The DSA Aerohawk in Second Life

The DSA Aerohawk

The DSA Aerohawk with floats and my attempt at a custom finish

I think I’ve established the fact I quite like flying in Second Life, and I particularly enjoy DSA aircraft as they are fun to fly, look good, are nicely customisable, paint-wise,, and many have both wheel and float options – the latter being essential when living on an island. It’s been a while since I’ve actually purchased anything in the aeroplane line; truth be told, I hadn’t intended to get anything beyond what is already sitting in my inventory.

Then I saw the DSA had released the Aerohawk, and for the last week it has been nagging at me, finally reaching a point where I had to just give in and buy it. As it is not (at the time of writing, at least) available on the Marketplace, so in-world store visit is required to see it.

Like most of my aircraft choices, I was drawn to the Aerohawk purely on its looks – in this case, stylishly retro. It was only after talking to my friend Jodi, that I discovered it is modelled after the ERCO Ercoupe, which first flew in 1940 and was designed to be the safest fixed-wing aircraft that aerospace engineering could provide at the time. It is still popular today, and during its time was licensed to manufacturers the world over.

The DSA Aerohawk in its supplied finish

The DSA Aerohawk in its supplied finish

The DSA aircraft faithfully reproduces the look of the original, and is supplied in a silver metal finish with red trim by default. As is the case with all DSA aircraft, the texture files can be downloaded from the DSA website, allowing owners and third parties to produce custom  / alternative paint schemes. In terms of land impact, the aircraft hits 53 LI, which is “heavier” than my DSA G58 Baron (46 LI), but is just over half the Baron’s rendering weight, being something of a simpler design.

I’m not the world’s greatest when it comes to graphics, but in lieu of VetronUK having an Aerohawk kit at present, I took to GIMP and imported the PSD files to produce an initial personalised paint scheme I’m reasonably happy with in about 15-20 minutes. I still need to add materials to give it a decent finish, but it’s enough to keep me happy. Manual application of colour schemes follows the usual route for DSA ‘planes: edit the aircraft, select the face, apply the texture file; repeat as the faces require.

Side-by-side, the floats and wheels are interchangeable via chat commands, as per DSA 'planes offering both

Side-by-side, the floats and wheels are interchangeable via chat commands, as per DSA ‘planes offering both

Handling-wise, the Aerohawk comes with the usual DSA HUD, but it is a little more hands-on (when compared to the likes of Baron and King Air, at least), requiring manual toggling of lights. The engine sound is nicely “veteran”. In the air, I found it to be nicely responsive and  – while it may simply have been a placebo effect or down to conditions being a little different – I encountered no significant issues region crossing issues when only a few days ago, I was finding myself climbing out of Blake Sea and digging my Baron out of Lost and Found sufficiently often enough to have me packing up and going home.

Interior-wise, the Aerohawk is in keeping with its looks: it’s all vinyl and cloth. The instrument panel as reasonably well detailed; DSA aircraft can sometimes suffer from blurred textures of the instruments, but there is little of that here. On the ground and in flight, it handles pretty much like any other DSA ‘plane, making it an ideal easy flier for those who simply want to get out and in the air without getting overly close to trying to fly like “the real thing”.

The Aerohawk at home, alongside Caitlyn's Baron

The Aerohawk at home, alongside Caitlyn’s Baron

A very minor niggle with the plane is the sliding cockpit doors can be a tad tricky: click on one and the other can sometimes go down when “opening” them; I now click the white bar marking their edges rather than clicking from the side to avoid this (not that you need to have them open to get into the ‘plane, of course, hence this being a minor niggle).

If I’m totally honest, I’m hoping that VetronUK (if she is still active in SL) will bring out support kits – painting, float rocking and enhanced lighting. In part because my graphics skills do sucketh the proverbial lemon,  but mostly because her kits really bring aircraft in SL to life. Until then, however, I’ll make do with my own painting efforts, and at least the Aerohawk looks at home alongside Caitlyn’s Baron🙂 .

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2 thoughts on “The DSA Aerohawk in Second Life

  1. Kyllein MacKellerann

    While I have several DSA planes, the included and necessary “instrument bar” is frankly a pain. Other builders have managed to provide active switches and instruments on the plane’s cockpit image and it would be nice if DSA did this final bit of “making it real”. Admittedly I prefer the simpler planes of 1942’s make and the early versions of Tumansky Heavy Industries (with the very simple cockpit overlay that is redundant) to the more modern versions that block out half the screen with visual candy that doesn’t work, but I’ll give the Ercoupe a try. It looks like a fun little plane, just like the real version. Thank you for the HUD (Heads Up Description).

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Striking a balance is always going to be hard in SL. I like the DSA aircraft for precisely the reason you perhaps dislike them – the HUD allows me to simply get on an fly, look at the scenery around me (and avoid skyboxes when risking a hop across Mainland!), chatting with those flying with me, etc., without getting absorbed in the art of flying.

      For the latter, I do have a light aircraft which has full Mouselook flying capabilities and a fully working cockpit requiring the correct electrical and engine settings simply to start it up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t see that much use partly because flying it can be absorbing, so it’s something I’ll only do when on my own when I can just enjoy being in the air when no conversation to keep track of, but also because it doesn’t have floats, and I’m often too lazy to TP to an airport / airfield, dig it out of inventory, rez it and climb in to start right through my pre-flight!

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