The Model 61 Long-EZ is a single-propswept wing general aviation kit plane developed and built by Rutansince the late 1970s. Its peculiar style and aerodynamic body make itstand out when compared to a lot of aircraft in a similar class.
IndiaFoxtEcho (Dino Cattaneo), is a long-time developer for flightsimulation and is the latest to jump across to Microsoft FlightSimulator, with the Long-EZ being the first of his aircraft for thenew platform. Today we take a look at this aircraft in close detailand see how it compares to its real life counterpart.
- Crew: 1 Pilot
- Length: 16 ft 10 in (5.12 m)
- Wingspan: 26 ft 1 in (7.96 m)
- Height: 7 ft 10 in (2.40 m)
- Empty Weight: 710 lb (322 kg)
- Maximum Takeoff Weight: 1,325 lb (601 kg)
- Powerplant: Lycoming O-235
- Range: 2,010 mi (3,230 km, 1,750 nm)
- Rate of Climb: 1,750 ft/min (8.9 m/s)
- Service Ceiling: 27,000 ft (8,200 m)
- Max Cruising Speed: 185 mph (298 km/h, 161 km)
The Long-EZ has a very peculiar shape being swept-wing with ahorizontal stabiliser on the nose. The propeller sits on the rear ofthe aircraft with two vertical stabilisers at the end of eachwing. The aircraft seats two people, the pilot at the front and apassenger in the rear with a single glass canopy that sits on top.
The aircraft also features a retractable nose-gear which has to behand-cranked to operate (the two rear wheels are static). A speed brakeis also fitted to the belly of the aircraft and can be used to slowthe aircraft down greatly while in the air.
Using the Drone Cam in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you can look upclose at the model and observe the high level of detail that has beenincluded. Each bolt and screw is modelled in 3D and is visible, pluspanel gaps, with some minor miss-alignment, typical of well-loved kitaircraft are also visible. The engine also features an under-bellyintake, as well as exhaust vents underneath the wings.
Then there are the 4K resolution textures that are kitted acrossthe aircraft. You get four liveries with the model and these all lookfantastic! Little details such as wear and tear all over the panels,plus spots of dirt (especially on the undercarriage), are proof that alot of care has been put into giving this aircraft life within thesimulator environment.
Implementation of the default pilot models in the simulator hasalso been really well-done, sitting both pilots one in front of theother. If you use a custom pilot model in the MSFS settings (as I havedone), you will see the captain and co-pilot (or in this case,passenger) sitting in their respective seats inside the aircraft.
When compared to its real-life counterpart, the Long-EZ looksfantastic and fits in the Microsoft Flight Simulatorscene. IndiaFoxtEcho will have spent a long time modelling everyaspect of this aircraft and making it accurate, and this is somethingthat has definitely paid off.
Cockpit And Interior
The Long-EZ does not have much going for it in terms of systems,given that it is a kit plane, but what systems it does have,IndiaFoxtEcho has included it, and it all works rather well.
The cockpit layout follows the standardised design as set out byRutan without any customised setup, for example, the fuel pump switchis between the pilot's legs and not behind your shoulder (which led tothe John Denver incident).
The aircraft also features a functioning GPS, which is the defaultMSFS touch screen system that is based on the ProLine Fusionpanels. Out of all the management computers and GPS systems in thissimulator so far, I find this to be the most intuitive andcustomisable (allows you to toggle between the top-down map and thesynthetic version). While perhaps a custom system would be nice, we doneed to realise that the SDK for Microsoft Flight Simulator is stillin the works, and the implementation of this default system has beendone rather well - you certainly won't lose any of the experience whenflying this plane!
Like the exterior, the interior makes use of 4K resolution texturesand this makes for a beautiful plane. The weathered and worn mainpanel stands out with small discolorations and scratches dotted allover. Gauges are 3D and pop out of their places, plus each switch islabelled, making it clear and easy to read. This has certainly been awell-loved aircraft and IndiaFoxtEcho has done a fantastic job inshowing this.
The Long-EZ comes with a set of custom audio samples which arerecorded to a high resolution and sit you right in the seat of theaircraft. There are numerous samples included of the engine atdifferent speeds and mixtures. When in flight you can also hear lightwind noise, an undertone to the aircraft in cruise. It's a smalldetail, but one that works well. This is certainly enough audio togive you an immersive experience flying from inside the cockpit.
One thing which is missing though, are the sounds for switches andlevers inside the cockpit. Default aircraft in MSFS have sound effectsfor everything from switch manipulation to levers sliding and evensmall rocking sounds for stick and yoke manipulation. The Long-EZhowever, has none of these, which does take away some of theexperience in my opinion, especially when you look at the aircraft andits crank-shaft gear control. It is still early days and IndiaFoxtEchois known for his quality, so perhaps this is something that will beadded at a later date.
Exterior samples are also recorded to a high quality and soundgreat when combined with the wind effects. Together they really helpgive the feeling of power and speed.
Overall, some room for improvement, but still convincing in theaudio department.
Flying the Long-EZ can be a challenge at the start, but it iscertainly rewarding. Its design and rear-facing propeller mean you'llnotice it tends to pitch down. This can easily be countered byadjusting your trim upwards and applying a little force to your stickto keep the aircraft flying stable and level.
Takeoffs and landings are also not too difficult to perform, but dorequire some rudder input to keep you in a straight line! You can feelthe prop drift of this aircraft, something IndiaFoxtEcho has expertlyachieved in this model.
One thing you will quickly realise is that this aircraft does notfeature any flaps. Initially this may be quite daunting, especiallyduring your first few takeoffs and landings, but the more youpractise, the better you will certainly become. You also miss out onparking brakes, so don't forget to lower your prop pitch when on theground, otherwise you'll have a runaway aircraft!
The only slight negative I observed, is that when you arestationary with the engines shut down, you will notice the aircraftstart to wobble. This will stop after a few seconds but just seems alittle strange. MSFS does have a few small quirks with its flightmodel (also being tweaked), so I'm sure this is something that willvery quickly be rectified.
Overall, flying the Long-EZ is a very hands-on and rewardingaircraft! You'll be sure to enjoy it both on short circuits andperhaps further afield.
Opinion And Closing Remarks
Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed flying the Long-EZ and it is anaircraft I will certainly follow the progress of. It looks fantastic,feels great and has reasonably good audio quality.
MSFS has a long road ahead in which to mature (still early days)and as such I am sure improvements will be made to the SDK. Theseundoubtedly will allow developers like IndiaFoxtEcho to update and addfeatures to an already fantastic model.
If you're looking for something hands-on and quirky to kick-startyour flying on the all-new Microsoft Flight Simulator, then theLong-EZ by IndiaFoxtEcho is certainly a great start!
Review PC Spec:
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
- Windows 10 Professional
- 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700 Processor
- 16 GB RAM
- NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1660
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