Lance Neibauer, after searching for the perfect GA aircraft and finding none to his liking, joined the EAA to design and build the then called “Lancer 200” which was first unveiled at Oshkosh 1985. The company was renamed "Lancair" in ‘85 due to a naming conflict with Piper. Since the original “Lancer 200” powered by a tiny O200, the range has expanded to include the completely redesigned IV models with all carbon fiber construction, including the IV-P with a pressurized cabin allowing it to cruise at more than 300MPH at over 25,000 FT. Powered by Continental IO550 (ES) and TSIO550 (IV and IV-P) engines, the aircraft quickly broke several speed records and was hailed as a revolution in the industry.
The aircraft can be ordered from the factory as either a 70% completed kit or a scratch set of materials and a plan. The construction uses barely a rib or stringer in favor of Kevlar® honeycomb laminated between layers of carbon fiber for an unmatched light and strong material.
Thanks to Orbx, you can finally experience what pilots describe as a dream plane, in FSX, since Orbx has faithfully recreated the flagship model of the Lancair range, the “LANCAIR IV-P” as an FSX add-on aircraft. The build is based on VH-LLW located in Albury NSW Australia and is a recreation of the sample aircraft’s systems, avionics, layout and paint. While the focus has been on creating an accurate representation of LLW, the Orbx team of repainters have also created various additional liveries for you to choose from.
This is not your average FSX trainer aircraft! As the User Guide points out: “With a 350 hp engine and an empty weight of only 2430 lb, this is what you can truly call a very sporty plane. You can expect to enjoy the magic of flight at more than 250 KTAS cross-country at FL 250 above the weather. This is where regional airliners fly. Forget about what you use as reference when flying your typical general aviation plane. The forgivingness of aircraft such as Cessnas or Pipers that you may have experienced in your early flying experiences must be disregarded since the Lancair is much more of a machine. Be prepared when flying a Lancair IV-P for everything to be faster and more responsive, requiring well trained and highly alert piloting skills in every situation of flight. The Lancair is easy enough to fly as long as you stay inside the operating envelope; however you must think and plan ahead (like a jet pilot does). This is what this project has been all about.”
What makes this product even more interesting is that it is the first aircraft to be released by the Orbx team – who have made quite a name for themselves by producing ground breaking FTX scenery.
Installation & Documentation:
The package comes as a 390 Meg download and can be found at The Orbx FTX web-site. A CD-ROM and a limited edition boxed DVD version is also available. The auto-installer worked well on my FSX system and installed eight different paint jobs to choose from. Each of these, in turn, comes as a high resolution HD version, as well as a performance saving lower resolution version. Additionally, I downloaded the available “Jaguar” paint by Bill Womack which quickly became one of my favorites.
As you can see, the cockpit is nicely laid out and well equipped with a Sandel electronic HSI and two single height GPS / radio units, modeled in 3D detail. The high resolution textures provide a crisp detailed look, whereas the lower resolution texture option provides slightly fuzzy characters which takes away from the flying experience. Compare the lettering in the top left corner of the panel. Nice to have the option, but I did not use it in testing.
For that, the other option, to add Reality XP gauges to the radio stack was very welcome indeed. The default radios are good, but they still have the problems associated with the standard FSX GNS500, like the ever present warning messages and the lack of linkage between the panel gauges and the pop-up equivalents. Here are some examples with Reality XP gauges: A dual 430W panel, and a single 530W version, both very functional and great looking. (The Orbx support forum has a tutorial for making the cockpit edits).
The documentation is one of the best features of this package - comprehensive and professionally put together. It includes a 100 page User Guide (including a Quick Start Flying Guide for people like me who want to get up and fly and read the manual later..) , as well as a 40 page “leather bound” Pilots Operating Handbook with all required charts.
Interior and external views:
The virtual cockpit is nicely finished, with a small side stick to control the flying surfaces. This stick is removable to gain a better view of the engine instruments. All the gauges are custom made and 3D modeled and they are very good and legible. Panel lighting works nicely both in day and night time. There is a lot to like here!
The outside views are in one word: stunning. The composite design of the airplane means rounded curves everywhere instead of the riveted aluminum skin that we know well from most general aviation aircraft. No matter what angle I picked to look at the aircraft, it was just great to admire – nice shapes and lifelike reflections in the sun. Really, really nice!
Here are two of the optional paints: a D-ORBX registration and a “Mamba” theme. Both good looking.
Flying the Lancair IV:
This is where the real excitement begins, because this airplane comes with a lot of power in a very light airframe and the performance is nothing short of spectacular. If you have read the Users Guide, you have been warned about the torque effect at take off and you have to have your foot on the rudder along with a light hand on the throttle. Never having flown the real thing, I cannot say how close to reality the flight model is, but I can say that it is both challenging and rewarding to fly.
With the great IFR instrumentation and high cruising speed, this is an aircraft to take on cross-country flights and hone your navigational skills. The documentation is complete and well written, so you can get into this aircraft as deep as you like. The provided Aircraft Control Panel allows you to choose a level of realism to suit your experience and flight controls. I, for one, really appreciated the steerable nose wheel option, without which I would have gone off the runway sideways.. a nice feature!
The manual mentions that the side stick is quite sensitive, and that is certainly true. Finger tip control is all that is needed when coming in for a landing. After a while, this feels quite natural and when going back to the Cessna 172 for a quick spin, it feels like it does not want to turn at all.
As far as landings go, as long as you do not overcorrect, the Lancair feels quite stable and with the higher landing speeds, it does feel more like landing a jet. Luckily, the speed brakes and flaps do a pretty good job of slowing the airplane down, so I did not find myself overshooting the runway.
I mentioned above that I downloaded the (free) Jaguar repaint – one look and it became an instant love affair. Here some pictures to show you what I mean.
Sounds and effects:
The sounds are well done and all the usual animations are there and work nicely. It really feels like you are sitting in the cockpit – the gauges look amazing when close up – all very crisp and life-like.
Here are a few shots from the cockpit, showing the default and RXP GPS units and in the third picture, the very nice night lighting effect during a coupled LPV landing approach.
And to round out the review… a few pictures from a successful landing with the “Jaguar”. (“Successful landing” = any landing you can walk away from)
This is a noteworthy achievement by Orbx for a “first release”! The modeling is first rate – the aircraft looks great from any angle, and the flight behavior is realistic enough to keep your attention at all times. A true high performance touring aircraft, which is challenging to fly, and with the added satisfaction of knowing that you could build one yourself if you had the patience and the money. The cockpit instrumentation that is provided is complete and ambitious, especially the fully coded EHSI.
If you are serious about this aircraft, I would highly recommend going all the way and upgrading to Reality XP gauges, it makes a real difference.
What I Like About The Lancair IV
What I Don't Like About The Lancair IV
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