• Discus Glider X

    Discus Glider X

    By Nigel C. Martin (2 December 2009)

    Have you ever seen the glider you get as an option in Flight Simulator? Bet you have, and I will also bet you have never selected it. If you have, it may have been once or twice...but you've not really any some planned glider flying?

    I have to hold my hands up here and say, I am one of these people, until I saw the product pictures for the Discus Glider X. I decided to take another look at this incredibly liberating side of aviation.


    I had a good look at the product pictures within the Pilot Shop, and they look well, incredible--the detail appears breathtaking. OK, to enjoy gliding, which some would say is the purest means of flight, you do not have access to a jet or turboprop, or petrol engine. Actually you would be wrong since, yup, two of the three models provided actually have a small engine housed at the top of the fuselage (one two bladed prop, and one five bladed) just behind the pilot. When selected, the engine appears like a dorsal fin. The engine types also vary in each offering.

    Switch on the engine, and there you have it, a powered glider. Very handy to get to the perfect spot, switch off, tuck away, and you have a 'clean' glider to enjoy powerless flight.


    I am very lucky, I have been up in a glider many times, and adore the serenity and sound of wind rushing past. A whole new set of rules apply, closer to nature if you will, your sudden reliance on the wind/air conditions such as ridge lift, wave lift, and rising air, i.e. thermals, to provide all your lift. Believe me, it can 'focus' the mind.

    You know, incredibly, some flights can last for 1000's of kilometers across the countryside. In the UK it is not unheard off to achieve over 1000 kilometers. OK, you have to have the right glider and favorable conditions, but still incredible. Some of the best conditions will be found in the middle of summer, longer days, more powerful sun, etc.

    Amazing altitudes can also be reached. In Scotland, the where they have teh highest mountains in the UK, a pilot reached 30,000 feet agl! In the US, a pilot achieved a staggering 46,266 feet agl. Fancy passing a jumbo--that would give the commercial pilots something to talk about! Let alone the passengers!


    In truth, the air is really still, being able to 'read' the signs of potential lift are an art, and when well practiced results in some truly awesome flights, both in duration, and distance/time. Keeping a good lookout for cloud formations, crops at certain times of the year, towns, and above all birds since they sure know where the thermal activity may be.

    Do some research as to the best glider slopes and locations, so you can then select them, if listed, within FSX. It is worthwhile.

    The gliders depicted are of the Discus Standard Class of glider, in production 1984-1995. Some are still being manufactured in some other countries. Some 850 are still flying, a true testament to the glider's heritage.


    What Is Included And Installation

    The technical points from the developer:


    • Fully professional development (over 20 months).
    • Ten high detail models (for example just the VC of the BT model has 146384 polygons, more than double of what FS2004 could compile) using all the FSX options.
    • Highly advanced flight models that are accurate even in spins and other non standard attitudes.
    • Over 100 non standard sounds (like flying with open windows, side slips, pending stalls, etc.) all triggered by FSX variables and conditions using Aerosoft Sound Control.
    • Full working water ballast system.
    • Two static ports (with selector) to avoid problems when using the auxiliary engines.
    • Dozens of non standard animations, up to elements that move under high G load.
    • Very realistic flexing wings created with a new technology.
    • All instruments accurate, including TEC and NETTO variometers. Not like this simplified gauges in the default glider in FSX.
    • Real usable yaw string that will make coordinated flight a lot easier.
    • All models include a highly realistic C4 Flight Computer that allows then pilot to calculate ideal speeds and routes.
    • Includes a licensed copy of Winch X.
    • Designed with full support of Schempp-Hirth, SDI Variomers and the SOAR online glider community.
    • Includes a FSX manual (English) and the actual 'real' manuals for the gliders and C4 Flight Computer (English and German)

    So there we have it...I opted to download my programme, all 150 megs of it, yes 150 megs! Took a reasonable time to download, opened the file, hit the .exe file, and the installation process was flawless and simple to follow.

    Within FSX post installation, you will note you will get three aircraft options, showing in my virtual aircraft's hangar, two motorized and one pure glider.

    I find this a little odd because in the tech notes above it mentions you have ten high detail models. OK it may be me, but I downloaded the program, and got a successful install message, and hew presto there are three gliders on show in the virtual hangar. May be I will re-visit this issue.

    You will also find two other pieces of software that are bundled in, the first is called "Cumulus X". This feature installs the facility, once selected, to generate cumulus clouds with the resultant wind movement which you can use to your gliding advantage.


    The other, a ground and air tow facility. More about that later in the review. Before moving on, there is another link shown in the Manual for additional free downloadable programs available to further enhance the thermal realism activity. All well worth download I can assure you.

    Also included in the download is a 21 page instruction manual. This PDF file is well worth printing off and taking some time to read. After reading you will understand the package you have purchased and installed.

    This fully explains the instruments uniquely found in a glider, i.e., a Netto Variometer, Total Energy Compensated Variometer, etc. OK, you can take to the skies and fly the gliders without the reading, but you will get SO MUCH more from your investment if you do have a good look at the manual.

    The external detail is well, incredible, as are the interiors of all three of the different models.


    Let's start with the exteriors. OK, these are gliders and one may say to provide very good detail is less work than on perhaps a big 747 or modern jet fighter, but as I am sure you are aware, despite the size of the aircraft, the detail can be, well, awful. So on that basis, no issues here, at all levels the detail is exemplary.

    When you select the motor option from inside the cockpit, in two of the gliders, you will see again the most incredible attention to detail, at every level.

    Upon take off, the wings seem to flex a little, however, in flight I did not see the wings flex to the degree I would have expected. Also, after landing and coming to a complete stop the wing does not drop to the ground, both wings remain almost horizontal, a tad unrealistic. But, select door opening option and you will see the canopy open and the instrument hood tilt up, for easy access and exit--lovely. The reflections in the canopy are excellent.


    There are a number of levers and interactive switches that operate flawlessly.

    Now the most important part, the instruments, in all three options the instrument panel and array of instruments are incredibly accurate. You also have a GPS unit mounted on a stem to the right of the interior. This represents a unit that can be detached with cease after a flight. This is a multi-functional unit that looks the part, and performs very accurately.

    In Use

    I located myself at RAF Valley in Wales UK, selected one of the motorized gliders, opted for a ground tow. A great voice instruction informs you of connection, and the all important 'all-out' instruction, i.e., the tow is now at full speed. So, once airborne full up on the elevator! You ascend like a ballistic missile. Keep the wings level to horizon, fix a point in front, and when you notice the nose start to drop, you have reached the peak of the tow (this is in the real world; I did not notice a drop in the nose angle with the gliders downloaded) but, as you reach this point in FSX, the auto-release will activate.


    If you go to an eternal view before release you will see the tow wire, and a 'natty' drogue shoot attached, a truly wonderful addition.

    If you choose the glider only option you get the plane tow option, Clt Shift & Y. You will then see a mule aircraft in front of you connected and ready for 'the -off' the throttle increases (no voices from the plane) and the aircraft gathers pace, and you are airborne. Some care is needed not to put too much pressure on the tow rope. If you do this you are automatically released! I like this a great deal actually, since you will require some attention to you handling. When you reach a suitable height, the auto release is activated, and you will see the tow plane diving away from you--very accurate! I think this is a really great feature for both glider types.

    So, the real gliding starts.


    If you opt for slope lift you can try out your new found glider skills in 'reading' the possible lift areas. It is great when you can actually see and 'feel' the lift, as your instruments show you and you will hear an audible sign of ascending and descending. I had a great time, and was really surprised at the flight time achieved.

    I decided to head back to the airfield, so I had newly found height. As I approached and joined overhead, I had to bleed off some serious height, so I deployed the spoilers, and boy did they work to get rid of some height! Onto final, wheel down, over threshold and spoilers back open (and fantastic they look too--in all three aircraft!). I flared the nose, and touchdown.

    When flying the engine equipped gliders you are given ground tow options. No issue for obvious reasons; once released, you can extend the engine units, and select the fuel ignition and start the unit. Full throttle and power yourself to the desired airspace, stop the engine, and fold it away.


    Functionality of all the instruments are superb, and seemingly accurate. I have not, in fairness, spent a lot of time ensuring the accurate nature of the readouts, but all seem to work as they should. I always feel the 'acid' test is zooming in/out the instruments, to see if the clarity is maintained. No worries here, great detail.

    One of the best features is the up/down/thermal buzzer (as mentioned above) that can be clearly heard in the cockpit. The on/off switches for this can be found in the center of all the aircraft options.

    But, do you know one of the most useful guides available to the glider pilot costs just a few pence? It is called a slip string, or yaw string. Attached to the top of the canopy, when straight back in the slipstream shows efficient flight. If left or right, add some rudder, and this simple measure works well.

    On the exterior the landing wheel is very accurate, and folds and extends in a very realistic manner. The engines once extended are again a piece of art, with superb detail.


    The interiors, oh yes the interiors! They really are superb, do 'pan' around and you see a comprehensive attention to detail, and say hello to the pilot figure in all three aircraft. This does add some more realism.

    I have not mentioned the sound as yet. Understandably, it is not an intense ensemble for sounds, but what you do hear is excellent--the wind rushing past, if you open the window flap, the sound is very accurate indeed. The buzzer indicating lift/descent, and when the gear or spoilers are deployed a set of new sounds hit you. An excellent collection, and adds so much to the overall.


    I love this collection and have been flying the three new additions for hours. Because of the relative 'slowness' of the aircraft I have noticed the CPU updating all the scenery at an incredible rate, increasing the view from the cockpit, and proving me with silky smooth performance...

    If you have not tried, seriously tried, a glider, then I urge you buy this package, you really will not be disappointed. OK, there are a couple of 'niggles', i.e., the wings not dropping to one side when the glider is at a complete stop, more obvious signs of wing flex in extreme 'G' situations. But these are incredibly minor.

    You know there is not the usual array of very complex instruments found in fly-by-wire offerings, but all three gliders offer a new range of disciplines to understand and master.


    But beware, despite the fabulous downloadable manual, you will find it a tad difficult to get to grips with the English, especially around the C4 Competition Computer explanation, is a little challenging. After reading it, my reaction was 'what?' Oh well, guess part of the fun is finding out...

    Keep a look out for some dedicated glider flying groups becoming available to the budding glider pilot. If interested, one I have joined up to is an incredibly useful site, UK Virtual Gliding Association. To get the best from the experience my recommendation is to associate yourself with highly knowledgeable and like-minded glider pilots.

    Fantastic. In my view, a must have.

    Tested for approximately 5 hours.

    Works with Microsoft Flight Simulator X (with SP2 or Acceleration Pack) Dual Core Processor, 2 GB RAM, 512 MB graphics card.

    System used:

    • Microsoft Vista Ultimate
    • AMD Phenom 9950 Quad Core
    • 2.60 GHz
    • 2 GB RAM
    • Windows XP Professional
    • Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX
    • G-Force 9500GT

    Onwards and Upwards.

    Nigel C. Martin
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here

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