• Interview With Philippe Gastebois


    When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I first starting creating for X-Plane way back in March 2008. This was with a reconnaissance version of an F-86, originally developed by Jacques Brault. At the time, I think X-Plane was the only flight simulator available for the Mac, so the fact that you could create your own aircraft, via X-Plane's built in Plane-Maker, was an added bonus!


    Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    The aircraft that I like to develop in X-Plane are historic aircraft, such as the record breaking Gerfaut II, or long-range record aircraft like the Late-26. In fact, I enjoy creating any aeroplane (preferably old) with a unique wing configuration or appearance. An example of this, is my Westland Pterodactyl IB.

    What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    The most challenging aspect in developing such unique aircraft in X-Plane is, without doubt, the finding and obtaining of technical data. This is needed so as to replicate the aircraft as close as possible in X-Plane. Some data is difficult to find because what is available is either based on a historical point of view or an operational point of view. Both of these lack the essential technical details for reconstructing the aircraft in X-Plane. Data which is difficult to come by could include, control surfaces, deflection angles, wing incidence and what type of airfoil was used.


    Aircraft that have been certified, either civil or military, pose far less of a problem (in terms of requiring technical data) than aircraft which have not been certified. Unfortunately, this includes quite a few historical aircraft.

    Another area which possesses a challenge is in the modelling of the engine and the propeller. This is essential in getting the X-Plane model to behave like the real aircraft. It can take many alterations and adjustments to get the correct engine RPM, power, propeller chord, and pitch of the model to act like the real aircraft.

    The first flight is always a unique moment and is used (like real aircraft) as a test flight. These flights are used to measure, amongst other things, takeoff speed and maximum speed at various altitudes, and climb rates during flight.

    I think that realistic instrumentation in the cockpit goes a long way in creating the feeling of flying a real aircraft, and that is the reason why I try to equip my French aircraft with French instruments and metric units (just like the real aircraft). This is realistic, but might appear difficult to people not used to these units.


    What software packages and tools do you use to develop?

    I use X-Plane's very own Plane-Maker for the aerodynamic model and AC3D from INIVIS for the design of the 3D model. It's surprisingly easy to create control surfaces for the aircraft, and for this I use the animation tools of AC3D. Movable surfaces, such as doors, landing gear and speed-brakes, are all animated with this software and integrate effortlessly into X-Plane. The only point which is not taken into account by Plane Maker is the structural point of view, except with the empty weight, but this is not really a problem. One regret I have with my models though, is the inability to develop a 3D cockpit. No matter how hard I try, all my attempts to animate a 3D throttle or button have so far failed. Maybe I need to spend a bit more time in the AC3D forums so as to be successful!

    Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?

    I develop only freeware models for X-Plane because they are made for my own pleasure and for others to enjoy. I don't want to spend the time creating the level of detail needed so as to qualify for a payware aircraft, and if I'm honest, I don't think I have that level of expertise.


    The Team

    How many people work with you or your team?

    I work alone, but I am a board member of the BFAB (Branche Francaise d'Air Britain), which is the French branch of the famous British association, The International Association of Aviation Historians. This gives me the opportunity to meet other members and share documents needed in the creation of aircraft development.

    1 Comment
    1. 5171's Avatar
      5171 -
      Very nice interview! Anybody who has been around X Plane for awhile certainly knows Philippe's work, he has been an extraordinary and prolific plane developer for a long time. We could use more like him!

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