This is the incredible, small, sleek, futuristic ‘Victory’ mini-jet by Epic Aircraft Corporation. This aircraft is classified as a VLJ type aircraft, short for ‘Very Light Jet’. Built for ‘ease of use’ jet flight commuting, this aircraft can take its passengers comfortably from location to location at speeds of 320 KTAS and at altitudes of up to 28,000 feet and with comfort.
This aircraft is powered by a single jet turbine engine and features room for 5 people, 2 in the front, and 3 in the very spacious rear cabin area. The aircraft is fitted with luxuries such as leather trim and upholstery throughout, as well as wood and carbon-fiber paneling. The instrument panel is a state of the art Garmin G1000 ‘glass screen’ panel system and the auto-pilot is the powerful Tru-Trak Sorcerer which features a voice system that lets you know how its navigational duties are going.
The airframe of this sleek aircraft is purely Carbon Fiber, one of the strongest yet lightest elements known to mankind, resulting is an Empty Weight of only 2700 lbs. [The above is taken from the supplied documentation that comes with the package]
As you can see from the screenshots in this review, the looks of this airplane, inside and out are just stunning. When you sit in the cockpit, you feel as if you are sitting in a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. All sleek shapes, materials, and colors surround you. Pretty neat!
Lionheart Creations is headed by Bill Ortis, who comes from an industrial design background. The combination of his design skills and flair, and the lines of this gorgeous airplane have resulted in a flightsim package which visually is nothing short of jaw dropping!!
I had previously purchased the Lionheart Creations Quest Kodiak which has become one of my favorite aircraft, so when I heard that Lionheart was releasing the Epic Victory, I was keen to get a copy and find out if it also would make it into my “favorites” hangar. Well, jumping ahead a bit, the short answer is a resounding: “Yes”.
Unfortunately, the Epic Aircraft Corporation overextended itself and had to shut its doors without getting the Victory into full production, so if you buy a copy, you will be the owner of an Experimental Aircraft which has not yet passed the full certification process. As such, some liberties can be taken with the flight characteristics and you may be forgiven if you make some personal modifications to your very own copy. As you’ll see in the following, that is what I did.
Installation & Documentation:
You can find the Epic Victory downloadable at the Lionheart Creations
site. The download comes with an auto-installer that installed
a total of eleven differently painted models on my system. The
models come with a variety of interior design finishes that include
luxury leather seating and trim that ranges from burled wood
to matt gray aluminum, to polished carbon fiber.
I would recommend that new owners read the documentation cover to cover, for this airplane has an unusual autopilot controller which is great, once you are used to it, but can be confusing at first encounter.
The model, outside and in the cockpit:
As I started looking around this airplane, I could not stop making screenshots. The details are really nicely finished and there is so much to admire, for such a small airplane.
Once you get inside, the visual experience continues. The virtual cockpit is beautiful and the seating position makes it feel as if you are sitting in the real thing! The 2D cockpit comes in two flavors, regular 4:3 and widescreen 16:10. Neither comes close to matching the visuals of the virtual cockpit, so they got no use during my flight testing.
The instruments are very readable and the primary flight displays (PFD and MFD Garmins) pop up in a larger format if needed. Alternately, you can zoom in on the displays and get the same resolution that way.
Look at the detail in the next few screenshots. In particular, note the simulated reflections in the lower panels which seem to reflect the Garmin screens.
Animations and special effects:
The airplane can be configured with wheel chocks as well as covers for the pitot tubes and turbine inlet when parked. You can also remove the front and rear covers, exposing the mechanicals inside, or have the suitcases sitting on the tarmac waiting to be loaded. The yokes inside can be shown or removed for better access to the switches. It all works via some custom designed “automotive style” switches that somehow totally fit into the look of the panel. The attention to detail is top notch!
This is where things get interesting. The airplane comes with Garmin G1000 avionics, which are very functional and a pleasure to use. I already knew from the Quest Kodiak, that Lionheart has a quirky placement of the standby and active NAV frequencies which is opposite to the way the real unit works and was confusing to me, since I was quite familiar with the original. Luckily, this gauge is coded in XML which is easily editable by the owner. So this is where my personalization efforts began.
I moved the fields around and also changed the mouse wheel interface, since I am more of a wheel spinner than a mouse button clicker when it comes to turning knobs in the cockpit. The autopilot was new to me, so I spent some time with the manual and also watched a Youtube video recorded by Bill Ortis to learn how to adjust the altitude and set the unit up for an ILS intercept.
Once mastered, it is all really slick and it is interesting to note that the very same autopilot was installed in the Rutan GlobalFlyer for it’s non-stop around the world flight in 2005.
It is pretty clear that in the real world, GPS navigation is rapidly taking over from the VOR to VOR navigation I grew up with and this thoroughly modern airplane was designed with that in mind. If you would like to read up on the current state of the art navigation techniques in GA piloting, I can highly recommend the book: “Max Trescott’s GPS Instrument Flying Handbook” which you can order from g1000book.com. It covers all the ins and outs of real world GPS based navigation using both GNS 530 and G1000 avionics setups. A great book, used by real world pilots wanting to convert from Steam Gauges to Glass!
Flying the Victory:
Taking into account that this is an Experimental Aircraft without published flight envelope numbers, it is hard to say with any authority whether this plane flies close to the real thing or not. The Epic Aircraft Factory was involved in the design and provided engineering drawings, so I guess it is truly “as real as it gets”.
Having said that, this airplane accelerates so quickly and takes off like a rocket powered STOL aircraft on my system, that I resorted one more time to a bit of tinkering to make it feel more to my liking. Reducing the Static Thrust parameter in the aircraft configuration file made a big difference for me, and I found that I could still get good flight speed at altitude by boosting the Thrust Scalar a bit. Maybe this is not “real” – but it feels better IMHO.
The attached screenshots were taken from a flight starting at KSAN San Diego, first to KSFO and from there to CYVR Vancouver. I flew at 10000 feet to admire the scenery. In real life, I would have been at FL200+ in this airplane.
The northern portion of the flight is over the wonderful Orbx PNW scenery and the final approach into YVR is over the equally impressive Vancouver+ scenery.
A real nice surprise is how easy this airplane is to fly by hand. It is very well behaved even at slow speeds, and I found that I can make a perfect landing every time. Again, I would not expect the real aircraft to be quite that forgiving, but it certainly boosts my confidence and it is nice to know that it does not just stall and drop out of the sky on a slow approach – so no complaints! I actually got to test this when I ran out of fuel and had to come in for an unpowered emergency landing which went quite smoothly. As they say: “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing”.
The Epic Victory is a lot of fun to fly and continues to please with its good looks and awesome performance. I love taking it for a city to city flight at double the speed of my piston aircraft and at three times the altitude. The instrumentation is great for IFR, and after a few user modifications, it now all works just as I like to have it. The large wrap around windows make for great sight seeing en route and the well behaved flight model makes for easy landings.
Some airplanes are interesting for a while and then fade away – this one is staying around as one of my personal favorites!
What I Like About The Epic Victory
What I Don't Like About The Epic Victory
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