I share a very common story with my Generation of Aviators, the few among us who still remember old Bastogne and Ravenloft, the original Flying Tigers, the Drama of Pirate Air, the CCC/TCS combat system debate, the doomsayers who cried out that the new VICE combat system would be the end of Aviation and of course, Cubey Terra.
I got my first plane from Cubey way back in 2007, some old half-plane half-submarine prim thing that flew like a bat, on fire and juiced out on rocket fuel but steered like a pregnant cow. Still to the young me who’s only experience of vehicles in SL had been early experimentation with Large Mobile Starships who used early Multi-Move scripts, couldn’t cross sim borders and took an age to traverse half a meter, it was joy covered in liquid gold. Only without the nasty bursting into flames business.
In his time Cubey Terra was the bottom line when it came to aviation standards, nothing could rival his machines and little could match his creative drive. However, like many people I moved on, I found flying tails airfield and witnessed the birth of the flying tigers and of Ravenloft. Like everyone else, was part of a rapidly expanding community that saw the technologies of SL Aviation advance far beyond anything any other community had. Now the big names in aviation belonged to Astral-Tek and Amok Dynamics and as those two giants battle for dominance Cubey Terra ,with his brightly colored spaceship planes and heavy prim origin of flight series, faded into obscurity.
In this new Aviation community with our obsession on fast paced combat and win-at-all-costs Ideology there was no room for those few still making their own aircraft design and who pushed for realistic flight over combat effectiveness and few others saw the point of flying planes with no guns on them.
Over the past two years we’ve seen a reversal of this. A rise in the popularity of Civil Aviation lead to people demanding more realistic aircraft as Penny turners (known also as Lazy planes) were not fun or interesting to fly on long cruises. This sudden rise in Civil Aviation has seen a massive boost in traffic and sales for most airports, companies which only used to specialize in combat aircraft have started to produce their own civilian models, with interesting results, and the number of Airports surrounding the Blake Sea has tripled over the past year alone and most important, and perhaps least expectantly, Cubey has returned.
His return should have been heralded ,as all Aviation legends should, by trumpets and hails of gunfire, the common meek masses of the unwashed should have shed their sinful shrouds and thrown themselves at his feet and a golden crown (made from prims obviously) should have been smithed by melting down all the crowns of those self proclaimed “community leaders” that tried to take his place.
Instead none of that happened and we found him standing in the desolated remains of his old Airport sipping coffee after sending out a small notice in the SL Aviation channel, the significance of which slammed into me with all the grace and manner of a Battering ram against a Garden Shed. Perhaps if I hadn’t been sipping some very hot coffee and that exact point, the blow would have softened.
Surrounded by nearly every major (and minor) name in the Aviation community, as well as a few Lindens, Cubey unveiled his new plane as one would unveil a plate of sandwiches. He took questions, laughed at peoples jokes and mingled with the crowd and even appeared on the SL Aviation News Channel, chatting happily about old times as Luke er’d um’d and mumbled his way through the interview, acting as if this event were nothing more than a few drinks after a long day at the office.
He was being incredibly humble is what I’m trying to say, it was exceptionally frustrating, I wanted him to Scream “I’m Back Bitches!” then start shooting jam at people. I wanted him to proclaim this was the start of a new era in Aviation, I wanted it to rain and be like the end bit in the Lion King where Simba walks to the top of Pride Rock and roars, then the rain comes down and washes away the charred remains of Scar’s Dominion. That’s what should of happened Dammit! Instead we got a pretty red plane. I left the party early with all the intention of heading to the Balance Vehicle testing zone itching to test the Atom out and to them people who had IM’d me for my thoughts, I couldn’t quite explain why I was so disappointed.
Perhaps it was the hype, I had driven myself into a frenzy at the prospect of Cubey’s return, letting the mans reputation outweigh the actual person. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, some new kind of flight engine or physics model that would re-define Aviation? I wasn’t sure, but what I got was a Plane, a simple plane and not the one I was expecting.
It span around on the runway left and right like it was made of ice but lurched grudgingly like a stroppy teenager anytime a sense of forward motion was applied, while in the air it performed more to like a Hippo underwater, graceful in its own right but for a small single seat speed racer plane it felt too heavy, sure it could bank into a turn easily but actually getting it to swing round took effort. It was the sort of Agility I’d expect from a twin seater box plane like a Cessna or an Aeronca Chief not from something called the Atom.
I was prepared to leave it with that. During some stupid party I’d attended when I was younger I remember myself being quoted on the Fall of Cubey Terra by stating that “the man had failed to evolve with the developments of Aviation.” Yeah I was an ass back then, still am.
It took me a week, perhaps a little longer of staring at these words and then at the Atom, it now sat in my house, perched like some long forgotten Aunt on the Sofa holding her empty wine glass aloft and coughing politely. It was perhaps on my 27th coffee of the day, hanging upside down on my broken computer chair with the Atom staring at me with great puppy dog eyes that it finally hit me.
I was being an idiot and a big one at that, I was looking at this plane all wrong. I had been looking at this plane as if it were a WWII fighter plane, expecting the same dynamics as a <ZSK> or a Darsh, but this wasn’t a WWII Fighter plane.
So, after a very long shower I screwed my head on right and sat down with the Atom once again.
First, we need to talk about the style.
Everything from the engine cover, the shape of the wings and the tail fin, the wheel struts, the vents and the name badge on the side. It was magnificent, if the Spitfire had been designed in the 1950’s by Cadillac then this is what it would look like.
You feel more like your sitting in the cockpit of some 1960’s Sci-fi spaceship as it’s massive Baritone engine belches into life and then there is the speed.
What it lacks in the turns it makes up for in the straights, normally when prop planes get this fast the physics engine starts to break down, TBM’s KRONOS has to be one of the fastest prop planes I’ve flown, taking that thing up to top speed causes any tiny twist or jerk of the controls into a 0.4 second nose dive and an embarrassing drive across the ground on your butt. The Atom isn’t like that, while at low cruising speeds it feels heavy and often sloppy at speed the Atom comes into an element of it’s own, it glides, that hard handling starts to suddenly loosen up and you can feel the Aircraft urging you on, pushing you forward, it wants to go fast and if you don’t oblige it then your a dam fool.
Then the engine overheats and explodes in midair, you come crashing down to earth with a thump and the wings snap off, leaving you with a plume of smoke, a sensation of slight embarrassment and one hell of a grin on your face.
This plane is an oddball, I’ll give it that, she doesn’t fit into any pre-arranged category since I don’t think anyones has made a Racer plane.
Actually that’s a total lie. EVERYONE has made a racer plane at some point, even if it’s just an unarmed version of a fighter plane, like a P-51 and everyone’s going to start bitching at me unless I mention them all and speak highly of their personal favorite plane which is the best plane in Second Life and to hell with you haters for disagreeing with me, I’m mean how hard is it that everyone constructs their aircraft to suit exactly everything I want and enjoy while excluding anything that appeals to people who aren’t me. Is that so hard to ask. If you’re not giving me exactly what I want, exactly how I want it then you’re just Wrong and being extremely biased because Second Life is all about me, and what about me? Fuck everyone else you should only produce content for me! and Why not me?
Well to hell with you, this is my Blog, do you have a blog?
Do you know who does? Josh Noonan, he hasn’t posted anything for years but I’m going to slap it right here, gonna stick right here!
There it is, you deserved it!
It was at this point I stopped typing.
The Cubey Terra Atom, it’s amazing, buy it.
Also it has an Acrobatic mode which loosens up the stiff handling. I couldn’t review it in that mode because I was too busy screaming in Terror.