Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some random FS9 freeware planes, part 2

Here's a couple more interesting freeware offerings that I have recently tried. First, there is this really nice Grumman Ag-Cat, by Marcel du Plessis. This one has a lot to offer--a fun, unusual plane, offering a stunning virtual cockpit and a chance to work on a new skill. As I've said once or twice around here, I haven't had much time lately for simming; but if I did, I might try perfecting my cropdusting (or "top dressing") skills with this plane. On my test flight I did try zipping down into various fields and pulling up right before the trees, but I think it would take a lot of practice to get those tight turnarounds down.

Here's a couple of VC shots. Crisp, clean, convincing textures on the panel, and nice views all around. The plane handles nicely--quick and agile, but not too skittish. I was caught off guard a couple of times by the high power-on stall speed (OK, so I made a few craters), so I think it would pay to spend some time practicing maneuvers a few thousand feet up before heading to the farm.
My only slight gripe about this plane is that there is no pilot visible in the spot view, so it looks a little weird from the outside. It is possible there is a keystroke which will populate the plane (I only skimmed the documentation), if there is I would say this one is just about perfect.

Now for something a little different, the Demoiselle V2.0 created by Marcel & Marco Di Foggi. The real Demoiselle was built by Alberto Santos-Dumont. (Go ahead and look at the Wikipedia link, and you'll see these guys have modeled the hat very accurately!) This is one of the best early aircraft I've seen. I especially like to watch the wheels from the virtual "cockpit", as you can see them stop spinning after takeoff, the rev up on touchdown. It helps you appreciate the courage of those daring young men, when you see they had so little between them and terra firma.
The biggest weakness of this plane is how unconvincing is the human figure (apart from the excellent hat). Of course, this is an inherant weakness of FS graphics and no fault of the developers. But this kind of plane makes the contrast pretty jarring.
It is nice to see there is still a lot of newer stuff out there for FS9. I have not tried these in FSX, so I cannot comment on whether they would work well there.

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