Low And Slow: Vintage Aircraft In FSX And Prepar3D
By Josh Rickard
I have been an avid fan of flight simulation for over 15 years and it has been a very rewarding hobby. Capturing, and editing screen shots is a particular aspect of the hobby that I enjoy. Currently I am running FSX with a variety of modifications, including add-on scenery and aircraft. This has resulted in some fantastic images that I could have never imagined possible 15 years ago.
Lately I've been flying vintage aircraft, three of which I am sharing with you today. To me, these aircraft are of a romantic time in aviation's history. Imagine braving treacherous weather to deliver mail or medicine, or barnstorming with a flying circus. Whether you are in the mood for racing through canyons, stunning crowds with acrobatics, or just a lazy sight-seeing tour on a beautiful autumn afternoon, flying vintage aircraft in FSX offers a unique and challenging experience. These aircraft are simple to fly, with only the barest of instruments. Flying low and slow also gives us the opportunity to see our scenery up close, which can make for some fantastic screen shots. All of these aircraft can be down loaded for free, here at FlightSim.Com.
Curtiss Reid Rambler MK. III
Aircraft by Craig Richardson
The Curtiss Reid Rambler, a sport aircraft and later a trainer, was built in Canada in the early 1930s. They were used by the Royal Canadian Air Force in small numbers for training purposes.
In 1928, an engineer named Wilfried T. Reid left Canadian Vickers and set up his own company in Montreal where he produced the Reid Rambler. Later that year Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company purchased the Reid Aircraft Company and renamed it "The Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Company". The aircraft was then altered to use Frise-style ailerons, along with changes to the engine cowling system, exhaust system and tail skid. Although intended for civilian use, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used a small number of them for training. Curtis-Reid Ramblers enjoyed a lengthy civilian and military career well into the Second World War.
The two seat aircraft has a wingspan of 33 ft (10.06 m) with a gross weight of 1,650 lbs (749 kg). It could reach speeds of 112 mph (180 km/h), at 14,000 ft (4,270 m) with a range of 118 miles (170 km). Powered by one de Havilland Gipsy II, 120 hp (90 kW) powerplant.
Flying the Rambler in FSX:
There is limited visibility while on the ground because of the tricycle gear configuration, but in FSX we can use an outside view to taxi. The flight controls are smooth and responsive and the plane tends to want to fly level. Give yourself a lot of room to land, and make sure you lose a lot of speed before applying the brakes, unless you want to dig yourself into the ground nose first. This plane comes with a PDF manual that describes the instruments and shows you how to manually start the engine with the virtual cockpit controls. To me this adds that extra bit of realism.
Northwest Airways' Waco Fleet
Aircraft by Vladimir Gonchar
Northwest operated a small fleet of Wacos primarily to carry air mail until 1936. A Waco ASO (10W), later modified into a more aerodynamic "taper wing" model ATO by Northwest, and four "taper wing" JYMs initially flew between Chicago and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin. When winter storms covered the runways with snow, the Wacos were outfitted with skis.
The JYM was a taper wing model based on the earlier ATO design but with a 14-inch fuselage stretch to provide further cargo capacity compared with the earlier design. It was powered by a 300 h.p. Wright J-6-9 (R-975) engine and had a single seat cockpit for the pilot. Four Waco JYM aircraft were delivered to Northwest Airways (later Northwest Airlines) in 1929 and were operated by them on the 892-mile CAM-9 airmail route from Chicago to Minneapolis via Milwaukee, Madison and La Crosse.
Flying the Waco JYM in FSX:
Like the other two aircraft, use an outside view to make taxiing easier. This plane has the most powerful engine of the three, but can be damaged if left on full power for more than a minute. The Waco seems at home between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. This aircraft has no flaps to slow down, so make sure you throttle back and make your approach no faster than 80 knots, and touch down with a speed less than 60 knots.
Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny"
Package put together by: David Grindele
The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was one of a series of "JN" biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Although the Curtiss JN series (the common nickname was derived from "JN") was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S. Army, the "Jenny" continued post-World War I as a civil aircraft as it became the backbone of American post-war [civil] aviation. Thousands of surplus Jennys were sold at bargain prices to private owners in the years after the War and became central to the barnstorming era that helped awaken America to civil aviation through much of the 1920s.
The Jenny had a crew of two. It had a wingspan of 43 ft (13.3 m) and a gross weight of 1,920 lb (871 kg), and was powered by a single Curtiss OX-5 V8 piston, 90 hp engine. Maximum speed in the Jenny was 65 kn (121 km/h). It had a service ceiling of 6,500 feet (2,000 m).
Flying The "Jenny" in FSX:
The oldest and slowest of the three aircraft featured here but by far, the most famous. Like the other two, it is easy to fly. Make sure you start any acrobatics with lots of altitude to recover, as the engine is not as powerful as the Rambler and the Waco. But this aircraft is my first choice for a lazy sightseeing tour on a sunny afternoon. It can fly upwards of 6,000 feet, but to me the Jenny is in its element at tree top level. Make sure to find some bridges near your home airfield to fly under! The Jenny is not equipped with brakes, so make sure when you land at your airfield (or farmer's field, or any patch of open ground!) you give yourself a lot of room to slow down.
Downloading and installing these aircraft is an easy task. Included in the download is a read-me file with specific instructions on how to install the aircraft properly, as well as PDFs explaining flight operations.
To enhance my screen shots and overall flight sim experience, there are several other add-ons that I use. The scenery you see in these shots are by ORBX. In my experience, ORBX has created the most detailed and immersive scenery ever produced for flight simulation, and is well worth the price. For weather textures and weather generation I use REX in conjunction with Active Sky. You can find all these products at the Flightsim Pilot Shop.
Flying vintage aircraft is a great way to vary your experience in FSX. Whether you are just starting out in flight simulation or you are a veteran looking to enhance your experience, take some time to browse the Pilot Shop and the free downloads at FlightSim.Com.