• Review: Alabeo R66 Turbine For X-Plane

    Robinson R66 Helicopter

    Publisher: Alabeo

    Review Author:
    Shawn Weigelt

    Suggested Price:
    $22.95

    Buy Here

    "The helicopter approaches closer than any other vehicle to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet."

    -Igor Sikorsky

    Introduction

    The father of the modern helicopter definitely hit the proverbial nail on the head with that statement! What an incredibly profound and accurate assessment of one of the greatest flying inventions of all time. What other vehicle can vertically levitate a layperson off of the earth and transport them to parts unknown? We flight simulation and aviation enthusiasts are obviously much more interested in doing the piloting than being a mere passenger, though. The act of flying a helicopter may seem simple to a casual observer, but to us, we know that "simple" has nothing to do with it for the one piloting the darn thing!

           

    Helicopters have a reputation as being difficult to fly and ruthlessly unforgiving aircraft. This is, in part, why I tend to stay away from rotorcraft altogether in X-Plane 10 and may be why many other X-Plane users apparently choose to do the same. It is no secret that while our sim has some serious "rotor heads" in its ranks who take their helicopter flying very seriously, they still take a back seat to the tube liner jockeys and GA fixed wing crowds with regards to pure popularity. One need only compare the amount of rotorcraft to the fixed wing aircraft available as freeware to the X-Plane community to understand the point I'm trying to make. With as versatile and amazing as helicopters are, they still occupy a relatively small niche within real world aviation as well as in X-Plane.

    I am amazed whenever I get into that "I'm curious about trying to fly helicopters mood" at how consistently X-Plane 10 is able to convince me of just how challenging it is to fly them! I'm not ashamed to admit that most of my "flights" go horribly wrong and end in disaster. My flirtation with any file with rotors is, thus, usually short lived and causes me to promptly select something with "real" wings so I can go about healing my bruised, post-crash ego. I imagine I'm not the only curious sim pilot who has loaded up one of the default choppers or maybe even downloaded a really nice freeware model that looked so great in the screen shots only to be reminded shortly thereafter why they usually stick with that 172 or perhaps their "push button" airliner for their virtual aviating fix. I know some of you reading this know exactly what I'm talking about!

           

    So...how is it that I got myself into writing a review on a helicopter when my modus operandi has so clearly been general aviation singles up to this point? Well, it was really a combination of three main points of inspiration, the first of which I like to call "drool factor". This serious condition afflicts many of us sim pilots and is usually brought on by visiting our favorite add-on developer's web site or the PilotShop here at FlightSim.Com. We see that shiny, in-development or newly released aircraft file with all the right textures in all the right places and we actually, physically drool over the screen shots and maybe even YouTube teaser videos until we can't take it anymore and reach for the credit card! I confess that I experienced a bit of "drool factor" (well, minus actual drooling) while browsing Alabeo's screen shots of their Robinson R66. The talented folks at Alabeo are very adept at eliciting "drool factor" from their customers!

    Another influence that led me into this crazy endeavor was pure determination and a desire to break out of my personal, general aviation piston single, comfort zone. I had convinced myself that if I got this R66 I would master it and not be made to run for one of my trusty Cessna's at the first sign of trouble. Well, maybe that was the "drool factor" talking. I'll let you know how "determined" I was about my helicopter mastery a little later in the review!

           

    My third and final inspiration for undertaking a helicopter review had to do with, all kidding aside, Mr. Sikorsky's words at the beginning of the piece. There is something about a helicopter that truly inspires the soul and evokes the imagination to thoughts of flight - of really flying as though one had mounted a mythical flying horse or magic carpet. For me, I look to nature and see how closely mankind has been able to replicate the hovering flight of a hummingbird or dragonfly with the wonderfully complex machine that is the helicopter! As hokey as it sounds, this is the kind of stuff that got me interested in aviation to begin with! Who hasn't looked at a bird in the sky and daydreamed of taking its place? Though I may never get the chance to pilot a real helicopter, utilizing this other incredible piece of human ingenuity, the personal computer, gets me close. Flying a helicopter model as beautifully designed as Alabeo's R66 in X-Plane 10, flight simulation software that is as accurate as home simulation gets, is downright awe inspiring and worthy of writing about!


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