I have found an all new interest in the world of FSX, and that is flying helicopters. Don’t get me wrong, there is a wide array of different types of aircraft to choose from but for some reason I really like flying choppers! I always enjoyed helicopters in FS9, but the controls seemed almost impossible at times even when one turned down the difficulty settings, and with the new feeling I get when flying choppers in FSX, it seems designed with choppers in mind.
Choppers and FSX just seem to fit really well together. I don’t know how else to explain it, but one really gets the sense of motion and a real feeling for the helicopter you are flying. As we have seen over the last few months, Alphasim continues to release high quality choppers for both FSX and FS9, but today we are going to take a look at the Pavelow III and the Helix. Two more well crafted models to test your flying skills in the world that is Flight Simulator.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is easy, simply purchase the chopper, download the product and extract it to whatever version of Flight Sim you are using. I can’t stress how important it is to save your password information after you purchase the product. I have developed a real nasty habit of not saving this information. Granted, the information is sent to you via email but it is very easy to loose. Just make copies.
Most of the companies I have had this problem with have been very receptive and have given me the required information I need to get my aircraft back, but it’s not their fault and it is merely because of my own short sightedness.
MH-53J Pavelow III
The MH-53J Pavelow has been a major fixture in the US military as Special Operations platforms. They are also known for their rolls in Search And Rescue missions. The Pavelow chopper has been around for a number of years and earlier versions of this chopper did see a great deal of service during the Vietnam conflict.
The Alphasim Pavelow comes with 4 different military paint schemes and ships with a complete sound package. The exterior model is one of the best helicopters I have seen from the folks over at Alphasim, as well as one of the best out there on the market.
The Pavelow has a photorealistic look about it and shows off very well in FSX. Visually, the Pavelow models are some of the best and they have a very solid look to them. If you were to actually compare a real Pavelow to that of the Alphasim product, it would definitely be hard to tell the difference especially if you were looking at it from afar.
The cockpit is what I have come to expect from Alphasim. It is not so complicated that you need to know where everything is and I find it to be just right for my needs, as flying a chopper of this size would require a great deal of input from both the pilot and copilot. There is one way to really enjoy this product and that is through the eyes of the virtual pilot looking out of the virtual cockpit; that coupled with the Track IR it makes for some pretty exciting chopper flying.
Once inside the Pavelow, you can move about from the cockpit to the rear of the chopper and not only is the exterior done in photorealistic detail but so is the inside of the chopper from front to rear.
Most of my flights with the Pavelow were done out of Dillingham field in Hawaii and most of my screenshots were done there. I was able to take the chopper into the mountainous regions of the island and practice landing in tight places and the Pavelow did not let me down.
The sounds are very good and capture the Pavelow quite remarkably. This being a large chopper, I wanted that feeling of large as well as that certain sound these choppers have and Alphasim has captured that with its own wonderful sound package. As with all of the Alphasim choppers, I noticed that this one doesn’t offer startup and shutdown sounds either. This is really of no consequence as the overall flight model wouldn’t really allow a manual start anyway and requires a CTRL E engine start from the virtual cockpit.
KA 27/32 Helix
If anything, you have really got to give Alphasim a commendation for originality when it comes to this one! The Helix is a tried and true workhorse that was built in Russia and is currently being used in many different countries around the world. The Helix is known visually for its co-axial rotor design system, which negates the need for a tail rotor and adds additional performance and turning capabilities. It really isn’t a pretty chopper to look at, but it’s a lot of fun to fly!
The Helix comes packed with five different liveries that pretty much covers its worldwide use. Liveries include Russian, Chinese, and Swiss liveries. The exterior model is beautiful, it is highly detailed and offers up a lot of eye candy. If you use this model in FS9, you will notice that there are some features that aren’t included in the FSX model, but in reality it isn’t that noticeable and this chopper really does shine in FSX.
Climbing into the Helix is impressive and reflects its Russian design throughout. I was impressed with the main cockpit except for the design of the overhead panel. The overhead panel in the virtual cockpit has an undone look and has absolutely no function at all in the sim itself, but as far as the the main panel is concerned, the gauges are all accurate to that of their real world counterparts and do reflect that of their Russian design.
Flying the Helix
Flying the Helix is a trip in FSX, both sim’s for that matter, but it really does perform well in FSX. Its ease of flight and ability to get the feeling of what the chopper is doing in FSX is really what makes this a great add-on, as well as making it a great learning tool.
For my test flights, I decided to fly in some of the regions that this chopper operates in and I found myself ultimately impressed with it when flying at higher altitudes. The Helix performs remarkably well in the Swiss Alps and climbing those big mountains doesn’t seem to be a big issue for this old work horse.
Russian choppers have a sound all their own and this particular add-on really does reflect a nicely designed sound package. The co-axial rotor system is reflected in the overall sound package and really must be heard to be appreciated. Again, there are no start up and shut down sounds, but in reality there really isn’t a big need for them.
Ironically though, as I spent more and more time with both of these choppers, I found that I really did want the startup and shutdown sounds especially when it came to spending a lot of time with the Helix. I just found that I would have really liked to have had the addition of those sounds.
Flying Choppers in FSX vs. FS9
Flying choppers in any sim has always been a challenge, but this seems to have changed with FSX. Helicopters are now more easily controlled and there is a sense of feeling when behind the stick of these birds. I used to get so exasperated with FS9 because no matter what difficulty setting I had the sim at, I could never get the chopper to hover. Landing was always a sliding halt rather than an easy touchdown and I have found that FSX makes the whole process so much easier.
Flying in FSX gives me such a feeling for the chopper, this was especially the case when flying the Russian bird as I was able to practice some really fun touch and go’s with it without crashing into anything and my landing point was almost dead on every time.
As you read this, Microsoft’s Acceleration Pack has been released and it is probably already in your hot little hands, but at the time of writing I have only read what it will offer. If what I have read is true, Acceleration should open up the world of Helicopters even more within the Flight Simulator X world. With that in mind I think new releases from third party developers will start incorporating these new features and add-on choppers will only get better, as will their overall function in this sim!
In The End
Alphasim has been at the forefront of military aircraft design and we have seen an increased development of helicopter add-ons from them. Price wise, I feel that these add-ons are reasonable and if you have a need to fly choppers in FS9 or FSX, then these are definitely for you.
Out of the many different add-ons available for FSX, I have found that I really enjoy flying helicopters and FSX creates a great environment for doing just that. If you’re a rotor head junkie like I am, you definitely have to have these.
What I Like About The Pavelow & Helix
What I Don't Like About The Pavelow & Helix
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