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    RV7 from Baytower Studios


    Robert W

    Baytower Studios - RV 7

    The Van's RV7 and RV-7A Kit Built Airplane

    159 MB Download for FSX

    Reviewed by Ray Marshall - Contributing Reviewer - 21 April 2012

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    This may be the first high end FSX add-on general aviation aircraft in the ‘Experimental’ category to receive a comprehensive Avsim review.  I’m sure there have been several professional acrobatic types but none designed to be built in your garage and used to fly your best friend, spouse or child - especially not one that was completed and brought to market in 2011.  Come’on, we’re talking about a Kitplane?  Yep, sure are.


    Specifically, we are talking about the BayTower Studio’s Van’s RV-7 and RV-7A.  Here are a couple of snapshots to get your attention.


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    BayTower Studio’s Van’s RV-7A showing the Visibility Toggle Totally complete interior with an extensive panel

    It sure doesn’t look like any homebuilt that I have ever seen! Really? Have you been to Oshkosh recently?  Must be a thousand of them there, and no two are exactly the same.  I heard that for the last few years, over half of all the homebuilt aircraft arriving for the annual Oshkosh AirVenture are RVs.  Amazing.


    Not only that but this one has that balance of qualities that make the ultimate sports plane – STOL, climb, aerobatics, in addition to the aerodynamic cleanliness needed for speed and efficient cross country transportation.  Plus, you can make an instrument approach on arrival if the weather turns south on you.


    OK.  Nice little plane, but what is so special about this one? Umm, where should I start?  Let’s start with the history of VAN’s RV kits for homebuilders.


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    Van’s first kit design -  RV-3 single seater

    This airplane could just as easily been named the Dickie-7, but wasn’t. That is because Richard van Grunsven, a young, home-grown engineer in rural Oregon built himself a sleek little one seat airplane back in 1971, the RV-1.  His first kit design, named RV-3, was sold as a partial kit with the pieces built in a small shop in his backyard.


    The RV-3’s outstanding performance gained an enthusiastic following, and naturally, many pilots wanted a second seat to share their experiences with a friend. Van resisted for a while, reasoning that a bigger, heavier airplane just couldn’t perform as well as his light single-seater, but eventually he gave in and began developing a two-place airplane. Tandem seating was chosen. Interestingly, all of Van’s tandem seat designs are soloed from the front seat.


    So after 8 years of selling kits for the original single seater, in 1981 the new high performance, two-place kit, dubbed the RV-4, became available. Sales continued to increase each year.


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    RV-4 Tandem seats for 2

    These airplanes were not only fun to fly, but you could go someplace quickly and takeoff and land on really short unimproved airstrips.  Like a 350 foot takeoff run and cruise speeds around 190 mph using a 150 hp engine.


    The early 1980’s saw a shift in sport flying to more along the lines of touring rather than just going up and punching holes in the sky. Practically all the new primary training aircraft had side-by-side seating and nose wheel steering.  With the success of the RV-3 and RV-4, Van moved his shop down the road a few miles and opened a factory on the outskirts of Portland in anticipation of a new touring type, side by side seat design.


    And sure enough, next off the drawing boards was the wide cabin, side-by-side seating, RV-6.  This one came in two flavors, the standard tail wheel and the new tricycle gear version with the ‘A’ attached to the designation.  This would better fill the need for the modern pilot that had learned to fly in a small Cessna or Cherokee or maybe the American Yankee.  Amazingly the RV-6 retained all the delightful handling and short field qualities and cruised only 3 mph less than the RV-4. The nose wheel version reduced the top speed by only 2 mph. This was an instant success and the kits were jumping of the shelves.


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    RV-6 side by side seats

    In 1995, Van revisited his tandem concept and came up with the RV-8, a new design with improvements learned from the RV-4 and RV-6/6A. With a wider cockpit than the RV-4, two baggage compartments and increased instrument panel space, the RV-8 offered greater cross-country comfort without giving up the fighter-like sportiness of centerline seating. The RV-8 was also designed to handle bigger engines, and with the 200 hp IO-360 Lycoming, it had a cruise speed of 212 mph.


    T_Pg_3c_RV8.jpg
    RV-8 Tandem 2 seats

    The RV-9A was a remake of the RV-6A but, with a totally new high aspect wing.  Although about the same size as the RV-6, the 9A had a slower stall speed and about the same cruise speeds while using a lower-powered engine.  So basically it is an updated and more efficient RV-6.


    Our featured review aircraft, the RV-7 and 7A were introduced in 2001, replacing the RV-6/6A.  This one had more of all the important features – more legroom, more headroom, carried more fuel, had a higher gross weight and would handle higher horsepower engines.  This one incorporates all the advanced technology of the 8 and 9 versions and with a typical 180 hp, 4 cylinder IO-360 engine will cruise at 200 mph while loaded with full fuel and two full sized adults.


    The new introductions continued with the RV-10 as Van’s first four place design.  This is a real 4-place aircraft meaning 4 standard sized and standard weight people, full fuel, 60 pounds of baggage with real world legroom, front and back,  and big gull-wing doors for easy loading and unloading.  Of course, it needs one of those 6 cylinder Lycomings in the 335 – 260 hp range.


    More than half of all homebuilt aircraft flown to Oshkosh AirVenture in the last few years were RVs.


     The RV-11 is an in-works motorglider with no progress report available at this time.  The RV-12, the latest entry in the kit world, is a side-by-side two-seat Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).  This one has superb visibility, easily removable wings and powered by a small 100 hp engine. It uses either autogas or 100LL fuel and is Van’s current choice of aircraft for his daily 30 mile commute to work.


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    RV-12 LSA - 2 seater

    I guess you noticed a few numbers were skipped or not mentioned.  Yes, the RV-2 was a wooden winged sailplane and the RV-5 was a one-off design for some close friends.  Not every model was introduced numerical order.  Van’s original modified Stits Playboy design is dubbed RV-1.


    OK, that brings us up to date on the model numbers, seating arrangements and a rough description.  One thing they all seem to have in common is they all look like they were designed by the same person, all are delightful to fly, almost all have a bubble canopy, and the pilots all exhibit something that comes with every kit – the RV Grin.


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    The famous RV grin

    This is that toothy big smile in all the photos and even permanently designed into our BayTower RV-7 simulator pilot.  She comes without a name so I call her ‘Ponytail’.  You will either like her, or not, but be careful what you say – she looks a lot like my granddaughter in Austin.


    In the last few years, it looks like the average yearly completion (meaning out of the garage and into the air) of all kit models has been between 500 and 600 kits.  About half of those are the RV-6 and RV-7 so it is by far the most popular kit.


     The Van’s Aircraft website has a Hobbs meter on the home page that tallies the number of completed RVs.  Today it reads 7,630.  You can use numbers to prove most any point.  So in the absence of anything official (I asked, but no response from Van) the breakdown in general groupings is:


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    • Models 3 / 4   -   1,619
    • Models 6 / 7   - 3,623
    • Models 8 / 9   - 1,830
    • Models 10 /12 -   542

    Depending on where you read it and who wrote it, the model choice for our FSX edition is generally considered the most popular of all the models.  The only exceptions are from the pilots who built one of the other models.


       

    Remember, the 7/7A was designed as a replacement for the 6/6A and many of the kits that were in work at that time were updated to the later 7/7A design.


       

    Here are a few choice comments from real world builders/owners/pilots of RV kits:


       
    •  
    • “First and foremost, though, they are fun to fly. Their controls are light, responsive, and beautifully harmonized.”   
    • “Chances are that you have never flown an airplane that offers anything approaching the exhilarating sensation of an RV.”   
    • "Until you fly one, there is no way you can understand."   
    • “One of the nicest-flying airplanes ever’”   

       

    Here is a link to a

    about rebuilding and flying the original RV-1  (3:37min)
    You can download a 30 minute video entitled The RV Story. The filename is RVStory.zip (127 MB, MP4)
       

    N137RV was originally built as a tail wheeler, and then converted to the nose gear version as shown.  A recent freeware upload adds this one to our inventory of available free repaints.


       
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    The basic design of the tail wheel version looks like a close cousin to the LoPresti Fury, which is a smoothed, shaped and updated Globe Swift design from the 1940s.  Piper almost built this one when Roy was there in the late 80s.  You may see Corkey Fornof performing at airshows in this screamer.


       

    Our BayTower Studios FSX simulator version comes with both models - The RV-7 (tail wheel) and the RV-7A (nose wheel) plus each has both the tilt canopy and the slider canopy.  Each has their own merits and will appeal to different folks, or maybe appeal to everyone.  Due to the excellent visibility on the ground and in the air, it comes down to personal preference.  In the air, it is difficult to know which model you are flying; taxi, takeoff and landing is a different story.


    This is one of the advantages of having the simulator version. You have them all and can choose a different configuration each time you fly.  I tend to favor the tail wheel model with the tilt up canopy, unless I feel like using the nose wheel version, but I still seem to stick with the tilt up canopy because of the totally unrestricted visibility on the ground and in flight.


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    Sliding Canopy Tilt-up Canopy

    Although the tilt up canopy has outstanding visibility in the air it can heat up the cabin on hot days with a long taxi. Of course, this should not be a problem in the simulator.  The sliding canopy looks cooler on the ground as you taxi around with your arm braced on the slide, but then again who is going to see you in the simulator.  The slider frame will block your view somewhat when in the air.


       

    The performance chart shown is from the Van’s Aircraft website and has performance comparisons for 160 hp, 180 hp and 200 hp engines.  The BayTower Studio models for FSX have the 180 hp Superior engine installed.  The Superior engine is a Lycoming spec engine that is a favorite of kit builders due to some cost savings.  I partially grayed out the smaller and larger engine specs.


    You can see that 20 hp less or 20 hp more does not make a big difference.  In some cases, there is no discernable difference at all, like the stall speeds.  Larger engines with more horsepower are most noticeable in the increased takeoff performance, rate of climb and higher cruise speeds.  They are also more expensive to buy and to operate.


    There is a substantial increase in performance when you leave your passenger on the ground to take pictures or to have a Coke while you show off your flying skills.  You might want to adjust your payload and fuel while flying to get those STOL performance numbers.  If you are out just cruising around the neighborhood or on a cross country it doesn’t make any noticeable difference.


    So how did the BayTower Studios version for FSX come to be?


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    The RV simulated by BayTower Studio is pretty much a beast, 180hp engine and full IFR panel, it is one of the most well appointed RVs you could build or buy.
    (Owner of a real world RV-9A and Avsim forum member) PingPong


    In a country far to the North, not very far from Van’s Aircraft factory, lived a young man learning to fly but short on funds.  With a day job in Xbox programming and an avid flight simulator fan, he thought he could become an overnight developer and build an FSX add-on aircraft to make enough money to complete his pilot training.  Woe is me.  Four years later, beta testing begins.  The flight training log book is stuck at 30 hours and has been for some time.  But, the good news is he did indeed build a really nifty aircraft for FSX.


    There are many very vocal flight sim pilots that just rant and rave about the BTS RV-7.  There are others that have never heard of BayTower or Van’s Aircraft.  Some will state it is the best add-on to date for FSX, others say it is the only plane they fly.  Others have declared it their favorite.


    One of my Avsim friends from Canada emailed me to tell me it is absolutely his most favorite plane to fly.  This is interesting because last month the Turbine Duke was his most favorite.  A few months ago, it was the Carenado F33A Bonanza.  If nothing more, we know the BayTower RV-7 is in good company.


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    Back to the story . . . . our budding developer was taking flying lessons at the Boundary Bay Airport flight school (CZBB) in the shadows of Vancouver BC.  The hot shots with a pilot’s license tend to abbreviate their call-ins to ATC as simply Bay Tower.  Having a nice ring to it and adding Studio to the end, we have a name for our developer.  You can find purchase information and a very active owner’s forum at www.BayTower.ca  This was taken directly from the site: "This much-awaited add-on has been developed with RV builders, owners, and hardcore sim-pilots in mind.’ is posted in the welcome paragraph."


    Remember that Hobbs meter number a few pages back?  That is just the ones that are completed and flying. There are another 2,000 or so kits in work or about to be.  I’m not sure about the count of hard core sim pilots – there must be at least a dozen or more.


    One good thing about having a FSX add-on is that it is being flown by not only real world pilots but pilots who are all owners and a majority built their plane.


    Many of these kit builders and pilots were contributors to the detail and design of our FSX model.  As a matter of fact the major contributor list reads like a who’s who in the Flight Sim and kit builders’ world.


    I’m sure the full list is long and distinguished, but here is the short list.


    Vance Dylan, Sound Engineer @ Sonic Solutions for leading the sound team.

    Doug Dawson, Programmer, for Reality XP Integration, 3D buttons, and engine performance matching using SimConnect.

    Bill Leaming, Programmer Extraordinaire, Panel sound programming

    I think the plane is awesome and great and perfect. I have no wishes for the future, really, wait, I would like it if you could take the ignition key out, like you can in the Katana 4x. You could say I like everything, really.

    Jeroen, J van E

    It only took about 5 min to realize that this RV-7 was something different. It just felt like I was flying. The view from this bird is second to none. I did not even take the time to calibrate any controls and this little plane was flying like a dream. That short hop turned into almost an hour flight and a new number one favorite in the hanger.
      Sam Shivers, Pensacola, FL


    Before we fly the BayTower RV-7 and V-7A let’s run through what you get for your $38.95.  Remember this is only available from Flight1.com so everyone has the standard 30 days trial period available.  The neat thing about the Flight1.com promise is that you don’t have to wonder or guess how a particular add-on will perform on your personal setup.  Just purchase the plane with full knowledge that you can get your money back if desired before the credit card bill is due. I seriously doubt anyone will be asking for their money back on this one.


    So you have a Flight1.com account or you create one and verify your download.  Once you have the ‘key’ verified you are good to go.  Your newest add-ons show up in FSX as two new folders in your Simobjects/Airplanes.  These are the Vans_RV7 and Vans_RV-7A.  Each of these two will have two models – the “tilt canopy” and the “slider canopy”.  Each model has its own unique sound files by Sound Sonic Solutions. Only the Vans_RV7 folder has the paint kit and a documentation sub-folder.


    There is also a neat little Config Tool used to personalize your flying choices.  This has really nice pre-sets and color choices for you to simply click a radio button to record your personal settings.  All these are on the Start menu.


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    Config Tool

    As I write this review, the User Guide and the POH are not complete.  The active forum, mentioned earlier, is the place to go with questions.  Someone will answer, usually within a few hours or less.  If you just can’t wait for all the nitty-gritty details just search on RV-7 POH and select one of the dozens of available owner’s manuals.  Some are more detailed than your typical Cessna or Piper.  Some are copies of the others, but, you will see that right way.  Just keep in mind, that no two RV-7 or 7A in the real world are exactly alike.  They are all ‘experimental’ category and all were built from a kit.


     

    Looking at some screenshots, you instantly should notice a very high level of detail both inside and out.  One thing that is very noticeable is the instruments and gauges all work while viewing from outside the cockpit.  This may be a first in FSX, if not, it is still unique.


     
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    Another thing to consider is the BTS simulator model should look, sound, and fly just like all those real world versions zipping around the sky.


     

    The available liveries that come with the download are a red one and a silver one in each of the 4 combinations (tail wheel, nose wheel, tilt canopy and slider canopy) plus a bonus blue, red and white or white with stripes in each group.


     

    There are already dozens and dozens of high quality repaints available.


     

    Ricardo in Belgium and Ron Attwood in the United Kingdom are the two most prolific freeware painters that I have seen.  Both have many truly outstanding repaints just waiting for you to download and install.


     

    This one has something new that I’ve not seen before.  Each repaint must have a sound file referenced in the aircraft.cfg entry or you will not have any sounds for that particular livery.  This sound file must also match the canopy configuration – tilt or slider.  Different, but easy.


    This one comes with a checklist of sorts for selecting or deselecting items such as pilot, sunglasses, cowling, and wheel pants.  Use your Shift + 7 keys to bring up the ‘Visibility Toggles’ panel.  You instantly see the actions caused by your choices. 

     

    You can build an instant hot rod if that is what you like. An interesting twist is that you can make these changes while in flight!


     

    It's a joy to own a simulated model that looks as good as this new BayTower RV-7, especially one that flies as well as this one.  We often get requests on our RV builders forum for recommendations for flight simulator models.

    Without doubt, this one fills the bill. It's well beyond any previous RV model when it comes to replicating the exterior, interior, and flight dynamics. I highly recommend this one, without reservation.

    Larry Adamson, Owner, Builder, and Pilot of a RV-6 (started in 1996)


     

    That should give the boys in the airport coffee shop something to talk about.  “I’m telling you, Ned, I saw it with my own two eyes, She took off without a cowling or wheel pants, flew the traffic pattern and landed with both of them installed.  Now, how in the world did she do that, Ned? I’m telling you, there is something different about that little red airplane.”


     

    Gallery of Screenshots


     

    Remember that you get 3 liveries for each model and type with the initial download but, several dozen high quality repaints are available for the taking.  Check the www.BayTower.ca  forum for links and also here at the Avsim.com library.


     

    I have used many of the freeware repaints in the review.  Most come from either Ricardo or Ron.  All will be listed in the credits at the end and maybe a link to download.


     
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    A photo shoot at Harvey Field (S43) using the excellent Orbx airport add-on.


    These are to show the difference in the sliding canopy, tilt canopy, tail wheel and nose gear.  Remember, you get them all.  All of these repaints are from the freeware collection.


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    More screenshots.


    Here you can see a couple of different colored panels and a photo has been added for the Reno bird.  Start going through those old photos and find the girlfriend in the bikini or the cute puppy or whatever, it can be added to your custom panel.


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    Interior and panel screenshots.


    There are several color choices for the panel.  I personally go for the grey and beige.  There are some wild colors available.  I remember looking at a plum or grape colored one that made the hair on my neck stand up.  Yuk. But, there is a panel color out there for each and every pilot.


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    There are several hidden click spots for zooming.  If you click on the face of the GPS, an enlarged screen will pop up to the right and slightly lower than the panel mount.  Same for returning back to the panel.  If you click on the face of the Transponder, then the Audio panel, GPS and Transponder will zoom up, same to return to the panel.  Nice.  The light indicator for Oil, 2 o’clock from the altimeter, will bring up the ‘Visibility Toggles’ selection box.  Click again on the Oil light to hide the Toggles or click on the heading of the toggles box to hide it.


    The outside bezel of the Autopilot is a hidden click spot for Power on/off.  This is handy.  Place your mouse cursor anywhere on the face of the HSI and use the scroll wheel to change the heading.  Use the the small heading select knob for changes in the heading bug.  This is handy in rough weather when you are bouncing around. By only placing the cursor on the HIS face, you can read the heading and selected course in exact 3 place degrees. The autopilot has a click to enlarge feature also.  This will be appreciated feature when you only have a few seconds to glance at the settings.  Once it is in its pop up window it can be resized and moved around the screen.


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    If you place your mouse cursor on the Flaps indicator, not the Flap switch, you can use the scroll wheel to dial up specific flap settings in 7% increments.  A left click will extend flaps, a right click retracts flaps.


    Elevator and rudder trim can be applied with the mouse scroll wheel by placing the cursor on the appropriate box on the panel.  This is a fine tuning adjustment.

    This one also has a little of the Accu Sim type stuff designed in.  As it turns out, the developer couldn’t seem to match the existing power curves exactly so he asked Doug Dawson, the SimConnect master, to add some custom code that keeps the Manifold Pressure on the straight and narrow.  This is one of those ‘outside the FSX box’ things.  One atta-boy for each of you.


    All the gauges reveal more useful information than usual when the mouse cursor is placed on the gauge.  Some examples are not only the precise Manifold Pressure but also the % of Power.  If you a looking for exactly 75% or 80% power here is how to find the setting.  Same for the fuel gauges, gallons available and % capacity remaining.  So if you plan to switch tanks after 20% usage, here is where you can monitor the exact fuel flow.


    There is a nice row of indicator lights across the top of the panel that keeps your head up and not looking down at your knees to see the switch position.  Some reds, some greens and a white for the landing light.  There is also a tale-tell blinking red light for the ELT to remind you that you crashed.  Fortunately, it is easily reset and can be turned off.


    T_Pg_14_lights.jpg

    OK, all clear on what you get with the initial installation and all those gorgeous repaints?  I may be skipping around a little, but a lot of the features are not documented yet and I want to tell you about the ones that I have discovered.  There are most likely many more than I have found but, I did not participate in the public beta or early purchase.  As a matter of fact, my version is a media evaluation edition provided by BayTower a few days after the final release.


    There is a red light on the panel that blinks when the canopy is not closed and locked.  When the engine is running, but the aircraft is stopped, like with the parking brake on, the canopy can be opened.  When the aircraft has movement the canopy closes but leaves a few inches open for ventilation.


    I landed the yellow and white one, N67RV and was sitting on the runway and thought I would open the canopy as if it was a real flight on a hot day in Portland. This model has the tilt canopy and it opened as I expected.  What I didn’t expect was for it to close to those few inches when I added power to taxi off the active.  So, as I slow down after clearing the runway, it goes back to full open as I apply brakes to stop.  Good stuff.
    This may be the first FSX add-on that you can actually operate all the circuit breakers. Heck, most of the add-ons that I own have such fuzzy breakers; you can’t even tell what they are for or read the labels.  These little guys move in and out and you can even read the amperage.  What a neat feature for the CFI or Examiner on a checkride.


    I keep expecting to let the gear down on approach.  I know, I know – it’s a fixed gear plane, but it flies like a retractable.  Boy is this thing fast.


    I just noticed the Transponder has a working counter.  Count down or count up plus the Pressure Altitude.  All these transponders do this in the real airplanes, but most of the developers don’t bother to make this feature available for us sim pilots.  This one does.


    The autopilot has a bit of a learning curve, but don’t they all. This one is quite popular in the real world, especially in Europe. Actually it is not that different from the one in the default Maule and Aerosoft Twotter.  The instructions are in the manual with a link for even more information.


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    Autopilot model - Digiflight-IIVS

    The developer has the patience of Job.  I see these posts where the user can’t figure out how to do anything with the autopilot and it obviously doesn’t work correctly with some other add-on that he or she has installed.  Of course, they have not spent one minute reading the instructions on how to use and operate the autopilot.  But, the developer thanks them for the post, and then proceeds to walk them through each step, posts images with references and links for more detailed study.


      

    This is a pleasant change from the blunt RTFM from other long time developers and their boneheaded moderators. You can read about the autopilot.


      

    Ok, time to tell you about the dirty belly.  Check out Ponytail’s Mr. Clean look on the bottom of the left.  Now take a look at Ray’s plane on the right.

      
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    This boys and girls, is a result of spending too much time upside down in an airplane that does not have an oil and gas system designed for inverted flight.  

      

    Negative Gs will spill out that oil every time.  Now, how neat is that design for a sim add-on?  Another ‘atta-boy’.


      
    The BayTower RV-7 and RV-7a have exceeded my expectations. This aircraft is right up there with the best on the market   VH-Mal

      

    The sound package is very good.  I tend to fly with the engine and environment sounds cranked up toward the high end.  That could simply be that I am going deaf from listening to a lifetime of loud airplane noise.  I heard that the sounds are actually from a RV-8, but of course, the RV-8 had exactly the same engine as our simulated RV-7.  Congrats to the Sound team guys, Vance Dylan and gang.


      

    Let’s review the documentation.


      

    Included in the download are two pdf files that are found in the ’_documents’ folder in the Simobjects/Airplanes/Vans_RV_7 folder. The 18 page RV7_userguide has some nice high resolution images of the detailed panel installation and design but much of the text is missing.  A full update should be in work as you read this. The other pdf is the RV7_POH, which will be the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, when it is completed. It has a lot of good, useful information as is, but needs a few more pages – like a Table of Contents for a start.


      

    A note says go to the forum for information until the documents are complete.


    Cruise Perormannce


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    I evidently have a little tailwind here, but, it is easy to cruise near the magic 200 mph mark.  If I had to pay real cash for the fuel, I would probably be cruising closer to the 55% power level.


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    Night lighting for the instruments is a bluish/purple color but more color choices are on the way.  Sounds like you will be able select your favorite color similar to picking an exterior texture.

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    I just checked the support forum and one of the users asked if the color of the panel lights could be changed.  The developer’s answer – Sure can, just give me a couple of days and I’ll upload an alternate color scheme for the cockpit panel lights.  Wow.


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    Landing.

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    Sample Collection of Freeware repaints available.


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    Checking the POH for how to fly this guy, I have assembled a few notes.  Note that all speeds are MPH, not Knots.


    Book Says . . .


    Normal Takeoff – No flaps, climb out at 125 mph.


    Short Field Takeoff - 10 deg Flaps, Hold Brakes, Full Power, climb speed 90 mph (Vy)
      We need a Soft Field Takeoff and a Short Field w/Obstacles Takeoff


    Enroute Climb – 125 – 150 mph, 25 IN MP/ Prop 2500 RPM, Lean Mixture at 5,000 feet.
      Cruise – 23/23, Lean to 100 Deg F rich side of Peak

    Approach for Landing – 90 mph, Flaps 20 deg, 1800 RPM (This must be from a fixed pitch prop version)
      On Final – 80 mph, Flaps Full


    My flying impressions.


    I am open for input but, for now I think the 125 mph climb out is a bit on the high speed side for the initial climb speed.  I tried several climbs from near sea level airports and I like the 85 – 95 mph range for the initial climb.  I also like to reduce power at around 1,000 feet or less to say 27 IN MP and 2500 RPM.  If you are staying in the traffic pattern this could be 25/25 until you reach pattern altitude then reduce power again for pattern speeds.


    If climbing to cruise altitude from takeoff, then I do like the 120 – 130 mph range at 25 IN MP and 2500 RPM.  You will have to continually add throttle to maintain 25 IN MP.  I also like to start leaning the mixture as early as 3,000 feet MSL, not 5,000.  Just keep easing the mixture level back a little as you climb, you can fine tune the mixture at cruise altitude.


    The BayTower airspeed indicator has a nice detent or dogleg in the green band at 130 mph.  This makes a nice visual cue to hold that speed on climb out.

    For the Approach . . .  I like to reduce power to say 15 MP and hold 2500 RPM and let the airspeed bleed off.  You should settle on 110 – 120 mph with no loss of altitude.  To lose altitude I would reduce power gradually to 14 IN then 13 IN MP and hold the airspeed at 90 mph.  Depending on what rate of descent you are looking for, the throttle will be around 12 IN MP.  I personally like to set the attitude of the airplane using the throttle setting and let the speed be whatever it is. I am comfortable with a 500 – 700 FPM rate of descent, but not any greater.


    For the Landing . . .


    On base or early final, depending on how close to the runway I am, I would add ½ Flaps and adjust the attitude of the plane and the airspeed (a little lower).

    I do like the 80 mph airspeed target on final.  As it turns out the airspeed needle will be exactly level – pointing at 3 o’clock – at 80 mph.  This makes a nice visual straight line with the wings on the HSI.  That way you are not fixated on a number, just keep the airspeed needle horizontal until you start your flare for touchdown.  My touchdowns are in the 65 – 70 mph range.


     I would delay the Full Flaps until needed or crossing over the fence.  Coming over the fence with a little residual power and full flaps you can grease it on if you just keep easing back on the elevator and easing off the remaining power.  Just don’t let the nose of the plane get too high.  Your flare must be timed correctly or the plane will drop like a brick with no warning.  You may want to keep a little power on while you are working on the perfect touchdown – just use a long runway for training.


    The Bay Tower RV-7 /RV-7A is a very stable platform and very predictable.  The control forces have a good feel and it is easy to keep it in trim.  All the gauges and instruments are absolutely first class and easy to read.  I especially like the tool tips readouts of the gauges.


    My suggestion is to spend a lot of time in slow flight with and without flaps at altitude to get the feel for the aircraft.  Some simple drills would be to hold an altitude, say 3,000 feet within 100 feet for a few miles with reduced power then make a 360 degree circle holding altitude at 90 mph then a 360 degree circle in the opposite direction.  You need to roll out on a cardinal heading within say 10 degrees either side.  Then do this with ½ Flaps at 80 mph, then full flaps at 80 mph.  I would set the bank at 30 degree with 5 degrees either side.  Get good at this and the approach and landings will be a snap.


    Performance in the Simulator


    I have an off the shelf, unaltered i7-870 Quad Core CPU with 8 GB RAM and a nVidia 460 GTX w/1 GB onboard RAM.  My OS is windows7 – 64 bit.  I use an external limiter set at 30 by the graphics driver.  I did not notice any significant slump or drop in FPS at any time caused by the BTS Van’s RV-7.  My favorite flying area is the Orbx PNW so I do see drops from time to time as I fly into and around some of these airports.  I would rate this one as one of the most efficient of the add-ons that I have installed.


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    Acrobatics


    I did some simple Sunday afternoon acrobatics and the roll and recovery is spot on.  It also spins very nicely.  I’m a little rusty with the more aggressive maneuvers but loops and aileron rolls are very smooth and easy.  The Cuban Eights are real joy. After a while it is really hard to fly straight and level for very long.  The speed table doesn’t mention Chandelles, which are one of my favorite coordination exercises but it is just about the same as the Cuban 8s.


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    What I like about the Bay Tower RV-7 and RV-7A.

    If I made a list of all the things I like about this little plane, it would be a very long list.  The short list is:


    • The developer paid attention to a myriad of details and it shows throughout the add-on. Inside, outside, and under the canopy.
    • The panel in uncluttered, instruments and gauges are crystal clear and easy to read.  All the tool tips additional information is a bonus.
    • It is easy to fly.  Stable and predictable. STOL with solo weight, aerobatic category, fast, really fast cruise, Perfect visibility with tilt up canopy.
    • Neat little Configuration Tool box for personalizing color choices, trim settings, prop drag settings, spinners, wheel fairings, steps, etc.
    • Can do it all.  Flight training, pattern work, Cross country speed and instrumentation, aerobatics, or just go flying.
    • Good choice of GPS with Garmin 530. Reality XP change out support a bonus.  Nice little autopilot, something different for a change.
    • Comes as a complete package, tail wheel, nose gear, slider canopy and tilt canopy.  Everyone should be able to choose their style(s).
    • Available for a month and dozens of professional looking repaints are already available.  Several thousand choices of real world paints to copy.
    • Nice sound package, Developer is very active at the forum, I like the fact there are several thousand real world models flying around.

    What I don’t like about this little plane.


    There is nothing at all in the looks and flying department that I don’t like.  But it can certainly be improved with the choice of additional pilot figures.


    • Needs a permanent clock added to the panel for IFR flight.
    • Needs to have the documentation finalized and publish an updated POH and User Guide.

    I would like to see additional pilot choices and I have some very specific suggestions for BayTower.  I suggest a pop-up similar to the Visibility Toggle that would be the Pilot Toggle or some new tabs in the Config Tool Box.  Here one could choose no pilot, Ponytail, or maybe an old pilot like me, or a young, good looking pilot like you.


    The options could be limited but as a minimum, the old guy could be bald or partially bald, could have a mustache or not, could wear a golf shirt and hat or not, with an “Oshkosh 2012’ or Sun-n-Fly or Titlelist logo on the hat.  The young, good looking guy that favors you, could have black hair, blond hair, or red hair, spiked or not, with or without the mustache and sunglasses.  Get the idea?  Let’s flood the support forum with your photos and ideas. Mine are already there.


    Now, there is small item missing in the panel. That is the old standard clock.  The BayTower RV-7 is advertised as IFR capable but is not without the clock.  By strict interpretation of the IFR rules, a clock must be mounted in the panel with a sweep second hand or digital equivalent.  Now I know that in our simulator even the panel is not fixed, must less a clock mounted in the panel.  It should be easy enough to do and in the meantime, why not make a pop-up clock using something like the FSX default Cessna 172.  BayTower could post the code on the forum for everyone with FSX and show how to make the window and add the default clock.  Easy Peasy.


    So what do I think of the BayTower RV-7 and RV-7A?


    I think it is a fantastic add on.
      It has numerous outstanding features, many of them I found and highlighted in the review.
      It looks good, sounds good, has a nice solid feel, the panel has a clean layout with easy to read gauges and instruments.
    It is easy to fly and is predictable in its characteristics.
    I like it a lot. And did I mention it is fast?  Yes, really fast, near 200 mph cruise and 64 mph stall speed with S

    • Upvote 1


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