Flightgear UK sent us a copy of the Aérospatiale SA315B Lama to review. For those of you who havent heard of flightgear, its a Free flight simulator which has been around since 1997. It supports 64bit, (which allows your system to use as much RAM as it has unlike 32bit applications which only can address 4MB Ram even if you have 16GB!) Flightgear has one of the best helicopter flight models of all flight simulators. In our opinion we think the helicopter flight physics are as good as X-Plane! The developers do this for free and support from any of the devs is excellent. They listen to feedback and work extremely hard.
Background on the Aérospatiale SA315B Lama
It was originally built for the Nepalese & Indian armies, it's first test flight was as far back as 1969. One of the Lama's noteable performance characteristic is its excellent altitude, in 1972 it set an absolute altitude recoird of 40,814 feet, a record which lasted until recently in 2017! As it was originally designed to meet the Nepalese and Indian Air force requirements, it had to be capable of carrying out operations in not only hot conditions but high altitude conditions as both countries have very high mountain ranges in the form of the Himalayas where medium sized helicopters would not be as efficient.
The helicopter modelling is detailed, the rotor blades animate nicely, the frame well modelled, the pilots move according to your joystick inputs so a lot of fine detail has been put into the visuals. Lots of liveries to choose from with a variety of different colours are also included.
One of the best sounds we've heard for a helicopter, the screaming noise of engine powering the rotor blades to chop through the air is nicely captured. Engine sounds great and it does sound and feel like youre in a chopper!
Of course, it's nice to have good visuals and sound but without a good flight model it pretty pointless. So how does it measure up. We have to admit we were extremely inpressed. Taking off is not a matter of just raising the collective and off you go, no, you need to be precise and gentle. Raising the collective slowy and giving a bit of rudder helps to get the helicopter off the ground without spinning out of control. It's not over the top sensitive but you need to be gentle and precise. Once in the air it powered along at quite a speed, nimble and fast. Landing needs concentration for a successful and soft landing. We felt the flight model is easily on a par with helicopters we've flown in DCS and X-Plane and shows how much work the guys at Flightgear UK have put into this helicopter. Thanks to Stuart Cassie for providing us with the helicopter to review.
Watch our video review of this great helicopter by clicking the image below.
One of the best helicopters we;ve flown becuase it's got a great flight model, it's fast and nimble, looks great and it's Free! For more information visit https://forum.flightgear.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=33479.
To download Flightgear for Free visit http://home.flightgear.org/
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