Yes, this review is about the Trike. Before you groan, and wonder how even this much could be written about the plane that everyone loves to hate, consider the things that the Trike has to offer. It doesn't have the technology like radios, GPS, glass cockpits of airliners, certainly doesn't have the speed of the F-18, and doesn't have the utility of a bush plane. But the Trike can offer good things. It is a great aircraft to use when checking out scenery somewhere, and is perfect for training. In fact, the very first tutorial is taking off in the Trike and then landing. Microsoft was very smart to have this be the first flying experience in your Flight Sim experience, because the Trike offers the utmost of basic flying you can get. In essence, you turn on the engine, fly, and when you decide to land, you simply put the nose down and land. It takes very little practice.
General Flight Realism
The flight realism for the Trike is generally excellent, most likely because there is not much to simulate. There is no rudder control, only steering when on the ground. This takes the whole dynamic of coordinated turns out, and flight dynamics need not worry about flaps, spoilers, and asymmetrical thrust. The Trike tends to leap into the air on takeoff, even at slow speeds. At first I thought this was a flaw, but after watching online videos of real world Trike takeoffs, I noticed the same. I assume that just due to the low weight of the aircraft, it is easy to get into the air. Either that, or I'm waiting too long on takeoff roll . As expected the landings with the Trike are both easy and realistic. One would assume that because of the open cockpit, it is easy to gauge your height above the runway, and it is. However, you must turn the view to the side, which I find disorienting. In fact, my first two practice landings with the Trike were relatively hard. This is definitely not a design flaw, though. Overall, try as I might, I could find nothing wrong with the flight dynamics. Nothing stood out, and things were excellent in a hard-to-notice kind of way. Again, (like you might find in other sections of this review) the quality is good because there aren't many places to go wrong.
The sounds with the Trike are about as basic as possible: there's the wind, and then there's the engine. Engine starts and shutdowns are both fine, no problems there. When you open the throttle, the sound gets gradually louder as you increase the throttle, as it should. The one thing that bother me is that at full power, the engine sounds less like an engine and more like a mosquito with a deep voice (which gets extremely annoying after 10 minutes). This IS expected because of the small size and basic design of the engine, but it seems a little overdone. I'd like to mention that problems like these are what annoy me sometimes about Flight Simulator: sometimes certain things are over-exaggerated. Overall, the sound quality of the Trike is good, not great. Nothing really special here.
The model of the Trike is where the small details add up. Upon first inspection, the model looks fine, even great. But upon closer inspection, there are flaws. First, the good: The VC is extremely simple, highly detailed, and very realistic. In other words, excellent. The wing above the cockpit is VERY well done: very detailed, very real. And of course, it is fun to see the pilot (aka yourself) looking like a motorcycle-riding fashion designer: decked in a nice windbreaker, sporty but stylish pants, thick gloves, and that oh so lovely and cool helmet. But there are problems. If you go into theVC and shutdown the engine and then look at it (still from VC ), It is still a see-through-blur, but it doesn't move. Huh? This might be an error only on my computer, but I doubt it. More propeller problems come when you switch to external view. Things look fine until you rotate so you are looking at the propeller directly from the side. It looks like a 2-D circle. Really disappointing. Also, the wheels and struts on the Trike don't look like it took very long to make them, like they are just slapped on. One good thing, however, about the external model is that the engine assembly (disregarding the propeller problems here) is VERY detailed: the perfectly round fuel tank brought tears to my eyes because from the side it was a circle, not another hexagonal circle 'wanna-be'.
I would like to say that although the numbers portray the Trike as a bad aircraft, it is not entirely bad. There are some flaws in the model, and it certainly doesn't provide the adrenaline of taking the Extra 300 up for some spins, roll, and loops, but it is still the plane that you want to start with. I believe it is the best way to learn the basics of flight and how air movement and density affects flight. Taking it up over a high-detail city and climbing to it's ceiling of 8,500 will actually surprise you. When I did it, I was mesmerized by the up-close and immersive experience. This brings up something I would like to say about my reviews: mostly, people scroll down and look at the numbers and percentages first. We are, after all, pilots, and we love to get the numbers. But numbers cannot account for something like the experience the Trike will give you. It might have its shortcomings, but sometimes, you must look past the black and white of the numbers and realize the color that a plane can provide, even in a simulator. But okay, enough with the sappy idealism. Lets do the very black and white numbers.
FINAL RESULT FOR THE TRIKE ULTRALIGHT: 74.7/90 ...which is 83% ....which is a B-