Tag Archives: SL Aviation

Flying the CLS Ryan Navion (via Firestorm) in Second Life

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

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 Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

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.

CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft's operation

CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft’s operation

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.

Handling-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.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

I found the plane handle 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.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion: works on water! 😉

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? 😀 .

Related Links

Advertisements

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 🙂 .

Related Links

A Baron comes to the castle

The DSA G58 Baron sans floats - my latest light aircraft

The DSA G58 Baron sans floats – my latest light aircraft

So, I’m a bit of an SL aviator, as I’ve blogged in the past. Over the course of the last 12+ months in particular, I’ve become quite partial to DSA aircraft, having both the C90 King Air GTx and the C33 Debonair. I particularly like this make due to the ability to swap between wheel and floats for the landing gear without having to swap the plane in and out of inventory.

As a result of various things, I found myself at the weekend debating whether to add another DSA ‘plane to my collection – and if so, which one. I was caught between the Model 17 Staggerwing biplane, the Spitfire and the G58 Baron. In the end, on Sunday, the latter won out – although the Staggerwing could well be a future acquisition!

No. 1 on the runway at Juneau, about to start rolling ...

No. 1 on the runway at Juneau, about to start rolling …

The G58 is another twin-engined plane, sitting between the Debonair and King Air in size, offering seating for up to 5 avatars + the pilot. It’s a smart-looking, clear design which hasn’t really aged over the decades, and comes supplied in DSA’s usual offering of the default black / red / white Beechcraft colours. Having converted to using VetronUK’s paint and scripting options my ‘planes, I also grabbed a paint pack and Vetron’s float rocking and enhanced lighting scripts for the Baron.

Vetron paint kits are simple to use; drop a script into the plane, wear the HUD, click a button to add the paint scheme, then use the Advanced option to add materials to various surfaces, and add any other options supplied with the kit (the Debonair paint kits, for example, allow you to re-texture the cockpit dash with a new set of controls, while the King Air’s kit allows you to switch between the C90 and C90 GTx variants). A full set of maps are supplied full perm with each kit, making customising them easy.

The cabin obviously isn't as expansive or plush as the King Air, but seats up to four in the back

The cabin obviously isn’t as expansive or plush as the King Air, but seats up to four in the back

For the Baron’s paint scheme, I didn’t stray too far from that supplied by the kit: just some small tweaks, the addition of my own registration and familiar monogram, plus a little work on the floats so that they better matched the rest of the ‘plane.

The enhanced lights and rocking scripts (L$25 each) simply drop into the ‘plane (make sure you purchase the scripts designed for your aircraft). The lighting script greatly enhances the aircraft’s nav, strobe and landing lights, while the rocking script is Linden Water sensing, and when on water with the floats deployed, adds a rocking motion to the aircraft as well as the sound of water lapping against the floats, etc. When on land, the rocking ceases (although I’ve found the sound continues to loop).

If you’ve flown any DSA ‘plane, you’ll know how the Baron handles: very well. The HUD is the usual DSA offering and works exactly as expected. In addition, the Baron share’s the Debonair / Bonanza engine sounds (and, indeed, paint templates). Once in the air and trimmed, with the yoke set to wide, the Baron is again great fun and graceful. It handles region crossings with the usual DSA aplomb and accepts aerobatics well, if you’re so inclined, and perhaps with a little more grace than the King Air.

The Baron (front) and the King Air in their "matching outfits") largely based on VetronUK paint kits

The Baron (front) and the King Air in their “matching outfits” utilising VetronUK paint kits

In buying the Baron, I had it in mind to maybe swap it with the King Air as my main twin-engined ‘plane, and then perhaps swapping the Deb for the Staggerwing. However, with only 7 LI difference between the Deb (39) and the Baron (46), I ended up retiring the Deb to inventory instead. Plus, I simply adore the King Air, so I also gave it a new Vetron paint finish, again with my own small touches, so it and the Baron share similar designs. Sort of her-and-her outfits, you might say 🙂 .

Related Links

Doing a “Little Nellie”

The Piaggio RR39F Orion

The Piaggio RR39F Orion

In January 2015, I wrote about my purchase of Ape Piaggio’s Kv23H FoilStream power boat, which I’ve come to really enjoy when in the mood to zap around on the water 🙂 . Since then, Ape has produced a new vehicle in her range. Not a boat, this time – an aircraft. Or more precisely, an autogyro, which I’ve recently had the opportunity to take out and about.

The RR39F Orion is a beautiful little two-seat (side-by-side configuration) autogyro with a fully enclosed cabin. Bright yellow in its default colour, I was immediately put in mind of James Bond’s famous “Little Nellie”, even though the two vehicles are worlds apart, and may even end up calling my Orion “Nellie” when I get around to repainting it!

The Piaggio RR39F Orion - flying past a familiar landmark on Blake Sea

The Piaggio RR39F Orion – flying past a familiar landmark on Blake Sea

For those unfamiliar with the concept, an autogyro is essentially a combination aeroplane and helicopter, using a propeller engine for thrust, and a set of unpowered rotors in autorotation to generate lift and keep the craft airborne. This means it takes-off like a ‘plane, and can hover, descend and land like a helicopter (although it cannot hover and ascend like a helicopter).

This combination of characteristics means an autogyro can take a little time to master – and Ape’s Orion is no exception to this rule. Which should not be taken to mean it cannot be fun to fly; quite the reverse in fact. Half the fun in flying it is mastering it, and once it is properly understood, then it is an absolute joy to fly.

The aircraft comes complete with a HUD, texture maps (for custom painting), an additional paint kit (plain white), and a custom paint applier for your own designs and a manual. Often, when flying aircraft in SL, the instinct is to hop in, start-up and fly. With the Orion, I seriously suggest an appetiser of RTFM (Read The Flippin’ Manual) is the first order of business.

The Piaggio RR39F Orion is a "pusher" autogyro, with the egine mounted bhind the cabin, and facing the rear

The Piaggio RR39F Orion is a “pusher” autogyro, with the engine mounted behind the cabin, and facing the rear

The Orion has three operational modes: automatic, semi-automatic and manual. When flying in the first two modes, everything in terms of getting powered-up and ready to fly is taken care of for you, and you’ll only need the HUD for activating the lights and GPS system (if flying in Mouselook). If you’re flying in manual mode, you will need the HUD and the aforementioned RTFM time; like many real autogyros, the Orion has some very specific steps to getting airborne, including pre-rotating the overhead blades.

In the air, I found the Orion light and responsive, and could handle region crossings very well, both when flying it alone and with a passenger on board (I volunteered my Crash Test Alt for the privilege, rather than risking dunking a friend in Blake Sea 🙂 ). I did find the camera position a little high, giving the Orion the look of being nose-high in level flight, so you may, like me, find yourself using the hover text rate of climb / descent indicator to monitor your horizontal flight, and you may need to keep an eye on the rotor RPM reading as well. So just like real flying, using this autogyro can be a case of learning to trust your instruments over instinct!

The Orion's cockpit includes fully working switches, CRT, GPS and even a media centre!

The Orion’s cockpit includes fully working switches, CRT, GPS and even a media centre!

The Orion handled well in Mouselook flying and, like the FoilStream, there is a GPS option on the dashboard which tracks your progress across the grid, while the pilot’s CRT will keep you informed of airspeed, etc., as well the hover text, which also re-aligns inside the cabin when using ML. A nice touch is that all the control switches in the cockpit work, although using them in ML will likely required a the use of CTRL-0 and CTRL-9, etc., to flip them. As with Ape’s boats, the cabin also has a built-in TV / media display.

A menu, accessed by touching the aircraft or by clicking on the menu option on the HUD, provides access to various setting – flight mode, throttle mode (digital = increase / decrease throttle by 10% increments; analogue = press and hold PAGE UP or PAGE DOWN to increase / decrease throttle). Digital works great when flying, however, when moving around on the ground, 10% (the minimum setting for the digital throttle) is a tad bit racy and may cause ground controllers (and other pilots at busy airports) to get a little apoplectic as you race along taxiways, so I recommend the analogue setting, which offers a more granular increase / decrease in throttle settings for ground movements. The menu also provides access to the paint controls, added skis for flying from snow, and setting-up the Orion so it can be flown by a friend.

The RR39F Orion alongside my MD900 Explorer

The RR39F Orion alongside my MD900 Explorer

I can’t actually vouch for the painting system; right now I’m without my primary PC and running everything via SL Go, therefore I don’t have the means to download the supplied texture files full-size, so that’s something that will have to wait.

Overall, the Orion is a great little aircraft; fun to master, fun to fly, and with some nice options and touches, as I’d expect, given the creator. I  had fun putting it through its paces – and discovering some of the ways in which you can end up going for an unexpected landing (or if over water – a sudden bath). I found it flies well, handles two avatars on board without too much in the way of camera issues. If there is perhaps one thing it is missing, it’s a brake function for better ground movements control; jiggling the throttle, especially in analogue mode, can be fiddly at times. But, that said, I’m looking forward to flying the Orion again when my “big” PC comes back and can be used, and in getting it set with a custom paint scheme!

Price at the time of writing: L$1750; construction: mesh. LI:  29.

Related Links