VSKYLABS UL-104 Ultralight Bush Plane review by 'Edwardhearing'
This review was written back in 2012, by one of the x-plane.org users who downloaded and enjoyed the VSKYLABS UL-104, and posted it in the x-plane.org website. I've just "found" it again, and asked his permission to upload it here in my Blog-Website.
Thank you Edward for your time and writing.
You can find this airplane and download it in the 'JetManHuss Original Prototype' section.
After two weeks of flying this concept ultralight, I feel confident to write a short review, since it's a very interesting project. This is the first time I write a review, so I hope it will serve others than me...
I will divide my review to several subjects: General concept approach, 3D modelling and graphics, flying qualities and conclusion:
General concept approach:
Flying simulator models is all about igniting your imagination. If a model is making your imagination working, you will start "playing" the role of piloting it, and a wave of satisfaction will flush your mind! examples: flying space vehicles, flying re-entries to earth, flying a jet fighter etc. We are "playing" the role and have a chance of being in the situation. Sometimes a really detailed cockpit and sounds can help us enter the role. When I first saw the screenshots of the UL-104 (the first person ones), something worked for me. The concept of a "plausible home-built machine", as it's described at the vskylabs website, made me curious and "ignited" my imagination.
Knowing one or two things about aviation, aerodynamics and home-built ultralights, I read the description of the concept. It is straight forward ,making sense and in correct approach for it's purpose. In that matter, it reminded me the analysis of the Thunderbirds FireFlash plausability in the real world at vskylabs.com. It seems like there is a good and correct knowledge base and for me, it's a kind of "ensurance" for a good flying model design behind it's looks.
For conceptual approach I score this model 9 out of 10. Why 9? Because it is almost perfect. Additional version of the plane, for example a sea-plane version with floats, is needed for filling an imagination gap in my mind...
3D model and graphics:
The 3D model of the aircraft is complete: Fully animated, with a fair amount of details. There is an inner structure that is "hiding" underneath the fuselage, with animated push/pull lines for nose wheel steering and controls. The structure is simple "aluminum" poles, but they are arranged in a logic manner, giving a good feel of 3D environment inside the cockpit. Texturs are simple but yet in a high resolution and they are covering the plane in a good harmony. The canopy is textured with some transparent mud tracks that gives a good feeling of "being there", especially when the sun is low. Cockpit is simple, functional and sure looks plausible. Using an iPhone for an artificial horizon is brilliant, and helped me "playing the role" of an amateur ultralight pilot, fighting the weather...
Exterior graphics is good, doing the job of representing the model, with high textured "jungle" or "bush" camo. The camo textures are giving the model the looks of a "well used bushplane", adding meaning to the imagination stuff mentioned before.
For 3D modelling I score this airplane 7 out of 10. Why 7? First of all, I guess vskylabs.com authors are not a big commercial company. I hope I'm getting this right, but their approach seems to me like an enthusiastic approach rather than business, which means that like in the home-built-airplanes-people-community, there is always lack of resources, but that's what makes you using them smartly. Overall, the modelling is really effective giving you the idea of "being there".
The UL-104 is a "dune-jeep" that looks like an airplane! the power/throttle feel is really good, especially for pilots who are used to fly real low-power fixed pitch ultralights; The response of power is fast, but as soon as you reach cruise speed...that's it... I ran this plane my "landing test": landing "on the spot", on a restricted area that requires a steep final. In real life, small ultralight planes need a high RPM almost in any stage of the flight, including landings. The management of the potential in the UL-104 is almost perfect!!! The drag to power and lift feel is as real as it can be. For me, it helps playing my role of being there, landing it in a deserted troublesome airfields...
For flying qualities I score this airplane 8/10. Why 8? because 10 cannot be achieved in a simulator...not at the present, and it did passed with an A+ my landing test. It could use a more larger rudder surface for easier single engine operation.
The UL-104 is a cool, refreshing, "practical" package that combines realism, fun and flexibility of use, for hours over hours of fun. The plane successfully gives you the idea of pilotting an ultralight plane. Overall the graphics are good, engine sound is great and well sampled. This project is well defined and executed. This add-on will not stay parked in your hangar even after months of use.
This package is scored 8/10. In my opinion, the value of a plane is not only related to the number of switches animated in it's cockpit. This is a lesson I learned after using this well-done package.
Hope you'll find this useful:)
* 'Edwardhearing', the writer of this review, is a long years 'X-Planer' and a real-life Ultralight airplane pilot.