Category Archives: Review

The Hunter AC1

You may question the logic of an Aviation themed blog reviewing a Hovercraft but it’s got a propeller and ‘kinda’ flies so to hell with it, It’s close enough.

Hovercraft’s is not something we see a lot of in SL specially good ones. The physics behind them are not commonly understood and unlike Aircraft or boats there are not a lot of freebie example scripts to take ‘inspiration’ from.

I have a love/hate relationship with most “hovercraft” in SL. I love Hovercraft but in SL they resemble little more than spaceships, glued to the ground, sliding across water and dirt at near twice the speed of light like it was gliding through the fucking matrix.

And I’m sorry to you people who make them, yes I know you worked hard on your little after school project putting them little stickers on it complete with a shower of glitter and you thought Daddy Mal would tape it to the fridge with pride along with his shopping list, a angry demand from his landlord and the tattered remains of his soul.

But you were Wrong! He laughed at you, threw it in your face and that is why you have a drinking problem at the age of 45. Triggered every time you see some preppy white family out on the lake enjoying their Hovercraft.

 

I seem to have lost my thread.

 

Anyway let’s now talk about a Hovercraft I actually like.

hovervan

No not that one.

This one.

hunterac1

Built by CatalinaHunter this surprisingly Hovercraftian looking Hovercraft looks almost exactly like one would expect a Hovercraft to look like. There is a distinct lack of Wings, jet packs and Monster Drink Logo’s.

Instead what we get is simplicity and orange. The overall design looks like a soapdish with a fan in it, an orange one. With a tiny Orange Plexiglas windshield that stops your nipples getting wet.

hunterac2

There are four seats for your three terrified friends and it even has one of those scaffold things from Police Boats, complete with a siren. An orange one.

The Hunter AC1 features a somewhat comfortable interior, it feels a little minimalist with the controls being large and spaced out but each one carries a functional yet stylistic sense of design without going too far into the hyper luxury of white sandalwood and Whale penis leather that everyone seems to think rich stuff is made out of.

The only thing I don’t like is these weird plastic mould chairs. Though the Logo was a nice touch I can’t help but see my old school chairs when I look at them, combined with this unflattering, untextured metal struct which pins them to the chassis.

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Aesthetics aside the functionality of this Craft is rather good. It moves like a hovercraft should in that it glides across any surface like it was made of pure fucking ice that was allergic to hovercraft and was trying to get rid of you as quickly as possible but you can feel the thrust comes from the direction of the Rudders along the main fan as opposed to whatever direction button I happen to be pushing.

It requires a bit of practice to get the hang of but it’s not impossible. The craft is very fun to drive and something tells me these would be very fun to try and race.

*cough*hinteventmanagers*cough*

The list of features it comes with are fairly standard. Co-pilot functions make a welcome return as do a user-created list of approved ‘guests’ in the lack of an actual guest mode, locator beacon in case for forget where you parked, an ejector seat for unwelcome guests and that most holy grail of all features Seat adjustment. Meaning I can now cruise through open waters without my arse hanging out through the back of the chair.

The Hunter AC1 comes with five options skins, Black and Orange, Blue, White, Stealth and Search and Rescue. Application is done by dumping a script into the chassis in the absence of a menu driven interface.

The option to create your own textures is also available and the materials are provided.

I give it 12 Schmekkles out of carpet. I like it, I really do. The Simplicity of the design and the amount of features presented make this a Reasonably priced car of a deal. I love the little details of this craft. I love that the Radio and the Satnav only light up once the engine is turned on and I love that the builder has taken the time to raise up all the little lumps and buttons on the dash as opposed to leaving it a flat texture.

The only down side is it’s script time.

This thing hits sim crossings like a bitch and with enough of them in a single region the lag can get quite intense.

A simple scan showed the script time ranging from 0.06m/s to 0.07m/s which is ranging into giant luxury yacht and battleship territory thus very much on the high side for a smaller craft.

Though Catalinahunter has admitted this herself and has promised several coding re-rights to deal with the high running cost. It my still be best to de-script yourself a little before taking this baby out.

The Hunter AC1 is priced at L$2,499 though is available in-world at L$2,400. It comes GTFO ready and in spite of the script time is highly recommended. By me.

Which is a rare thing.

 

The F.13 and a short political rant regarding Aeon Voom

Here is the tale of the F-13, it’s an odd tale about an odd plane.

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In the sense of a review there is nothing offensive about this plane. It handles very much like it’s larger brother the JU-52 (THI) and comes complete with all the little quirks you would come to expect from Adventure Air, such as Aeon Voom’s complete lack of understanding on the basics of the Laws of Physics ,the same HUD used in every one of their other planes and the completely unnecessary giant Adventure Air logo that appears above the Aircraft any-time you’re browsing the menu options.

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The Aircraft is not by any stretch of the imagination an easy plane to fly, with a turning speed akin to an Oil Tanker and a flight core that looses speed (and therefore height) every time you turn too steeply; it comes off as something that is forcing you to behave as if you had your mother in the back seat and had to fly in a manner that wouldn’t upset her or her drink.

I say “your” mother because just like Yo Mamma if you bank too sharply she falls out her seat and the sudden shift of weight causes the plane to plummet out of the air.

Clearly this is not a plane for the Thrill seeking stun man.

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This is not to say this plane cannot be fun. Once you get the hang of things it is a simply joy to fly. It is responsive, elegant in it’s own manner and has some of a cheesy “old timey” feel to it being that the “pilots seat” is actually some sort of smoking lounge chair and as your eyes drift over the instruments and display panels, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a vintage sports car, everything is bolted on and finished with a brass or silver polish. If Second life has Smell-o-vision (and I’m quite thankful it doesn’t) this plane would smell of Leather and Cigar smoke.

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The F.13 wouldn’t look out of place in a Steampunk region, as a mail carrier, a passenger service for small families, or one man and his favourite bottle of scotch taking a short trip by Plane because it’s faster than the Airships.

f.13_005

This, however, shouldn’t distract you from the slight issue this plane has, and when I say slight it’s a big one and probably the reason this plane isn’t selling too well.

At 5’4 my recently impulse bought Furry Avatar is short by SL standards and RL standards, In the F.13 he fits just snugly inside. My regular avatar stands at 6’2, tall by RL standards but still on the short side by SL standards, when seated in the F.13 his head lightly clips through the pilots canopy. And now you start to see the problem. My third Avatar stands at 7’7 and is a representation of the “average” male avatar in SL, we use it for testing. He cannot fit into the plane as a passenger and as the pilot he awkwardly sticks out of the aircraft like the owner of a compact driving down the freeway with his new Ladder.

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To recommend this I would have to ask, do you have L$2,400 to spare? Do you like vintage things? Is your Avatar under 6 foot tall. If your answer to all of these things are “yes” then by all means buy this plane, it makes for a great grid cruiser, it crosses sim borders smoother than anything I’ve known and it comfortably fits five people. IF however any of of those questions you answer “No” then I would say save your money. It’s too small even for ‘short’ SL Avatars and Aeon Voom has a thing about scale. The plane is built to his scale and he refuses to sell it moddable or even with re-size scripts because such a thing in his eyes in near heresy.

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When Aeon Voom first came to SL Aviation he did it in such a way that almost bankrupted everyone who came before him. Prior to Aeon; Aviation was Military focused and those who flew had little time for new pilots. The WWII groups dominated all and phrases like ‘user friendliness’ was a figment of everyones imagination. “work it out or get the fuck out” was the motto.

The construction of Old’s AFB changed that. Aeon didn’t care about the hierarchy and traditions of SL Aviation that had come before him, he appealed to a new market, one which was seen by some builders at the time as degrading, a market of non-pilots, people who couldn’t fly and lacked the skill or patience to learn. Markets like that were reserved for the likes of LeZinc or Wilder Skies, company names which were almost Curse Words by the standards of the day. But Aeon, not giving a shit, appealed to those people. His aircraft were user friendly, easy to fly and came with a certain amount of pomp and ceremony that ,as unpractical as it was, got people excited. That is how Aeon made his fortune and the legend of Old’s AFB was cemented.

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Today things are a little different. Aeon has acquired an attitude where he no longer wishes to appeal to the same market that built him Old’s. Instead ,like the Old self-proclaimed God’s of Aviation he de-throned, he now see’s his old customer base almost as a lower class. His newer vehicles ,from the Twin Otter onwards, feel less appealing to a new pilot and more to one who already knows what they are doing, or has the patience to learn. This is Aeon’s main issue with MCE. A common complaint from many Pilots that prefer more realistic aircraft such as ZSK or THI is that one must know the strengths of his or her Aircraft and put a great deal of effort into lining up the shot, which is unfair verses more Arcade style aircraft which simply have to turn. In principle MCE hoped to change that, by offering a separate system for those who prefer more realistic aircraft and didn’t want their dogfights getting interrupted by Arcade planes and even preventing people using Modern Military equipment ,such as stinger missiles, upon WWII Aircraft.

For Aeon however MCE became the ivory tower into which he entombed himself. Vice became a dirty word and his customer base now found their choices limited to Realistic aircraft or nothing. Despite numerous complaints Aeon wouldn’t back down, he was done with Vice and no longer had time to deal with people who couldn’t fly his new planes and seemed to take great pleasure in watching them try, fail and inevitably crash. He blamed the builders of Arcade planes for the ‘stupidity’ of today’s pilots and their unwillingness to learn; unaware that they were actually his pilots, who grew up flying his products and learned their culture of flying almost entirely from his examples.

Ironically in their confusion of suddenly having their back turned on them, they switched in their droves to the very creators Aeon blamed for their existence, who happily threw themselves at the opportunity to finally rid Aeon of his crown and flooded the community with all manner of Doomsday prophecies regarding MCE most of which were nonsense and some just plain weird. But all of them may as well have been true for the impact it had.

Aeon was now starring as the over dramatic Bond Villain in his own Saturday Night TV show and everything he did just seemed to make it worse. Even going as far as removing the “easy” mode from his helicopters, forcing people to update to the advanced version through a feature of MCE that was only designed to handle greifers[1] even though it was a civil Helicopter and should never have had the system implemented into it in the first place. Naturally his customers revolted at this decision and soon began to flood Aeon with requests, some demanding but most polite, regardless Aeon stuck to his guns and blamed Tig Spyker for creating a culture of “idiot helicopter pilots”. He then retreated from SL, suffering something close to a breakdown.

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A Google Image Search’s representation of Aeon during his Breakdown.

Upon his return the new Old’s AFB, known as The Green Hell, was launched. The region had been panned as being the Flagship sim for MCE and it’s popularity would set right everything Aeon believed he’d gotten wrong at Old’s, we were excited for it but instead what we got was an asymmetrical build with prefab tree’s and buildings stabled in all over it, giving it the impression that it had been rushed the night before. Combat with vehicles was almost impossible and Jet fighters were at the mercy of any WW2 fighter, being that they could no longer use their missiles on them.

For a man that required constant sales of his items to keep his region up and running Aeon had metaphorically shot himself in the foot. Vehicles were next to useless compared to infantry and the market for the best MCE infantry weapons and equipment was being dominated by third party vendors.

So it’s no wonder it closed down. Aeon not discouraged decided that such trivial pursuits were beneath him. He was burned out from modern and it no longer interested him, he set himself a new target, he wanted to compete with ZSK.

Now I’m just going to assume you know who Zora is and agree with his reputation of producing some of the best WWII aircraft in SL, trust me it’s easier that way. So now lets assume you know that Aeon only ever did Modern Aircraft and tanks, the few WWII projects he did during his “Golden Age”[2] were something of “throw away” projects and one offs, none which amounted to any great success, save for perhaps the Lancaster. His take-over of THI led to him neglecting it as something which belonged to a community he had little time for. Years would go by without any products being announced for THI and the last one Aeon attempted was a Stuka, two years ago, which contained little more than his basic Jet Engine script which he used in almost all of his planes, but slowed down.

Remember this thing? Mal Does, Mal never forgets.

Remember this thing? Mal Does, Mal never forgets.

Despite this drawback and despite the warnings of his closest friends and advisers Aeon choose to abandon his current market. He gave up on fixing any of the bugs in the Adventure Air products, updating anything further to MCE and forgot about his 6,000 Linden “early access” Carrier, which is still up for sale, still with the promise that it might one day be finished[3]. All for the dream of building WWII planes.

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What infuriates me about this more than anything is during my great rant regarding Dani Air-planes I took time out to bitch at our current generation of Builders were to blame for their own loss of business because they spent so much time building the products they want and not the ones their customer wanted. Out of all the builders who IM’d me in the weeks that followed, casually excusing themselves under the self-illusion that they were happy building for a niche market and clearly they were not my target, Aeon Voom gave the loudest applause and thanked me for finally “telling it like it is”.

Why then, after agreeing that builders need to appeal more to their own customers as well as the general demographic of SL Aviation rather than waste their time on ego projects that never sell, is Aeon’s first completed project ,since the day that article was published, a small vintage aircraft that I can guarantee you’d never heard of until it was announced. Why even after sales of this aircraft are so pathetic; does Aeon continue ignoring his customers, some of which had been loyal for years, in favour of appealing to a dead market just to compete with someone who wasn’t even appealing to that market.

I’ll give you the answer and some of you probably know it already, but first there is remissions to pay.

It’s been known that I’ve been working on an article about Aeon Voom for quite some time and as per fucking usual in this situation all manner of preaching wannabe fuckwits have been crawling from the woodwork, notecards in hand, desperate to “have their say” and make sure that whatever I publish was sub-edited to suit their own political agenda or revenge idea. Not how I work as most of you should know by now, so let me make a few things clear before we continue:

Firstly if you’re going to bitch that you can’t fly a helicopter anymore because the creator removed the “easy mode” it’s not because the helicopter is no longer flyable it’s because you cannot fly it. It can still be flown and I shall prove it.

Secondly “free updates for life” means updates for the life of the product, not your life. If a creator chooses to stop working on a product it is not your right to chain them to a desk and force them to make constant regular updates for eternity or your money back. If there is ever an update, you get it free, if you don’t then you have a reason to complain.

With that in mind we’re going to bitch about Aeon’s ego for a while.

It has occurred to me for various conversations that I’ve had with Aeon that he doesn’t actually know who his customer base is and regards them as something of an annoyance, save for a few exemptions. When Aeon thinks about his planes being flown he envisions epic dogfight battles flown by SL’s Fighter elites and those who aspire to be like them, he envisions professional acting Armies and Navies, well equipped and organised. What he doesn’t want to see, or largely what he doesn’t want the reputation of, is his products being used by ,if you’ll pardon the expression, noobs.

What Aeon hate seeing is one of his planes landing nose first and skittering to a halt and emerging a pilot who is a member of more sex clubs than anything else, or a navy turning up in large Duplo Block style carriers, screaming about their authority and shooting missiles at everyone. This he finds embarrassing and hates any idea that his products might be used in such a way and has began to structure his business, whether he is aware of it or not, to actively rebel against this sort of thing.

For example the F-13 and his resistance to including a re-size script is not based on any sense of realism as Aeon claims, nor on his inability to create a flight script that can work with a re-sizer but is more to do with his distaste for unrealistically proportioned avatars. The argument is more “If you don’t fit you are too tall, your problem, not the planes”. And while it’s always fun to giggle at the people who need Avatars over 10ft tall with bulging muscles and/or breasts the size of a Toyota Panda to satisfy their vanity, it doesn’t make for a good business practice and translates into poor sales. Which is exactly what happened.

The same goes with his Helicopters, quite possibly the worst decision Aeon has ever made, by removing the Easy mode[4] Aeon was quite literally telling his customers “if you’re too stupid to fly my products then you don’t fly my products” this was especially cemented when he blamed Tig Spyker for creating the “three button pilot” culture. But ultimately you must ask yourself who’s helicopters do you think sells more?

Aeon’s bizarre and often Hostile attitude towards his customers is not a new thing. When Old’s first opened and during that entire period Aeon’s attitude was that his products were always appealing to his preferred choice of customer and being that he remained mostly within his skybox and rarely ventured down below, this attitude was never challenged. Back then he was surrounded by admins, advisor and group leaders of which at least half were competent. During the early days of MCE and later towards the Green Hell we see some of Aeon’s worst decision making as well as the creation of arguably some of his worst products, during this time the central core of Aeon’s Advisers had stepped away, leaving what was described to me as “a gaggle of yesmen” what also didn’t help was Aeon’s ego at this point, believing himself now to be too big to fail and believing himself to be the best scripter in Vice Aeon stopped listening to his Beta testers and numerous products were released before they were ever finished or in jagged, buggy forms.

Today, though Aeon is finally starting to listen to his Beta Testers, his two WWII Aircraft were released unfinished with any complaints ,including ones mentioned in this blog, being brushed aside as “it’ll be fixed in the update” as of today (21st of November) the final updates and bug fixes to the flightcore of the 109 only went live two days ago despite the aircraft having been released way back in July and despite being fixed on his two aircraft that have been released since.

Aeon has complained several times that sales of these aircraft have been low, so for his benefit, let us conclude by going over the facts we have uncovered in this article.

a) The market Aeon is attempting to appeal to simply doesn’t exist. The World War Two community ,while it still “exists”, is a shadow of it’s former glory and the players are largely Vice users or non-com roleplayers, to which Uniforms, clothing and furniture take a higher priority on the shopping list.

b) The Real Market Aeon should be attempting to appeal to the same community that praises ZSK’s, the RealFlight community, those who enjoy flying more realistic planes or aircraft that have simulator start-ups or are just difficult to fly by design. They are mostly of the Civil mind and ZSK’s ,though flown, are rarely used in combat. Only being seen as legacy vintage aircraft that look great and for fill the desire for that near-realistic flight experience. No-one who flies a ZSK is going to pay an extra 500L for something that flies “almost” as good.

c) Vice is still King of the Combat Systems, while interest in combat is at one of it’s lowest ever the idea of switching to MCE is still a questionable choice. Aeon has done much to earn the reputation MCE has received but not enough to encourage confidence in it as a possible replacement for Vice. By refusing to support Vice and forcing players to “upgrade” to MCE Aeon has already told anyone still unsure about MCE to essentially “fuck off” therein giving the Anti-MCE movement another member and lowering the chance that curious players could be swayed over.

d) By implementing features that would appear designed with the aim of weeding out the noobs from being able to fly his Aircraft, Aeon has essentially knocked his market down by about two thirds, add to that his appeal to the wrong market, his anti-competitive pricing vs ZSK, his decision to make the new planes MCE only and react exceedingly hostile to anyone who asks about Vice, plus limiting that choice further down to three planes no-one really knows/cares about and who have you got left?

Aeon complained that only 50 [5] of his new Aircraft had sold. What he failed to realize that in his target demographic, the few people that he had left while ‘trimming the fat’ was the serious Aircraft collectors, the few Jeogeot Gulf MCE enthusiasts and those with a passion for WWII planes that were more enticed by the detail and accuracy of the Aircraft. That would number only around 50 people so in actuality the Planes sold quite well. So the fault was not with the Aircraft themselves, nor competition from other builders but with Aeon who had failed to realize just how small his new Demographic actually was. Diving head-first into a Niche without doing any prior research and relying almost entirely on the THI brand name, forgetting that his own negligence of the THI name as well as the decline of realistic aircraft and the rise of the penny turners between 2012 and 2014 had reduced THI from being the highly respected producer of WWII combat planes to a “Who? oh yeah I remember them” company.

e) And finally there is Aeon himself, or at least his attitude. We can’t talk about this subject without mentioning this:

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the now famous L$10,000 ‘limited edition’ bf-109. While Aeon laughed it off as a Joke, with all the money donated to charity, what it actually was, was a troll stab at Vice users. “If their stupid enough to use Vice, their stupid enough to pay 10k” was Aeon’s thought process and he wasn’t wrong, believe it or not this plane sold and when it became obvious that sales of this plane were not token one-offs but actually had serious interest, did Aeon take the hint that Vice wasn’t dead and that his planes would sell more if he stopped ignoring Vice?

Course not. Aeon decided instead to not give the money to charity and pocket it instead. Without telling anyone, as if I wasn’t going to find out. And I can pretty much guarantee you if 100 of these things were sold, he wouldn’t stop selling them.

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Ultimately the F-13 is good plane but serves as nothing greater than an example of everything currently wrong with Amok Dynamics, THI, Adventure Air and Aeon Voom in General. He dove headfirst into a Niche market with minimal research and a head full of hot air, he became his own worst enemy and at the time of writing I happened to know Aeon is working on four projects, three of which are WWII planes and he is attempting to steal a fourth from Joe Sparrow, proving if anything that despite lack of sales and increasing hostility, he hasn’t learned a thing.

 

 

 

[1] The MCE “lockout” feature was an emergency system designed to allow sim admins to disable cheat weapons.

[2] No-one can actually agree when the Golden Age of Aviation was they just know it’s not now. They are all wrong.

[3] Not that I’m calling Aeon a liar, I’m sure that carrier will be finished “some” day.

[4] I am fully aware that the “easy mode” was removed due to the Mono-bug, my complaint is more based around how simple it could have been for Aeon to replace it.

[5] But he told me that back in July so it’s probably a little higher now

Erick Gregan’s ATX-72

The ATX 72 has been out for a while, too long perhaps to cram in a review for it and ,i’ll be honest, I’ve been putting this off.

I find this plane confusing, Like my ex-boyfreind it both excites and disappoints me. It has features in it that should set a base line standard for all future Airliners from any SL Aviation builder and I would like to leave it at that and say this is a good plane but rather sadly I now have to face facts that this plane has a Fault List longer than most planes I genuinely hate.

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“Oh Boy” says no-one “can’t wait to hear you’re opinion Mal” screams the terrifying voice of sarcasm expressed by no-one specific as they mash their hands into the keyboard itching to have their say in the comments box as if shunning my opinion makes their opinion any more valid. Well pay attention you tormented little angels because guess what people I like Erick Gregan. I like him as a person, I know mad isn’t it.

What I don’t like is this plane.

You know those random fail photo’s you get that show someone trying and failing to do something very simple with the caption “You had ONE Job” that is how I feel about the ATX 72 and all the little Fuck up Faeries which inhabit it.

Every little idea and feature that makes up this plane is fantastic at it’s base but the execution of those idea’s leave a lot to be desired, to give you an example the best feature of this plane is the “hard mode” start up sequence. Rather than just sit there in the cockpit like a lemon and say “start” there is a panel above the pilots chair which invites you to perform an actual aircraft start-up procedure, from switching on the main battery and connecting the fuel pipes right up to de-icing the windows and turning on the Seatbelt warning lights. It’s an awesome feature and I spent most of my time in this plane just turning the panel on and off again. However there is a problem, you cannot turn on the flow of oxygen to the compartments until after you’ve de-iced the windows, you can’t de-ice the windows till you’ve locked the doors and you can’t lock the doors till you’ve started the engine.

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This makes it less of a realistic start-up sequence and more of an Erick Gregan puzzle adventure game which MUST BE DONE IN THE ORDER ERIC TELLS YOU TOO but you only need to complete the first half to start the plane and nothing else you really do on that panel makes the slightest difference. It would have been cool to see the windows slowly cover with ice if the de-icier was inactive, the engines cease up or even the emergency gas-masks drop down for the passengers if the oxygen wasn’t flowing but alas no such luck. This feature is more or less button porn for people who like that sort of thing, people like me, so more of this please but perhaps a little more loose on which order things need to be done.

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For my next disappointment let us talk about the most important feature of this plane, it’s flight capabilities. I like how the amount of fuel effects the weight and drag of the aircraft, I also like how Erick knows what flaps on an aircraft do (hint: they are not just for slowing down) however the auto-level is constantly on and to date I have yet to find how to turn this off, meaning in order to complete a 90 degree turn you either have to overbank or slowly shimmy the plane in the right direction.

The flight also had several bugs, most notably one where the plane got stuck on Taxi mode and, even when going at full speed, refused to take off and instead smashed through the wall at the end of the runway and hurtled into the drink where by it sank slowly in embarrassment.

The “stall” physics also leave a lot to be desired. It might just be me but the first time I took this plane out I had it at 20% throttle, upside down and about 4ft off the ground it it refused to stall, the second time I was coming into land at 40% throttle and it stalled 6ft off the runway so I’m not entirely sure what the parameters for this plane to stall actually are but that sense of unknown and that almost randomness that there wasn’t just a magic number to hit before the plane stalls. I liked it and it increased the realism along with the planes apparent Hydrophobia with just one major drawback which was what happened when the plane itself actually stalled.

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I once had a go at Aeon Voom for this 109’s stall physics which put the plane into an over-dramatic performance loop that you had to wait to finish before you could start flying again, but even this was a dam site better than the ATX 72’s which stopped in mid-air, slowly nose downed then plummeted like a brick directly downwards. Speed and control was re-gained by means of revving up the engine as the plane did not seem to pick up speed despite hurtling towards the ground and it instead it continued wallowing around at a pace Tomahawk pilots would describe as “slow”.

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The Third great disappointment of this aircraft is something I’ve never reviewed before, passenger comfort. I like the boarding pass feature that prevents passengers accidentally clicking on the plane and sitting in the co-pilots seat. The chairs are spacious and there is enough headroom for even the tiniest cocks with just two major drawbacks, firstly there is the noise inside the Cabin. I know soundproofing doesn’t exist in SL and builders just have to do their best but the ATX 72 has got to be one of the LOUDEST planes I’ve ever flown, it’s so loud it drowned out the 10 minite long safety announcement as well as the other passengers I was flying with.

The second was the foot high gap between the aisle and the seats.

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And then finally I suppose we have to talk about the greatest one of them all, the LOD factor. Don’t get me wrong, I love how this plane looks, I like the little details like the tiny LCD screens, the name sown onto the seats, the working dials on the cockpit and even the tiny soap dispenser in the bathroom, only I would if I could see it.

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Erick has recently updated the plane which slightly improves on the LOD issue and I’ve placed the two comparison shots below.

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It still has the problem where you cannot see the front of the plane from the back and any distance over 100m and the plane starts to crumple, the doors are not visible till about 80m and are glitchy as all hell and the landing gears aren’t visible till about 10m.

Both Amok and THI have offered Erick help with fixing his LOD issue but he has refused them both, in a conversation with me earlier he insisted that what Aeon and Karl did to provide solid LOD’s was cheating and it was up to Linden Labs to fix the system not himself. So pretty much a big “fuck you” to the customer right there.

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To try and find some conclusion in this mess, which began with such high expectations, this plane is not “bad” in the sense that if you just wanna fly and don’t care about the LOD issues or are even willing to make the adjustments to your viewer settings so at least you can see the aircraft correctly (but no-one else can, so you still get the occasional IM’s from people insisting your cargo door is open) it flies realistically enough and had it not been for the auto-level issue I would be happy to take this plane out of the shed more often.

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at L$ 3,500 with a prim count of 151 and a script count that fluctuates between [33/33] running scripts, 685 KB allowed memory size limit, 0.309975 ms of CPU time consumed and [33/33] running scripts, 685 KB allowed memory size limit, 0.253309 ms of CPU time consumed. It is a big plane with a lot of issues. It is however a labour of love, in the time I’ve been writing this Article Erick Gregan has posted four major updates.

If this proves anything it proves that Erick is trying hard to improve this aircraft and is fully aware of it’s flaws and while I could be snarky and proclaim that he really should have done more beta testing but I could say the same for a lot of people. Like many builders ,unless you have a free platform above your wives house, Erick has rent to pay and to pay that rent projects need to be completed and put on the market as quickly as possible and after spending half a year in construction and scripting the last thing anyone wants is to wait a further three mouths while it’s in testing.

On that note I can clearly state that any problems highlighted in this review will probably be fixed at some point, however being familiar with Erick’s usual standard of work all of what I’ve seen thus far on the ATX, the LOD issues, the non-interactive interactive control panel, the high script time, the flight bugs etc etc is what we would consider the typical hallmarks of Erick Gregan and I have yet to see a plane he has had on sale to this date where any of these problems have been fixed. So it is an investment and a risky one, these issues for me ruined the experience of the plane, other people don’t seem to care. These issues might be fixed, they might not. I cannot tell.

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The Tomahawk

To call an airport, even an empty one at that, a boring place would be an affront to common society. The tropical glaze of the midday sun blazed like streams of holy light though the canopy of the palms which dotted the sandy dunes of St Martins, it’s soft whispering beaches only laid to disguise the Airfield as a remote paradise, but one could never ignore the grunts of the turbo props as they belched around on the thin tarmac which layered the ground like some sort of Asthmatic Tuba.

Their owners paraded around on the sand, thumping their manly chests as they set about with wrench and wielding torch. My gaze happened across something gleaming in the corner and a manly smile curled up from my incredibly manly lips. Of course no sleek and slender business jet could compare, nor could any Busty bush plane hope to match the experience I had with one tiny, cute little aircraft come only known as Zora’s Tomahawk……..

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……”This is a contract between me and you” She coolly whispered to me, sliding the parchment across the table towards me. I licked my lips nervously, my fingers trembled and my brow wept with sweat. I was nervous but also excited and my body, trembling though it was, urged at the chance for new experiences. I signed shakily and pushed the parchment back across to the waiting mistress. It was done, with just one easy payment of L$ 2000 the plane would be mine…..

….”what shall we go for?”, she asked presenting me with a number of liveries, as well as interior and seating textures. “Red Stripes, Thicker Red Stripes, Blue Stripes, Thicker Blue Stripes, how about the top all Blue” She moved in closer, her choices of exterior panelling causing my fingers to tremble with the anticipation “Yellow stripes?” she inched closer “Hell, we could throw caution to the wind and go for all red with flame decals or…” she leaned in closer still, whispering gently into my ear “or shall we go full Australian” It was too much for me….

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….She was nervous, I could tell. She shone like a brand new sports car as she stood before me laid bare to the world. She had never taken to the air before so I decided to be gentle. I entered her like a Panther. My delicate fingers making light work of her interior as my thumb pushed in gently the Main battery Switch. As the sparks flew she burst into life and the lights came on, though I felt the photographic style textures of the lights clashed with the Cartoony exterior textures but the sound of her tiny engine roaring into life made up for any insecurities I was having.

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Like an innocent Ballet dancer she teetered onto the Runway, her insides audibly shivering from the manly touchy of my rough manly hands, the sound was repetitive but quiet enough to not be irritating, it was a nice touch I felt. Finally She gave me that tiny indication, the way only a woman can, letting me know she was ready. I slapped her down upon the tarmac, lined her up and with an almighty roar I thrusted up vigorously and pointed her to heaven. Her flat four piston engine screamed out to me and with a simple flair to the terrified onlookers we were airborne…..

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….at 200 meters I eased off the thrust and let her slide, she was now high enough to pull her own weight and it gave me time to admire her instrument panel. I ran my hands over her instruments like a curious schoolboy fumbling at her protruding knobs. Her LOD’s on some of the dials were disappointingly low but I’d taken many a bird to Sky Fortress Love and never before had I seen one where all the dials worked. It was impressively sexy and she knew it….

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…I jammed her into full throttle and tilted her to one side, her Yoke turned with the rhythm of my hands but on the bank she lost power letting me know the Dynamics of her flight engine were not going to tolerate cowboy antics. I rolled with it, stroked on her navigation lights and slowly trailed my hand south to deploy the flaps for landing……

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All seriousness the Zora Tomahawk was one of the most anticipated Aircraft of this year. It’s only been out a short time and already it’s popularity has dwarfed almost everything that came before it.

It’s flight engine has to be one of the best I’ve ever flown, certainly one of the most realistic flight cores I’ve ever seen in Second Life. It has a number of liveries, including separate customisations options for the Interior textures and the seats as well as being fully moddable allowing you to do whatever crazy shit comes to mind.

Then there is the weather system, something we’ve not seen before in any Aviation product to this point, while it has no visual nor audible effects the system itself does add an extra layer of intrigue for the plane allowing you to cheat by sticking more wind up your ass or plow yourself into the terrifying experience of flying in a thunderstorm.

That said the plane isn’t perfect, the LOD on some of the dials on the instrument panel seemed a little low and a few of them would vanish unless I stared directly at them and being that the HUD vanishes in mouselook (this is a plane best experienced in Mouselook btw) you really need those dials.

As I said earlier the phototexture of the lamps looks somewhat out of place and clashes with the textures on the rest of the plane, the inside handles on the doors look a bit squidgy and the flaps instantly slam into the down position without apparently travelling through any space in-between.

I was also none too happy with the choice of liveries being that ,aside from two, it was down to a choice of what colour of stripe you wanted on your white plane.


Don’t get me wrong it looks stunning and flies better than anything I’ve seen on the market but when it does fly it flies slow, very slow. This is not a plane for people who want to fly from A to B and look good doing so this is a plane for people who subscribe to the ideology of Fly for Fun and don’t mind being overtaken by sail boats and cargo barges.

But at L$ 2000 it’s also one of the cheapest Dynamic flight planes you’ll ever find. Highly recommended, specially if you’re a fan of Zora’s work or just like something that’s fun to mess around in.

Top Ten planes for first time pilots

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)

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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

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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

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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

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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%[1] 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

Price: Free

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

[1] 29.3% exactly if I’ve got my maths right

Pew Pew Pew and other noises.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few months then it’s probably not failed to escape your attention that THI just released an BF109. The display model which merrily sat posing for us all at Wright Brothers as various members of the “Big names” in Aviation came at night and rubbed themselves over it and who could blame them. The days of Penny Turn battles is over and the community has been crying out for a Good Detailed German Fighter plane with a flight engine comparable to the ZSK P-51 for some time, Zora, busy with plans and a possible global domination, has limited spare time and prefers to work on the American planes he fell in love with as a boy though he has flirted with the idea of building a Japanese or Italian plane though with his track record of one plane every two years I wouldn’t hold your breath. Still waiting on that B-17.

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Now stepping back into the ring after a very long time is THI, a company which had previously dominated the realistic WWII fighter market has lay dormant since it’s P-51B back in 2013, being the last thing they released which was quietly shoved onto the MCE market and destroyed any viability the only MCE supporting WWII region had at the time in terms of Air combat being that it totally outclassed anything the Axis had available while it’s builder stuck their fingers in their ears and claimed there was no problem and the Axis would soon have a comparable plane. Still waiting on that BF190.

So when I heard that THI was making a 109 I got excited, finally a realistic German plane that could compare to other MCE Aircraft on the Market and then when I heard Aeon Voom was making it I was a little taken back, when I heard that he was scripting it all by himself at his own insistence I got worried. Let me explain.

Back in 2013 at around the same time the P-51 was released THI made a Stuka. I was quite excited by it, the “coming soon” preview had been whoring itself out right next to a sim I was working in and each night it taunted me with it’s almost perfect technical accuracy and drop dead gorgeous looks.

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Unfortunately when released what we got was an un-textured rear gun and a plane that flew like a Brick in a hurricane. This was partially due to Aeon’s total insistence  that he, and he alone, script it without listening to any of his advisers nor having it beta tested beyond the ring of Yes men he was surrounded by at the time. It genuinely felt like he’d just taken one of his jet scripts and slowed it down.

So you can see why I was concerned somewhat.

Thankfully something else happened recently, the release of Leading Edge’s P-80 Shooting star caused quite a stir in the MCE community and already it seems to be the Jet of Choice for most people testing the waters at the Green Hell, again this was a jet that Aeon fully scripted by himself difference being the testing wasn’t handed off to a Yes Man who wanked all over it*, this time Cody Skytower himself took charge of quality control and the results speak volumes.

So how well does that translate into the BF109?

As you would expect I climbed into the 109, watched a very nice animation of my fat ass avatar clambering into the cockpit. I took to the skies and immediately crashed it, bringing forth my first complaint. While my crash was intentional for comedic effect I found the plane to be immune to the effects of slamming face first into the ground,  yet, just adding a tiny drop of water and the plane immediately caught fire, smugly bellowed that I’d managed to shoot myself down and gracefully sunk to the depths never to be seen again, all in all a fun evening out for all the Family.

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So how does it fly once you’ve stopped trying to slam it face first into the ground? Any idiot can say “looks great, flies great” when describing a plane, that same idiot can point out every little detail and inch of work that has gone into this plane and I would be very happy if they did because it is simply stunning to look at.

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From the greased trail of footprints along the wing to the thumb-marks on the levers, the exposed engine to the noise it makes when you start it up, this Aircraft is a work of art to which the word “great” would be an insult I mean for fuck sake look at it.

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The flight engine itself has it’s ups and its downs, as a dynamic flight core it’s very nicely done, the aircraft does react in the manner one would expect of a lightweight single seat aircraft with a ridiculously powerful engine under the hood. You can feel the aircraft pulling you forward, urging you to go faster and when you try to turn you actually get some sense of air pressure building up along the wings. When you dive the plane speeds up and when you pull up, it slows down.Tighter turns are achieved by slowing down or dropping the flaps. You must adjust your rudder on take off to prevent the torque of the propeller knocking you off course and you need to pull your flaps back up before touching down otherwise the ground effect will just keep you hovering right across the runway. Some degree of skill, or at least a lot of practice, is required if you’re planning to take this thing into combat.

Combat is clearly the main focus of this aircraft, it’s Ammo customization options allow you to “belt” your ammo meaning you can choose which type of ammo you wish, be it Armour piercing, explosive, or incendiary as well as add more tracers to help adjust your aim, or ,if you’re really confident, remove them all together as well as a trigger control mechanism which allows you to fire in bursts.

We did a mock combat test with the only other MCE WWII fighter (freebies aside) on the market, the P-51B I ranted about earlier, to which we can happily report it’s dominance has come to an end, while the P-51 is faster the 109 takes the edge on maneuverability so long as you can learn to do a flap twist to avoid the P-51 diving on you and learn to keep your speed up to stop the P-51 escaping. All in all both planes are relatively balanced and both somewhat rely on pilot skill which was something MCE was trying hard to achieve.

There is only one slight downside and that is the stall physics. As you would expect in most Dynamic Flight engines the planes don’t allow you to “stall fight” (i.e. flying at a stupidly slow speed without consequences). There is a minimum speed required to fly at before the plane starts to struggle and eventually stalls. Normally at this point, a plane would hang in midair for a second, belch, then slowly start to fall backwards, flip over, or go into a spin.  It really depends on what you were doing at the time. THI’s BF109 has an angry large Russian woman sitting beside you at all times with her eye permanently glued to the speed-o-monitor*, once you hit the magic stall number she screams “YOU ARE STALLING NOW!” the plane stops and performs an interesting feat of mid-air ballet which you have to sort of sit and wait for it to be done then you can start flying again. It feels somewhat unnatural, like it’s just been shoehorned in without much thought.

So as THI, a company so Old it pre-dates the Blake Sea (by about three years), roars back onto the market like a great Lumbering Dinosaur terrifying some tourists in the rain, we take a step back in perspective. THI has always led the way in Dynamic Aircraft scripting, in days gone by it was THE name for WWII Fighter planes, more recently however they were only ever seen as the toys of the few Vice oldbies, the ones who felt lost in the age of the penny turner, who dusted off their old THI’s and Tomby’s, found a quiet corner of the grid and practiced the art of Dogfighting.

This new 109 could have easily been another Aeon Voom ego project specially being priced at L$2,500, a slowed down jet fighter disguised as a prop plane sold through the THI name as if to try and rub off on it’s former glory. I’m so glad it wasn’t.

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*I may still be quite bitter over that Stuka

A tiny dissapointment

This week I wanted to bring you a review of the Kreig Store/Astral-Tek Flettner FL 282, a tiny yet beautiful machine that was one of the very few, possibly the only one equipped for combat, helicopter built during the Second World War.

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The Flettner came out about a month ago, priced at L$1,800, comes with four default camo textures with the option to custom make your own, making it a somewhat unique addition to Astral-Teks line-up. The build is the same high standards of near perfection we’ve come to expect from Krieg Store.

Historically correct, fully functional in Vice combat (banned from New Bastogne of course) and with an LI of only 33 it would be hard to describe why this helicopter is such a disappointment. Until you get in and try to start it up.

I have, for years, assumed that E-Tech sells the worst aircraft on the market in terms of how Boring they are to fly. They start instantly, take off at the slightest hint of speed, stop instantly when you touch down, fly underwater and will bump harmlessly along the ground if you crash. They are “safe” so safe they are fantastically Dull, so tedious in their simplicity there is almost no difference between that and Avatar flying other than you’re sitting down.

On the opposite end of that spectrum is Astral-Tek, the last helicopter they made was an Apache Longbow, back in the days of sculpts, which could do acrobatic flips and was considered so terrifying to fly that many called the Omega Concern Apache “simple” by comparison.

So when it came to then FL 282 I was expecting the same level of mind boggling terror that the Apache was famed for, I expected to end my first test flight on fire, upside down in a tree my face a mask of bright red embarrassment.

Instead I was treated to a very slow start-up (granted with a very nice animation) followed by the most generic helicopter scripts you can imagine. You press up, the rotor engine would reach 55% and the Heli would rise, you pressed forward and it would move forward and that was it. No loops, no explosions, no bits falling off it hardly felt like an Astral-Tek product at all.

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It was to simple, too “safe” and overall too boring to fly. Astral-Tek products are supposed to range from the Realistic to the Insane and unpredictable, with very little inbetween but the FL 282 was none of those things, sure it looks good but when you get right down to it the true Aviator doesn’t want something that’s going to sit in a hanger and “look great” most people care about the flight physics and how the aircraft feels when you take it to the skies and probably most importantly the joy you get from that, but this, any other builder that had been out of the Heli game for a while or even if this was their first one I’d have said it was a good start, maybe have even recommended you try it.

But for Astral-Tek this honestly feels like a rush job and nothing up to their usual standard.

I happened to mention this to Joe Sparrow after quite a few people in the SL Aviation chat noted their disappointment in the Heli and claimed to want more terror and complexity out of flying it. He seemed to take the issue to heart and the last I saw of him he had wheeled the FL 282 into his little shed and as he was gently closing the door his eyes flashed red, he stared at me and whispered “they want terror? I’ll give them terror…”

Make of that what you will.

Some statistics on Luke Flywalker’s SL Aviation “News” channel

For those of you curious to where the hell I’ve been for the past two months, if I had given up and if I was just ready to throw in the towel on the whole Malqusition idea may look to your screens now and pause for thought, I am indeed back after a long and rather terrifying vacation of which I am sure you now expect me to launch into a two thousand word epic detail on how it went, what I saw and the things that I did.

Well Children, prepare for disappoint.

I was planning to talk about something else but when I woke up this morning the youtube app on my phone was bursting with the anticipation that another Episode of the SL Aviation Magazine had been uploaded. “Hark” I cried with some mild bemusement as I stumbled out of bed and removed yesterdays washing from my computer chair, booting up my old 1910 Model of Mr Gate’s Most Marvelous Home sized computerized calculation machine for the Modern Man, by way of the old coal furnace and what luck that I only needed to replace four of the Radio Tubes this morning before enough steam thundered into the Drive and the Machine booted up.

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It’s been two mouths since Luke graced us with his last Newsletter, episode 37, in which his usual 15 minutes of planes flying overhead to ill fitting music was suspended to interview Cubey Terra, a legend in his own right and someone who seemed more bemused that out of all the Talent present on SL Aviation his interviewer, and at the time the only source of News for the Community, couldn’t actually seem to think of any questions to ask, instead Luke choose to bumble his way through talking about the Atom, proved his complete lack of knowledge on the actual History and foundations of SL Aviation, dropped in a quick Shana plug and then internally screamed with frustration as Cubey laughed off the idea that people were still using TCS.

A teeth grinding experience if anything.

Episode 38, launched June 12th 1015, shows it’s back to business as usual, but this time having taken quite a bit of flak from the community about Issue 37 Luke has decided to play it safe, in fact Luke hardly appears in it at all. In the 19:54 running time Luke’s on screen time is three minutes and 17 seconds. The rest of this “News” Letter is dedicated to a two and a bit minute slideshow of Seychelles Isles paying close attention to the DOR regions situated there, a sales plug for one of his friends and Ten Minutes of footage showing planes taking off and landing of which One EG Aircraft was shown, Five Shana and Thirty Four Dani planes[1].

Not that I’m accusing Luke of Bias of course, after all it’s not like Dani and his wife were one of the pilots.

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Oh wait…..

You may ask yourself why I bother to bring this up, why I care about something I obviously don’t like watching and how dare I try to discredit one of my rivals.

Fact is the Malqusition doesn’t try to present itself as the News, I know I get things wrong and I make corrections when I have been proven incorrect. Luke however does present himself as the News, he is the “SL Aviation news presented in TV news magazine format.” which is a contradiction by itself but we’ll ignore that for now, he is THE News and has often advertised his channel as “the official” and “impartial” but if anything I would consider his Magazine a poor source of news and anything but impartial. “Here is an Airport what I built and here is 10 minutes of my friends using it” does not count as News in a Community of Several Hundred people not to mention the countless factual errors he’s made over the years, none of which he has corrected nor apologized for, and I wont even comment on his “break the cookie cutter” idea by using One Single Runway.

I mean it’s not like there are any other Airports on the Grid with One very long Runway.

So not News, more like a Blog a Blog which several people have furiously proclaimed that I and this “blog” need to be more like, inevitably I have pissed off people with my articles here, mostly furious that I don’t share the same opinion of God-like about their favorite builder/plane, but I’m always hit by the same bullshit, Why am I such a Monopoly whore, trying to discredit everyone so *I* can make more money off the planes *I* and my friends sell[2] and I need to be more like Luke, Impartial.

Bullshit.

You could call Luke’s Newsletter “the Continuing Adventures of Luke Flywalker and the Dor Angels” and no-one would argue with you. It is NOT impartial.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Luke has 38 Episodes, just counting the Newsletters, not including special episodes and single dedicated episodes. Out of those Episodes 20 of them have a segment on DOR or feature DOR, specially the DOR Angels, in some way, in almost all of those episodes Luke finds time to give a plug to his favorite builder, Shana Carpool, even if it’s just a tiny image in the corner of the screen, Luke makes sure it’s there.

In comparison, DSA is mentioned Twice, EG is shown but never mentioned, ZSK is mentioned Once; their P-51 got a release announcement a full year after it was launched, Spykers and Wingtips are mentioned several times but their products are rarely shown and never discussed in any great detail, the re-incarnation of Wilder Skies is never mentioned, Amok gets a nice two episode discussion during the MCE showcase but is never mentioned again, neither is Adventure Air, Laminar systems and their Supercub which is one of the most popular small planes ever as statistically every person in the Community has one; is never mentioned, shown on screen nor spoken about and even Aeon’s Booth describing the History of SL Aviation at SL11B is never shown or mentioned despite Luke actually attending the event and talking about some of the Aviation booths there. Astral-Tek products are shown, once, but credit is never given to them nor are they ever mentioned nor is the Jeogeot Gulf Battleship project ever mentioned or spoken about despite Luke doing segments in the Jeogeot Gulf Twice, in fact during episode 34’s Helicopter flight around the Gulf a Battleship which passed by them during filming was De-rendered to prevent it being seen by the Camera.

Not the first time Luke has de-rendered objects to prevent them getting attention, an episode (episode 17) covering the opening of Brentwaters Field, Luke’s favorite airport as it seems to feature at least 11 times including a five minute long promo for the Airports owner’s RP Aircraft repair service, shows a crowd watching a DOR Angels display to which I am part of (The crowd not the airshow) the Angels were in the air for around 30 Seconds, did a full loop then landed again, during the finished production myself and several other people have been de-rendered from the crowd, the footage of the display as also looped in several places, with footage being shot at different angles or reversed to fill in the full 10 minutes Luke decided to donate to the Angles, footage was also spliced in from two other episodes.

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To be fair to Luke the first 15 Episodes he does try to act as a News program, covering events, new releases, discussing Aviation fan films and even introducing segments which covered a wide range of builders and what they were up to, the events the various airports were planning and even had the idea to start showcasing important figers in the community with a different one every week.

Sadly that seems to have been brushed aside, out of all 20 episodes featuring DOR most of them take place after Episode 13, Luke moves to TAG City Airport and the attitude of the Newsletter changes, the Episodes seem to become more condensed, there is less silly jokes and antics, the slots start to become shorter and sound more commercialized rather like he is advertising what he is talking about rather than simply talking about it and of course the DOR references and the Shana Carpool Plugs.

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While the relationship between DOR and Shana deserve an article to themself it does pain me slightly as to why Luke feels, out of all the builders he is ignoring why Shana Carpool, that is the Company Shana Carpool Industries not the avatar, is the one he always singles out to need the most publicity. Shana has more staff than both Astral-Tek and Amok Dynamics combined, she has more products on the market place than any other Aviation company and enjoys huge amounts of Publicity and Sponsorship deals from various Airports and flying groups and even has her own WWII Dog fighting tournament called the Shana Cup.

She is not a small time builder, an independent creator or just a poor sweet girl trying her hardest, Shana is a very large, well funded, well publicized Multi Million Linden cooperation.

Why both LukeFlywalker and Da Admiral, both older, single men who live alone, would give so much publicity to a Young, Attractive Italian girl with a flexible sexual preference who previously ran a strip club/brothel aimed at older men before taking to aviation, is completely lost on me.

Seriously I just don’t get it, it’s like the answer is staring at me in the face and I just can’t quite seem to grasp it.

Either way I have often felt that if you had never logged into SL and only had Luke’s video’s to demonstrate Aviation in Second Life you could be forgiven for believing it was a tiny community consisting of just DOR, Grid flights and Vietnam Vets[3]. Luke is not impartial, he is very much biased towards a few small groups of people. He is most evidently not a reliable nor consistent news source, entertaining as his magazine should be.

And if you think otherwise then I am sorry but Mal thinks you’re a fucking idiot.

[1] Includes multiple Aircaft appearing on screen at the same time, does not include camera angle switches but may include different shots of the same plane, a record of One mark was taken when the footage switched to different plane.

[2] I don’t have any planes on the Market and many of my friends do not either, the few that do I am not in their employ and make no money from their sales.

[3] And people who think if they fill a Diamond box full of Balloons and attach it to a chair they will somehow achieve flight without having to worry about such things as Wind and Power Lines and No Way to Steer.

There’s always a big divide in the Aviation Community between those who only use products from the big companies and those who prefer to promote little “independent” builders with a lot of loose interpretation as to what constitutes a Big or Small company. Regardless some products get way more attention than they deserve and we miss a few diamonds, so here’s my list of some of Aviations most under appreciated Aircraft.

1. The CRJ-700 by Kev Barony & Laminar Systems

Airplanes that fit the Roleplay passenger ethos are very rare, specially if your looking for a jet plane that’s Mesh, looks good and feels comfortable as a passenger to sit in.   Kev’s CRJ-700 is a combination of all of these things  plus one hell of a jazzy cockpit and some of the most Advanced flight scripts of any Jet Plane in Second Life, but the only thing you really need to know is you have a button that turns the Steatbelt and no-smoking lights off and on and it makes the boop.

IT MAKES THE BOOP!

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Why isn’t it popular?

When I say the flight scripts are advanced I mean they are the kind of Flight Simulator style controls that requires you to plan your route in advance. This plane is not for the amateur pilot and it is anything but noob friendly. You must adjust your trim mid-flight and keep and eye on your artificial horizon, the turning arc is stiff and wide and you need to throw down your flaps in order to make the tighter turns, for landing you have to know the airport your going to and exactly where the runway is, reducing your speed and altitude several sims away and dropping your gears at least three sims in advance, before bringing your flaps full down and then throwing your spoilers up as you skim across the runway to force your plane onto the Tarmac then immediatly throwing yourself into Reverse thrust to stop the plane. It’s a lot of hard work to fly the plane, specially if your not used to it, and many people just either can’t do it and claim the plane is bugged (because they are such an awesome pilot so it can’t be their fault right?), the plane is also very script heavy and I’ve often had trouble with it on Sim borders but that’s not the worst offence. Kev Barony’s company Logo is everywhere it appears 28 times on the plane making it seem somewhat like being in a corporate sponsorship deal and while it holds one of the best childhood squee cockpits of any passenger plane in SL for the actual passengers it is slightly uncomfortable to be surrounded by so many logo’s specially with the interior being such a bizarre choice in colours.

2. the Mig-3 by Jester Avionics

Yes it’s another brand sold under the Laminar Systems name same as above but hear me out. These planes are made by Seb Serenity, an adorable shy girl who doesn’t have much time in SL due to her Studies, what little time she does have she likes to work on planes, it’s something of a passion for her and the results are pretty outstanding. To be fair, all her planes should be on this list as a Seb plane is quite rare and aside from her Lancaster launched under the THI name, none of them are given the credit they are due.

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Why arn’t they popular?

Second verse same as the first, Seb’s planes inherit the same characteristics are their RL counterparts and you have to know the plane to know how to get the best out of flying it they also require a certain amount of skill to land without crashing. With the rise of the Shana-Standard “penny turner” in Aviation combat anything that can’t Dogfight by turning on the spot is considered “not worth buying” by the community at large and no-one had the patience to fly something that required skill, something we’ve started to see a reverse of with the growing popularity of ZSK.

3. The P-38 Lightning by Wilder Skies

Many Years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the grid and Oskar Linden still had a Job there was a girl named Niki Wilder. Niki brought forth a new product to share, it was a P-51. Parts of it were just flat textures taken from a scanned reference book, it flew worse than an old Shana plane and it’s engine made a noise like it had been recorded from inside a bathtub.

The community was unimpressed, but other parts of the community said it was the best thing ever so it was Handbags at dawn!

Years of Drama ensued and while the priests preached to their sermons and called for battle, Niki ignored them, she practiced hard and built good and soon her creations far outstretched the reputation she had earned. Probably her most famous work is her F-14D Tomcat which, despite being very outdated by todays standards, is still considered comparable with modern aircraft, but we’re not here to advertise whats already popular.

Somewhere in the fountain of ensuring drama, which to be fair was none of Niki’s fault, there was the release of a P-38 Lightning a tiny gold nugget of an airplane and everyone missed it. The P-38 was sculpted, it had raised details along it’s duel engine pods, it’s props were sculpted, it’s flaps and tail fins moved, it was nicely textured and it had a very smooth engine core which made you feel like you really were in the command seat of an aircraft which may not sound much but back then it was a huge leap forward in terms of what had been previously flooding the market and put Wilder Skies on the map as a serious contender. Had the Drama of Pirate Air not cemented the reputation of Niki as a peddler for Badly scripted Penny Turners then the emergence of this plane would have been considerably more significant and things might have ended differently.

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Why Wasn’t it popular:

In the fights between which combat systems the Vehicle & Infantry Combat Environment or VICE eventually dominated thanks to the popularity of THI at the time, as well as it’s support from Astral-Tek and The Flying Tigers, those still playing with other systems eventually started to convert, those who didn’t were left behind, one of them being Niki Wilder who tried making her own combat system that never really proved popular. Pirate Air aside the P-38’s main problem was it’s ICS combat system, which became more focused around Steampunk Ironclads and less about the WWII Community, when Pirate Air finally closed down and the transition to Vice was completed Niki Wilder became less important and eventually faded from the Publics Attention.

4. Erick Gregan’s Dewotitine D.520

Did you know EG does a range of WWII Fighter planes? Did you know they cost from 800L to 1000L? Did you know they are actually pretty good?

Well now you do, some of his newer players ,like his own P-38 with it’s slightly over the top start up sequence, range into higher prices but his older ones are just as good and none ever get the credit they deserve.

My Favorite is this WWII French Fighter the D.520, mostly because it’s the only one on the market and you may be thinking “France? Ha what did they ever do in the war?” well how about a P-47 with the maneuverability of a Mig-3 with a 20mm Canon in an era of Aviation where the other two Major Powers in Europe have nothing but 30cal Machine guns on their planes. It’s like bringing a Tank to a Duck fight.

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Why Isn’t it popular?

Call it bad timing, EG started releasing these newer models at the height of the Penny Turner craze, all WWII Combat regions at the time were all supporting Aviation groups which exclusively used Shana, making using anything even slightly realistic a pointless waste of time. Now that craze is starting to end it may be worth looking into these again.

5. Quinn Static: Everything

For a while Shogun was popular with WWII Aviators for once reason, they did the only Fairy Swordfish on the grid which was everyone’s aircraft of choice when Astral-Tek released their Bismarck. Sadly the rest of their aircraft never received the attention I always though they should have. Each one feels different, like there is real passion behind the construction and while his few planes cover the basic four (P-51, Spitfire, Zero and ME109) he also does some more interesting and weird things, like this Polish Lloyd C.V Biplane.

mig_015 mig_016 mig_017 mig_018 mig_013

And why aren’t these popular?

Japan, simply. Japanese builders rarely bother with the Western Market and never advertise outside of the Japanese regions, so it’s not surprising that hardly anyone knows about them, unless you’re specifically looking for a WWII Japanese plane.

And that’s it for now, agree with our list? think I’ve missed something? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to the next list.

The Atom

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. Atom_001 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. Atom_010 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.

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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.

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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!

https://sites.google.com/a/secondlifeaviation.com/www/thibaud’scurtissr3c

There it is, you deserved it!

It was at this point I stopped typing.

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Terra-Atom-sport-plane-by-Cubey-Terra/6906844

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.