Review by Gene Davis. About a year ago a new simulator made its way out onto the market and it was titled Aerofly FS and being right on the coat tails of the MS Flight, this sim had some pretty nice looking graphics and, at the time, it touted unprecedented scenery and game performance.
I remember ordering the program through a special promotion through their website, AeroflyFs.com, and it I couldn’t wait for it to arrive!
My first impressions of Aerofly FS were of sheer jubilation as I looked out over the vast landscapes of Switzerland that offered super fast game performance, no stuttering and simply gorgeous environments. I was thoroughly impressed but as time went by I found myself wanting more out of the simulation and started to look on it more like a game instead of a simulation simply because of its lack of navigational systems and complexity that we see in add-ons for FSX and X-Plane.
About a month ago I saw a news story that Just Flight would soon release two aircraft for Aerofly FS and to say the least I was quite intrigued because I have always wanted to see this program expand further and allow for more greatly improved aircraft.
Along with the release of the aircraft at Just Flight the folks at Aerofly Fs also released a significant update to the core program that greatly enhanced many of its features.
Purchasing and Installing the Duchess and or the Archer III
You can find the Duchess and the Archer III available for purchase at the Just Flight store. You can purchase the Duchess for $18.99 and the Archer III for $15.99 or if you do not own Aerofly FS you can purchase the core program plus both planes at $59.99 or the core program and 1 plane for $52.99
Download is simple and installation of the aircraft is straight forward and to the point, but make sure that if you have Aerofly FS installed already that you have it updated to the latest version, anything under 1.2 will not work.
The current update (now up to 220.127.116.11) has replaced the original user interface and does make it much easier to select an aircraft and allows for the addition of new planes within the core program. There are also many other improvements as well as newly created airports along with more graphical improvements.
The Duchess, though a nice looking aircraft, doesn’t offer up the complex array of flight management an aircraft of this type would require in Aerofly FS and one would have to blame that on the limitations of the core program given that it is mainly a VFR Simulator.
At first glance you will probably recognize the two planes from the Just Flight hanger as I believe they are from the original Flying Club Series aircraft that came out some years ago and both have been made to work in Aerofly FS as well as improved upon visually for Aerofly FS.
The exterior model of the Duchess is pretty good, though the lighting does tend to be a bit bright at times when reflecting off of the exterior surfaces and I would have to blame the program and not the individual aircraft on this problem because some of the default planes have this exact same problem.
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It has all of the regular eye candy like retractable gear, moving flaps and animated control surfaces throughout and is rather eye catching in Aerofly. The interior is also nicely modeled and the self-shadowing is excellent!
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The cockpit is what you see in the screen shots and I have to say that my expectations were considerably high going into this with the assumption that there would be some element of real world navigation versus only flying VFR given the price of the planes. The cockpit offers up some functional gauges along with a moving yoke, rudder pedals and some rather impressive shadowing, but it doesn’t offer any accessibility from within the cockpit other than to just use it for looking around and monitoring the gauges.
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There are absolutely no click spots in the cockpit, in fact the autopilot is simply accessed by the “C” key and turned off by the “X” key and will only have you flying straight and level without the ability to change the heading by simply turning it off and on and flying it manually.
Over on the right side of the cockpit you will see the GPS, autopilot and other instruments but they have no function and are dark during all stages of flight. I would have really liked to have at least seen the map view incorporated into the GPS just to give it some functionality and a little more eye candy.
The sound that comes with the Duchess is just okay and I have to say that most of the time you can’t even tell if you are throttling down the engines during flight and it is barely noticeable when using the propeller speed lever. At full power I dropped the prop lever to its lowest position and the sound changed a little but was nothing significant and the only way I could tell if the RPM’s were changing was to look at the gauges and watch the speed drop.
The Archer III
Out of the two aircraft I have to say that I enjoyed my time with the Archer more because it just fits the whole VFR role better and there is little dependence on avionics. Again there is a full complement of dark navigational units that have no function, but most of the gauges seem to function and update realistically in the sim. The Archer also uses the same autopilot function as the Duchess and is very basic in design and implementation. It would have been nice to have at least seen the switches become accessible even if had been just stuff like lighting switches!
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The exterior of the Archer is also a familiar one and is one of the same aircraft from the Flying Club Series. It is nicely detailed and offers the same amount of eye candy from the outside as the Duchess, though reflective surfaces seem much better in the Archer because they are not so bright when viewing the plane on a sunny day.
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The interior of the cockpit is nice as it offers a full rendition of the cabin and is nicely detailed, though I would have liked to have seen the pilot go in both aircraft when viewing from inside the plane. Again, the shadowing is excellent and it is really does impress as light moves throughout the inside of the plane during flight.
Flying the plane, to be honest I really liked the way the Archer handled in Aerofly FS as it just seemed to have more control over the Duchess. It was easy to get into some of the smaller airports and navigate some of the more mountainous regions of Switzerland. The flight models of both planes are comparable to the default planes with the Archer holding out as my favorite.
The Archer’s sound is good and it actually handles the reduction in RPM’s better then the Duchess but it is still not the robust sound that we have come to expect from other add-ons for FSX of the same line of aircraft. In my mind, the sound really has to grab you and draw you into the program otherwise it just does do its job.
I like Aerofly FS and I like the Duchess and the Archer (I own both Flying Club 1 & 2) but I really think much more needs to go into the design of the aircraft that would be more specific to the Aerofly FS interface and utilize what it has to offer.
For example, take the map and incorporate that map into the cockpit of the plane rather than having a bunch of non functional avionics for the user to look at because in the end it just doesn’t sell the aircraft all that well.
I really want to see the true potential of Aerofly FS and see it live up to the sim that I think it could be, I mean after all, it has some of the most amazing scenery and is simply gorgeous to look at, but sometimes that is just not enough.