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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18 thoughts on “Flying high in SL

  1. Great post, Inara! The EG planes have always been a fav of mine too. I am especially fond of his vintage Bleriot – it isn’t new and shiny, or mesh, but it’s still fun to fly and generally handles sim crossings with ease. Maybe we’ll see each other flying out over the Blake Sea. 🙂

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    1. Thanks!

      I’ll likely be out over Blake Sea once again when the fix for Bug-1814 has been fully deployed to the entire grid, so hopefully see you there! 🙂

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      1. What bug is that, Inara? I’ve noticed a HUGE increase in region crossing crashes lately. Sigh…so much for improving region crossings! And I just added a lovely EG F4U Corsair to my collection, too!

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        1. The detailed description of the issue is available here – “Interest List Updates – Vehicle Crossings”.

          Essentially, LL are improving communications between the servers and the viewer on a number of fronts, one of which is directly related to the rendering and update of in-world objects. Essentially, while the work in this latter area (being carried out by Andrew Linden) should result in various aspects of object rendering within the viewer, the initial deployment of the code did have a negative impact on vehicle region crossings – “snagging” on the boundary, loss of control, borked camera positiong following control recovery, etc.

          The problems were reported in a (non-public) JIRA – BUG-1814, and a fix for the issue was deployed to the Magnum Release Candidate channel on Wedesday March 20th. The fix will hopefully be deployed to the rest of the grid this week (Tuesday / Wednesday 26th/27th March), although details of the server-side updates for the week have yet to be announced by LL, so this is subject to confirmation.

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  2. Looks like a really lovely plane. I’d never seriously considered using vehicles in SL, but this one seems like one I’d enjoy.

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  3. High Flight
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

    Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
    No 412 squadron, RCAF
    Killed 11 December 1941

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    1. Indeed – it’s a beautiful poem, and one I often quote. Also highly approriate here, given I’m discussing the Spitfire.

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    1. Does the Duxford museum allow the general public to take someone of the general public (even if they have a pilot’s licence) a historical plane, of which very few are still in operational, airworthy condition, out for a spin?

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    2. OK, last try (can’t type at all today): Does the Duxford museum allow someone of the general public (even if they have a pilot’s licence) to take a historical plane, of which very few are still in operational, airworthy condition, out for a spin?

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  4. Correction (the first one didn’t make perfect sense): Does the Duxford museum allow someone of the general public (even if they have a pilot’s licence) a historical plane, of which very few are still in operational, airworthy condition, out for a spin?

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  5. Duxford Museum is also a airdrome where every year several festivals occur, and most of the planes that are used on those festivals are private and not Duxford property.
    Still at least till 2 years ago, there is a private touring company that provides flights around on a piper mouth and a P46, to any that wishes and pays accordingly!
    The spitfire i flew was not this 1:
    http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/17254/lot/390/

    .

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  6. I gave up flying in SL a long time ago because of region crossing issues. At the time, I’d bought a Long-EZ, and was looking to translate my RL flying abilities (I’m a pilot and flight instructor) into SL. That was 3 years ago, and I haven’t been back in the air since.

    I might try it again once the latest region crossing fixes get deployed, if they mean you can travel more than 256 meters without losing control of the aircraft.

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    1. I’m looking forward to a more comprehensive test after this week’s deployments (Blake Sea). However, flying a tight spiral within the four Magnum Sandbox regions at full throttle in the Mark XI from take-off to 2000m and then descending a little more gently prior to a landing which intentionally carried me across the boundary between two of the region & then repeating at various speeds didn’t give me any major problems. So I’m hopeful :).

      ETA: OK. Scratch seeing the BUG-1814 fix on the rest of the grid in week 13. The BlueSteel / LeTigre updates have been promoted to the Main channel, not the Magnum fixes. :(.

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