RealAir Simulations have been developing aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator for 10 years now. Renowned for their earlier award winning products of the SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 and the Beechcraft Model 60 ‘Duke’ and ‘Turbine Duke’, RealAir’s latest offering, the Lancair ‘Legacy’, is sure to be another winner. The RealAir ‘Legacy’ is a full IFR equipped, general aviation aircraft. It is sleek, sporty and fast and a beauty to behold with it’s clean, smooth lines. Even flight simmers who would normally fly larger aircraft will enjoy taking the ‘Legacy’ on that quick weekend jaunt to the country manor or log cabin by the lake.
First, let’s clarify the often mispronounced, Lancair – “Lanc” is pronounced as if it was lance, not lank. The Lancair ‘Legacy’ is a two seat, high performance, single engine, general aviation kit / home build aircraft that is available in retractable gear and fixed gear versions. It is a low wing monoplane of composite construction and is a modernised version of the Lancair 320. As claimed by Lancair, the ‘Legacy’ has been “…redesigned from the tail forward,…(and is)…bigger, faster and easier to build.”.
Lancair was founded in 1981 by Lance Neibauer who, when looking for an aircraft himself, found nothing he liked. Designing his own, the Lancair 200 first went on sale in early 1985 and was quickly replaced by the Lancair 235, with re-engined versions, the Lancair 320 and Lancair 360 quickly following. The Lancair designs provided the highest performance in the single engined general aviation class and such was the sleekness and beauty of the design, that a Lancair 320 appeared in a 1995 exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art
Availability and Installation
The Lancair ‘Legacy’ is available as a download only direct from RealAir Simulations and RealAir Simulations resellers. It is typically priced at €29.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of 165MB is reasonable for an FSX aircraft of this type and quality and it requires 406MB of HDD space for installation. A ‘key code’ is issued and may be required during installation and the installation process requires the user to log on to their RealAir Account in order to verify purchase details. The installation process also installs the RealAir Lancair ‘Legacy’ Config Panel application.
RealAir produce the most comprehensive range of documentation I have seen for any aircraft in this category in FSX. The Flying Guide is just superb and provides all the information needed to install, optimise setup, understand the various aircraft features and instrumentation, and then a solid explanation on how to fly the ‘Legacy’ – more than just a series of checklists.
There are four manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) which can be accessed from the RealAir Lancair ‘Legacy’ Config Panel:
• Flying Guide – this 53 page manual provides an extremely comprehensive guide to the aircraft, including:
- the Config Panel;
- VC views, including click-spots;
- operating the radios and gauges;
- the standard GPS;
- Reality XP integration;
- flying the ‘Legacy’;
- speeds and cruise settings;
• Pilot’s Checklists – this seven page document provides the Specifications, Speeds, and Normal Procedures checklists for the operation of
the aircraft and is also provided on the ‘Kneeboard’ in the aircraft.
• KFC225 Autopilot Manual – this two page document details the operation of the Bendix / King KFC225 Autopilot unit.
• Frequently Asked Questions – this three page document provides answers to a series of useful, frequently asked questions.
With payware add-on aircraft, you will sometimes find the developer / publisher compromising by focusing on a higher level of accuracy or detail in one aspect of the aircraft at the expense of others. It might be the flight model versus the visual model or an extremely detailed “procedural” cockpit with full FMC capability versus the visual model. This is definitely not the case with RealAir’s ‘Legacy’. If there was ever a case for the cliché, “read the manual”, being so obvious, this is it. Sure, you can strap yourself straight in and take to the skies in the ‘Legacy’, but chances are, you will miss some of the finer detail and experiences to be had with the features of this aircraft.
This review has included over 25 hours of specific review and flight testing flying time and still, there are little nuances about the ‘Legacy’ I am discovering each time I take it up. The Flying Guide and Frequently Asked Questions documentation are a must read at some point.
There is one model provided with five paint schemes. Even though the real world ‘Legacy’ comes in a fixed and retractable gear variant, only the retractable gear variant is provided in the RealAir package. The inclusion of the fixed gear variant would have been nice to see and would have further enhanced a product that is already rich in features and packs so much into a two seat general aviation aircraft.
There are three multi-LOD exterior models, that are configurable through the Config Panel, which cater to a range of computer specifications and Microsoft Flight Simulator uses and these are particularly useful for low end computers. A paint kit is available for separate download from the RealAir Simulations web site for aircraft painting enthusiasts.
The model features listed by RealAir for the Lancair ‘Legacy’ are one of the most extensive range of features for this category of aircraft this reviewer has seen in over 25 years of flight simming experience and it reflects the absolute level of accuracy, detail and quality that RealAir Simulations put into the development of their models. The list includes:
• High definition (2048 pixel) VC and exterior textures;
• High resolution, multi-LOD, exterior 3D models with optional frame rate friendly versions for multiplayer sessions;
• “Best of business” flight modelling with improved spins, sideslips, aerobatics and superb handling, as well as extremely stable autopilot
• Beautifully designed interiors with smooth lines, crystal clear gauges, subtle reflections and animation for all controls;
• Integrated exterior and interior models for best experience with camera add-ons and Track IR;
• Optional RXP GNS WAAS gauge integration (RXP gauges are a separate purchase from Reality XP) with multiple configurations
(dependant upon the RXP package) including: 1 x GNS530, 1 x GNS430 + 1 x GNS530, 2 x GNS530, 2 x GNS430 or 1 x GNS530 + 1 x GNS430,
all with cross fill;
• Airframe vibrates in reaction to engine RPM changes, gear and spoiler deployment, runway surfaces, engine start up / shut down
• Gauge needles vibrate on the ground in response to engine and ground roll vibrations;
• Nearly 100 custom sounds, including all cockpit switches, g effects, canopy-open windblast, gear, aileron flutter, Doppler effect on
fly past, etc.;
• Flap failure mode with custom animations and sound effects;
• Grass or concrete touchdown sound options;
• Yaw and out of balance yaw sound effects;
• Carefully implemented start up and shut down animations and sounds;
• Custom 3D landing lights, navigation lights and strobe lights;
• Dozens of custom animations, including a canopy that realistically responds to wind force;
• Spoilers with custom wind sound effects and cockpit buffet effect;
• Aileron flutter when flying above Vne with accompanying custom sounds;
• Fully functioning cockpit when viewed from the exterior view, plus the option of a less highly detailed model for multiplayer sessions; and
• 3D blurred propeller effect with custom animation that includes simulated cylinder compression of start up and shut down.
General Visual Appearance
By now you should be developing a feel for the incredible level of attention to accuracy and detail displayed in this aircraft model. Based on a comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to RealAir’s ‘Legacy’, the exterior shape and dimensions and the general cockpit design and layout appear extremely accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft.
The product comes with five paint schemes and each aircraft has a discrete aircraft registration number and unique cockpit and upholstery colour scheme. The surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a very realistic appearance, but whilst the paint schemes are relatively clean, there are exhaust stains and bug splatter on the wing leading edge and smudges on the windscreen to give the aircraft a characteristic “used” look.
Remember, the Lancair ‘Legacy’ is constructed of composite materials, so don’t expect to see panel seams and rivets, panel access screws (except the engine cowl), etc., as on a normal aircraft. As mentioned earlier, this is a sleek aircraft and the exterior reflects that beautifully. Having said that though, there is still a lot of fine exterior detail on RealAir’s ‘Legacy’. The gear and gear doors, flap hinges and speed brakes, landing lights, fuel tank caps, the positioning of the antenna and vents, and the pitot tube and brake lines, are all represented in high detail.
Now, if I thought for a picosecond that I could find some photographs of cockpits of real world ‘Legacy’ aircraft for comparative purposes, I must be kidding myself. One thing the general automotive industry stopped doing decades ago was individual customisations in mass production and it was Henry Ford who, in 1909, famously remarked about the Model T, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants so long as it is black.”. So, why digress on a point of history - well may you ask? Simply because, when researching photographs of the panel layout of kit / home build aircraft, trying to find two that are similar, let alone the same, is close to impossible. Such is the nature of kit / home build aircraft reflecting a piece of the individual owner’s personal design input and preferences.
However, this mammoth, insurmountable challenge aside, and as with the exterior, of the real world photographs researched, and notwithstanding the diverse variations in instrument fit out, the general appearance and rendering of the cockpit and the panel layout on RealAir’s Lancair ‘Legacy’ is excellent and modelled to the same high degree of accuracy and detail as the exterior.
The glass on the gauges have very realistic reflections and just to add to the immersive realism, they also include dust. Likewise, the canopy windscreen has the same quality level of reflections and dirt and “bug splatter”. The reflection, dust and dirt features can all be altered in the Legacy Config Panel application to suit individual preference and computer performance.
Primary Flight Instruments and Panel Layout
All primary flight instruments are on the left side (pilot side) with engine management instrumentation, ADF radio and ADF gauge, transponder, g meter and magnetic compass on the right side of the panel. The radio, GPS, autopilot and throttle, fuel selector, and aileron and rudder trim controls are all located centrally.
The four primary flight instruments are laid out in the standard “T” arrangement with the turn coordinator and vertical speed indicator forming the common “six pack” layout.
All the flight instruments are clear and easy to read and as the aircraft has a joystick as opposed to a traditional yoke, it provides an unobstructed view of all instrumentation and panel switches. Various alternative cockpit camera views are available to provide more detailed views of the instruments and the instruments can be controlled from all these views. Left clicking on instruments will take you to a close-up virtual view and a right click in that view will take you back to the standard Virtual Cockpit view. The only exception to this is the GPS unit which brings up the 2D panel window view of the GPS unit.
The aircraft uses the FSX default Garmin GNS 500 GPS unit, but there is the option to integrate RXP GNS 430 and GNS 530 WAAS GPS units for more functionality, versatility and realism than the default Garmin GNS 500 unit. The GNS 500 unit is also available as a panel window. The KFC225 Autopilot unit functions differently to the FSX standard Bendix / King units and deserves some brief attention to the manual to ensure correct operation.
Three other instruments worth specific mention are the Visual Microsystems VM1000C engine management monitor, the rather unique digital angle of attack (AOA) indicator, and the elevator trim gauge. The VM1000C engine management monitor is a digital instrument that covers everything related to engine management: manifold pressure, rpm, EGT, CHT, oil, electrics, fuel quantity, fuel pressure, and fuel flow. The gauge is clear and easy to read and accurate in that you can set manifold pressure to tenths of an inch.
The AOA indicator is similar to that seen in modern military aircraft. It provides a more instantaneous indication of how close you are to a stall than just the airspeed gauge alone. Basically, as the AOA increases, the green and yellow horizontal bars disappear. When the last two yellow horizontal bars disappear near the yellow chevrons, the stall is imminent. Again, the manual provides excellent instructions on the correct use of these instruments and, in particular, the elevator trim settings for take-off, which, due to the different flight characteristics of this aircraft, are significantly different to your average general aviation aircraft.
The cockpit layout of the ‘Legacy’ is a standard side-by-side seat arrangement. The windscreen is a single piece Plexiglas type material incorporated into the canopy door with the canopy lever situated between the seats. This provides excellent all round visibility and the canopy door hinges above the panel dashboard and opens upwards to the front. The interior is, again, of an extremely high quality. The detail in the textures of the leather seating, floor carpet and five point safety harness provide an extremely realistic appearance, including the creasing in the seats and the web belt material on the harness.
A huge amount of design effort has gone into the animations and moving parts on RealAir’s ‘Legacy’. For the aircraft type, it is packed with animations, both obvious and the more subtle, which really sets this aircraft apart from your average general aviation add-on. The ‘Legacy’ has all the standard animations you would expect, but, to go through each animation in ad naseum would make for some boring reading. Hopefully, by highlighting the more unique ones, this will provide an impression of the depth and quality of the animations.
• Primary control surfaces – ailerons (including aileron flutter), elevators and rudder;
• Secondary control surfaces – flaps and spoilers; and
• Others – retractable gear, elevator trim tab, rolling wheels, canopy door open / close, suspension compression, airframe vibrations,
cylinder compression effect on propeller on start up and shut down, and the pilot’s head turns.
The first of the more unique animations are the spoilers, which are unusual in their operation alone, as they deploy and restract in a scissor like action.
Next is the airframe vibrations, and these are something to truly behold. Sure, these animations have been done by other developers, but I have to honestly say not to the level of detail seen on RealAir’s ‘Legacy’. Every subtle change during engine start up and shut down, engine RPM changes whilst on the ground, and gear and spoiler deployment have a “bump” or “shudder” animation that is so different to the others. For example, in the real world, each wheel will retract and deploy at slightly different rates, this is not only modelled by RealAir, but there is a discernible “bump” or “shudder” in the cockpit as each wheel retracts and deploys to and from the wheel well and then another one for each gear door as it closes or opens.
The gauge needles vibrate when the aircraft is idling on the ground and they also respond to ground roll vibrations and the compression of the gear suspension under braking and over rough surfaces. The compression of the gear suspension is “felt” from inside the cockpit and the view from the “Outside View” whilst braking or during a ground roll over a rough surface, provides a clear indication of how it reacts at different times and on different surfaces. The canopy door, when opened in flight, doesn’t open fully but responds to the wind force with a “buffeting” effect.
The lighting effects on the ‘Legacy’ are all faithfully reproduced and RealAir have created custom 3D lighting effects for all external lights on the ‘Legacy’. The detailed night light effects for the instrument panel are quite exceptional and replicate very realistic night lighting. The 3D landing lights produce a most realistic lighting effect on the ground that is particularly evident during “short finals”.
This is another highlighted feature of RealAir’s ‘Legacy’ with “…nearly 100 customs sounds…”. This covers nearly every sound possible in the aircraft, and when combined with the animations and cockpit detail, provide for a completely immersive flying experience.
The sounds of the gear and flaps during their respective deployment and retraction phases is also realistic, as are those associated with the deployment of the spoilers. Of course, there is the usual sound associated with the canopy door opening and closing, but this is combined with a windblast effect when in flight or whilst on the ground with the engine running.
Some of the more unique sounds that, again, set the RealAir ‘Legacy’ apart from other products, is the sound associated with g force effects. When pulling high g manoeuvres, the airframe really creaks and groans, such that you instinctively start looking around for missing control surfaces.
General Characteristics and Performance Specifications
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Lancair ‘Legacy’’ are provided in the table. This is based on data from the Lancair web site and supplemented with data from the RealAir ‘Legacy’ Flying Guide.
|Length||22 ft (6.71 m)|
|Wingspan||25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)|
|Wing Area||82.5 ft2 (7.66 m2)|
|Wing Loading||23 lb/ft2 (112.30 kg/m2)|
|g Loading||+4.4, -2.2 g’s (utility); +3.8, -2.0 g’s (normal)|
|Empty Weight||1,500 lb (680 kg)|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)||2,200 lb (998 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||65 US gal (246 l)|
|Power Plant||Continental IO-550-N air cooled, fuel injected, six cylinder, 310 hp (231 kW); or Lycoming IO-540 air cooled, fuel injected six cylinder, 260 hp (194 kW)|
|Maximum Speed||245 kts (282 mph, 454 km/h) at 8,000 ft (2,438 m)|
|Cruise Speed||240 kts (276 mph, 444 km/h) at 8,000 ft (2,438 m)|
|Stall Speed||56 kts (64 mph, 104 km/h) flaps and gear down|
|Range||1,000 nm (1,151 mi, 1,852 km) cruise at 8,000 ft (2,438 m)|
|Service Ceiling||18,000 ft (5,486 m)|
|Rate of Climb||2000 ft/min (610 m/min)|
|Fuel Consumption||13.5 to 15.0 gph (51.1 to 56.8 lph) typical|
|Power/Mass||0.141 hp/lb (0.231 kW/kg), IO-550-N;0.118 hp/lb (0.194 kW/kg), IO-540|
Two Test Flights were conducted from Essendon (YMEN) to Alice Springs (YBAS) and return. The flights were both conducted in clear weather with a full load of fuel and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and the route distance was approximately 1010 nautical miles. The route was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of RealAir’s ‘Legacy’. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.
On the first Test Flight, a cruise altitude of 8,000 feet was adopted. With two notches of flaps and trim set to approximately 33%, aircraft rotation occurred at 65 to 70 knots indicated air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained an initial climb speed of approximately 135 KIAS at a rate of climb of 2000 ft/min. Even at MTOW, the ‘Legacy’ climbed effortlessly to the cruise altitude and within the specified rate of climb and speed performance parameters for the aircraft.
During cruise, standard cruise manifold and rpm settings of 23 inches and 2400 rpm where used but the mixture setting was leaned out to produce a fuel flow rate of approximately 10.5 gallons per hour.
During approach, with full flaps and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 feet per minute, an approach speed of approximately 90 KIAS was maintained and a landing roll out comparable with the specifications for the ‘Legacy’ was achieved.
The above cruise settings produced an average ground speed of approximately 225 knots for the flight. On shut down on the ramp at YBAS, there was 18.8 gallons of fuel remaining in the tanks.
For the second Test Flight, the aircraft was operated at the service ceiling altitude of 18,000 feet. Again, and with the obviously required adjustments to the rate of climb, the aircraft was able to climb to this altitude with relative ease.
A manifold pressure of 15 inches at 2400 rpm was maintained during the cruise phase for this flight and the mixture setting was leaned out to produce a fuel flow rate of approximately 7.7 gallons per hour. This produced an average ground speed of approximately 205 knots for the flight.
On shut down on the ramp at YMEN, there was 26.8 gallons of fuel remaining in the tanks. These Test Flights confirm the modelling of the aircraft for range performance to be very accurate.
The real world aircraft does not have nose wheel steering as the nose wheel is free castoring and uses differential braking to steer. The steering can be changed between free castoring and nose wheel steering in the Legacy Config Panel application. Either way, the aircraft was easy to taxi, but needs some careful control as speed increases during the take-off roll.
The Lancair ‘Legacy’ is a very slick aircraft in flight and it also has a semi-aerobatic capability. In all, the aircraft performed excellently during all phases of flight, displaying the typical flight characteristics of this aircraft. It capably performs basic aerobatic manoeuvres, but some attention to the g meter gauge is necessary when performing aerobatics to ensure you don’t overstress the airframe. If you forget, the aircraft will certainly let you know as it creaks and groans under the stress.
Some attention to the Flying Guide is necessary if you are not familiar with flying such a high performance aircraft. Otherwise, you will find yourself in trouble with your speed being too high at the wrong times, e.g. it is not easy to reduce speed during descent, even with the engine throttled right back, and it is also very easy to be too fast during the approach often causing you to land long and / or with an extended landing roll.
The RealAir Simulation’s Lancair ‘Legacy’ is for FSX only. Whilst other specific technical requirements are not detailed, the following minimum requirements are offered as a guide:
• Windows XP with SP3 installed, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit);
• Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration Pack) installed; and
• Intel Core CPU (i5 or i7), 2.8 GHz, 4GB RAM, 1GB graphics card, 406MB available HDD space.
The aircraft model performed superbly within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. FSX continued to perform smoothly and as it would with any default aircraft. The only minor issue was there would sometimes be a delay in redrawing some elements of the panel in the Virtual Cockpit view when switching from the Outside View. However, this is not necessarily peculiar to the RealAir Simulation’s Lancair ‘Legacy’, as I have experienced this problem with other highly detailed aircraft I have installed in FSX.
The Flying Guide documentation provides comprehensive sections on FSX settings to achieve an optimum performance and the Config Panel provides setting options to cater to lower end performance computers.
Review Computer Specifications
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
• Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
• NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
• 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz
• Windows 7, (64bit);
• Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
• Additional major add-ons include Orbx FTX Australia and Ultimate Traffic 2.
RealAir Simulation’s Lancair ‘Legacy’ is a brilliant, high quality aircraft. It is an excellent general aviation aircraft and fantastic to fly. If you are a general aviation enthusiast in particular, you will be very impressed with this aircraft, but if you are someone who prefers something faster and more slick, you will be surprised what the ‘Legacy’ packs into such a small package. Whilst, the inclusion of a model for the fixed gear variant would provide additional variety, this is a very minor point and reflects the personal preferences of the Reviewer more than anything else. Either way, you will certainly not be disappointed with the depth and wealth of features in RealAir’s ‘Legacy’.
• Extremely high quality and attention to detail.
• Excellent animations, effects and comprehensive sound effects.
• Realistic modelling and performance.
• Comprehensive and thorough manual and flight and performance documentation.
• Excellent value for money.
• None found.
If not “the most” complete and comprehensive package in the general aviation aircraft category for FSX available today, it is definitely one of the most.
• External Model – 10 / 10
• Internal Model – 10 / 10
• Sounds – 10 / 10
• Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers) – 10 / 10
• Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like) – 10 / 10
• Documentation – 10 / 10
• Value for Money – 10 / 10
The RealAir Simulation’s Lancair ‘Legacy’ is awarded an overall score of 10/10 and Mutley’s Hangar Award for Excellence.