No, this isn’t a homage to Yul Brynner, although as the song goes, Second Life could well be a show with everything, even without him… The “King” I’m referring to is the DSA King Air C90 GTX, which has – after some considerable deliberation and bouncing around – become the latest aircraft I’ve added to my collection.
To be honest, it wasn’t actually the ‘plane I started out to get; I actually wanted something a fair bit smaller, given I already have the PBY 6A Catalina, and initially started looking at single-engined ‘planes. But for various reasons, I found myself drifting away from that choice and heading back into twin-engined territory, initially looking at Erick Gregan’s Cessna 421 (which came highly recommended, and looks to be a most excellent aeroplane).
However, as I live “on the water”, so to speak, I was drawn to DSA’s Beechcraft C90 GTX and Baron G58, as both of these are “combo” aircraft: you can switch between standard undercarriage or floats with a single command. In the end, and again on recommendation, I opted for the C90, although I suspect I’d have been happy with the G58.
The C90 is actually a big aeroplane; particularly when up on its floats – the picture of me doing a naughty and sitting on the wing probably gives you an idea of the size, if you’ve never seen this ‘plane before. 100% mesh, it weights-in at 96 LI, which is quite hefty – but it is packing a lot – and a physics weight of 11.7, which is slightly less than that of my MD-900, and almost one-third that of my Kv23H. It is supplied copy / mod, and is suitable for repainting, if desired (and a range of optional paint kits are available in-world from Josh Noonan – and I can personally attest to the quality of his work.
Indeed, the very first thing I did on getting mine, other than going for a short familiarisation flight, is repaint it. As I liked elements of the default colour scheme, I decided to stick with this as a base, and then work-in my traditional red and white. The model supports the use of local textures, which means you can play to your heart’s content creating and trying colours, and a full set of textures in JPG, PaintShop Pro and Photoshop formats can be downloaded from the DSA website.
To apply textures when working on things, simply blank a copy of the ‘plane then select the required face, then select and apply the texture from you heard drive via the viewer’s Local Texture option in the texture option of the Build floater. Note that The fuselage and the wing textures are used several times, and you’ll have to make sure they are applied to all the faces using them. For example, the fuselage texture needs to be applied to the fuselage (best to select the face by clicking on the tail), the rudder, and the nose wheel doors. When you’re happy, upload your textures to inventory & apply, or use the painting note card in the ‘plane.
I went for a very personalised look, as the photos here show, complete with my usual G-NARA registration and a bit of ego-pandering with a stylised “I” on the tail and on the winglets. I also added a touch of shine to the fuselage and wing textures, to give them more of a polished finish.
Flying-wise, this is a ‘plane aimed towards the more “realistic” end of the market (my one disappointment with the Catalina is that the flight system is rudimentary). DSA aircraft aren’t perhaps as advanced in this area as some other makes, but they are still pretty comprehensive. A detailed HUD is supplied, and commands can be given in chat as well. One thing that is missing for those who enjoy procedure, is a need to carry-out pre-start checks (battery, magnetos, etc.); “lstart” and “rstart” will kick the respective engines into life once seated in the pilot’s seat, although the Engines button on the HUD will run through a more complete (and automated) pre-start check and engine start-up. This will also enable navigation, strobe and beacon lights for you, as well as close the boarding door.
The C90 handles really well in the air, and can be shared between pilot and co-pilot (the HUD is copy / transfer, so you can share it with friends) – make sure you both activate the co-pilot option on the HUD. Range is limited by fuel, and the plane comes equipped with a full fulling station (43 prims, which I presume works with any DSA ‘plane), or a convenient jerry can should you need to set down somewhere to refuel. Another nice touch is the inclusion of an instrument landing system (ILS), although I confess I’ve yet to actually try this, and documentation is supplied on the DSA website, rather than with the aircraft.
A slight irritant I have found is that this plane doesn’t handle water ramps at all well; with the wheels for the undercarriage deployed, it seems to require a decent run-up to a ramp at full throttle. Even then, getting ashore is far from guaranteed, and should you do so, there is the inevitable desperate throttling back before you go careering too far across an apron. Ironically, the C90 cannot make the relatively shallow ramp I have at home at all.
Also, the HUD also seems sensitive to region crossings; In the 4.5 hours I’ve been flying the plane, I’ve had buttons vanish from the HUD when clicked just after a region crossing, only to reappear on their own a short while later or at the next crossing. This is a niggle, but not a major problem.
At L$5500 (at the time of writing), this isn’t a cheap light plane to have – but you do get the floats / wheel combo, and the mod options are all good, paint-wise. Overall, I’ve found the C90 more than pleasing to fly – the ramp issue following water lands notwithstanding; and particularly like the fact you can swap between floats and “standard” undercarriage mid-flight. OK, so not terribly real, but adds a certain flexibility when flying :). While this may not be the ‘plane I set out to get, I certainly have no regrets over buying it, and I’ll likely be swapping back and forth between the C90 and my Catalina quite regularly.