• Review: Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Cockpit And Interior

    The cockpit of the Aerosoft Douglas DC-8, much like the exterior, is an in-depth re-creation of the real aircraft. You get a fully rendered and functional Captain, First Officer and Flight Engineers deck, as well as detailing right across the cockpit.

    Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8     Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Each switch, knob and button has also been carefully modelled in 3D and animated to match that of its real live counterpart. One thing I absolutely loved, was the massive gear lever protruding from the center of the panel. While most modern aircraft require you to lean forward to move a small stick, the DC-8 had a foot-long lever that reached as far back as the co-pilot's seat, making for easier management at the time, albeit blocking some of the controls from the right-hand seat.

    If flying in P3D v4, you also get TFDi Design's TrueGlass technology, which enables you to see dynamic raindrops and effects on the windshield as you fly.

    At night, the cockpit looks fantastic. You have the ability to turn on either the dome or panel lights, and depending on your setup, the results can look stunning. Personally I turn on the dome light once above 10,000 feet, which makes things a little easier to find. However, even when the cockpit is plunged into darkness, turning on the panel lights can make for a rather fun experience!

    Buttons, Gauges And Functionality

    As with many large jets of the time, the Douglas DC-8 required a three-man crew to operate, and this is reflected within the Aerosoft model!

    Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8     Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Each switch, knob and lever found in the cockpit is functional, including that on the engineer's bay. This means when starting up your engines and managing your fuel flow, you will need to switch your camera viewpoint back and forth in order to get everything going.

    The DC-8 also features an original CIVA Instrument Navigation system which is a nice touch. However, setting it up can be initially quite difficult (if you're not used to this approach), but once you've programmed it enough times, it becomes second nature.

    Loading the flight plan is done through either the virtual cockpit itself, or via the Flight Plan Loader window (Shift + 2). The first step is to set the CIVA to 'Waypoint' mode. This is where you can input your flight coordinates in the place of waypoints, building up your flight plan (up to a maximum of 9 waypoints). Using the little spin wheel, you can select a waypoint and then insert your coordinates. This automatically stores the information within the aircraft navigation database, and once you fly over this location, the aircraft will head to the next waypoint.

    Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8     Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Another notable instrument is the Altitude Alerter, which is very helpful in warning you that you're about to reach a certain altitude. When climbing, it will beep at you when you approach cruise, allowing you to level off the aircraft. The same can then be done as you descend, alerting you as you reach your next designated altitude.

    I must also give a shout to the weather radar too. This is fully functional and simulated into the aircraft! Whether you're using the simulator's default weather, Active Sky, or any other tool, the aircraft will take its data directly from the simulator and display it onto the map. The green glow from the display, with the added green spinning line, works very well, and is very fitting of the period!

    Sound

    Where do I start? I absolutely love the sound of the Aerosoft DC-8! From the cockpit, the harmonics of the engines really do give you a sense of flying an early-days jetliner.

    Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8     Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Licensed from audio experts Turbine Sound Studios, this aircraft, in the opinion of this reviewer, is one of their all-time best sound sets! The numerous high-quality recordings taken from the aircraft, really come together, and like an orchestra, produce a totally immersive experience; something I absolutely adore when flying.

    The Pratt and Whitney JT3D-3B engines found on the DC-8 always gave off a wonderful low-toned scream, and these have been expertly recreated by TSS from both the interior and exterior of the aicraft.

    Each knob and switch in the cockpit has its own defined sound, as well as the flaps, landing gear and alarms. Everything sounds authentic, and makes the experience of flying a DC-8 even more special.

    My only complaint would be with the stick shaker. The sound loop is only about two seconds long, and there is an audible jump that can be heard. Extending it by a couple more seconds would definitely not go amiss.

    Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8     Aerosoft - Douglas DC-8

    Apart from this very minor quibble, Aerosoft have done an incredible job in the audio department!


    5 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Well done Michael; a highly informative review of an old classic!

      Thank you for making time in your busy schedule to write this one up, it's very much appreciated, and I hope you receive plenty of feedback regarding your findings.

      Dominic
    1. Metthos's Avatar
      Metthos -
      Thank you for this interesting review. I prefer modern jets but your evaluation makes me curious to try an old bird.
    1. AlyMac's Avatar
      AlyMac -
      Great review. The 8 was always one of my favourites.
    1. mscoull's Avatar
      mscoull -
      Would anyone know how this compares to the Just Flight DC8.They have a nice aircraft but the fuel system seems to play up when you get to about 50%..Hard to understand the cross fuel system..
    1. tailspin45's Avatar
      tailspin45 -
      DC-8 went supersonic in 1961 (on purpose) and also set an altitude record at just over 50,000 feet.

      Douglas press release and test pilot notes here.
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