If there is one constant in the universe, it is that of AlphaSim and its wide array of Flight Simulator add-ons. It doesn’t matter what you want to fly, there just seems to be an outlet there for it and at their reasonable prices one really can’t go wrong. Today we look at the recent release of three new helicopters from AlphaSim and give them a little test run!
Installation and Documentation
As with all AlphaSim products, purchase and download is done through their secure server. The product ultimately comes in the form of a zipped file and all that is required of the user is to unzip and copy it into whatever version of Flight Simulator you are using. I have learned a very valuable lesson though, once you make your purchase, make sure to print out whatever receipts and or passwords just in case you need to retrieve the product at a later date.
It’s a real bear when you don’t make copies and you lose a product, I have never had this issue with AlphaSim but I have had it with another developer and I was left with having to buy the product again. Although, it’s not their fault and I have to chalk it up to my own short sightedness.
Each helicopter includes a great deal of documentation, operations manuals, checklists and reference material that can all be accessed via the kneepad in MSFS.
AH1-W Super Cobra
All I can say about this chopper is - Wow! If you had a chance to fly the Apache Gunship from AlphaSim, then you will more than likely want this one.
Done with the same attention to detail, the Cobra is a real beauty. It incorporates both an FS9 and FSX version and I have to say I was extremely impressed with the FSX version! The FSX version includes effects designed specifically for FSX; such as bump mapping and self shadowing (just remember to turn the self shadowing on). The exterior of the FSX version of the Cobra is astounding; at times it has a very realistic look to it when you are watching it from afar.
You will find that there is a lot of extra eye candy, such as an opening canopy, animated crew, animated TADS and chin gun. Now each version is different, the FSX version does not include rain effects, nor animated rotor blade tilt to the fore and aft. I was also never able to get the HUD to work within FSX either. I don’t know if this was just me or the chopper itself.
I was a little surprised to see that the developers only included one livery, paint or variation; whatever you want to call it, there is only one! This left me with searching the net for liveries for my new found best friend, but at the time there just weren’t a lot of them out there.
Climbing into the cockpit of the Cobra isn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. The cockpit is rather basic and does shows its age when compared to other more modern attack choppers of this type. In fact, I found that I was able to do all of my flying from the virtual cockpit as some of the features in the 2D panel don’t work to where the same features in the virtual work fine.
Flying the Cobra is a lot of fun and much of my testing was over the crowded airspace of Phoenix Arizona. With FSX, I was able to jump right in and perfect my hovering abilities as well as practice some attack maneuvers, but with FS9 it is still important to turn down the realism settings to about halfway, otherwise you will find yourself flying the thing into buildings and the ground!
The sound is very good in flight and provides a very convincing Cobra sound pack, but be warned there is no startup or shut down sounds with this chopper.
CH-46 Sea Knight
When I heard the Sea Knight had been released, I was quick to get an email off so that I could include it in this review. If you have ever seen a CH-46 in flight, it is a site that you will never forget. The loud thunderous sound of the dual chopper blades is really something to be taken in and it is something that I have always wanted to recreate in my virtual skies. This old workhorse has been around in the armed forces for many years and is still used to this day and it is only appropriate that we get to fly one in the MSFS world and AlphaSim has provided it to us!
Again, this helicopter includes both an FS9 and FSX version and for the sake of this review, I centered mainly on the FSX version. This time around you get three different paints and they are the CH-46D HC-11 “Gunbearers” from NAS North Island, HH-46D from NAS PT Mugo SAR and finally the UH-46D HC-3 “Merlins” from North Island.
The exterior modeling of this chopper is again on the same level as that of the Cobra, it has a very realistic look to it right down to the textures used to make the windshield.
You will also find that it takes full advantage of the new FSX features. While I was a little disappointed to see some of the features in the FS9 version not included in the FSX version, it was still much more enjoyable in FSX.
This chopper just looks good. No matter how you shake it, it's made for FSX!
Along with a beautiful exterior model, you will find all of the added extra features; working ramp, functioning winch and cable (FS9 only), as well as highly detailed crewman. I really liked the lighting effects from both inside and outside the aircraft, especially the night lighting. This alone gave it a feel all its own!
Climbing into the cockpit of the CH-46 is a trip, it’s all analog and there are absolutely no digital readouts. For me, this works because I have often felt that when flying a chopper in FSX or FS9, you tend to fly it by feel rather than trying to concentrate on gauges and such. The virtual cockpit in both versions is workable and has a very dated look to it, I like that though! Again, I found that there was more workable equipment in the VC than that of the 2D Panel.
But let’s get real, it’s just too hard to fly a chopper in either version of Flight Simulator from the 2D panel. There are really no big bells and whistles with the cockpit of the 46; it is just a basic old workhorse.
The sound is very good and creates that atmospheric awe that these masterful choppers encompass, but again you are stuck without startup and shutdown sounds. I had read on the AlphaSim forums that trying to create startup and shutdowns was difficult for choppers because it required complex changes to certain files, but you know I have used some freeware choppers that have some pretty incredible startup and shutdown sounds.
Sikorksy S-55/ Westland Whirlwind
I have got to tell you, when I first saw this helicopter I was really surprised. It just stood out as being ugly to me, but I found this particular chopper to be one of the easiest to fly. It also makes for an excellent training chopper.
The AlphaSim bird offers up 5 different paints all in their own historic markings. They are: HAS MK 22 Royal Navy, HRS-1 US Marines, Sikorsky HO4-S Canadian Navy, and finally the Westland HAR 4 RAF 155 SQN. Each chopper provides not only accurate decals, but proper uniforms for each crew.
I found that I wasn’t as impressed with the overall look of this Chopper in FSX, so I tried it in FS9 and found that I really did like it and ended up going back to FSX. This time around I gave the chopper a hard looking over and was overly impressed with the detailing of this simplistic bird. The actual chopper served back in the early 50’s and it really does show its age, but the AlphaSim model is totally accurate and represents an age of Choppers that helped muster in a new generation of helicopters like the Merlin or the Cobra for that matter.
Climbing into the cockpit is almost a culture shock. Only one side of the cockpit has instruments and because the cockpit sits at the top of the frame, it sits high above the ground. I couldn’t help but think what a step it must have been climbing out of that thing! Anyhow, the cockpit is simple and easy to navigate and this chopper does require that you do a lot of your flying visually and by feel, at least as much as you can.
This chopper is a great addition to the Helgoland scenery from Aerosoft, as it is easy to fly and easy to sightsee with!
The sounds, at least I thought, sounded better in FS9. It may have just been me, but that is the initial impression I got from hearing the chopper in both sims and in the end, I found that I still preferred the FS9 Model overall. But, I prefer the atmospheric effects in FSX as they seem to work well when trying to simulate chopper flying.
In The End
Do I like these choppers? Yes I do! Like I said before, I like just about anything AlphaSim does and being military makes it even better. If you have been looking at getting into the world of flying helicopters, I suggest you try out at least one of these, or better yet, all three. You won’t regret it!
Each is priced at about $30.00, so if you were to buy all three it could be kind of pricey. But you know what? They are worth it and they are just fun!
What I Like About These 3 Helos
What I Don't Like About These 3 Helos
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