The SL Aviation community, as a hobby, has changed dramatically over the past few years thanks to the advancement of Mesh and the ‘escape’ of Civil Aviation into the expanse of the Blake Sea. There has never been a better time to be an Aviator but with the massive selection of aircraft now available it can be a little overwhelming to the beginning Pilot. So today I have complied a list of what I think is the best choice of aircraft for the newbie pilot.
1. DSA’s 33 Debonair
Price: L$200 (Sale Price) L$2000 (Regular Price)
Quite possibly one of the Aircraft I most recommend to new pilots, other than it’s extremely cheap price, the Debonair combines the “child lock” capabilities of an aircraft that prevents it’s pilot from performing any heroics while still remaining a fun little Aircraft to fly. Landing and Take-off still pose a slight challenge but the aircraft is forgiving and doesn’t aim to criticize it’s pilot for their lack of understanding by exploding into flame. The Debonair is small enough to handle but also has some extra seats if you want to squeeze in a couple of friends, has a lot of custom textures on the market and is stupidly cheap. A rare thing for a DSA plane.
2. Spijkers and Wingtips deHavilland DHC- Beaver and Turbo beaver
Price: L$ 1,200
While maybe showing it’s age a little, you can still have a lot of fun with Tig’s beaver. The planes are pretty good too. Neither one posing any particular great challenge to fly. They are both smooth sailing, gentle on the handling and make little fuss on a sim crossing. Like the Debonair it comes with extra seats for passengers and includes a float version making this a suitable plane for day tripping or sight seeing, being that you can land almost anywhere (granted sometimes only once) then wander off to explore. The Beavers require a little more caution than the Debonair since you can easily pull stunts with it but it’s rather old flight scripts are simple enough to prevent you making too many disastrous embarrassments of yourself while maintaining just that right amount of responsiveness without making you feel like your flying a safety pillow.
3. Laminar Systems Pa-18 Supercub
Price: L$ 1,500
the Supercub is quite possibly one of the best introductory planes to the world of Dynamic Flight, that is to say Aircraft that act and feel as close to a Flight Simulator as we can get in Second Life. The Aircraft is used a lot for training as it can host an instructor in the pilot seat who can give and take the controls of the plane to the trainee when desired. Otherwise it’s perfectly good to fly solo. The Aircraft is not as easy to fly as the two listed above as in it will allow you to fuck up if you’re not careful, however the simple application of common sense when flying is enough to keep her steady. Landing is the most difficult but the Supercub is relatively forgiving if you hash it. The Aircraft has two seats, enough room for the most important passenger a single case of beer or a terrified friend, the cockpit is just padded enough to muffle their screams.
4. Adventure Air Twin Otter
Price: L$ 3,000
I’ve never personally recommended the Twin Otter to any new pilot simply because of the Price. However a lot of people suggested this in Chat. The Twin Otter is one of the favourites for Airliners making up about 30% of all Passenger Flights. For the New Pilot it makes for a good ‘step-up’ Aircraft from the smaller planes. It can sit 16 passengers, has a great deal of customisable options as well as liveries and makes for a stable, smooth flight with a relatively easy landing and take-off and not much work required to keep her in the air. The Pontoons have wheels hidden in the base meaning you can take off and land on both water and Tarmac without stopping to change the undercarriage making this a very good “lands anywhere” craft.
5. THI Nakajima KI-27 Nate
The Nate is a lightweight Japanese WWII warplane with all the mucky combat stuff removed leaving you with some very nice THI flight scripts from days gone past which makes for one of the best sim crossers SL has to offer. Being old it’s functionality is somewhat limited, but for a newbie pilot this could be a blessing. There are no brakes, flaps nor landing gear to worry about and the Aircraft doesn’t explode if you smash it into the ground or dive underwater by accident. This does have a trade off, as the Aircraft was originally built for combat it’s handling is pretty loose, it has a tendency to spin on it’s centre when turning which makes it pretty difficult to keep level. But let’s keep one simple thing in mind here, it’s free.
6. Cheermaster JU-52/3m Airliner
Price: L$ 1,890
When this thing first hit the market for the price of 200L everyone and their grandma jizzed their pants over it. Now it’s up to it’s actual price the enthusiasm for the Cheermaster Ju-52 has trailed off somewhat. Which is a little sad. This Aircraft combines the Dynamic Scripting from the Eagle MK.2 DIY plane with Cheermasters own flare. The plane is extremely stable and combines a Dynamic flight core with a simplistic control interface that bridges a fine line, keeping it simple without plunging down the babysteps hole and creating a plane that holds your hand to stop you looking bad as you smash, nose first, into the runway. The Camera is still a little buggy but the interactive cockpit means you can fly without using the Hud if you ever want to practice Mouselook flying.
7. DSA’s Skyhawk
Price L$: 1,000
We couldn’t do a list of Noob friendly planes without mentioning the plane plane actually advertised as “Great for a first plane”. If I were to review it fully I would mention that this plane is incredibly over-scaled, at 6 foot tall my Avi isn’t exactly small yet I need extendo-grabbo arms to reach the controls. The good news is; for a plane with only four seats you could probably fit eight of me in there plus all the beer I need to drown the soul crushing terrors I still see each night in my sleep. So it’s all good. In flight the plane is a little more complicated to fly than the previously mentioned Debonair. The Skyhawk doesn’t hold your hand, instead it sits in-front of you like a slightly angry Dad on a long car journey, patiently trying to stop you doing anything stupid until it finally looses it’s cool and screams “Oh You want to know what happens when you attempt a 90 degree Bank and Dive at full speed HERE LET ME SHOW YOU!”. basically if you want to terrify a Newbie Stunt pilot into behaving, give them this plane.
8. TBM’s Percival Vega Gull
Price L$: 1,150
Passed by as probably one of the most ignored planes of this year, fans of TBM were ‘disappointed’ the Vega Gull wasn’t a by-the-numbers hand holding Aircraft and publicly slammed the Gull for being too ‘unrealistic’. Those people are idiots. TBM’s Vega Gull has one of the best engine noises you’ll hear from any SL plane. When it’s deep baritone voice roared into life the first time I bought this plane, I switched over to the desktop and turned my music down. The Aircraft seats four though it’s one downside is the plane was scaled realistically, for people in the 1930’s, meaning anything taller than 6’2″ is going to have their head poking out of the canopy. In spite of it’s reputation the Gull is easier to fly than it looks. It can be kept in the air fairly easily and makes fairly obvious indications if your doing it wrong. The Gull does punish you for making mistakes but the slow speed of the Aircraft combined with it’s responsiveness means you always have time to recover. Taking off is a little tricky as the craft takes a while to build up speed, so always push the throttle to 100% but landing is pretty simple.
9. Amok Dyanmics Fulcrum vs Falcon pack
Price L$: Free
All of Amok’s jets (bar maybe some of the newer ones) are designed to be simple enough even an idiot can fly them (and many do) so almost all of them could make this list. Problem being once you step up to that Vendor you’re opening yourself up to a world of confusion. Aircraft with unintuitive U.I’s, miss-labled buttons or hidden buttons in some cases, Aircraft that haven’t been updated since 2010 or Aircraft that have been updated to a totally new combat system that makes it incompatible with about half of the other planes. Or you can skip all that. The Battlepack is designed to introduce players to the MCE combat system and the differences between itself and the Vice system but what it also allows is someone to get a free jet that’s easy to master, fun to fly and pretty easy on the lag. It also comes with WWII variants which includes a 109, Spitefire, Corsair and a Zero.
10. You know what, I’m going to leave this open. Do you agree with our list? what other planes would you recommend to fill the 10th slot? or even what was your first plane? Leave a comment below with your thoughts…..or you could keep trying to insult me because I don’t like Dani planes.
 29.3% exactly if I’ve got my maths right