the purist here. The engine maybe of a low output, but it does make a very nice sound and that is courtesy of a very good FMOD sound package, 3d surround sound and great for directional VR movement. There are no flaps, but just very long ailerons... Landing speed is controlled via two stage air-brakes that pop up out of the wings, and they are highly effective. There is only one livery supplied and that is the F-ALKE one currently on the aircraft. Summary This excellent Motor Glider is at its heart a very basic aircraft, so that means really anyone can fly it. For a Pro-Glider pilot then they will certainly get more out of the aircraft. The instrumentation is really good and well laid out, as are sounds, but there is nothing else really in features except for the aircraft's very accurate flight dynamic modeling and that has been tested by pilots that know the aircraft well for the perfect representation of the SF-25C. Overall the Scheibe SF-25C Falke is not a flashy aircraft, but simply a good motor glider and an easy flying machine. The Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Scheibe SF-25C Falke Project - Price is US$25.00 ______________________________________________________________________ The following aircraft are all updates, and all are mostly focusing on the VR intergration. Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 v4.2 I was impressed by the P2006T that I reviewed late last year, but the G1000 version was the standout of the two aircraft supplied. It is a nice clean aircraft and the update to v4.2 covers mostly the use of VR and better sound with the addition of FMOD (vSkyLab's does note that the FMOD application is still an ongoing project). VR compatibility update: Both Yokes, all levers, knobs, switches, handles are defined for VR operations. Simultaneous (dual) and differential, throttle operations: control EACH or both throttle levers with a single VR controller. Avionics: Fixed G1000 fine altitude selection fixed. Flight Dynamics Model: VFE maximum flaps extended speed fixed for T.O. position. Performance - landing gears drag refined. Ground handling refinements - nose wheel steering setup fine tuned. FMOD sound pack added: FMOD sound pack In the package you do get both the G1000 above and the analog instrument version below... The analog version does feel different from the G1000 aircraft, and the single livery is different as well, but overall this is a nice modern utility aircraft and this v4.2 is also a nice update to keep it current in the Flight Dynamics. The Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 v4.2 is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T G1000 - Price is US$28.50 ______________________________________________________________________ Phoenix Air Phoenix Project v4.5 This vSkyLab project is based on the Phoenix U-15 aircraft, which is a kind of a 'hybrid' aircraft and powered aircraft by a powerful Rotax 912 ULS 100 hp engine, and at the same time it is like the above Scheibe a high performance glider. There is a lot of similarities and certainly in the instrumentation with the SF-25C, but this Phoenix feels like a far more modern design. The Phoenix is a derivative of the Urban Air Lambada motorglider, developed by Martin Stepaneck who was formerly with Urban Air before that company's demise. The Phoenix was designed to comply with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale microlight rules and US light-sport aircraft rules. It features a cantilever wing, a T-tail, a two-seats-in-side-by-side configuration enclosed cockpit under a bubble canopy, fixed conventional landing gear and a single engine in tractor configuration. (wikipedia) The aircraft comes in two versions, the extended wingtip (above) that gives it a 15 meter wingspan (49 foot). And the short wingtip (below), that turns it into an 11 meter span (36 foot). There are two sets of update notes with one update released late 2017 and the other update early in 2018... Version v4.5 (January 14th 2018) VR compatibility update: Both control sticks, all levers, knobs, switches, handles are defined for VR operations. FMOD sound pack included. Update log for v4.4 (nov 21st 2017) Maintenance update for future X-Plane 11.10 compatibility: This update was triggered to encounter some engine issues which were detected in X-Plane 11.10 beta versions. It is a minor update in terms of features, but a major update in terms of internal engineering and preparation for the upcoming updates. Compatibility maintenance: The aircraft is X-Plane 11.05 model, but with the needed fixes to it's engine's simulation model for X-Plane 11.10 compatibility. Interactivity: Improved cockpit manipulators layout. Flight Dynamics Model refinements: Wing spoiler/brakes efficiency tuned. X-Plane 10.51 support ended: The package is no longer including and supporting X-Plane 10. The 2018 update covers the same VR compatiblity and the addition of FMOD sound. If the Scheibe SF-25C is a bit outdated for your tastes then this Phoenix U-15 is then more versatile and more powerful... again a nice update and the VR experience is always going to be better in these confined spaces. The Phoenix Air Phoenix Project v4.5 is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Air Phoenix U-15 LSA Project - Price is US$19.95 (Currently on special for US$17) ______________________________________________________________________ DC-3/C47 Flying Lab Project v2.5E The Classic DC-3/C47 was the outstanding release from vSkyLabs in 2017. It was also the most updated aircraft project with updates coming at times only weeks apart. The last and significant update was in October with the v2.5A update which X-PlaneReviews covered in depth here: Aircraft Update Review - DC3/C47 v2.5a by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project Since October it has been quiet on the DC-3/C47 project, but in this early part of 2018, we then got two updates in succession. Version 2.5e (January 29 2018) VR-Related update: Added VR Dual operation for throttle/prop/mixture levers. Side window can be opened in VR. Pitch and Aileron trims operation fine-tuning. Update is only for the X-Plane 11 version. Version 2.5c (January 8 2017) VR-Related update: Both Yokes, all levers, knobs, switches, handles - including the lower and aft landing gears and flaps handles are defined for VR operations. Update is only for the X-Plane 11 version. Mostly the updates were the VR compatibility changes in the "C"release, but the "E" release then was required to fine-tune a few of the VR actions. Note these updates are only for the X-Plane11 version as X-Plane10 is not applicable for VR. No doubt the VR environment for this DC-3/C47 would be phenomenal, but I would prefer the cabin to be finished off first with the promised opening cabin doors... but it is not bad actually in look, but feels incomplete. The DC-3 is still sensational to fly, and very slow and pondering compared to the current jets, but "oh" what a way to fly, and very tricky to get the landings correct... ... especially with strong Icelandic crosswinds! But I don't care as I love it. The DC-3/C47 v2.5e by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project - Your Price: $24.95 ______________________________________________________________________ vSkyLabs Aerospace Simulations has a full extensive website on all projects for updates and information including aircraft manuals available here: www vSkyLabs.com All projects are also available for purchase from the X-Plane.OrgStore here: VSKYLABS _____________________________________________________________________________________ Updates and Review by Stephen Dutton 31st January 2018 Copyright©2018: X-PlaneReviews (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)
  18. Aircraft Review : Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 by Vskylabs In the six months since the May 2017 release of Vskylabs Tecnam P2006T the aircraft has been under constant development, but then almost everything under the VskyLabs banner is under constant development, because all the aircraft are in reality only ongoing projects and not release aircraft. So you go on a journey with Vskylabs projects as they are if nothing else very interesting and progressive aircraft. Certainly the Vskylabs DC-3/C47 has took all the attention this year, and as it should because it is a great aircraft and a lot of fun, but the P2006T has been progressing forward as well. This latest v1.4 version is significant as it is the first payware aircraft to use Laminar Research's new G1000 GPS system that was introduced with X-Plane v11.10, that noted is that to use this aircraft you have to use only X-Plane11 and the v11.10 (currently beta) update and upwards as well. So this review is mostly focused on that factor in the two different versions in the standard original analog aircraft and the new G1000 glass panel version of which you get both in the same package. Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam is an Italian aeronautics manufacturer that was founded in 1986. The company has two primary activities in one is that it mainly makes aircraft parts for other manufacturers, and in two it makes its own range of light aircraft. It is in the first activity of making parts is in why the Italian company's name doesn't really roll off any aviation's bluffs tongue, like say Piaggio or Augsta, but it is still a manufacturer and it is in this their latest aircraft the P2006 that was certified in 2010 that is the company's push for mainstream sales. The P2006T is currently the lightest twin-engined certified aircraft available, and is a four-seat aircraft with fully retractable landing gear and has liquid-cooled Rotax engines that can run on 92 octane unleaded automotive gasoline as well as 100LL (Avgas). It is unusual in that the Rotax 912S3 horizontally opposed four-cylinder geared piston engines, 73.5 kW (98.6 hp) as each of the cylinder heads are liquid-cooled and there are cooling vanes on the cylinder barrels (a la the Volkswagen Beetle). Thus both cooling airflow through the nacelle, and so a cooling radiator is required in each cowl. Electric starters are used to start the engines on the ground, but must also be used for an inflight restart, since the highly geared engines cannot be turned by airflow alone past the stopped propeller. Thus, for FAA certification, the company was required to add in a backup battery in addition to the standard battery. Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 You get two versions of the P2006T in the analog and glass cockpit G1000 version. They are actually the same aircraft, but strangely feel quite different? I think it is down to the more matt flat feel of the analog livery than anything else, but they do still also feel different internally as well. Considering the releases are only six months apart it feels more like years. P2006T Analog P2006T G1000 Modeling is good, but not in the high notch caliber, there are the slight bumps and off rounded areas and points that you can see really close up, but in most overall views the aircraft looks really good. The Tecnam looks like a composite but it is an all metal construction, Italian styling gives it that smooth clean look that only Italian designers can. The Rotax engines and their housings look and feel different than the standard usual low bulbous US styling, but they are well recreated here. Internally it is where all the action is, first the Analog ... ... the analog panel layout is very basic. Standard Six instruments that are centred in line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the bank/turn coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below, there is right the two large VOR OBS dials for VOR1 above and VOR2 below. Deep below is a pitch indicator. Centre panel is dominated by both a GNS530 (top) and a GNS 430 (below) that both pop out... ... an S-Tec FiftyFive X Autopilot in centre top. Centre panel bottom is a Decker ADF dial and transponder. Lower radio unit is the standard Garmin GMA347. Co-Pilot's instruments are more disarranged in their layout with only the Artificial Horizon and Airspeed Indicator centre with the Attitude Indicator set far below. The rest of the instruments cover Manifold pressure, Fuel pressure PSI (both engines), Temp, Amps/Volts (engines) and both fuel tanks deep below left.. A full set of two gauges cover the engine outputs with RPM (x100), CHT, Oil Temp and pressure. Lower panels cover all switchgear with Pitot, AP, Main and RH Field left and lighting right, centre is the main Avionic and bus 1&2 switches. Flap indicator is the only function on the left lower panel. G1000 Glass panel The retro fitted Laminar Research G1000 system is excellent, but in Laminar's basic set of features way. What you don't get in high features from the LR G1000 you make up for in sheer performance. Most third party G1000's including Carenado's and vFlyteAir's and make no doubt they are both very good... except in performance, because of the sheer size of the G1000 displays they lagged performance in map animation and data input. Not so with Philipp Münzel's highly polished coding and these G1000 systems are excellent in all those areas. Fitting in the large two screen G1000 layout then moves the other dials around the panel and deletes a few items as well (mostly the radio and autopilot). The main Standard Six instruments now become the backup instruments that are now spaced centre below the panels. Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator are all that is now required with the Fuel Pressure (both engines) left centre. Manifold pressure, RPM (x100), CHT, Oil Temp and pressure with Amps/Volts now down low are all squeezed together on the right hand panel, but it somehow all works fine. The Decker ADF dial is now far left lower panel and a few of the main power switches are now on the centre panel lower panel where they look better, standard lighting switchgear is right lower panel. The G1000 displays do pop-out and can be resized (scaled) or made into pop-out windows (computer windows). Most of the switchgear/avionics is transferred to the G1000 system in radio settings/transponder, autopilot controls, engine readouts and the main primary flight instruments (PFD). The lower mini-pedestal is nicely done with twin levers for throttle, Carburettor Heat and Propeller (feather), rudder pedals have an odd yellow wear on them, but look authentic. The biggest visual difference is created by the main metal facia of the instrument panel... ... it is very well done with the distinct crafted metal panel and the nice chrome screws, but if you run your texture settings anything lower than "max" it looks very old fashioned and poor texturing. The G1000 system hides most of these average areas and so at a lower resolution the lovely crafted G1000 display surroundings hides most of the metal paneling which looks like a different sort of metal as well, and it is in this area the G1000 then looks far, far better in the cockpit than the Analog version. Textures in both canvas, leather and metalness have shone this year in X-Plane11 and have risen to far more realistic looking heights... so anything now that was by last years standards is now needing a higher quality and finer attention, and here it shows with that critical if small difference. The interior is very good, but not of the high super quality in detailing although there is a few nice touches like the seatback pouches. Roof mounted Fuel Pump and Ignition/starter switches are required not only to start the aircraft but to shutdown the engines as well, which the props can be strangely odd in that they don't wind down but simply electric stop mid-rotation, The fuel tank switches are up here as well. There are no menus with the Tecnam, so if you open the pilot's door then the rear right passenger door opens as well... there are no static elements. Undercarriage assemblies are very good and very well animated. Wheel linkages, hydraulic pipes and brake assemblies are all covered and the tyres look realistic... Lighting The analog panel lighting is again different from the G1000 version. Three knobs set the lighting for instruments, panel and switches. The basic lower setting gives off a nice glow from the instruments and mid-dial (lower right) is nice... ... but turn the knob right up and the panel overglows and spreads even on to the windscreen. Overhead light is very nice, but doesn't work? The G1000 panel is very different and in a nicer way... the G1000 displays can be quite bright but can be adjusted, but overall a better look again. External lighting is basic with a landing and taxilight and a bit blobby. Liveries There are no liveries provided except one each of the default liveries, a paintkit is however included. A few liveries have already popped up the X-Plane.Org. Flying both the Analog and G1000 Tecnam I flew the G1000 version outbound from KLAL (Lakeland) to KRSW (Florida Southwest) and the Analog on the inbound leg back to KLAL. You have to get your head around first the fact that the P2006T is not a big aircraft, it looks it, but it is only really the size of a small -twin. But for a small-twin the performance is impressive. Maximum speed is 287 km/h; 178 mph (155 kn) with a cruise speed of 250 km/h; 155 mph (135 kn) with a range of 1,374 km (854 mi; 742 nmi). However the rate of climb is 1,260 ft/min or 250 ft/min on single engine and the service ceiling is 4,300 m (14,000 ft). So the Tecnam will go fast, but climbs slowly and to only 14,000ft. Most twins in this category can climb at 1600 - 1900 ft per min to 25,000ft. The G1000 GPS system is very nice though, modern and feels (as in touch) more realistic than the other versions. I floundered a little looking for the autopilot command button when they where right in front of me... I focused more on the left display than the right of which where they are actually situated (the AP commands are on the left display on the pop-up). But finally homed in on them and in reality it makes sense that the central position is the correct one for both pilot and co-pilot access. Sounds here are very good and are already FMOD directional dynamic. It is amazing how quickly new features mature and become part of the background in a very short time. Only issue in sound is the exterior sound is very high (almost irritating) to the low but better sound internally and I had to set the X-Plane external volume two thirds down to not get such a higher change of sound between the two. Moving from point A to point B is quite fast, so for traversing distances it is great aircraft... ... but I do think in many angles the P2006T does look like a Osprey V-22 tilt-rotor or have I been out on the town again. The Tecnam is genuinely nice to fly if you keep it well within its performance boundaries. The only area that is to be aware of is the final landing speed or zone, stall is 87 km/h; 54 mph (47 kn)... or around 50knts which quite slow. But the speed area between the full flap and 60knts it is very tight, and it is only 10knts higher. So you have very little room to adjust the speed to keep the aircraft airborne and getting too much lift, or either stalling into the runway. You adjust to the situation but you feel bottled in by it as well Then add in any wind factor and it is an interesting landing in controlling the aircraft at such low speeds. The first landing was not too bad, but by the time I had arrived back at LAL the wind was stronger and my landing was a bit of an arm wrestle with no different speeds available to use to control the aircraft. That space at between only 70knts to 60knts I feel is too tight, but that is the skill required to fly the aircraft. The return leg to LAL in the analog aircraft was the feeling of a far more older aircraft than the G1000 version and it just wasn't the change of the Avionic system either. You bite yourself and say "this is EXACTLY the same aircraft" but it doesn't feel that way when you are actually in there. Maybe it is the feeling from the panel or just the aircraft in general. A lot of users will certainly note the same thing but in the totally other way around with a much more love of the older analog version than the G1000 version... everyone to one's own. All I do know it was as noted quite a handful on landing this time... ... go just slightly under that 60knt mark and your in trouble, problem is you can't put on too much more speed either. I'm down, but in X-Plane you sometimes have to really work for it. Summary In a year or so then Laminar Research's G1000 GPS system will be fitted in countless X-Plane11 aircraft and it will be as familiar as the current GNS430/530 we have used for years. But here in the Tecnam P2006T you can seriously see the difference this new X-Plane11 GPS feature makes. It is the same aircraft as Tecnam P2006T that was released earlier this year and it is a good solid design if still in development. Modelling is great without being that pure extreme tick all the boxes look. There are no menus or special features, but Vskylab's doesn't always do those sort of addon's anyway, and what you do get is an interesting aircraft in two types with the original analog aircraft and the G1000 glass cockpit version. There are a few areas that need attention like the lighting (more tuning than working except for the none working internal roof light), and I am not crazy about the older analog panel metal textures. Some liveries would have been nice at that price and certainly would have helped out in the look of the analog version being far more bland than the G1000 version. For value you get two aircraft for the price of one and the ongoing development that comes with a Vskylab's project, and I am a big supporter of the Vskylab philosophy and the on going value and development that they deliver. Any aircraft from Vskylab is an investment, and this is a great interesting aircraft if not the usual run of the mill American design of the standard 4 seater light-twin. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Tecnam P2006T v1.4 Analog/G1000 package by Vskylabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T G1000 Price is US$28.50 Features Very First Aircraft to feature the new G1000 by Laminar Research !!! (XP11.10 required) New Exclusive Features for v4.0 Two aircraft included for the price of one: P2006 Analog + P2006 G1000 variant Includes the brand new LR G1000 GPS - X-Plane 11.10 only Features Designed for X-Plane 11 Fully functional G1000 with integrated autopilot (usable only from X-Plane 11.10 and above, including the beta) Analog cockpit is featuring GNS G530 + G430 Highly detailed and FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane FMOD sound pack project for both variants Highly accurate flight dynamics model Checklists text files included Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T is a project under constant development. All updates are free. Requirements X-Plane 11+ only (no longer compatible with X-Plane 10) X-Plane 11.10+ required for the G1000 variant Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). Installation Download of the VSKYLABS_Tecnam_P2006T_Project_v4.1a 386mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as V11 VSL Tecnam P2006T-G1000 v4.1a (111.10mb) V11 VSL Tecnam P2006T-Analog v4.1 (110.20mb) Note the v4.1a on the G1000 install. Make sure you download the v4.1a version of the aircraft as there is a v11.10 conflict on startup. And currently the X-Plane11.10 beta to fly this aircraft. Documents For all documentation you go to the Vskylab site for all downloads and manuals: VSKYLABS Aerospace Simulations: VSKYLABS Tecnam P2006T Project A link to a real flight manual is here: P2006T - Aircraft Flight Manual 2nd Edition - 2010, November 12th Rev.2: _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 29th November 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.10rc1 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 Scenery or Aircraft - KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.0 by NAPS (uploaded by Nicolas) - (X-Plane.Org) - Free- KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.99
  19. Aircraft Update Review - DC-3/C47 v2.5a by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project This aircraft from VSkyLabs is being updated so fast it is almost requiring a separate monthly column in X-PlaneReviews. Here is the latest in v2.5a (note the 5a) and usually only a few weeks after the last release you wouldn't give an update like this a second glance, but boy there is a lot of really nice goodies in this update and so it is certainly well worth noting. Images and conditions will be a little murky in this update, but that is for a reason... Yes I also promise I will put the DC-3 into a another livery next time around, but I am still totally in love with the G-AMSY Air Atlantique white and blue colours on the aircraft, so modern on an old airframe. Rain effects I am a big lover of really good rain effects. There is nothing more challenging than a stormy night landing with the wipers going and poor visibility, it brings the hairs up high on your neck and not to mention the rising heartbeat... This effect is heightened even more if the aircraft is old, like with PMDG's DC-6. And rain drops were on the early feature list for the DC-3. So here they are and how good is this. Sitting on the ramp you can barely see outside and you can now feel the sweat and moisture running down your back in tropical South Florida. It is really well done. The side windows now open as well, but both together, but VSkylabs have noted they will be animated separately in another update. When set open they do certainly highlight the thickness and density of the old aircraft's glass. Externally it is well done as well, with the same effect visible from the external viewpoint and not just from the usual internal view, which too few developers actually do. With the windows open... the external sounds are higher as well to create that full on engine and wind roar effect in your ears. With the wipers in operation it is very realistic and the wind effect on the rain as you gather speed is really well done as well. The effects do change from the dark to brighter wet window a little bit too sharpish and it is noticeable, so the effects are still in the need a little bit more of some fine tuning but overall the rain effects are excellent. Garmin GNS530 If you look hard at the above images you will see something else that has been added in to the cockpit of the DC-3... a GNS530. There was a GNS530 before but it was only a popup that was activated by pressing the centre of the VOR pointer dial. Now there are not one but two GNS530 units mounted high centre... ... but seriously how good is this installation. It looks very realistic even on this classic airliner. Left GNS350 is Comm1/VOR1 and the right side is the Comm/2/VOR2 settings and of course they both pop-out as well. They both fold up neatly as well if you are not using them by pressing the fastening knob on the holding bracket. The compass (top right) in the earlier version v2.1 did jiggle around, but it was a last minute addition and the ends of the mounting bungee cords were not fastened down as the whole apparatus moved around. This has been refined here and is now perfect, with the compass now moving nicely but the rubber cord ends are now securely fastened down to the panel. 3d Yokes The Yokes have had some attention as well... the centre Douglas logo caps are now in 3d and are nicely rounded and are more authentic in detail. Systems updates There has been few changes to the systems and avionics in v2.5a. The CHT and Oil Temp operation/temperatures have had attention and are more correct and so has the Carburetor Air Temp Gauge. The constant Carburetor heating alerts (X-Plane11) were annoying, so this has also had attention, with the Left handle for "locking" (non operational), while the other two are for left/right engines. Full aft position will now be for heating. (this feature is locked off in X-Plane10). The on board time watch has had a hour needle fix, and a stop watch needle added (red needle) and the OBS knob control has had the manipulators changed. I (finally) worked out the "EX" side switch (top right) above the wiper switch in that it is "expert mode", this is used in taxiing with the tail-wheel in it being either easy (normal) or hard/realistic in (EX). Cabin Internally in the cabin you can now hide the seating... ... this is of course to provide the provision for the coming Cargo version. The doors still don't open which hopefully will come with the cargo version? External The biggest new feature externally is the addition of Ski's... ... these Ski's are huge massive heavy duty contraptions, and they are again extremely well done. The design is well in keeping of the size and weight of the DC-3 aircraft and are really well modeled and fitted well on to the undercarriage of the aircraft. Lowering and raising of the ski's is done via a box and lever on the pilot's left rear side, it is tricky to use, but just move it and don't force it and it does the rest. You can fly with the skis on, but with the gear retracted they fit very nicely and snuggly under the engines. There is a drag penalty as well with the skis attached and more wind noise and as these are huge skis then the drag penalty is quite high on your fuel consumption. Propellers and Gear Both the propeller hubs in the spinner and the hub are now separated in textures to allow more realistic metallic textures for the bolt and and for the hub itself in separate conditions to heighten realism. The hubs certainly do look far more realistic andmore polished in their design, a nice touch... ... the undercarriage has had similar attention on the inner wheel textures to photo and realism, and they too look excellent. The animation of the undercarriage geometry has been revised as well, it does feel a little slower in retracting or extending but it is and feels more authentic, and the whole gear setup is more correct in the extended or retracted positions. That pretty well covers this excellent v2.5a update and note the 5a version as that is the one to download, with a few last minute fixes completed. Summary How quick these updates come along, but boy do you get some great new features and ideas and this new v2.5a certainly doesn't disappoint there. It doesn't seem like it was only a few months ago the Vskylabs DC-3/C47 was initially released but the development changes are exhausting but exciting in turning this great classic airliner in to what will be a certain X-Plane classic as well. Great new features include those atmospheric rain effects, great heavy duty skis, installed GNS530, opening side windows and a lot of refinement and system fine tuning. As noted this Vskylabs DC-3 is always an ongoing project and it is purchased as such, but there is no doubt you get a lot of features and aircraft for your money. The rain effects still need a little more refinement, and I am missing opening doors which I hope will come sooner than later, but otherwise this aircraft is one of my absolute favorites at the moment... I am flying in it everywhere and anytime, you should as well... This DC-3 is just simpy brilliant and already an X-Plane classic. ______________________________________________ Legacy of Liveries Upon MSN 19345 This is related to VskyLab's DC3/C47 aircraft and so the package is well worth noting in this update. The DC3/C47 only comes with one livery, their own in "VskyLabs". There is however already a great livery selection and paintkit on the X-Plane.Org in a now a dedicated download section : VSKYLABS DC3 But there is nothing like an expert painter in doing justice to the aircraft and more welcome is that it also includes a few currently lacking military (C47) liveries as well. This is a payware livery package of mostly original artwork for one Canadian aircraft in MSN 19345, but all are of very high quality by Robert W. Heyen or SimSmith. It includes twelve liveries in the package and they are ... 42-100882 USAAF TS422 RAF RCAF 422 RCAF Training Command CF-KAZ Keir Air Transport C-FKAZ Trans Provincial C-FKAZ Soundair N5831B IFL Group N5831B McNeely Air Charter N5831B John Johnson 2002 N5831B John Johnson 2003 N5831B Dakota Heritage 2004 N473DC Dakota Heritage 2006 Which is a clever history in liveries of one aircraft MSN 19345 throughout its long career.... totally recommended. And they are well worth adding into your collection for the VSKYLABS DC3/C47. Note. These liveries are NOT part of the VSKYLABS package as they are a 3rd party addon. ______________________________________________ The DC-3/C47 v2.5a by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project Your Price: $24.95 Features: Two packages included: X-Plane 11 + X-Plane 10.51 Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of more than 200 hours of flight testing and evaluation, made by real world C-47 pilot and aircraft performance expert. This model is stretching X-Plane to its limits in terms of delivering the authentic flying characteristics of the DC-3/C-47 Fully equipped with Radio and Navigation aids: along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems, it is also equipped with a pop-up G430 Workhorse for practicing 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 simulation Unique look and feel: The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design and “feel” of the DC-3/C-47 Systems - easy to operate by beginners: All relevant systems are simulated but with the focus on getting the “Flying Lab” airborne without the need to go through a long “ground school” FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab is a project under constant development. All updates are free. If you have already purchased the DC3/C47 from Vskylabs then just login to your X-Plane.OrgStore and go to your account and download the current v2.5a (note - that you download the 5a revised version!) Requirements Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). Current version: v001.1 (Last updated July 24th 2017) Installation and documents: Download for the DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is 353.90mg and the unzipped file is deposited in the "Heavy Metal" X-Plane folder with two version for both X-Plane10 and X-Plane11 V10.51 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v002.1 (253.40mb) V11 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v002.1 (253.40mb) _____________________________________________________________________________________ Legacy of Liveries Upon MSN 19345 Set of twelve liveries of the career of Aircraft build MSN 19345 SimSmith liveries Your Price: $12.00 X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________________________________________________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 25th October 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.05 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 (recommended with the DC-3)
  20. Aircraft Update Review - DC-3/C47 v2.1 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project . Only weeks ago, 22nd July 2017 actually I did a full new release review of VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project's DC3/C47. At X-PlaneReviews we do have a lot of new releases and with this year's new X-Plane11 revolution there is a full roll-out of aircraft and scenery that is being updated to the new format as well, so it has all been very busy. In reviews we do the review and unless there is a significant update and then we move on to the next release. I really loved VSkyLabs project of the DC3/C47, and noted so in the review. But there was at the time a few reservations of the current status of the project. It was really, really great, but and then there was that... but. In a few areas there was a feeling that it could have better in its release form, I thought about this for some time as the hardest points in any new release is the objectivity of a reviewer, over harsh and the developer can lose sales, but too lenient and the punter who is putting down the cash will not be impressed... so it is a very fine line. You do as a reviewer have more background evidence and your extensive knowledge to make the right call. The case for the VSkyLabs DC3 was correct for the time as was a cheaper entry price of US$19.95, which was the right price at the time as well. But two things unusually happened with this aircraft. One, I found myself in my spare time flying the DC3 extensively, even getting lost over the North Sea and nearly running out of fuel... I will come back to that one later. Two, was VSkyLabs hammered out updates like chickens pops out eggs. The result was this very quick update to v2.1 and for one of the most already wanted and in demand, loved aircraft in X-Plane this year. VSkyLabs Douglas DC3/C47 v2.1 My very first initial view of the release VSkyLabs DC3 was actually a groan... This is 2017 and the aircraft looked like it was from the X-Plane9 dark ages. Normal mapping creates that raised surfaces or 3d look on the aircraft's surfaces and here there was none. So the very first priority was to fix the aircraft's maps. This was done by Oleg Tronov who has also created an official paint kit for the DC3. The results are well... spectacular! Rivet... Rivet... Rivet, you feel like a beaver creating bodywork going at it full thrust, but just look at all those amazing rivets, panel lines and saw edges... you have gotta love it. Now that is a 2017 X-Plane11 looking DC3. The other poor performance on the release version was the liveries, but that has also changed now big buckets as well and mostly thanks to Arcticpilot and his great work... (Metallic VskyLab's is now the new default livery) The older "Flightgear Liveries" don't work anymore with the new metallic base and mapping, but I have persevered with the lovely Air Atlantique livery as it looks excellent and it is a more modern livery, but sorry I don't have permission to distribute it and it is still a work in progress, but you can have a go on the original if you want to from flightgear. FMOD Sounds Sounds originally included were not actually not that bad, but that has all been swept away with the intergration of the FMOD sound engine, and all round the sounds are now excellent. New 3d directional sounds include: Engines and Props with multiple layers for various rpm and distance from the engines. Engine startup and post startup low rpm sounds. Switches and knobs. Gyro instruments, Booster pumps. Gears, Flaps. Ambiance (wind) and turbulence during normal flight. Ground roll, tire screech. Vocal Annunciation for mixture control (auto rich, auto lean). Vocal Annunciation for tail wheel (locked, unlocked). Vocal Annunciation for autopilot (engaged/disengaged). Overhead Electric fans. Good? no brilliant, it shows with just the addition of 3d sounds on how quickly you can elevate an aircraft to excellent from just the very good. More sounds are promised but a few areas are counteracted by the XPRealistic plugin I am running here (Highly recommended for this aircraft). Cockpit In the cockpit there has been a lot of changes. The basics in the instrument panel though are all the same, but there are a lot of very nice new additions and fixes. The pop up GNS GPS unit has been upgraded to the GNS530 up from the GNS 430 for a bigger screen to use, the popup is still activated by pressing the centre of the VOR pointer dial. The centre mounted magnetic compass has also been mounted on rubber-wires, it does also move around and looks excellent, but the idea is not finished yet as the way the animation works is that the connection ends move as well? But VskyLab's have noted this will be worked on more to get a better result. Added animated fans are a welcome relief from the hot cockpit, they can be a bit distracting when the going gets tough, but a desk mounted fan is certainly advisable if you want the full wind in your face effect. Wipers are now correct in sweeping to the centre and not left-right, and FMOD wiper sounds heighten the effect for more realism. Wipers feel very realistic when battling low visibility on Norway's west coast! Emergency Escape hatch has been added to the cockpit roof, it is noted that in the future it will be functional, if you want to bail out? Speakers have been added into the roof on each side, which is another nice touch. The patterned wall cladding has been updated to a better quality feel as well, looks and feels far more realistic than the original cladding. Other fine tuning notes in the cockpit are the Seat, Yokes and Pedals have been fine-tune to fix minor alignment issues, added in a co-pilot comm box for right seat operations (I bet you didn't notice it was missing?) and the added in two radio-microphones. Cabin Another area that was average in the release aircraft was the silly stilted thin cabin passenger seats. Again there are now more detailed and thankfully wider seats for the passengers, I still think they could be a little wider, but they are certainly a big if huge step forward. You can expect a few nice variations of the cabin as already ArcticPilot has put out a very nice Icelandair version for his Icelandair livery. I myself has adjusted the cabin for my Air Atlantique livery, with a blue seat cover from ArcticPilots version (Thanks), instead of the odd coloured Buffalo Airways coverings. VskyLab's has already noted there is more to come yet in the cabin in the next version. The doors however still don't open, but the fuselage has been cut, ready so expect them sometime in the future. A full and more modern FMS is promised as well, but I really love the Sperry Type A-3A autopilot already installed so I am personally not too fussed. Flying the updated v2.1 DC3/C47 I have become a little addicted to this aircraft, as you should with any great aircraft in X-Plane. In my mind if you are always going to say "I'll give give that aircraft a go" then there is something special going on and the return of the experience from the simulation then fill's in the rest. So many things contribute to a great simulation, but aircraft feedback and the challenge of flying the machine is part of the fulfilment factor. The original release did feel a little unfinished, but then this is an ongoing project. This version is certainly more like what the release version should have been, and it feels far, far more complete. One area to note is the fuel tanks. On the original you emptied the main tanks and then the Aux would then empty, but not by switching them over? In a quirk in X-Plane you can't do this so you drain the main and then automatically switch to the backup tanks. This caught me out while flying from ENBR - Bergen to EGCC - Manchester as I almost emptied the main tanks but just thought I could switch over to the Aux as you do... My position was that well over the North Sea I was suddenly running out of fuel? Switching them over ran an engine dry? so I had to divert to EFPH - Edinburgh on what I thought was the last drips of fuel, but landed still with my Aux tanks brimming full. The tanks have been changed in v2.1 to drain ALL tanks at the same time, which personally I still wish we could have done a real tank to tank switch, but there you go... Manchester thankfully will certainly be in range now. Tank switches are on the top of the pedestal and the tank fuel gauge can be switched on the panel lower co-pilot's side, it is a shame you can't use them. The old bird is tricky to fly, first this old badger is a taildragger, but the aircraft is heavy as well. Plenty of power just gets it moving and then it is going too fast once you are, so you have to find that throttle balance, instruments are old, so they can be hard to interpret sometimes and at critical times in poor weather you can lose where you are in the balance. But poor weather condition brings the aircraft alive as well, so that is the challenge and why the DC3 is so renowned in getting in there and getting out again into areas that normal aircraft just can't fly around. The aircraft's wing lights in v2.1 have been adjusted and are far brighter now and more workable, they were pretty feeble in the original version. Approach speeds are tricky, you need a little speed, but flap use is restricted to below 115mph, so you are losing, losing speed all the time in trying to get the speed lower to get that flap lift of the use of the lower speed of 80mph. You work it out, but you work for it as well... who said flying was easy? Crosswinds cause you havoc, if you are not using a lot of full rudder then you will not fly a DC3 correctly, trimming the tail straight before dropping down on to the tail-wheel is an art form you have to master. So flying this bird is going to test your skills, but that is the idea right, fly hard and get the job done. You can sit for hours just looking at it... Summary The obvious question comes up here in that was this DC3/C47 by VskyLabs released before it should have been. It is a fair point and in a way the answer is yes as my original review reflected, an ongoing project is still an an ongoing project, but this is 2017 and the entry standard into X-Plane lately is now high. Certainly the special early release price of US$19.95 is going to have a lot of the early punters smiling with this significant update. The aircraft was saved overall because the earlier basics are so good, but now you are still getting a real absolute bargain even at the new US$24.95 price so five dollars here and there is only a decent cup of coffee. But that $5 is getting you a far, far better and more rounded aircraft. The changes here with that excellent normal mapping, far better quality liveries and better cabin seating are well worth the extra admission price alone.... and we are not finished yet here either, as VskyLabs has a list as long as your arm in coming features and detailing and the announced Freight/Cargo version. Another significant point is the response time in getting the aircraft to v2.1. The sign of a good if great developer is to listen to feedback and delivers, and here VskyLabs certainly delivered and quickly and you can't fault that, you certainly can't expect the rollout and changes to keep coming at this pace either because that is not realistic, but you can be confident that this DC3/C47 is already going to be one of the really must haves in X-Plane, it is an exciting project that continues... but for now with this excellent v2.1 update of the aircraft is already right now a great aircraft to totally enjoy in flying one of the really great classic airlines of aviation history.... a must have! _____________________________________________________________________________________ The DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project Your Price: $24.95 Features: Two packages included: X-Plane 11 + X-Plane 10.51 Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of more than 200 hours of flight testing and evaluation, made by real world C-47 pilot and aircraft performance expert. This model is stretching X-Plane to its limits in terms of delivering the authentic flying characteristics of the DC-3/C-47 Fully equipped with Radio and Navigation aids: along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems, it is also equipped with a pop-up G430 Workhorse for practicing 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 simulation Unique look and feel: The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design and “feel” of the DC-3/C-47 Systems - easy to operate by beginners: All relevant systems are simulated but with the focus on getting the “Flying Lab” airborne without the need to go through a long “ground school” FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab is a project under constant development. All updates are free. Requirements Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). Current version: v001.1 (Last updated July 24th 2017) Installation and documents: Download for the DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is 180.40mg and the unzipped file is deposited in the "Heavy Metal" X-Plane folder with two version for both X-Plane10 and X-Plane11 V10.51 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v002.1 (253.40mb) V11 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v002.1 (253.40mb) _____________________________________________________________________________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 5th September 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.02 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 2.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 Scenery or Aircraft - ENGM - Oslo Gardermoen by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95 - ENBR - Bergen Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$21.59
  21. Aircraft Review - DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project What marks the ultimate in greatness. In most cases it is something or someone that has had an significant impact and has created enough of a shift in the way the whole world works or lives. In the case of aviation the impact it was total. From the destruction of distance, time and even the cost of moving around the planet can not be challenged in any shape or form. But like most brilliant inventions the changes that we take for granted today are usually in steps, and some steps are small but important, but some are huge and changes almost everything in the way we used movement and in the way you traveled before that introduction of absolute change. In modern thinking you could say the same about the before and after the iPhone and the effects on the way we communicate. We are today too far removed from the changes of aviation in its formation years between the World Wars, but the effects from that era are all around us every time we go to an airport and fly. In the area of greatness then that title has been lavished onto the DC-3 or Douglas Commercial 3. The aircraft was one of the greatest machines to have ever been built, but the reality could have been different. In truth only 607 DC-3's were ever built and the aircraft was already in line to be superseded except for the insertion of the Second World War. The military need aircraft, in fact thousands of them and they needed to be reliable, fast (in 2WW terms) and mostly cheap and quick to produce. So the DC-3 became the C47 Skytrain and over the course of the war they manufactured 16,000 of these Goony Birds. War time surplus demands then put a huge majority of these cheap flying aircraft on the market and the rest as they say is history. Even in innovation it was the DC-2 that was the innovation aircraft in being an all metal aircraft with a tapered wing, retractable landing gear, and two 690 hp (515 kW) Wright radial engines driving variable-pitch propellers. It seated 12 passengers. The DC-1 was in reality just a development prototype aircraft and only one was actually built. The DC-3 was just an upgraded version of the DC-2 with 21 passenger seats, 1,100-horsepower (820 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines but also filled in that sweet niche point of making and in creating RPT airline routes (now known as regional) profitable. So you have cheap to buy, fast at 200 knts (370 km/h (230 mph) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m)) with a cruise speed of 180 knts (333 km/h (207 mph)), cheap to run and bingo you had an airline. Beyond just the obvious the DC-3's claim to ultimate greatness was simply reliability. These strong tough wartime birds would simply keep on flying no matter what you threw at them, pilots loved them and the rest is history. Incredibly even after eighty years since they first flew there are operators with 2,000 DC-3s still in revenue service and as many converted as cargo aircraft. But most DC-3's today are now either in restoration or flying around at air shows. The oldest current DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit (c/n 1920, the 43rd aircraft off the Santa Monica production line and delivered on March 2, 1937), which can still be seen at airshows around the United States and is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flagship Detroit Foundation. VSkyLabs Douglas DC-3 "Flying Lab Project" Vskylabs have been around for a few years. There are not in a general sense full developers, but more of a an older style X-Plane community that loves aircraft in all their shapes and forms. So their output is very varied, mostly cheap but interesting aircraft like the Tecnam P2006T Project, Phoenix S-LSA Project, Hang Glider Project and the Autogyro Project and many more. But note the word "Project" behind every aircraft. As noted most developers develop aircraft for X-Plane for income, a few do it for the love of aircraft per-se. But Vskylabs create projects of aircraft that you can invest in. They are built to a price and are not developed to the high end degrees of detailing and systems, yes Vskylabs do create interesting aircraft but not to the so called "Study" depth of simulation. This background is important to note when reading the review below, the aircraft is an ongoing project and there is more to come as it is developed out more, but it is important to note that the aircraft is certainly developed as to a current fine flying state, and so most of the on going development is more in the detailing and filling in areas than the main systems and flying performance, and it is priced accordingly in that category. The aircraft comes in the now famous "Buffalo Airways" livery from the "Ice Pilots NWT" TV series run by Joe McBryan (aka "Buffalo Joe"). External modeling is very good, but does not have extreme detailing that comes with say a Carenado. One reason is that the liveries are not created in house but are used from "Flightgear Liveries" and are flightsim textures and not X-Plane art. They are 4k or 4096px x 4096px in size but the quality is noticeable. More liveries are available, but you will have to adjust them yourself to fit, in saying that the effort is worth it as they can look actually quite good in X-Plane11 considering their heritage, and I show a few converted liveries at the end of this review. They are freeware Flight Gear DC-3 liveries and they are under a GPL licence, which means you can adjust them but you have to acknowledge the source. There is also paintkit also available, but it will be interesting to see if any of our great artists can up the game for this DC-3, in fact one for Lufthansa has already been released. The Buffalo livery has been more extensively modified by Vskylabs and is now part of the project with permission from flightgear But there is no doubt this bird looks great, certainly in the great light of X-Plane11. X-Plane10 is also available as well but you will not get those great lighting reflections you see here. You don't get a load of intimate riveting and panel detail, there are some really very nice detailing work where required. The engine cowling and the internal detailing of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engines looks magnificent, but the highlight here is the lovely chrome prop spinner. The undercarriage is also well detailed, I would have really expected a bit more grease and wear and tear, but otherwise the struts look good. The retraction animation is very good as well as the gear goes up slowly into its bay, or extracts easily down for landing. There are no menus or ground elements with this DC-3, and the doors don't open either, which would have been a great feature and certainly in it's current cargo role. But the old bird does look great on the ramp, it is a DC-3 and DC-3's are a very unique aircraft. Cockpit and Cabin Internally the Vskylabs DC-3 is quite good. The textures are in places a little average in resolution and so slightly blurred, but otherwise it is well done. This aircraft is from the 1930's in technology, and so panels with instruments mounted on them is par of the course. It is all straight forward in that there is no detailed wear and tear or worn levers and yokes, which would have added in a bit more period authenticity, but it is well done and you feel the age of the aircraft from the flying position and in the way you access the controls. A highlight is the aircraft's glass. The windows are aged worn and feel great when looking through them in an authentic way, a bit of poor weather highlight's their old faded transparency... I like them a lot. In the cabin is is pretty much in the same vein with average textures and seats that look too small, certainly in the width. For all the ages then aircraft back then had a lot of seating width within reason, more like the luxury trains of the same era, and nothing like the tight pitch of today. The DC-3 could be four seats abreast, so a three abreast like here would give you a lot space to play with, remember there was no aisle carts either back then to bang up and down the aisle between the seats. Again the faded windows are great as are the fancy red curtains, there was no overhead lockers then either but instead shelving for pillows and hand baggage. Instrument Panel You can see why these aircraft were so highly regarded as their instrumentation is very good even by modern standards. Not in the glass cockpit sort of fit-out, but any good GA is not that dissimilar to the familiar layout viewed here. You can click on the base of the pilot's yoke to make both of them disappear, which is a great feature as they do hide the rate of turn instrument and even a little bit of the rate of climb instrument as well. It is a slightly odd feeling of finding the right perspective of looking out of the high windows and wanting all of the instruments in view as you can't have both. None of the standard six can be in view unless you change your perspective quite significantly as they are positioned well down the panel, and then in perspective they look odd in that fishbowl look. So viewing up and down will take a bit of practise in the way you fly the aircraft and setting up for landings via the instruments does mean a limited view out of the windows, so you can only have one view or the other. Instruments are highly reflective as well. Maybe too reflective in some conditions, but I would far rather have the feature than not. All the instrument are huge, large and easy to read... no squinting in here to read anything. Standard Six instruments are low set for the flying pilot but with a different set of instruments set high for the Co-Pilot. On the left is the Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator and the Artificial Horizon on the top row and the Radial compass (heading), Turn Coordinator and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the six pack is a clock and top of the panel center is an Omni Bearing Selector, or OBS and to the right a VOR 1&2/ADF 1&2 pointer. On the panel's far left is your flap position indicator, it is basic but easy to see. For the co-pilot there is only the Airspeed Indicator and Altitude Indicator with the free air temperature gauge between them. Second row has the (both engines) Oil temperatures, Cylinder temperatures and Carburettor Temperatures. Lower row has fuel gauge (switchable), hydraulic Pressure and De-Icing pressure. Centre panel is the Sperry Type A-3A autopilot, which we will cover more in the air. And below four gauges covering (both engines) Oil Pressure, R.P.M, Fuel Pressure and Man (Manifold Pressure). There are two overhead panels with one over each of the pilots upper left and right. Pilot's left side covers all the aircraft's power, external, panel lighting and de-icing switches, with a big red left propeller feather button. The right side panel covers L-GEN and R-GEN (Generator) switches and Carburettor de-icer. The red right propeller feather button and the main external aircraft navigation lighting, the co-pilot's instrument lighting switch is here as well. Overhead centre is lower the two engine ignition switches and above the radio panel to cover your COM 1&2, NAV 1&2 and ADF 1&2 frequencies. Also here is the DME-A and DME-B (Distance Measuring Equipment) and ATC frequencies (ATC is the aircraft's Transponder). On the co-pilot's side wall are two sets of instruments covering with gauges Landing Gear pressure and Hydraulic System pressure. There is another panel for two switches that operate the engine cowling (cooling) positions from open to close. You can also use the X-Plane default GNS430 GPS system by pressing the VOR pointer dial and you can still set your COM1 and VOR1 frequencies here as well. Pedestal Central pedestal is a lovely bit of gear. Like the nice thin metal yokes you get the full vintage long lever feel that covers both engines in P-Propeller, T-Throttle and M-Mixture. The mixture levers have two zones that you can pre-select either Auto-Rich or Auto-Lean like on the real DC-3. The main switchable fuel tank switches in MAIN or AUX are on either side of the levers. On the left of the pedestal is the main trim wheel (very nice) and the Aileron and Rudder trim wind handles are on the lower front of the pedestal. Two other items here cover the "Autopilot" on/off switch and the tailwheel lock lever. Park brake is just a small pull switch hidden low on the front of the pedestal (arrowed), and difficult to use. As are also both the undercarriage gear lever (lower) and the longer (higher) flap levers on the rear right side of the cockpit, I have all these three items set on my joystick/throttle system, so it wasn't an issue, but if you want to use any of the three manually it does mean taking your eyes and hands a long off the all important flying matters... ... they would all be easy to use in a real world sense, but in a 3d virtual cockpit you would have to have a different solution. Flying the DC-3/C47 This aircraft is not a study sim, so you won't be put through all the pain of starting those old tired cantankerous Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines. This point is a debatable one in either you want a complete realism simulation, but too many then starting these old style aircraft can be more frustrating than the fun aspect of the flying. Starting engines on many simulated aircraft can be an absolute painful experience, but it depends on how you want to approach realism. Here it does help to use XPRealistic Pro by rk Apps and their realism effects. Set up correctly it does at least give you some more general feel and shudder to create a more realistic environment around such older style aircraft, in reality this app should be part of the deal with the aircraft, but on start up it does create an excellent prop shudder and running effects. I have flown in a DC-3 and even if it was a $50 joyride, but it was a sensational ride that you never forget if you love aviation. It is noisy, bumpy but the aircraft does sort of come alive around you as a living breathing machine that is quite unlike modern era aircraft. Old taildragger hands will do the deal and fly the aircraft with the tailwheel loose. It is a trick to do, but using a twin-throttle arrangement does allow you to do that... but it is not easy. I have mastered it.... to a point, but when it lets loose it just goes... So a sort of sanity does and has to prevail. A flip of the tailwheel lock on the front of the pedestal will make the tailwheel behave to the laws of X-Plane and you can control it with the yaw aspect, in other words taxi where you want to go and not where the tailwheel wants you to go. Certainly a major miff from the diehards, but I feel the X-Plane freewheeling tailwheel is not right either in it's actions, I never see tailwheel's go opposite rearwards when taxiing straight ahead on real aircraft but it does here, so it is bit of both. Anyway the tailwheel has to be locked for any takeoff or landing, keeping it unlocked will certainly mean a crash. The view forward is very restricted, but that is part of the fun, not so much fun is that you can't see your instruments, so there is a bit of guessing going on on speeds, experts say it is normal, you just know and feel on what the aircraft is doing where and what. It is very easily if touching the controls manually to select the wrong levers? It is the P-Propeller and not the T-Throttle levers that comes to hand easily as the throttle levers are in centre here and not to the par de course to the left, so you have to look to make sure you are pushing up the correct ones, personally though as I am using a twin-throttle system it is not an issue, but I did try the manual operation and had to check to see if I was doing it right, again a twin-throttle system is great for keeping the old bird straight on the runway, certainly if there is a bit of a crosswind. Tail lifts quite easily at around 60mph and that helps the view, but with that tail hanging out back there then needs some fine rudder control to keep it aligned straight. Thankfully at only 110mph you are airborne. Undercarriage animation as noted is excellent, as one wheel assembly will be slightly behind the retraction of the other wheel for authenticity. The DC-3 has a climb rate of 1,130 ft/min but you keep it around a 1,000 ft/min as so not to strain the Wasps, but she will climb and with no fuss or loss of speed. Total ceiling is around 23,000ft (7,100 m) but I will climb only to 8,500ft for this trip. If you are familiar with PMDG's DC-6 you will find it easy in here. The same conditions count with the first important issue which is to fully trim the aircraft. As you know on the DC-6 it is a far more easier aircraft to fly than to fight it, if the trim is wrong. And so it is in this DC aircraft as well. Second is when you have trimmed the aircraft is too manoeuvre the aircraft to a clean and level flight, and trim again if you have to. The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is about as basic as you can expect it to be. This is not a complicated in depth system, and in fact all it does is adjust the basic flying surfaces to your settings. It is activated by the switch on the lower front of the pedestal. And like previously mentioned the aircraft has to be steady, ready and trimmed to accept it. Three dials in RUD (Rudder), AIL (Aileron) and ELE (Elevation) will adjust your flying surfaces, in reality it is just a trim function but one that you can control easier. Turn the ELE and you will see your yoke go towards you to climb, same movement in forward to descend. AIL will bank the aircraft to a new heading and so on. It works quite nicely but you have to watch your instruments in that you are going in the right direction and not slightly banking towards another one. Overall it take the strain out of holding the controls for long periods of time. The DC-3 has a range of 1,500 mi or 2,400 km (1,346nm), which is very impressive, but in most cases around 400 to 500nm is usually the go. Note the built in excellent gyro bank and climb instruments, and they work as real too. This is vintage flying. You are certainly not going to get anywhere very fast, but there is a sort of trundling along with the engines pounding away on mostly on all cylinders in the background, the excellent XPRealistic Pro giving the old bulkheads and window frames a constant shake and everything feels quite nice with the world. Sounds are not to bad actually, but VSkyLabs has noted that FMOD sounds are coming soon (to X-Plane11) and that will be certainly a great addition to the all round aural experience. Could this be called "Classic" flying, I think so as the world sorts of moves by rather than flies by under the aircraft and at only being 8500ft up you get to see a lot more of the landscape. If you are familiar with PMDG's DC-6 you will understand most of the actions here also, so you will feel quite at home in either aircraft, the DC-3 is certainly easier to fly than the bigger DC-6, but feeling is the same. The DC-3 is known as a pilot's, pilot's aircraft. And I can understand that, as the bird is very hands on, but more to the point you feel the DC-3 in the way you fly it, well trimmed it is a nice aircraft to manoeuvre as long as you understand it's limitations and performance. Overall the aircraft is very addictive, in that fly it once then you just want to have another go and in that aspect VSkyLabs has got something very right here. Wipers do work. There is no actual switch at the moment and so you have to press the centre of the wiper motor box to activate them, but they are great in poor weather... The DC-3 is nice to manoeuvre when setting up for landing. "Hands on" is the thought that comes to mind, but you know you are in control. Flaps are not stepped but continuous, so you have to hold the lever down all the time to drop them, but harder is that they can only be used at around or under 100mph, so you have to get down to that speed before using them... and it is harder than it sounds. Once there you can then actually lower the flaps and then they provide their own drag to adjust your approach speed, so then it becomes a balance of flap drag vs throttle thrust to keep the approach correct. Stall is around 60mph so 80mph feels about right. She will float very easily, but the trick is to use it and not fight it... ... you are very conscious of your tail. Even in light crosswinds the DC-3 can be very tail light and of course we have all seen the great footage of these taildraggers in real action in heavy winds, and then they are a real handful. But once you are over the threshold you have to learn to straighten up the tail by instinct before you put the aircraft down, so yes using the float point is a great benefit to you if you can get it right, so you hold, straighten then hold it tight and reduce the speed to meet the runway. It took me a few landings to get it perfectly right, but then it just becomes a background natural instinct and feel. Nightlighting As to be expected the lighting on the DC-3 is basic. External lighting is not adjusted, but it is effective. Note the high light on the tail. Instrument panel lighting is not overly dramatic, but it is easy to use and t actually read at night and so in that case it is effective. Taxiing at night is a pretty dark affair, but it does feel very authentic, the frosted old windows certainly help a lot to the atmosphere. Overall a bit more work is required here. Liveries As noted the only livery is provided is the Buffalo Airways which was created originally from "Flightgear Liveries" but with permission is now part of the project. And if you want to you can convert more for the aircraft from the Flightgear site. It took me about 20min to do about four... in a very nice Air Atlantique, BUA, CP Air and a Chilean Airforce livery. They are (very) basic and there are sadly currently no Military C47 liveries in the list. There is a paintkit here on the X-Plane.Org. One livery for Lufthansa (below) has already appeared so there is no doubt this aircraft will attract a lot of painters. It is in the liveries that others can help this project as to throw some serious talent at these liveries would certainly lift the already underlying good aircraft. A final note that this review was completed with the v001.1 update that has a had a lot of changes since the release version. A few images in here were still from the original release version (mostly the reflective instruments). Any new purchase will download the v001.1 version, but if you haven't then do so as the update is significant. Another point is that I highly recommend both a twin-throttle system and the use of XPRealistic Pro by rk Apps effects as they both are a huge bonus in flying this aircraft. Summary To be clear what you are purchasing with this VSkyLabs DC-3/C47 aircraft is a project still in progress, an advanced one, but it is still far from the completed aircraft. There are no special features in menus or elements and the cabin is really also still not fully completed. This is also not a deep simulation in the way you would totally operate a DC-3 either, certainly not in the systems and in some areas the operation and the price which is set below US$20 does reflect that. The liveries are also quite basic, but workable. The normal mapping is also basic (the textures that highlight pixels to make lines and grooves on the aircraft) and it is here that I think most visual improvements could be made. You want to see every rivet and panel in it's glory as these older aircraft are built that way, and this missing visual aspect is noticeable. Certainly X-Plane11 goes a long way in bringing up great lighting and saving an aircraft which could have be quite dull without it, so in X-Plane11's light the aircraft does look quite nice and interesting and it does show the potential of what can be yet added to this aircraft as the basics are excellent. If you accept the above then you will take the aircraft to your heart. It is a great aircraft to use and fly, and very hard to ignore and even addictive, actually very addictive in the fact the more you fly the aircraft the more you want more of it. It can be tricky of course, but again all these sort of taildraggers are interesting machines... but that is all part of the fun as well. So what you get here is a great deal, a great if even one of the really greatest aircraft of all time to fly and enjoy and I can guarantee you now there are already a lot of X-Plane pilots out there with a wide grin on their faces as they trundle around the slow moving landscape with a beating heart of happiness, not even money can provide that, so get with the project and be a part of the movement to thoroughly enjoy the ride along the way. _____________________________________________________________________________________ The DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab Project Your Price: $19.95 Features: Two packages included: X-Plane 11 + X-Plane 10.51 Highly Realistic Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of more than 200 hours of flight testing and evaluation, made by real world C-47 pilot and aircraft performance expert. This model is stretching X-Plane to its limits in terms of delivering the authentic flying characteristics of the DC-3/C-47 Fully equipped with Radio and Navigation aids: along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems, it is also equipped with a pop-up G430 Workhorse for practicing 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 simulation Unique look and feel: The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design and “feel” of the DC-3/C-47 Systems - easy to operate by beginners: All relevant systems are simulated but with the focus on getting the “Flying Lab” airborne without the need to go through a long “ground school” FPS friendly Designed to utilize the “out of the box” features of X-Plane Additional Features: Highly responsive support system/forum. The VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 Flying Lab is a project under constant development. All updates are free. Requirements Minimum System Specifications: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU with 2 or more cores, or AMD equivalent. Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 1 GB VRAM Recommended Hardware Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD). Current version: v001.1 (Last updated July 24th 2017) Installation and documents: Download for the DC-3/C47 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is 199.80mg and the unzipped file is deposited in the "Heavy Metal" X-Plane folder with two version for both X-Plane10 and X-Plane11 V10.51 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v001.1 (147.20mb) V11 VSL DC-3 C-47 Flying Lab v001.1 (166.00mb) There are no documents, but recommended there is a full suite of original Douglas manuals at "www.avialogs.com" but you have to pay to access them. RECOMMENDED: PILOT TRAINING MANUAL FOR THE C-47 / 1943 / USAAF T.O. 01-40NC-1 Pilot's Flight Operating instructions C-47 Airplane. T.0. 1C-47B1 Flight Handbook C-47B - C-117A -R4D6. A.P. 2445A & C - PN - Pilot's notes for Dakota I & III. AAF Manual 51-129-2 Pilot Training Manual for C-47 Skytrain. DC-3C Operation Manual. DC3 Emergency Check List. DC3 Preflight Check List. DC3 Check list. Pilot Training manual for the C-47. A.P. 2445D-P.N. Pilot's Notes for Dakota IV. C-47D Skytrain Characteristics Summary - 26 September 1952. T.O. 1C-47(A)D-1 Partial Flight Manual AC-47D. Strength and Operation of DC-3 Airplanes. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 27th July 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.02 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 2.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 Scenery or Aircraft - ENGM - Oslo Gardermoen by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95 - ENBR - Bergen Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$21.59 Note the winter textures by xFlyer called Winter_Package or Simple Seasons with the MODS program was used to create the winter scenario for this review.
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