For me, the Lockheed P-3 Orion is one of the best looking aircraft ever made. Not only does it have classic lines, but it is an important part of America’s homeland security. Perhaps my view of the bird is romantic, but it still has an important place in my hangar. When I heard that Team FS KBT released their Lockheed L-188 Electra for Flight Simulator X, I got really excited. The L-188 Electra is the civilian version of the P-3 Orion, which they released for FS2004.
Despite the shear size of the download, topping 107 megabytes, installation of this model is quite easy. Simply extract that zip file to a temporary directory, copy the two aircraft folders (pax and cargo) to the FSX airplane directory. That’s it; no complicated copying of gauges, sound files, or effects. This is an indication of great things.
Great things there are with this model. Firing up FSX, we get to choose between the cargo and passenger model, each with a handful of liveries, including the awesome Eastern livery above. Starting a flight for the first time, brings shearing pleasure. The virtual cockpit is on par with many of the other fine aircraft available for FSX. Panning around and you see that this is an advanced turboprop airliner, nothing like the old DC-4’s of yesteryear. Switch and lever animation is top-notch and seem to have a realism that I haven’t experienced before. Such great stuff and we aren’t even off the ground yet!
Moving the throttles forward, the Allison turboprops roar to life and the Electra begins to move down the runway with the agility of a tiger. Rotation is smooth and the thump shakes the floor as the landing gear retracks. Upon initial climb out, I realize just how powerful those turboprops are, propelling us to 250+ knots at a climb rate of 2200+fpm. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting such power from a late-1950’s airliner. Once I throttled back and smoothed out the climb to a more reasonable 1200fpm and slowed to 240knots, I began to appreciate the responsiveness of the controls. The weather around Victorville was quite choppy and we were getting tossed around quite a bit, requiring minute adjustments to keep course. Climbing out of 6,000 I set the autopilot with a course to Santa Barbara Municipal (KSBA). Just a short hop across the mountains for its initial flight.
Along the way, I spent a lot of time in chase plane mode, admiring the sleek beauty of this bird. As I mentioned before, I think this is really a classic airliner. From the stubby nose, along the round hot dog like fuselage, to the large tail, one can appreciate its design. Unfortunately, the flight was rather short, so my appreciation came to an end when it was time to descend into the greater Santa Barbara airspace. The shear speed of this bird meant that I decided to make a wider approach than normal to give my self time to burn off some the energy. I think in future flights, this won’t be a problem. Landing this bird is a real treat with no surprises. Just go in slow, flare, and drop the wheels onto the runway, engage reverse thrust and then taxi to the gate. It was almost too smooth.
Shutting down the engines at the gate allowed me to what kind of eye candy the model has. Not only is there a full virtual cockpit, but also a virtual cabin, which you can see in the screenshot above (the kitchen area is visible through the rear door). The stairs are animated appropriately and also have a nice detail with detailed hinge bolts (below) and articulation. In addition, the landing gear has the same level of detail as the rest of the aircraft, stunning. What isn’t there to like about this model? Really not much and to say that the window reflections and curtain placements seem a little odd, is really being nit picky. The overall execution of the model is simply impeccable.
So, how do I conclude a post about such a remarkable model? Simply by saying, don’t let the 100+ megabyte download scare you and download this model NOW and start appreciating the virtual beauty that the Lockheed L-188 Electra is and the wonderful job that Team KBT has done modeling it for us. In my mind, this is definitely in the top 5 freeware downloads for FSX, if not number one.
Author: Team KBT
Filename: electrax.zip (simviation)
Filesize: 107 megabytes