Flying the CLSA Fairey Gannet in Second Life

The CLSA Fairey Gannet over Blake Sea Half Hitch

I’m not that into military aviation outside of airshows, and in SL, all my flying is restricted to civilian light aircraft with the exception of a Supermarine Spitfire, which was a thank you gift from its creator, Eric Gregan, and a civilian version of the PBY6A Catalina. So I’m a little surprised to be writing about a veteran military ‘plane, the Fairey Gannet.

I confess to having known next to nothing about the Gannet prior to obtaining this particular model – but wikipedia was once again my friend, helping me fill-in the blanks about this post-World War Two Royal Navy aircraft. I came across the model in question after learning through Whirly Fizzle that CLS Aviation, owned by CaithLynnSayes were being sold at L$10 per aircraft on an unsupported basis. At the time, I picked up a couple (see here for more). A subsequent chat about the CLSA range with friend Jodi Serenity led me to an impulse buy of CLSA’s Fairey Gannet – it’s not as if L$10 is going to break anyone’s bank!

The CLSA Fairey Gannet on rezzing

The first thing that struck me is that it is a comparatively big aeroplane (by the standards of the aircraft I generally fly, at least!). It is also something a very faithful reproduction by Helijah Bailey (sold under a licence agreement by CLSA) with a lot packed into it – more, it would seem, then the instruction manual explains. The complete package comprises the aircraft, a minimal but acceptable flight HUD for those who like them, a pilot’s headset and two manuals. By default, the aircraft rezzes with wings folded – these can be deployed when sat in the pilot’s cockpit by typing w(ing) or wings in chat. They unfold quite satisfactorily, and the twin turboprop engines can be started at the same time via the Engine button on the HUD if you use it, or by typing s(tart) or engine in chat – note chat commands are not case-sensitive.

Starting the engines will also do a couple of other things – activate the Gannet’s strobe and nav lights, and cause the other two crew members pop-up in their respective cockpits (the plane is a single avatar seater).  With the exhausts under the rearmost cockpit spewing fumes and heat, the ‘plane is ready to fly. This is achieved by releasing the parking brake (p) and then using the conventional controls: PAGE UP / PAGE DOWN for the throttle (5% increments or nX – where X is a number between 1 and 100, for quickly setting), UP / DOWN for nose pitch, LEFT / RIGHT for banking.

The CLSA Fairey Gannet: the two observers appear when the engines are started

In flight, the Gannet handles well – I’d rate it the best of the CLSA aircraft I’ve flown to date.  Being a beast, it does require constant pressure on the controls with banking or it’ll simply try to rapidly straighten out, but this adds a level of realism in flying. Airspeeds are given in metres per second, and when landing, you’ll need around 8-15 m/s to both avoid stalling on approach or coming in too fast and having to force it onto the ground.

As noted the ‘plane comes with plenty of features: the aforementioned folding / unfolding wings; a deplyable radar dome for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the Gannet’s primary role in this variant and an extensible arrestor hook for deck landings (would that there were a Royal Navy carrier steaming around Blake Sea!). There are no fewer than 10 default camera positions and 11 preset paint schemes (5 Royal Navy Air Squadrons, one Royal Australian Navy Air Squadron (albeit it with UK roundels), one Indonesian Navy Aviation Squadron, 3 Marineflieger (German Navy) options, and one simply labelled “FAA” (Fleet Air Arm). There is also a custom option. There’s also a fuel system, a sliding pilot’s cockpit canopy, and a park / unpark mode (only use the latter with the wings folded, as it includes the stays to hold the wings in that position).

The CLSA Fairey Gannet: weapons bay doors open – flying in a region with rezzing rights will drop a torpedo

The Gannet is also fully VICE enabled for combat operations – although this is missing from the flight manual. I’m not into combat flying and so blindly fiddled around until some things worked. Enabling VICE via the menu prims the weapons bay, and typing b in flight will open the bay doors and drop a torpedo (providing you have rezzing rights in the region you’re flying through). There is a cycle delay limiting the frequency at which torpedoes can be released. There are also weapons hard points under the wings with depth charges (I assume) and missiles attached. These are alpha’d by default, and appear to be unscripted. I’ve no idea if they can be accessed by this particular variant of the Gannet, or if they an hold-over from another design, and confess I didn’t spend too much time trying to figure them out.

Overall, I found this a nice aircraft to fly – and one that is certainly nippy at high throttle settings, which offers some fun in flying. While it is not something I’d use with any frequency – only curiosity and the price caused my to buy it, as noted -, for those who like their military aircraft, it potentially offers a pretty good value for money, particularly given the preset finishes.

Additional Links

CLS Aviation on the Marketplace

2018 SL UG updates #2/3: TPV Developer meeting

Tranmore Bay; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrTramore Bayblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 12th 2018. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

Viewer Pipeline

[0:00-4:24] The Nalewka Maintenance RC updated to version on Wednesday, January 10th, and the Wolfpack viewer has been withdrawn. This leaves the remainder of the SL viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version, dated November 17, promoted November 29th – formerly the “Martini” Maintenance RC – No Change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

The Update to the Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer (Tuesday January 9th, and reported in Part #1 of this week’s updates) will be the last such update for that viewer as an RC, and it will most likely be promoted to release status in week #3 (commencing Monday, January 15th). There should be an official blog post accompanying the promotion when it happens, encouraging those on Windows who can upgrade their version of Windows to 64-bit / Windows 10 to do so.

  • [28:16-30:11] A reminder that Alex Ivy is Windows and Mac, and that the Lab has a separate project for Linux. This will require support from the Linux community to help move the Linux viewer build to a Debian package using system libraries, so allowing TPVs to add the dependencies they require for their flavour of Linux build. If help is given and the project is successful, the Lab will then maintain the Linux build, with the caveat that it will only be subject to cursory QA, and will continue to require support from the Linux community for fixes. A repository for code submissions will be made available, together with a blog post / open-source community notification on the specifics, after the 64-bit viewer has been promoted to release status. Those wishing to support the work will need to sign a contribution agreement with the Lab.

The Voice RC has no known outstanding issues, and should be ready for promotion once Alex Ivy has been promoted to release status and the Alex Ivy code has been merged into the viewer.

The 360-snapshot viewer is looking set to move from project viewer status to a release candidate viewer.

A new viewer branch is being prepared – the media branch, which will be specifically for Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) changes and other media handling updates. This will likely appear some time after the Alex Ivy viewer has been promoted to release status.

A further viewer project on the horizon is a further update to the viewer build chain, and bring that more up-to-date with things like Visual Studio, etc.

Viewer Deprecation

[4:25] Once Alex Ivy is promoted to release status, the Lab will be deprecating all versions of their viewer not using Asset HTTP loading (e.g. viewers prior to version 5.0.6). At some point after this, work will then commence on removing all UDP asset messaging from the servers, so anyone still using a viewer not fully supporting Asset HTTP will be unable to load gestures, animations, sounds, etc.

Avatar and Object Rendering

[9:26-10:32] Work on revising the current avatar complexity and object rendering calculations is due to resume “in the next week or two”. It is hoped this will allow the Lab to adjust the formulas used to make a reasonable generalisation in the rendering cost of things, and whether or not objects are being reasonably accounted for in those calculations, although things may not change that much. However, the Lab is “determined to fix some of the bad incentives in the current calculations”.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[33:32-35:06] Rider linden is making progress, with his next step being to get the new setting objects defined as assets which can be stored in inventory. Once this has been done, he will be comfortable with setting up test regions on Aditi ready for testing once a project viewer is available. The viewer will require new UI elements for manipulating windlight assets, the initial design work on which, Rider jokingly claims, has already given him a nervous twitch in his left eyebrow!

In Brief

  • [13:35-15:32 ] Group Notices failures: some work has been done on this, showing that problems can start to occur if the group chat servers are left running too long, so a round of restarts should hopefully prevent this. Work is also going to be put into making group notice delivery more robust when logging-in, and this will hopefully be out in the next few months.
  • [22:49-26:55] Viewer widget documentation & additional viewer documentation: the viewer web widget wiki documentation is currently out-of-date, and a request has been made to update it. The Lab doesn’t have any documentation on the viewer (e.g. design documents etc.), outside of what is available on the wiki.
  • [32:04-32:45] IMs to E-mail: there have been reports at the recent Web Group and Simulator User Group meetings that some IMs to e-mails failed over the holiday period. This has been investigated, and the issue did lie with the Lab. However, it has been rectified, and all IMs to verified e-mails addresses should work correctly.
  • [11:02-11:48 – in text+ voice comments] The next Firestorm release will not allow changes to the debug RenderVolumeLODFactor which go above 4 to persist between log-in sessions. People will still be able to set the value above 4, but will have to do so each time they log-in. [18:33 – in text] There is to be one more beta release of the new Firestorm, which should be followed in about a week’s time with a formal release (late breaking issues allowing).


Sansar: in the year 2077

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077 – click on any image for full size

C3rb3rus is fast becoming one of the top designers of atmospheric experiences in Sansar. I’ve already written about two of his designs – Darkwood Forest (see here) and The Diner (see here – although it is deserving of a dedicated write-up). His most recent design – 2077 – has already garnered a lot of coverage, which is why I held off writing about it immediately it opened. However, it’s not hard to understand why it is has been popular -it is visually stunning.

This experience takes its basic theme from the style we perhaps most readily identify with the likes of Blade Runner – although I personally see it as something of a fusion between that and the short-lived TV series, Total Recall 2070 (itself a fusion of Philip K. Dicks We Can Remember for You Wholesale and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the inspiration for the original Blade Runner film). On arrival, visitors are placed on a long street – a canyon, if you will, formed by the flat faces of high-rise buildings, themselves surrounded by even taller skyscrapers which glitter with light.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

By comparison with the latter, the streets on which visitors stand seem dark, cold, and a little threatening. With graffiti on the walls and litter on the streets, this feels is if it is a much poorer part of the city than the horizon forming towers of light and colour. Perhaps those glittering towers are where status and wealth reside; the higher up residents are within them, the more their status has literally elevated them above the darker, poorer world flowing around the feet of their great glass-sided citadels.

Perhaps this is why, flying cars zip back back and forth high above the streets, their passengers intent only on spanning the gap between lofty perches, and oblivious to what lies below, lost in the night. Nearer to the ground, more of these cars pass through the canyon-like streets, travelling a little more cautiously, while one or two have forsaken the air altogether – or have perhaps been decommissioned, like Deckard’s old Police spinner in Blade Runner, confined to crawling along the dimly lit streets.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

Dim though the lighting down here might be – the street lamps little more than thin lines of blue iridescence atop tall metal poles and which case cold pools of light beneath them – the streets are still alive. Digital advertising boards shimmer, turn, dance and project, adding their own illumination which reckons off the otherwise dull surfaces of roads and sidewalks. Walking the latter, it is possible to come across gaming halls and bars, or arrive at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk as little green and red men flick back and forth on overhead signals, determining when it might be safe to cross a particular junction.

Over all of this, a great hologram of a female face looks down, turning slowly from side to side, as if keeping a watch over the streets in her care. Not far away, a single eye darts side-to-side on a billboard, a pattern of digital lighting over the pupil for some reason putting me in mind of the Rekall chairs from Total Recall 2070. Elsewhere amidst this neon advertising one can find a hospital or clinic signified by both, a red cross and a ghostly skeleton rotating slowly above the entrance, Max Headroom close by, perhaps mocking passers-by.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

C3rb2rus likes to include motion in his designs  and 2077 is no exception to this, as demonstrated by the ground and air traffic. But there is more; the spawn point in the experience, for example is under an elevated train track. Behind it (and easily missed), a ramp offers a way down to where a platform awaits. It is periodically visited by a subway train you can step aboard and ride in a loop around the build. I have no idea if this is indicative that more might be added to the build (there’s only the one stop at present), but it does offer a certain promise to the design.

Nor is this all. Find your way to the high rise at one end of the main street, and ceiling lights will direct you to where an elevator regularly descends and rises. Step into it, and it’ll offer a trip up to a modest – bordering on austere – apartment, which in turn offers a grandstand balcony view back through the experience. Watch for a few minutes, and you’ll witness another nice touch,, as an air car rises from the far end of the street, angling gently upwards until it reaches one of the lower skyways and passes overhead.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

Given that so many Sansar experiences are, due to the nature of the platform at present – largely static, 2077 feels very much alive, almost vibrant beneath the hues of the backdrop skyscrapers. Atmospheric, rich in detail despite its dark tone, this is an experience offering a certain promise of what Sansar might become as a role-play environment, as capabilities are improved.

Experience URL