If there is one thing that I enjoy most in FSX, it has to be that of flying helicopters. Aaside from my fixation on General Aviation aircraft, I tend to find myself flying low and fast in whatever kind of chopper I can find that seems to best fit my current mood. You know the moments, booting up the computer, clicking on the FSX icon and then spending fifteen or twenty minutes staring intently at the startup screen wondering what you are going to do next? I usually go in with one thing in mind and then end up doing something very different from what I set out to do!
That is where Alphasim comes in and frankly, I really do not know what I would do without Alphasim and their Chopper add-ons! Alphasim has the biggest selection of helicopters available for FSX and with each new release, each one just seems to get better and better! When I saw the initial release of the Seasprite and its associated screenshots, I could not help but let out one of those Homer Simpson sighs of desperation “Kaman Seasprite! Ahhhhgggg..!” After wiping the drool away from my keyboard I was quickly on my way to go and see what I could see, and purchase and download! Then the power went out!
As I sat in the darkness of my little home office and listened to the fans on my computer spin down I couldn’t help but think, how unfair this is and with a few verbal expletives I walked away! The next day happened to be a Monday, so it was off to work and like everything else I usually do, I forgot all about the Seasprite until the following weekend. That weekend I found myself up and flying in my brand new Kaman Seasprite and I found that it was well worth the wait!
Installation and Documentation
The Kaman Seasprite can be downloaded through the Alphasim website and costs right around forty-three dollars. With your purchase you will have the option of installing both the FS9 and FSX version of the chopper, rather than getting it in one single installer. I prefer it this way, mainly because it allows you to see what you are getting for your money and it goes further to solidify that you are getting a true 100% FSX model with the FSX only installer.
There is a user manual and it includes a great deal of information regarding the Kaman Seasprite and its operation. The manual itself is 60 pages in size and is in full color. Locating the manual after the installation process is relatively easy; the installer puts the manual in your FSX directory under a folder aptly named Alphasim.
The Kaman Seasprite From Alphasim
The Kaman Seasprite from Alphasim is probably one of the most beautiful looking choppers to come out for FSX and is, in my opinion, one of the most detailed choppers available to date from Alphasim. The Kaman is a 100% FSX design. Although it does have an FS9 version, it is important to note that this chopper was meant for FSX and having the FS9 version is only an extra bonus and I think once you see it and fly it in FSX, you will not go back to FS9 to fly this one!
Once the product installation is complete you will find five different model variants along with six different texture sets of the Seasprite installed on your computer. Each different texture set reflects a different military livery reflecting where the chopper is operated. I really liked that they chose to include a fictional US Coast Guard paint for the Kaman, as it makes for some fun flying along the Oregon Coast.
Externally, this is one of the best helicopters available for FSX, it is so highly detailed that sometimes you forget that you are not looking at a picture of the real thing. The feature list for this chopper is impressive as it incorporates all of the new additions that we have come to expect with an FSX add-on. Features like bump-mapping, self shadowing, and some of the best night lighting I have seen to date makes this a must have for any helo-pilot in FSX!
The animation department is definitely not lacking, helicopter crews, wipers (They aren’t activated by the lights either!), deployable M60 machine gun, opening and closing doors and a slew of other features round out a well simulated model for FSX.
Flying the Kaman Seasprite was much easier than I expected, simply because I had read that it incorporated a true to life flight model. Out of all of the choppers I have flown for FSX and FS9 for that matter, I found that the Kaman, though considerably more complicated, offered the best feeling of flight and gives the pilot a true to life feel for the overall helicopter and how it flies.
Some comparison here would be good. When I fly the default Bell 206 I find that I have to refer to the instruments to get an idea of speed when I am trying to land. But with the Kaman, I am actually able to get a feel for the chopper and set her down with little or no hassle. To put it bluntly, I had a lot of fun flying low and fast with the Kaman Seasprite and when needed the chopper to react to my input, it did so without any hesitation!
The cockpit is where this chopper takes a massive leap from anything I have seen previously from Alphasim in this department. The virtual cockpit is not only functional, but it also offers accurate gauges and systems that are used in the real Kaman Seasprite. Though many of these systems are at best a basic simulation in FSX, it is still nice to see a more complex cockpit environment in a helicopter of this type.
The cockpit instruments feature REAL GUAGE technology thus allowing for some of the best gauge updates I have yet seen in a helicopter. The one thing I have found is that gauge update and accurate instruments are important when flying a helicopter in FSX, especially if you are trying to land!
My biggest complaint with other helicopters in FSX is that most of them are not easily controlled from the virtual cockpit. It usually requires the pilot to switch between the virtual cockpit and the 2D panel to access certain functions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the virtual cockpit in the Seasprite is at best, one of the more functional add-ons of this type and it is advertised as 90% functional from within the virtual cockpit concerning the clickable switches. Access to lights, radios and other pertinent systems is accessible from the VC and it boils down to just remembering where everything is.
At the heart of the cockpit you will find a display called a TACNAV. This little display is the brain of the Kaman, aside from the pilot, and includes real time information about every aspect of your flight. The TACNAV in the Alphasim Seasprite is not a fully simulated gauge and is at best in its most basic form, but it does serve its purpose and it was nice to see it simulated in the FSX version of the Seasprite.
The Seasprite sound is phenomenal and again far better than anything I have heard in a helicopter to date. Included are both start up and shut down sounds, which is something that has been significantly absent from other releases in the past from Alphasim when looking at helicopter add-ons. From the very first time I powered up this bird to the last time I flew her, I can’t help but think, is this a sign of things to come?
The sound itself works from whatever angle you are looking at the chopper; from the inside to the exterior you will get a full range of dynamic sounds in and around the Seasprite. I found that when flying helicopters in FSX it is important that the sound captures the movement of the helicopter and that range of sound adds to the affect of giving life and feel to the helicopter. Flying a helicopter is all hands on, and it is important that the sound be as realistic as possible when flying one within FSX!
Do I like the Kaman Seasprite? Yes! A wholeheartedly yes and I think it is one of the best helicopters to come from Alphasim to date! Is it worth the $40 price tag, yes!
I guess what it all comes down to is, do you like flying helicopters in FSX? Or are you contemplating your first helicopter add-on? If you are, then you owe it to yourself to get this one and I think it is safe to say that you will not regret it. I certainly haven't!
What I Like About The SH-2 Seasprite
What I Don't Like About The SH-2 Seasprite
Tell A Friend About this Review!
All Rights Reserved