CLSA: flying in Second Life at L$10 a plane

Flying over the home island in the CLS Aviation P2010

Whirly Fizzle pointed me in the direction of CLS Aviation on the Marketplace after owner CaithLynnSayes introduced an across-the-board price drop for all aircraft in this modest collection to just L$10 per vehicle – the catch being that the aircraft are now sold completely unsupported. As such, they make a bargain basement opportunity for those curious about SL flying to kick-start their exposure.

There are only nine aircraft in the CLSA range, and these form a mix of vintage and light aircraft. The models are built by Helijah Bailey and scripted by Reconx86, the scripts being based on those originally developed by Cubey Terra.

Both the P2010 (shown) and the P92 have acceptable default paint options (in theory changeable via the menu), and support custom finishes. Each features touch-to-open doors

I have previously flown the Firestorm limited edition of the CLSA Ryan Navion and found it acceptable, if not exceptional. For this test, I grabbed the “Tec-N” (aka Tecnam of Italy) P92 and the P2010 on the basis I haven’t got any high-wing monoplanes in my collection. Each aircraft is supplied with at least one variant of the plane itself (the P92 has a version with fixed wheel undercarriage, suffixed “T”, and a version with floats, suffixed “W”), a detailed manual, a quick start guide, a basic HUD, and a set of set of basic texture templates for creating custom paint finishes.

The flight system is the same for both aircraft, offering the usual control options: PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN for the throttle, UP / DOWN; arrow keys for pitching the nose down / up; the LEFT / RIGHT keys for banking (or WASD, if you use them). Other control surfaces (flaps, air brakes) are accessed via text. The HUD for each is fairly basic, and includes a button option for accessing the menu system (also accessible via chat command when sitting in the aircraft).

The P92-W(ater) version flying past a familiar (to this blog!) landmark

As with all CLSA aircraft, both models reflect their physical namesakes with reasonable accuracy. Each comes with a number of menu-accessible paint finishes, and slots within the menu for adding custom paint finishes (instructions for use in the user manual) – or that’s the theory. Both aircraft are also Shergood Aviation N-Number Registration compatible, meaning that when first rezzed, it will have a unique N (United States) registration number, which is also registered at the Shergood Aviation Aircraft Database.

Handling-wise I found the P92 and P2010 acceptable, although the P92 suffered the same issue I had with the CLSA Ryan Navion: banking tends to be flat, with the first part feeling like the aircraft is slewing into a turn. The P2010 felt a lot more responsive by comparison, rolling rather tightly in turns, but having the feel of a small, well-powered aircraft, and was definitely a lot more fun to fly. Airspeed is measured in metres per second, and it’s advisable to read the manual to get things like rotation and stall speeds fixed in your head.

The P92 float and wheeled variants, showing off two of the supplied pain finishes

I did have some issues with each plane – the aforementioned lack of initial banking when turning the P92, for example, together with a visual niggle that the main struts supporting the floats don’t actually meet the fuselage. There’s also no means to retract the wheels on the floats, giving the ‘plane an odd look when landing on water with wheels extended before and under the floats. As with the Ryan Navion, both the P92 and the P2010 will happily land on Linden water, taxi on it and take-off again, even when sans floats – which is a trifle odd, and possibly part of their Cubey Terra scripted heritage – as I noted in my review of the Ryan Navion, there is a degree of similarity in the handling of the Navion / P92 and Cubey’s Stingray in particular. However, these are relatively minor niggles.

A more annoying issue lies with the P2010. For me, this repeatedly gave a scripted texture call error when first sitting in the aircraft and on making region crossings, becoming quite the distraction at times. The menu option to access the paint controls was also non-functional, even after a full reset of scripts. However, I don’t believe the latter prevents the manual application of textures, if handled with care.

All CLSA aircraft seem to share the common trait of being able to operate on Linden water, regardless of whether they have floats! This is the P2010 “parked” on Blake Sea following a successful landing

If I’m totally honest, a CLSA ‘plane is unlikely to become a favourite with me; I’m simply too attached to my DSA aircraft (although the camera management on CLSA planes during regions crossings is admittedly far better than DSA). However, even allowing for the issues and niggles mentioned above, at L$10 per ‘plane, they really cannot be sneezed at for those wishing to join the world of SL aviation flying a fairly reasonable aircraft with a decent flight control system, and are a far better introduction to SL flying than many of the low-cost / freebie alternatives to be found on the MP.

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CLS Aviation on the Marketplace

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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.

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.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion
The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

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.

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? 😀 .

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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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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 🙂 .

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