The SAAB Safir was started in 1944, when it was obvious that the war in Europe was coming to an end. SAAB looked towards new civilian aero products, so two aircraft were developed; one of them was the SAAB 91 Safir. The first prototype took to the air on November, 20 in 1945.
With FSX coming out in a short time, it is rare to see companies release quality add-ons for FS9. One of the many things that caught my eye was that SibWings is a relatively brand new add-on company; I had never heard of them before. Astonishingly, the team has been working on this plane for allegedly a year and a half and it shows.
To tell you the truth, the Saab 91 would never be be a plane I would consider flying in a million years. Why you ask? Even though I prefer General Aviation over commercial airliners, I have never been a fan of vintage aircraft. Even if it was a great aircraft, I would have never looked twice... that is before this add-on.
Installation and Documentation
The installer is simple and straightforward. You basically input the serial code you receive after purchase and follow the easy steps.
The manual has a total of 46 pages and contains interesting and helpful information about the Saab Safir. I would recommend that you at least look over the manual before your first flight, but as sophisticated as the SibWing's add-on is, you can always hop in right away without knowing anything about the plane. The manual contains everything you need to know from the history of the plane to the "before landing" checklist; it is all nicely compiled in the manual.
The Panel: No 2d panel? No problem.
Ok, to start off, I want to point out that this add-on does not include a 2 panel. I know this might disappoint a few flight simmers, but you must understand that this add-on is not meant to be flown with the 2D panel. The Saab 91 is technically not an IFR aircraft. It doesn't have (except for D model) any type of VOR or nav-aid instruments; this aircraft is really meant to fly in relatively clear weather where flying is a breeze and all you have to do is enjoy the flight. That is really one of the things I like about the Saab 91, that and its simple and user-friendly flight characteristics, but I will talk about that a little later.
As stated above, the only panel you need in this add-on is the VC (virtual cockpit). Why? Well, with the amount of bells and whistles this VC has, you won't want to fly in any other cockpit view. The amount of detail in the VC's included, 4 in total, is exceptional. It gives you a sense of being in the real thing, something few add-ons do. The amount of texturing is amazing considering there is 0 frame rate loss, on my system at least.
Like most add-ons, innovation is vital to its success. And even though most of the bells and whistles this add-on includes have been done before, never has it been completely compiled into one package. Probably because it is very difficult to do, and/or the quality add-on companies are expected to have the product ready by the release date. I'm not saying that these companies release bad products, but the attention to the details can sometimes be overlooked due to the lack of time). It is the new add-on companies that really have the opportunity to "WOW" its costumers and that is what Sibwings have done (and I am still talking about the panel).
Apart from the expected features of moveable joystick, moveable rudder pedals and clickable VC, to mention a few; Sibwings have gone a step further with incredibly smooth gauges, differential braking rudder pedals and many more extras you won't find almost anywhere else (as far as this reviewer knows).
The nighttime lighting in the VC is also impressive, as there are many configurations of lighting you can choose from. The Saab also includes a light that retracts from the top of the cockpit, improving the overall lighting in the aircraft but low enough not to impair your exterior viewing abilities. Of course, it also includes the standard panel lighting you find in most aircraft and gauge lighting all of which you operate separately.
The Saab 91's panel is made to improve the pilots flying experience, with simple systems and lighting all made with the casual flyer in mind.
The model: You can't get any better than this. Period.
As like the Virtual Cockpit, the exterior model is very nicely done. I could not find any imperfections or inaccuracies. The Sibwing add-on includes four different models but there are three different types of Saab 91's. In other words, there is 1 Saab 91 B, 1 Saab 91 C and 2 Saab 91 D's.
Of course as perfect as the models are, you also need great textures to go with them, and that is exactly what Sibwings have done with this package. Each livery is done with exquisite detail; I could not find any errors or what some people call "jaggies" in the textures.
Getting back to the model, it is very nicely done indeed. Each model has something different, but not in such great detail. Each model has a different shaped engine intake, cowl flap, etc. Another thing that makes the models stand out, are the animations. You get the usual moving wing surfaces and extendable/retractable landing gear, but with this model you also get rumbling engine muffler pipes, realistic gear animation and some other features as well.
I did not find one problem in the model, and since you probably haven't seen one in real life, chances are you won't notice any deficiencies either. Of course, I am not saying that if you were to see one in real life, you would spot a problem. All I am saying is that I have not seen one in real life and could not tell you if there is an imperfection. I can however say that it is extremely well done.
She looks nice, but how does she handle?
Unfortunately, I have never and probably never will fly this airplane in real life. Thankfully, the team did a great job recreating the aircraft's flight characteristics. Of course you are gonna ask, "if you have never flown it, how do you know it is realistic?" Well, because many people have said so and simply by looking at the size, shape and weight you can probably see it can't be too hard to fly, and it isn't.
I would liked to have included a little video demonstration of how this bird flies, so the next best thing is to give you a sample of how a landing with the gear up might look. Something that made this plane standout was its reliability and ruggedness. This plane was designed so that if the pilot ever landed with the gear up, all he had to do was change the propeller and he was ready to go again (read it in manual if you don't believe me).
Ok, I was ready to land with the gear up because it was a test, and I shut the engine just so the prop wouldn't hit the ground spinning. You can see the plane does not "crash" or "jump" like some other add-ons do. This is something I found, to say the least, fun.
Cleared to land.
Simply put, this is one of the best add-ons I have ever flown, and I have flown many indeed. In my opinion, if you like flying get this add-on. If you don't consider it, then you have to live with the fact you are not enjoying your sim to its fullest. The Sibwing's team did an excellent job.
Unfortunately, this add-on came very close to FSX's release and some people are holding out from buying anymore FS9 add-ons. I hope the Sibwings team is or will be working on an update but if not, get this as your last add-on, you won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Note: Update 1 was used for this review. You can download the add-on's User Guide for free from the Sibwings site.
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