Just Flight's Flying Club X
by Dave Gorman


Join the Club!

It's been a while now since Just Flight released their very successful Flying Club expansion for FS2004. The addon brought together 4 of the world's most popular light aircraft, along with great scenery of Shoreham airport, to make a must-have addon for any general aviation fan. It was great value, and great fun to fly too. There were also many options to help customise your flying experience, including a revolutionary tool called AeroFace allowing the virtual pilot's face (taken from a photograph) to be applied to the pilot in the FS model. All this made one fantastic package and Flying Club rocketed off the shelves. Now, Just Flight are back with their updated Flying Club X - bringing the PA-28 Warrior, PA-38 Tomahawk, C-152 and the twin-engined PA-34 Seneca II together once again for both Flight Simulator 2004 and FSX. Also included is a fantastic Schweizer 300CBi helicopter for the rotary-wing fans.

The product is simple enough to install, and did so without any trouble for me - much like my other Just Flight addons. After the installation was complete I started to explore the AeroSelect utility which is also installed - for each aircraft it gives 2 or 3 options which can be changed by the user, including the ability to add new liveries and change the loads for each aircraft. Just Flight have also given us a nice, thick, printed manual that I think is great when most companies just put everything on a 5,000 page PDF which is pretty useless once you're actually in the simulator. The manual mostly comprises of very useful documentation for the panels of the four aircraft, complete with illustrations, along with a detailed tutorial for the Schweizer, again illustrated. I had a quick flick through that too, before deciding that it was time to go and join the Flying Club.

The flight dynamics seem to be realistic, and the Cessna is a pleasant aircraft to fly.

I decided to test the Cessna 152 out first, it being the traditional starting aircraft for any aspiring pilot. I took it for some quick hops round the south of England. First I took it out from Cardiff on a quick hop to Bristol, before another short hop to Exeter and finally to Land's End and St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly. I was impressed with the C152's flight dynamics and pleasantly surprised at how little impact on FPS it had, even at airports where I had scenery installed - even more so because I had selected the option to model passengers in the VC which I had assumed would have a hit on the FPS. However, I was a little disappointed at the use of so many default gauges in the panel and VC, although Just Flight have included a few custom ones. The panel bitmap is very well drawn, however some of the button labels were very small and hard to read even at high resolutions. Some gauges on the 2D panel have also been scaled so that they are too small to read (although JF have made some pop up in case you can't). This problem is not so bad in the virtual cockpit.

Next I decided to take the Piper PA38 Tomahawk out on a VFR trip from Southampton. Doing the pre-flight inspection, I was again impressed with the visual model and the good framerates (although they were not as good as they were with the C152). Most panel labels are very clear (except for some switches which have blurred labels but no function anyway), except for the altimeter pressure setting. It is too small to read and the only way I could find out what was on it was from the tooltip. I also found a handy little sunvisor that flips down in the virtual cockpit with a drag of the mouse. A trivial item in itself I suppose, but it shows that Just Flight were thorough when designing their virtual cockpits, something that I think is very important. Also of note is that whereas the other fixed-wing aircraft use pretty generic textures, the Tomahawk also had a more unique one, that of Bob Sidwick's aircraft.

The Piper Tomahawk equals the Cessna in terms of looks. The visual model and textures are stunning. The Warrior gives us another easy-to-fly aircraft and excellent externals. It took a while to get used to the extra performance boost due to the twin engines of the Seneca.

After making sure that the Tomahawk was secure and tied down, I went to Belfast to try out the PA-28 Warrior. JF have given us another great model. FPS are as good as they had been with the previous two aircraft I had flown. However, there were still a lot of default gauges in the panel and VC; I had been expecting this but it was still disappointing. Oh well, off I went and immediately flew into bad weather. The Piper, like the other two planes, handles well and is very enjoyable to fly. Unlike the other two aircraft though, panel legibility was actually worse in the VC than in the 2D panel. The VC is quite detailed, with another handy sun visor (not that I needed it) and frame-rate friendly passengers. After an enjoyable, if rough, flight in and out of the bad weather I landed the aircraft back at Belfast and secured it.

On to the PA-34 Seneca II. I went hopping around the Channel Islands in this one, starting off at Jersey. This aircraft impressed me - the panel looks a lot better, with a great bitmap and less default gauges than the aircraft that I'd looked at so far. The sounds were great and the VC was detailed as well as frame-rate friendly. The aircraft also handles well, and the two engines as opposed to one give it the performance factor too. However, some panel/VC gauges (in particular the altimeter setting) were very hard to read and the auto pilot wasn't very functional. Having said that, I found the Seneca II to be one of the most enjoyable GA planes I'd flown in a while.

        
I may be terrible at helicopter flying but even I found the Schweizer fun to fly. That doesn't mean I didn't crash though. This was the most detailed panel found in the package, and everything is functional too.


I've heard a lot about the Schweizer 300CBi helicopter. I had been looking forward to reviewing this part of the Flying Club package in particular, simply because I wanted to have a go at the tutorial, which should help me a lot as I am absolutely hopeless with helis. I loaded up the sim, selected the Schweizer, selected Stansted as the tutorial instructed me to, and...wow. I hadn't touched the controls yet and I liked the aircraft already. The panel and VC are brilliantly drawn, and the gauges are almost all custom ones. It's probably the best panel/VC in the FCX package. The external model is very good too, and the whole thing, like the other aircraft in this package, is easy on the FPS. The flight dynamics are good too, although I'm hardly an expert on that. I even managed to crash following the tutorial's first instruction! The included liveries are good too, with some being generic country-specific ones, and some more detailed ones such as the house colours and Bournemouth Helicopters.

Overall, I am very impressed with this package. I love the good aircraft models and the ability to just go out and fly without having to read complex manuals. The sounds are good and even with passengers modelled in the cockpit we don't pay with framerates. My one complaint is that in the fixed-wing aircraft there are too many default gauges. Included scenery would have been nice, although the helicopter that has been included instead makes up for that. This package, in my opinion, is a must for any GA enthusiast. With the Schweizer, JustFlight have given the product a good buy for the rotary-wing fans too! Flying Club X is most definitely one of my favourite FS addons.


Dgor's photo gallery - Click on image to see full size.

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The Cessna 152 panel is excellent, although I was slightly disappointed by the use of so many default gauges. The VC is also very good, and exceptionally friendly on FPS. All the switches are fully clickable. There's been no slacking on the visual model either, and the textures are very well done too. The flight dynamics seem to be realistic, and the Cessna is a pleasant aircraft to fly.

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All aircraft have the option of passengers in the cockpit - and they're modelled, with nearly no effect on framerates. The Piper Tomahawk equals the Cessna in terms of looks. The visual model and textures are stunning. The virtual cockpit and 2D panel are nice too, although there are more default gauges to be found. The Tomahawk flies beautifully, and the sounds are great.

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It's little details like this that I love about FCX - the Tomahawk and some other aircraft even have working sun visors in the VC. The Warrior gives us another easy-to-fly aircraft and excellent externals. I found the panel of the Warrior to be a bit drab, however maybe that's how it looks in the real world too! A lot of default gauges in this plane too, although the framerates benefit from this.
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The twin-engined Piper Seneca II. Looks stunning from the outside. And from the inside too. Once you get past the bright red finish that is. It took a while to get used to the extra performance boost due to the twin engines...  ...but once I did, the Seneca flies wonderfully. The dynamics of this aircraft were my favourite out of this package. It looks amazing too.
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Ah, the Schweizer. There's been a lot of hype over this and rightly so. The model is top-class. So is the panel. This was the most detailed panel found in the package, and everything is functional too.  The VC is stunning, and the FPS are still brilliant! I may be terrible at helicopter flying but even I found the Schweizer fun to fly. That doesn't mean I didn't crash though.
       
 Links:-  
 Just Flight.
 FCX product page.
 Flying Club home page.
 JF Flying Club Forum.
  Mutley says.. . . .

Thanks to Dave for this review.

This looks like another one of Just Flight's must gets!

  

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