Exceptional bush sceneries need equally good bush planes. Which planes in FSX and P3D can you use to fly over ORBX’s PNG sceneries?
The perfect bush-plane
There is a story about DeHavilland Beaver design which describes how this plane was created. When people in DHC (deHavilland Canada) asked bush pilots about the features that a future bush plane should possess. They were told that it needs a spacious cargo hold with good access on both sides, an exceptional handling characteristics at low speeds and a rugged undercarriage that could be easily replaced with floats or skis. Supposedly DHC designers were concerned that fulfilling these demands would mean sacrificing cruise speed. “You only have to be faster than a dog sled” was the response. This is how bush planes were created and it is how they are designed today. Radial engines were replaced by turbines but apart form that – not much changed.
DHC-6 Twin Otter
This is how the Twin Otter flies. Two PT-6A engines could give it 300 knots in cruise if it was streamlined. Instead the Twin Otter struggles at anything above half of this number. On the other hand – its gear can withstand almost anything, you can put it on floats or skis and it will make you feel comfortable well below 100 knots – a feature you can hardly find in any turboprop twin.
Luckily for us a- Aerosoft made a great add-on. In my personal opinion it is the third best turboprop for FSX (and with the lack of P3D version of PMDG JS41 – the second best for Prepar3D). If you take this plane for a short flight over PNG you will have no doubts about how well the PT-6A turboprop engines perform and at the same time – how careful the pilot has to be to keep them within operational limits. This add-on will punish you for flying above the red line. So if you do not want to catch fire – observe the limitations and work hard to get each shp from this engines.
Great repaints for DHC-6 can be downloaded from Aussiex.org.
Back to the past. If you want to experience the 1940s over PNG – try Piper Cub. There is an FSX default J3 and there is also a great add-on plane by A2A Simulations. I strongly recommend the latter.
By the way – flying Cub in PNG gave me the strange impression that this runways are actually quite long.
It is not the most realistic choice. For the number of reasons. But stay with me until I explain the reasons backing it.
Actually Indonesia (PNG neighbor) bought several Wilgas for agriculture work. But I doubt they ever saw mountains. So the first reason that this plane is not realistic is geography – they generally never went into PNG. The second reason for Wilga being a poor choice is its high altitude performance. Wilga is certified with the ceiling of about 12,000ft. In my flights around ORBX’s PNG sceneries I was flying at 6, 7 and 8 thousand feet. In equatorial heat it means 8-10,000 feet density altitude – very close to the ceiling. And Wilga struggles at this altitudes. Its take-off performance is terrible. And you need to consider damage model of this plane that also prevents you from red-lining its engine.
So why should you fly Wilga in PNG? The reason I gave above also backs this idea. We hardly find ourselves in situations where we would be considering aircraft loads or outside temperature as decisive factors when considering takeoff. Here you will! You will also have to be a very good pilot to handle this plane on take-offs, aborted landings and while crossing high terrain.
Besides… doesn’t it look lovely above the jungle?
The same “geographical” reasons that make Wilga unrealistic applys to Antonov. PNG is dominated by US, Canadian and Australian planes. You hardly see a Russian/Soviet plane here.
This reasons aside – An-2 is a perfect plane for this sceneries. It has a magnificent STOL characteristics, the most rugged gear I have heard of (let’s not discuss Ar 232 here) and it’s mediocre cruise speed is not a huge problem with the distances between airstrips created by ORBX.
An-2 by Sibwings also has engine damage modeled so you will need to observe temperatures. Keep everything “in green” and you will be fine. This, of course, means that you can forget about flying with your throttle pushed fully forward.
From a pilot’s seat of An-2 all this jungle strips look like a proper runways. It is funny to land on a “short-strip” and have 80% of its length in front of you when you stop. But this is An-2 – it is just one of the kind.
Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
It is hard to imagine aviation in Alaska, Africa or PNG without Caravans. It is a great modern bush plane. A little of its STOL performance was sacrificed for better cruise economy which will make you think twice before you decide to take-off from some of the airstrips with a full load.
The only downside to the Carenado add-on I can find is the lack of turbine engine modeling (with a few exceptions – it is a common problem in FSX/P3D planes). It is way to simple to operate this Cessna. You can apply full throttle and your temps will not even get close to the red line. This makes it overpowered and… too easy to fly.
Kodiak. It looks like a smaller Caravan. And it makes a much better STOL plane compared to Cessna. This is the reason why organizations like MAF bought several Kodiaks – also for their operations in PNG.
In terms of FSX flying – Lionheart plane is similar to Carenado Caravan.
“Bush-cessna”. And a taildragger equipped with tundra/bush tires. I like this plane even if it is an old add-on by Carenado and it needs a new version.
Bell 212 in a livery that I downloaded from Aussiex.org looks nice in here.
If you care for the realism you should remember that helicopters are way to expensive to fly to some remote villages and their operations in this area are rare.
There are some planes that I do not have but I would like to mention. Pilatus PC-12 by Carenado flies in Australia for RFDS (flying doctors). PAC 750XL which are similar to PC-12 operate in PNG. There is also the Cessna 207 by Alabeo. It has a bush variant and you can try it if you prefer piston planes.
I did a few flights in Beechcraft Duke and in Cessna F406 (I chose longer and easier airstrips). You can fly such aircraft here but you should consider that in the real world it would be highly unlikely that someone operated and expensive plane with fragile landing gear on such a rugged airstrips. The same applies to all the King Airs and other general aviation aircraft.