Firestorm recently held their Christmas Party, and as a part of it, they’ offered Firestorm users holiday goodies in the form of a pet leopard and a CLS Aviation Ryan Navion aeroplane in the Firestorm colours.
I’m a bit of a flying fan in Second life (albeit not necessarily looking for full realism, just the fun of getting into the air and pootling around), and as I’d never actually come across CLS Aviation before, I cheekily saw the opportunity snag the gift and see what the plane was all about.
The retail variant of the plane is prices at L$1,099 at the time of writing, and is supplied Copy / Mod – the accompanying photos showing it can be re-painted (although I have no idea if templates are supplied – so check before buying). The Firestorm version, for obvious reasons, is supplied No Mod, locking-in the Firestorm paintwork, but otherwise it is the same aircraft model.
The Navion is a post-war single-engined light aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage and seating four, many of which are still in use today. Wikipedia informs me that CLSA model is based on one of the later variants of aircraft, which had wing-tip fuel tanks. The model weighs-in with a Land Impact of 77, a physics weight of 2.2, and a render weight of 49072.
The Firestorm finish is pretty good, with the exterior of the ‘plane looking quite eye-catching. Elements of the finish continue inside the sliding canopy cockpit, where the trim on the seats and instrument panel includes colour nods to Firestorm. The instrument panel is fully readable and the instruments respond to flight movements, making it perfectly possible to fly and navigate in Mouselook and using keyboard / chat commands. For those who like HUD-based flying, one is also supplied, offering access to essential controls and instruments and gives access to the plane’s menu, which can also be used when flying.
Usage-wise, touch the canopy to open it and hop in (it opens automatically on shutting down the engine). A headset is supplied for those who like that kind of touch, and the “usual” control options apply (“s” / “start” / “stop” for the engine, WASD / arrow keys for turn / climb / dive;
PAGE keys for throttle, etc). Multiple camera pre-sets are offered as well, accessible via chat (“c0” through “c9”, which can also be selected by menu (accessed through the HUD) or cycled through via the HUD.
I found the plane handled reasonably well in the air, although turns felt a little “flat” and lacking roll at times while acrobatics such as looping felt a little on the “tight” side (albeit with nice camera motion). Allowing for the current state of region crossings, the Navion handled things reasonably well, although recovery did at times seem a little sluggish. Camera scripting in particular seemed to try to handle slewing issues on crossings by giving a forward view of the plane then gently panning around to the over-the-tail default. This mostly avoided instances of finding the camera pointing into the side of the plane after a rough crossing, but when these did occur, cycling through the camera pre-sets generally cleared it.
Flying in Mouselook / via instruments was more than acceptable, although I need to practice my landings in this mode! And on the subject of landings, a novel aspect of this plane is that while it senses Linden Water as water (listen for the splash), it will nevertheless quite happily land on it even though devoid of floats – and will also take off from Linden water as if it were a runway, feeling very much like the Terra Stingray in the process.
Overall, not a bad ‘plane, particularly if you’re looking for something to start out with. One small word of warning – should you go ahead and buy this plane (any plane?) from CLSA, or get the Firestorm variant (whilst available), make sure you rez the package in an open space. I rezzed mine in the living room and almost squished myself between it and the wall!
And, also, as this one is in Firestorm colours, are we going to see a Firestorm aerobatics team form? 😀 .