Flying high in SL

Update March 26th: Erick has sent me a copy of the “full” version of the Spitfire’s Hud, which does include a comprehensive set of control switches.

As regular readers know, I was bitten by the flying bug towards the back-end of 2012. I started out humbly enough with a couple of “freebie” aircraft (although the term doesn’t do them justice at all) a Terra Stingray by Steve “Cubey Terra” Cavers and a Pitts S2C by Michie Yokosuka. As noted back then, I’d had some flying vehicles prior to these two, but they marked my “real” entry into the world of flying in SL.

Since then, my aircraft collection has expanded somewhat, with several more from the Cubey Terra range entering my ownership, and even Warbugs getting my attention. If I’m totally honest, the Stingray has remained my out-and-away favourite – it handles beautifully and is equally at home whether in the air or on (and even under!) the water – which is really handy when out on Blake Sea.

However, my collection of aircraft gained a massive boost recently when I unexpectedly came into ownership of an aeroplane I have, like anyone remotely connected to or interested in RL flying, loved from afar: A Supermarine Spitfire. Specifically a Mark IX as made by Erick Gregan.

Just a gal and her Mark IX
Just a gal and her Mark IX

The “Spit” came my way while Erick and I were visiting the Magnum Sandbox regions in order to poke sticks at the region crossing bug fix deployed this week by LL in an attempt to cure much of the misery surrounding vehicle region crossings resulting from the recent roll-out of interest list code.

Those who are familiar with Erick’s work know this his aircraft are all exquisitely put together and detailed – and the Spitfire is no exception. A mesh construction, It is perhaps one of the most detailed SL aircraft I’ve seen, and it is clear that he has poured an enormous amount of creative talent into it. I confess that it was love at first sight when he rezzed it in front of us.

Fabulous detail
Fabulous detail

It is also fabulously scripted – the one aircraft having four flight modes:  an “easy fly”, a “realistic fly” (handling pretty much as a “real” aeroplane would, and requiring as much care and respect), and both an “easy combat”, and a “realistic combat” version for those who feel a little more bloodthirsty.

All four variants come in a single Mark IX rezzer which itself is pretty neat. Pull it out of inventory, let it rez and then click to select which variant of the aircraft you’d like. The “flyable” version then replaces the rezzing version, which self-deletes, leaving the flyable version occupying the same space.  Also included in the box is a low-impact (non-flying) “display” version, suitable for parking in a hanger, a full set of instructions and a parachute – just in case.

In the air
In the air

The Spitfire uses the usual flight controls: Page Up / Down for throttle, the arrow keys for climb / descend / banking, together with a huge range of chat commands  – there is no active HUD for flight settings, although you can display an instrument HUD on your screen.

In terms of capabilities and control, Erick has packed a lot in, and sought to make the aircraft as real to fly as possible, particularly in the “realistic” modes. In the latter, a correct start-up process needs to be followed in order to get the big Merlin engine turning over; there’s a battery to turn on, fuel pumps and mixture to set, throttle to open, etc., before attempting start-up. When the engine does start to turn over, you’re treated to unburnt fuel “flaming” in the Merlin’s exhaust pipes as well as getting the life-life sound of the engine coughing and roaring into life. All-in-all an aviation enthusiast’s dream.

"Contact!" The Mark IX's Merlins starts ...
“Contact!” The Mark IX’s Merlins starts …

Once in the air, the Spitfire is a delight to fly, and is very responsive to keyboard inputs, with flap, ailerons and rudder all visibly moving in response to inputs. I can say that aerobatics, are a joy – providing you have a good sense of spatial awareness :). I had a lot of fun barrel-rolling and looping around the sky once I’d got settled.

Care does need to be taken when flying the plane in “realistic” modes, however. Get things out of shape on landing, for example, and you’re liable to tip the nose into the ground … as I found out *cough*cough*. Oh, and don’t forget to refuel between flights :).

There is a HUD to go with the Spitfire, but it is “passive” in the sense that while it records airspeed, altitude, heading, etc., there are no switches or options to click; all commands outside of the flying controls are given via chat. The commands themselves are simple enough, with many abbreviated for ease of use (“cc” to close / open the canopy, “ch” to remove / place the wheel chocks, “br” for brakes, etc).

I’ve not actually tried my hand in combat, as that is not something which particularly draws me (Warbugs notwithstanding!), bot the Spitfire comes with an impressive array of weapon options using the VCE combat system for those who are combat enthusiasts.

As to region crossings? While, these have been an issue of late, as I’ve been covering in my weekly SL project updates. However, and while it has, at the time of writing, yet to be deployed to the entire grid – which should happen in week 13 (commencing Monday 25th March), the fix for BUG-1814 works. Neither Erick nor I encountered any issues crossing between regions in the Magnum Sandbox area. Hopefully this will be the majority finding for everyone who enjoys flying / driving / sailing in SL once the fix has been fully rolled-out.

And the Spitfire? Well, suffice it to say, I’m well and truly flying high.

Spit-7_001

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A festival of tales, and stories from time and space

It’s another special week for storytelling in voice this week, both at the Seanchai Library SL and with Storyfest 2013, taking place on Sunday 24th March at Bran.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday March 24th, 09:00-17:00: Storyfest 2013 at Bran

storyfest-3Storyfest 2013 arrives a Bran on Sunday, March 24th, and with it comes a host of storytellers with tales to delight and enthrall.

This year marks the third anniversary for this one-day event, presented by Branwen Arts and Stories Unlimited.

Feturing a host of stories from many of SL’s top Voice performers, Storyfest 2013 kicks-of at the Story Circle in Bran at 09:00, running through until 17:00 and includes a special performance of ACCEPT by the independent Ballet Company, staged at the Branwen Arts Center Theater with music and story on stream.

Find out more here, or by visiting the Storyfest SL blog.

Monday March 25th, 19:00: Reflections from the Golden Wheel

Join Caledonia Skytower, as she reads from her about-to-be-released RL publication, Reflections from The Golden Wheel.

Tuesday, March 26th, 19:00: Fairies! Fairies! Fairies with Faerie!!!

With Faerie Maven-Pralou.

Wednesday 27th March, 19:00: A Newbery Zoo

Martin Greenberg brings together a dozen stories by Newbery Award-winning authors.

Animals — enter their magic kingdom. From cuddly puppies to ferocious lions and every beast in between, children are forever drawn to animals and to stories about their adventures. And who better to tell these stories than authors who have won the John Newbery Medal for distinguished contributions to literature for children, as read by Gina Pralou-Maven.

Thursday March 28th, 19:00: Hilo Tales

TimegatesEdited by Gardner R. Dozois and Jack Dann, Timesgates is an anthology of twelve dimension-shattering tales of time travel.

Featuring John Varley, Ursula K. LeGuin, Joe Haldeman, Avram Davidson, Damon Knight, Nancy Kress, R.A. Lafferty, Jack McDevitt, Bridget McKenna, Richard McKenna, Charles Sheffield, and James Tiptree, Jr. These stories take readers from everyday reality into the infinite vistas of time and space — as far as the man can reach.

Join Shandon Loring as he brings these tales to life.

Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and additions to the week’s schedule.

In March and April Seanchai are inviting library guests to join them in supporting their featured real world charity Project Children! Have questions? IM or notecard Caledonia Skytower.

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