• Aerosoft Seahawk/Jayhawk X

    Aerosoft Seahawk And Jayhawk X

    By Kevin Glover (3 December 2008)

    The Seahawk and the Jayhawk are rather prolific military flyers. Both have had a long career stemming from the 1970's and the 80's, and each can handle a multitude of tasks. The Seahawk is used for a plethora of tasks such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and the Jayhawk is largely used for naval search-and-rescue missions. Aerosoft's recreation of this famous aircraft has had comparable success, and throughout its career in the two most recent simulators, it's been like a beacon of ideal helicopter simulation.


    First Impressions

    The Aerosoft Seahawk/Jawhawk package came in the form of a modest 124MB download. As with all Aerosoft products, installation proceeded without any hiccups, and there were additions to the Aerosoft section in the start menu and FSX Aerosoft folder. This contained manuals in English, German, and Spanish, the Shipyard 2 tool, a description of the included flights, and some other information on the ships. The manual is nicely done and includes information which is very valuable to people who are new to complex helis, such as me. The documentation is sufficiently thorough and discusses all of the necessary systems and such. I booted up the sim to be confronted by fourteen paint schemes, all with beautiful bump-mapping. The flight is fairly simple and doesn't have a flight plan loaded. Nevertheless, it was a good first experience with the aircraft.



    The interior of this aircraft is modeled acceptably well, but due to FSX limitations, large amounts of what's to be seen here isn't functioning. However, that didn't stop Aerosoft from modeling all of the switches, buttons, knobs, and large red buttons in high-quality texturing and detail. Aerosoft modeled the entire VC, and the area covered extends from the cockpit back to what you might call the cargo area. This area is, perhaps, the only part of the model which might show the FS2004 roots. Some of the textures here could be improved, particularly the large array of sensor equipment on the port wall. In general, there's not much to be found here. There are some details spread around such as a first aid kit and anti-skid strips on the floor texturing as well as two stations of sensor equipment. Quite honestly, I'm not entirely sure what this equipment would do in real life, but from what the Seahawk/Jayhawk is used for, this is probably some sona-buoy technology or the like.

    The actual flight deck is, for the most part, quite nicely done. All of the MFD's, FMC's, switches, buttons, and levers are modeled in crisp textures and a lot of polys. If there is one complaint to be found here, it's simply the engine controls on the overhead. The levers here are somewhat blocky, but this didn't concern me unduly. I hardly need to say that FSX places little value in helicopters, and if you want an analogy, think of this. Think of the best car, bird, or boat add-on that you've flown for the sim, and I rather think that you'll agree with me when I say this hardly comes close to real life. As such, Aerosoft was severely inhibited by these limitations, and therefore, they encountered many headaches in the creation of this aircraft. However, the interior is modeled quite nicely overall, from the soft green night lighting to the attention to detail throughout, and despite the issues I really can't complain.



    If the interior retained any of the FS2004 characteristics, the exterior is a wholly FSX model. The bump mapping on this bird is just beautiful, and the outside is dominated by distinctive rivets and panel lines. The detail seen on the rotor heads is just enormous, and Aerosoft included full functionality in the animations of the main and tail rotors. The rotor pitch changes, the blades tilt, and you realize that the default helis are pitiful twaddle in comparison to this masterful rendition.

    There is plenty of detail to be seen around the exterior. The undercarriage is nicely done, and naturally it flexes realistically when load is applied and released. There are a number of sensors and throughout the different models, there are a number of unique pods under the port window. The function of these is a mystery to me, but there's no doubt that they look good. As a matter of fact, you can see all of the four crew members through the windows, and they have various animations, such as the winch operator opening the side door.


    For all of this aircraft's size, it has the grunt of the engine behind it which makes it fairly simple to maneuver. Naturally, if you overload the aircraft it will fly differently, but there is no doubt that, as far as helis go, this is a joy to fly. If there's one thing which gives me nightmares, it's hovering. Fortunately, Aerosoft included the Stability Augmentation System, which in all honesty is a life saver. There are a number of things which this does, such as hold a course, or just keep the aircraft under control better. The system can initiate a smooth hover from on the ground or in the air. The aircraft may wander a bit during this phase, so I suggest you use the heading hold to maintain stability as far as horizontal movement is concerned. Flying this aircraft is a dream if you maintain one simple idea: don't overcorrect. Just as this is deadly in a vehicle, overreacting to a situation which calls for gentle correction from the controls can send many a good approach spinning to vomity-grave. Going off that subject, this helicopter is equipped with wheels, and therefore is much more forgiving on landing. You can have a bit of forward movement and the landing gear will absorb this smoothly. This also means that you can make conventional takeoffs, air taxi, or whatever else that you'd require wheels for.



    As I've said, Aerosoft must have been banging their heads against a wall each time they discovered something else they'd like to program but couldn't. Despite this, there are a number of very useful features which the Seahawk offers. On the MFD's, for example, there are the standard pages like the electrical system, engines, maps, etc, but the most fascinating thing implemented here is the hover gauge. This is simply a gauge which consists of two concentric circles, a square which moves in correspondence to your altitude, and an airplane indicator and line which shows your movement both forward, backwards, and to the sides. This is quite simply a god-send for a hover-phobics like me, and the usefulness of this gauges is evident in storms, simulated rescue, IFR conditions, and a vast hoard of other uses. If something like this could be found on a default heli, maybe I'd enjoy flying these birds more.

    Additionally, the SAS system transforms the flight of this bird from what can be a chore to a pleasantly controlled exercise. There are a number of parts to this system, such as approach hover, heading hold, barometric and radar altitude hold, and other systems which I used less. While the use of these features can be a bit finicky, I've found that if you keep the helicopter in control, don't overcorrect, and apply trim well, you'll be OK. For that matter the trim system works while the SAS system is engaged, and is available via a pop-up panel which the winch operator would normally use. This is essential for doing the final maneuvers for landing on a confined space like a ship's helipad.

    The Ships

    There are six unique ships in this add-on ranging from X craft to landing craft. While Aerosoft included these in a variety of positions throughout the globe and flights to access them, you can also add more locations using the included tool ShipYard 2. This is a handy utility which utilizes Google Earth to place these ships anywhere you'd like.

    Final Word

    The Aerosoft Seahawk/Jayhawk package displays little of its FS2004 roots. In fact, if I hadn't known that this was originally an FS2004 model, I would never have suspected. This add-on comes with a good amount of variations and liveries and fills a niche which is neglected in the flight simming world. Because of the systems which are in this helicopter and its natural appeal as a big, tough heli, this add-on actually sort of reformed my opinion of virtual helicopter flying, and possibly, just possibly, this aircraft might take precedence over my usual fixed-wing choice in the future.

    Kevin Glover
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here

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