A review by Nigel C
Well, well here we are again, reviewing another commercially
available Download, this time from Just Flight, this one just
happens to be close to my heart a helicopter, a Robinson R44. One
may say, because of it’s rather small proportions, it would look at
home as a Radio Controlled Helicopter on the local Flying Field!
I have been up in the R22, and, I felt a ‘tad’ uncomfortable in it.
Actually the aircraft type has a very impressive safety record, OK,
there has been a number of fatalities, in this type, but typically,
as with most aviation GA crashes, due to pilot error.
The Robinson ‘family’ because of the fairly ‘low’ cost, have allowed
many people (mostly the rich ones!) to fly a helicopter, and all the
advantages this mode of transport offers.
The closest I will get to flying a real helicopter, is flying my
radio controlled helo, slightly cheaper to get in the sky, and God
forbid, repair, oh yes, and less risky, (those who fly with me on
that lovely field on those balmy Summer day’s and evening’s, would
probably disagree with that statement!)
I understand, that this latest offering, is one of their technically
most advanced, with improvements and level of detail not seen on
previous products. As mentioned, if you look at the screen shots in
this review you will understand my keenness to get cracking, or
I have to admit to a bit of a love affair for the Robinson R44, to
me it is the hybrid of the smaller brother the R22, and some how,
looks more substantial. I guess because is slightly longer, and the
If you are a helicopter person, the addition of this R44 will catch
I am looking forward to taking my first ‘check’ ride..
Taking my first 'check' ride!
PACKAGING & DELIVERY
The R44 is available as a download from the Just Flight website, www.justflight.com
Follow the instructions to purchase and download, which are extremely easy to follow.
Upon installation you use an unlock key provided by mail to unlock the
software. You can then install either or both FS versions.
Again I found the entire process effortless, this being the fifth
commercial aircraft package I have downloaded. I am getting quite a
‘taste’ for this process. Just pay and get instant access. Remember
to back-up your new Zip file, I know from EXPERIENCE how wonderfully
stable our computers are!
The file is a healthy 98mb so in my simple logic, the size of the
file indicates the potential of great things to come.
Once the installation process has been completed, you will find the
R44 within the rotorcraft options, then select one of the many options available, in either
skid or float configuration, press ‘fly’ wait for the computer to
update, hey presto, there it is. And I must say, you will not be
Now installed, let’s take a look at the exterior of this helicopter.
Go for a ‘walk’ around. I selected a version with floats, (but does it float?)
Take time to have a good look around, the detail is absolutely
fabulous, some lovely reflections. I have noticed that in FSX we are
treated to some markedly better and fine tuned dynamic reflection
and superb water effects/reflections than can't be found in FS9. ( I
still love FS9 and have both installed – on separate HD’s)
The dynamic shine effects across the entire fuselage, and canopy,
really help’s towards the feeling of authenticity.
Let’s start from the best place, ground up. All points of the
exterior are displayed to the same exemplary standards. It is
obvious that some considerable amount of work has gone into the
hopping (VFR Real Vol 2)
The skid/float rotor hub detail and the tail rotor are represented
in excellent order.
Moving elements, the canopy, or door (select Shift + E) you will
note a highly accurate pilot figure opening the door, he is
animated, so, he actually leans out as he opens it, (and closes it)
beautifully done, one of the best pilot figures I have seen to date.
Switch on the Nav and Strobe, stay out side, and you will witness
some lovely lighting effects.
Oh yes, if you look hard you will see some of the engine detail,
underside, towards the rear of the cabin.
Now this is the part I love, does the detail extend into the
‘office’? Well it does, OK the R44 cannot be described as the most
complex of cockpits, but I guess there is the advantage, because it
is ‘sparse’ the detail bestowed on it is excellent.
Within FSX you are flying the aircraft in a virtual cockpit mode,
reading the instruments can be a little tricky, when sitting back at
a realistic distance form the instrument panel, I found I had to do
a quick ‘zoom-in’ which gave the critical readout’s. I did not
plough in to the ground as a consequence, so it must have worked.
I have to mention the GPS NAV&COMS and COMPASS, these are available
as ‘hot keys’ all are great and very clear, I found the Coms very
easy to use, and clear. May be the primary instruments should also
been made available in this fashion, to make reading them easier.
Great attention to detail throughout the interior
Have a good ‘tour’ around and take in the consistent high level of
detail. I know I have mentioned it, but again the pilots are perhaps
the best I have seen thus far, quite superb.
Looking forward, you will also see some subtle, but very effective
reflections in the Perspex in front of both pilots just above the
Great attention to detail has been paid throughout the interior, the yoke
has an option to be hidden allowing a clearer view of the panel, really, a fantastic job.
This is what the programme is all about. Start hot and running,
great sound of the engine and rotors combined, steady on the ground,
wind up the engine, until you kiss good bye to ‘terra-firma’ gentle
inputs are required, I love trying to ‘hover-taxi’. If the dynamics
‘aint’ right, kiss goodbye to that feature, but, I tried it, never
So, try and get her, or it, in the hover approx 4 Mtrs above the
ground, be VERY gentle or you go up like an express lift, at this
point I noticed a nose down tendency, which you can convert
into forward flight very easily, it doesn't take much to gather
quite a pace.
So, corrective back pressure on the stick, rpm steady, I decided to
‘taxi’ if it was real I would have a very irate ground controller
asking my intentions! Best said that Taxi did not go well.
low speeds this will challenge your flying skills!
I landed with a red face, and tried again, better, but you really
have to very gentle on all inputs, I guess much like a real
I found the control inputs a little too sensitive. Once above the
ground, the flight pattern is very predictable, with all cyclic
collective and rudder inputs having a real effect on flight
Landing, gently reducing the throttle, loosing height, keep the
nose up to bleed off the speed, nearing the ground, nose forward to
get into a more horizontal attitude, with practice you will be able
land without having to call out the emergency services!
This is an entry level helicopter but despite fairly
slow speeds it will challenge your flying skills.
OBSERVATIONS & CONCLUSION
If you are into helicopters you will have to add this to your
collection. The R44 has been a long awaited release. The detail
really is excellent, but there was a couple little things I noticed
on my machine, namely In flight, the collective lever (between the
front seats) oscillated up and down and some very sensitive primary control outputs, making the R44 a little
difficult to control near the ground but practice should see to that.
Ok, in my opinion there are some areas that could be improved with
the handling but the flight model operation is basically down
to the limitations that the host simulators have.
Just Flight have met this challenge head on, in the FS2004 version
they have supplied an alternate, switchable flight model that
enhances areas such as auto-Rotations but at the cost of more normal
When the R44 is used in FSX with Service Pack 2 (SP2) and/or
Microsoft Acceleration add-on is installed, the general helicopter
operation is much improved due to the enhanced helicopter operation
On balance, priced at £14.99 $ 29.99 €22.95 it represents great
value, and I know you will enjoy it as much I have!
The R44, a
cracking combination of fun and skill to fly!
Fun,…Onwards and Upwards..
Nigel C Martin