Many have been awaiting for this release since development screenshots appeared on the web a few months back. Earlier this week, the hard-working designers at Premier Aircraft Design (PAD) released their Mitsubishi MU-2 “Solitaire” model for both FS9 and FSX (it is not a true FSX model, but FSX compatible). This is yet another impressive release from this extraordinary team. For more information, please visit the PAD site.
This American made (yep, production facility was in San Angelo, Texas from 1965 to 1986), Japanese designed aircraft uses two Garret turboprop engines and features a pressurized cabin capable of reaching 33,000 feet. The MU-2 proved to be fast and capable which made it a popular business aircraft and a good choice for search and rescue.
What is this model really like? Does it meet expectations? It is a wonderful advanced FS9 model and it does meet my expectations. For the sake of this post, I took the FSX version out for a brief flight around Texas. I found this model to be a delight to fly. It has tons of power and can climb up to altitude very quickly. Maneuvering is docile and predictable. I actually thought I was flying a much smaller aircraft.
The visual model is spot on. The real world Solitaire has a bit of a proportion problem, in my opinion, and this model matches it perfectly. Stubby and fat come to mind as adjectives. The rounded fuselage, engine nacelles, and tip tanks are just about right. One of the features that really stood out were the animated pilots with panning heads. I found myself taking a screenshot to notice the pilot staring right at me. This shocked me for a second as I wasn’t expecting the pilot to be looking right at me. Eek.
This model features a virtual cockpit with older style analogue gauges. Glass cockpits certainly bring a video game type feel to aircraft, but there is nothing like flying by the old analogue dials. The layout is clean, with needed information available at a glance. The FSX default GPS is available for those that wish to navigate via more modern methods.
One downside of the virtual cockpit is that some of the buttons are not clickable until you open them in the pop-up window. I found myself trying to click the landing lights off by panning the view up to the overhead, but found that the switches were not active. Panning back down and clicking the overhead panel icon revealed a panel with clickable buttons. While the virtual cockpit is a pleasant place to spend time during your flight, it has some limitations that can easily be overocome.
Overall, PAD’s MU-2 Solitaire has a happy home in my hangar. I am looking forward to spending many more hours behind its yoke, exploring the world of FSX scenery. The visual model is spot on, the animated pilots are humorous and the FDE is well done.
edit 11dec08 – PAD released the larger “Marquise” version, which is a 7-9 seat stretch of the Solitaire.