When it comes to flying, Wilder Skies is not a Second Life brand I’ve really been familiar with. However, For the last couple of months I’ve been toying with the idea of giving the Wilder Skies / Astral Technologies G-21 Goose amphibian a go, even though (at the time of writing) circumstances dictate that it is only available through the Marketplace – no in-world option to take it for a test flight.
However, one of SL’s foremost aviators, and someone I hold in a great deal of respect – Laetizia “Tish” Coronet – must’ve been reading my thought bubbles, as she recently posted a series of images to her SL feed focused on the Goose, and then gave it a solid thumbs up review in the Marketplace listing. That was enough for me to decide to spend the pennies and grab a copy!
In the physical world, the G-21 has an interesting history. It came into being as a result of a group of wealthy Long Islanders commissioning Grumman Aircraft Corp to build a small, reasonably fast light aircraft capable of commuting between their country estates and New York City. First flown in 1937, the twin-engined, almost entirely metal built monoplane was an instant hit. Its amphibious nature meant it could pretty much go anywhere, whilst the cabin – generally outfitted to seat two or 3 as a luxury cruiser, the rest of the space being given over to a bar and toilet – was actually very capable in both the passenger and the cargo roles.
The military particularly liked the boxy design, seeing it as an ideal light transport and spotter. The US Air Corps, US Navy and US Coastguard all quickly adopted it, as did the armed forces of a number of allied governments, including the UK’s Fleet Air Arm, who gave the G-21 it’s name: Goose. Woking alongside its sibling, the G-44, the Goose saw service around the world during the war, notably in the air-sea rescue role, and continued to prove popular afterwards – so much so, that two companies took over production and maintenance after Grumman stopped, and many McKinnon and Antilles variants of the G-21 still fly today.
The Wilder / Astral G-21 captures everything about the G-21 that made it so popular: its rugged, pugnacious looks, its roomy cabin and its amphibious capabilities, as well as some of its general handling characteristics. Priced at L$2,689, the package actually contains two versions of the G-21: the original version 1.0, and the updated version 2.0. Each of these is in turn supplied it three variants: – two that are flyable and in “civvie” and “ex-Navy” colourings respectively, and a “restoration” variant that has the ‘plane (in the ex-Navy finish and looking the worse for wear) up on stocks and partially dismantled, with a new crated engine, a workbench and ladder (with poses for working on the hull / dismantled undercarriage assembly).
Also included in the package are two sets of textures (the civvie and ex-Navy finishes) + UV files, making re-texturing possible, although at the time of writing, I’m still working on mine, so consider the images of it here a work-in-progress). Finally, a HUD is also supplied, which matches the working instruments on the flight console.
Flight controls are the usual – a combination of chat commands / keyboard input / HUD options – Arrow keys for pitch and roll, Arrows + SHIFT for rudder, PAGE keys from throttle, etc. No reverse pitch on the P&W rotary engines, so manoeuvring on the water can be a little cumbersome in confined spaces or docks.
As with the real Goose, this is a hands-on flyer: walk away from the keyboard in flight and you’re liable to return and find you’re on the water or annoying someone by being an unexpected / unwanted garden ornament. The sweet cruising point is around 60-65% of throttle and a little care is needed on landing, particularly as this is a tail dragger and the hull really needs goo clearance. External poses are also supplied for when on the ground / water, accessed via a touch menu access through the radar egg atop the fuselage. Up to 6 can fly in the G-21 – two up front and four pax – although I’ve yet to try carrying anyone with me.
I confess I’ve thus far found region crossings a little spotty: the ‘plane handles them well enough, but as they mount up, the chances of the camera slewing into the side of the ‘plane and giving you a nice view of an retracted wheel tend to increase. I ended up banging about with the dynamic camera (“c”) and ESC to try to recover things, bit not always successfully and twice ran out of sky trying to get things sorted. However, the majority of the time, the ‘plane handles very well, and I’m gearing up towards some very long haul flights in it 🙂 .
The lack of PSD files with layers included is a drawback for those who like re-texturing their aircraft. It doesn’t make things impossible, just harder; it would be nice to have them as a dropbox option, as Tish notes on the MP. The texture files also add up to a fair few to download and sort through. However, the fact I’m part-way through re-working a copy of my G-21 shows it is possible 🙂 .
Rugged, equipped with not-your-usual run-of-the-mill flight scripting, adaptable (will take a certain amount of careful physical modding as well as re-painting) and Get the Freight Out ready, the Wilder / Astral G-21 Goose is a nice intermediary SL aircraft. One that looks bloody good in the air or on the water!
- Wilder Skies / Astal Technologies G-21 Goose (Marketplace)