Airshow Pilot (Payware/FSX)

A review of the Airshow Pilot addon payware for FSX

Airshow Pilot is, more or less, exactly what it says on the tin. All about flying aerobatic (or non-aerobatic, if you want a real challenge) aircraft through a variety of different and challenging maneuvers.  If you’ve never tried aerobatics before, not to worry, the program comes complete with an entire range of figures to learn as you go.

Airshow Pilot is all about accurate, precision flying at air shows, whether you’re in an aerobatic Extra, a passenger airliner or a Hawk fast jet trainer – or any aircraft that you have installed in FSX!

source: JustFlight.com

The software itself works with FSX, unobtrusively loading additional information into the base software when you click to load your flight up or, if you’ve loaded Airshow Pilot up first, the software automatically loads FSX when you click to start a flight. Once you have your flight loaded into FSX and you’re on the ground, Airshow Pilot provides messages at the top of the screen to let you know where you need to place your aircraft to start the routine and continues to provide instructions to start the figures as you fly.

Once completed, it’ll be time to return to the ground.  Once you’ve landed, FSX has to be closed so that the software can take the ‘in flight data’  and calculate the results.  This is one of the few things that I don’t like about the program as it results in gaps in between each practice/competition attempt.  When you’re flying a single maneuver in training, it can become a bit slow going.

W3_05
At an Airshow Pilot event with the crowds, balloons and (most importantly) fast food vendors for after your flight!

Additionally, in training and practice, the moves required are marked in the sky with small paper aeroplanes, placed in between ‘gates’, giving you a visual impression of what’s needed. Also, in regards to training, every different aerobatic maneuver can practiced individually, helping to hone those skills to perfection. Alternatively, you can choose the next event in the calender and practice the associated string of moves in one programme.

The Event Calender screen of Airshow Pilot

Maneuvers are grouped into difficulty two difficulty levels, ‘Sportman’ and ‘Advanced’, enabling you to choose how challenging you want things to be. There’s also a ‘Display Flight’ category, comprising of just two fly-past figures. These two figures can be flown in absolutely any aircraft you like, the bigger the better, so if you’ve ever wanted to ‘buzz’ the tower and crowds watching the performance, now is your chance.

The Training Page with a list of the possible figures

So far, looks like fun right?

Well, that’s not all of it. The software also comes complete with a set of editors, so you can create your own, completely custom, airshows that fly out of your favorite airport/airfield. I’m sorry to say that I’ve not found the time to really play much with that side of the software yet, but I may well revisit this post with an update when I get around to it.

That said, from what I have seen of the editing side it looks reasonably straight forwards, although I had one or two false starts.  What I’ll say at this stage is that if you’re pretty much a beginner with how FSX works, it may be best to leave this for the time being and come back to it later.

One of the things I was looking forwards to trying out was the online competition part of the software.  Unfortunately, it seems that the online servers are no longer maintained as I’ve been entirely unable to get a connection, receiving a 404 (not found) response when I try.

Conclusions
Pros

  • Great fun
  • Good aerobatic figures selection
  • Enjoyable Competition Calender

Cons

  • Online competitions are no longer available
  • FSX has to be closed after every Airshow Pilot flight
  • Associated editor programs aren’t very intuitive

Is it worth the $18 or so? Oh yes, definitely. If you enjoy the idea of aerobatci flying and want to have a go at learning the various figures, stringing them together in order to make a routine and, perhaps, even creating your own competitions, then this is definitely worth the low price.

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