I obtained the download version, which installed without hassle, as is typical with products from Vertigo. Prior-to, I had also downloaded the PDF manual; it is available for free from their product web site, as well as a paint kit, which we'll talk about in a bit.
Upon loading the aircraft into FSX, I choose one of the RV-8, taildraggers. Immediately I noticed the clarity at which the cockpit was presented. I was happy to have a traditional instrument layout, of which everything was easily accessible, and in good order. The crisp visuals, and ease of accessibility was very welcome. The 3D gauges were also well done, and delightful. The interior reflections on the canopy glass, and gauges is well balanced, and not over-done. Visibility is excellent from the cockpit, lending favor to much anticipated sight seeing. The entire cockpit was quite realistic. I also had to slide back to the rear seat for a look. I found that it is also equipped with a control stick, and working engine controls, while being very clean and roomy. Nice! A neat little feature, is a semi-hidden switch, at which you can choose a tinted canopy.
Switching to the exterior, I find that the paint is fresh, and well-kept, revealing the aerodynamic lines of this low wing monoplane. The contours, blending, and shadowing are all beautiful. The textures are detailed, clear, concise, and leave out nothing. One thing I noticed was the lack of a dark hole on the filtered air box housing scoop. This was only evident when viewed head-on. The 3D 2-blade Hartzell propeller is sweet. 3D lights also look good, and function well. All of the extra eye candy available through the configuration panel, adds depth as well, and is no less than we've come to expect from Vertigo.
Start-Up, Taxi, And Take-Off
With a few simple start-up procedures, the O-360 pops to life. And it does too! The sounds are encapsulating on this release! In fact, I forgot all about checking gauges, I was too busy panning around and listening to that engine putter! Back in the cockpit (after getting familiar with everything, via the manual) I'm ready to taxi out. It handles well, and responsively on the ground, very pleasing. My destination is Aurora Airport, KUAO. Throttle up, and she's screamin' down the grass strip, and with a few bounces and bumps (well modeled), I'm climbing like a rocket! Very impressive. I notice that the aerobatic potential is quite good, and manage to do a little after getting some altitude.
Now, I'm on my way to Aurora, admiring the farm landscape, and several small airstrips that are scattered across this area. Cruising at around 20 inches of manifold pressure, I'm moving right along. The RV-8 is a relatively easy to fly airplane, with forgiving characteristics. A flip to the external views again, and I see that the prop animations are unbeatable. The range of motion gives a very camera like viewing experience, which Vertigo nails on the head. The aircraft really does glow visually, especially in the air.
All of the sudden, I lose complete power, and rpm's drop to about 500. What's going on? I quickly check of the fuel gauges, and settings, everything appears OK. Feathering the prop, I hear the change in noise from up front, and I'm not losing airspeed too fast... So, with another airstrip in view, I decide to lower the flaps a notch, and proceed in attempting to re-start the engine. No luck. So, I prime it, several times, throttle to idle, mixture full rich, and try again. It does fire, but I'm only getting about 30% power, and with propeller full forward around 1400 rpm. Time to make an emergency landing. I still have that airfield spotted, and I'll have to bring her in. Full flaps, cut throttle, and she glides very nicely. Final approach dead-stick is no problem, and I clear her of the runway. (Nice touchdown effects, by the way.)
So what went wrong? After landing, I realize I was getting interrupted fuel flow. After some more priming, I re-start the engine, and let it cycle for a bit. It has been a wet, and cold morning. This time, it smooths out, and performs normally. So, it's back into the air, once again, destination Aurora.
I absolutely love the handling of this aircraft. It stalls very reliably, and nicely either power on, or off. Take-off and landing distances are incredible, which is giving me ideas!
Upon arrival at KUAO, I discern that my fuel efficiency has been pretty good, all things considered. Just another "day at the office" for Mr. VanGrunsven!