Tom Ruth’s Antonov AN-225 is the largest cargo jet available (see The Biggest of the Big). However, it doesn’t exactly handle like a sports car. If you are looking to haul a lot of stuff to distant front lines with short runways, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster will fit the bill. Now, thanks to UKMIL, you can enjoy the C-17 in FSX SP2.
The C-17 is not only a great looking plane, with an important military role, but it has some great facts as well (wikipedia):
1) Developed and built by McDonnell Douglas and later Boeing in the United States
2) It is the third model of the Globemaster series; the C-74 (I) and C-124 (II) are predecessors in the strategic airlift role
3) Each C-17 costs $218 million.
4) Each C-17 can haul 160,000 lbs. of cargo 2,400 nm, and can land on runways as short as 3,500 feet.
The C-17 is a true workhorse and operates as the sports car of cargo aircraft. It is so popular with armed forces, that military units around the world use it for a variety of missions. From med-evac, to troop deployments, to tactical airlift, the C-17 can do it.
You can do it too thanks to UKMIL’s extraordinary modeling abilities. Their Flight Simulator X model is full of eye candy, including a detailed virtual cockpit, animated ramps and plenty of doors to open and close. They even delivered this download with 12 (twelve!) liveries, including one Qatar livery.
To me, one of the best features of this model is the virtual cockpit itself. Yes, the graceful, rounded lines of the fuselage are cool and the animation is there to please the eye, but the realistic flight experience is where the enjoyment is. There are very few models on the market that offer realistic, functional virtual cockpits like this C-17 does. The dual HUD’s are just the beginning, with clickable auto-pilot buttons, advanced panels, and animated yokes that add to the impressive experience.
Clicking around this flying office really made me want to take for it for a test flight, just to see if the rest of the experience measures up. So, I loaded up a flight plan from Dubai to Zurich. The flight started in the dark, early morning hours, but it was okay since the visibility from the cockpit is great and the taxi lights are nicely illuminated. Ground handling is quite good, although you have to take it slow. This isn’t a Cessna and does not turn on a dime. Well calculated turns are needed here, especially on narrow taxiways.
Aligning the nosewheel on the center line of the runway, I eased the throttles forward. The four Pratt and Whitney PW2040 (F117-PW-100 if you are DoD) engines roared to life and started accelerating down the runway. We were quite light, so rotation came quickly and then our flight had begun.
On our ascent to cruising altitude, I couldn’t help but wiggle the wings and do some banking turns (sorry dudes in the back!) to see how the C-17 handled. I have to say much more nimble than the AN-225 and more like a 737, which is great considering how much weight it can haul the its larger size.
Cruising along at 32,000 feet, you can’t help but play with all of the cool buttons on the panels in the virtual cockpit. Some of the switches operate the lights, one of which turns on the marker lights. The outside view with them on in the early, early morning light, you can get the sense of what it would look like from the tail of a KC-135 refueling tanker. Imagine placing the refueling boom in that box (screen above) while cruising at a few hundred miles per hour. Yep, the imagination wanders while cruising with the auto-pilot.
After the sun came up and illuminated the Swiss Alps, it was time to start our descent into Zurich. Unfortunately, the weather at Zurich was IFR below us so ATC took us on a little tour of the greater Zurich area to align us with the runway. But then I came in a little fast and conducted a go around, which required even more maneuvering. It is a good thing that I found the C-17 a joy to fly and a joy to look at it in chase view. For such a utility oriented aircraft, it really handled quite responsively with light controls and a tight 360 radius. I am not sure if the passengers in the back would ever fly with me again, but I enjoyed it. 😉
Landing was a breeze the second time around. Flaps, trim and air speed all set and this Globemaster settled easily on the runway just over the piano keys. Engaging reverse thruster (didn’t need to, but what the heck) brought us quickly to taxi speed. Turning off the runway at Zurich, we were cleared to the cargo ramp. The taxiways at Zurich easily accommodated this big bird and I was shutting down the engines, disappointed that such a great flight, in such an awesome FSX model came to an end.
But then, I can still play around with the eye candy before I exit flight simulator; the doors, the ramp, the lights, the flaps. Plenty of things to watch go up and down, left and right, and everything in between.
Overall, the C-17 Globemaster by UKMIL is another one of those must-haves for flight simulator. The guys at UKMIL delivered an awesome package of a true military workhorse. From the awesome virtual cockpit, to the exterior model, to the graceful and responsive flight dynamics, they spared no expense in delivering this model for us to enjoy. Cargo enthusiasts will spend many, many hours behind the yoke of this bird!