Wilga – The triumph of thrust over aerodynamics. This Polish general aviation plane was brought to FSX by Aerosoft. The result is really good. My review.
Pros and Cons
What I like in Wilga?
- external model;
- interior and cockpit;
- flight model;
- engine overheating and damage;
- carburetor icing (more realistic then usual).
What I do not like?
- low quality GPS or radio (?) texture in arctic version;
- lack of tooltips showing instruments readings.
What can be improved?
- altimeter scaled in feet would be a great option;
Wilga – what is it and how to pronounce it
It is a bird. Wilga’s English name is Oriolus. You can read about it in Wikipedia.
If you wonder how to pronounce it correctly – it’s Vilga. Wi sounds like Vi in Vic and lga sounds likt lga in Helga.
Aerosoft’s Wilga X – purchase, installation and documents
I bought this plane in FSPilotShop for 19,20 USD when dollar was significantly cheaper then Euro. Today it may be better to get it straight from Aerosoft Store (I prefer to buy add-ons in publishers shops if the price is comparable – I have nothing against large stores but I am happy with all my money going to people who published the product).
You will get a product key when purchasing Aerosoft products – enter it together with your email in installer and then click “next” button until the plane is installed.
You can download a manual from the product page. If you bought and installed Wilga – it will be copied to your FSX folder (under aerosoft/Wilga X).
Unusually for Aerosoft – there is only a single PDF file with all usual parts of Aerosoft’s add-on documents (only shorter) – installation manual, FSX related guide, pilot handbook and the list of people involved in this project.
I compared it with the real world Wilga manual – Aerosoft’s is brief but there is everything you need to fly the plane. Unfortunately I could not locate any manual in English. There are several handbooks in Polish (below) and in Russian (check out Avialogs.com – that is a great website and it is totally worth this $14)
Back to Aerosoft’s manual. Systems description takes a single page. Checklists are several pages long. Two pages are filled with cockpit and electric panel description. Another few pages – with aircraft specifications. That’s all. Not much. I do not expect the huge amount of information provided by the real manual but several extra pages would allow me to learn the plane better and to have more fun with it. (Fortunately – I could find everything I needed elsewhere).
What are we flying?
PZL-104 Wilga. It is a small utility plane built by Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze (State Aviation Works). It is a STOL (short take off and landing) plane. Wilga’s operators use it for agricultural work, glider towing, para-drops, transport and utility flights.
Aerosoft made wilga in 4 versions – slightly different in cockpit and with two undercarriage options. You can choose:
- typical Wilga without any radio-nav equipment;
- a better equipped Wilga – with ADF for radio navigation;
- Wilga in Antarctic livery (radio panel or the GPS is a low quality texture);
- Wilgę with skis.
Cockpit (ocena 4****)
The first impression is great! And a little weird. Wilga is very unusuall for someone who flies Cessnas, Pipers and other planes manufactured in U.S. Look at this throttles – there are two in this cramped cockpit. Instead of a single located in the middle – you have two – one for the pilot and one for co-pilot. When you get used to this arrangement of throttles you may see two spigots that look like they were taken from hydraulic installation in your basement.
All cockpit markings are written in Polish, English, German or Russian – depending on the aircraft you fly.
Get used to this instruments – speed is shown in kilometers per hour. Altimeter is scaled in meters and you will need to set the pressure in millimeters of mercury. Altimeter 0 (zero) is located in the bottom, not at the top. I never got used to this feature – after hundreds of hours in western-built planes I automatically interpret a needle pointing up as a 0.
Manifold pressure indicator is also scaled in units more common in Poland 30 years ago so study the manual to know the correct values.
If you are confused by my screens – please note that I changed altimeter gouge to show altitudes in feet.
I was surprised by Wilga’s instruments. I treated this aircraft like an usual FSX plane – got in, turned the engine on and… I noticed that instruments are not working. A moment later I found electric panel which has a fuse-swich that cuts the current for each instrument. After you turn everything on – you will have to set the direction indicator (by default it is pointing to north) and turn it on (click on the knob to pull it). Artificial horizon is locked when you start the plane. One more click and it is ready.
There are a few curiosities in Wilga. Cowl flaps and oil cooler flaps are opened by rotating spigots left (my intuition suggest turning something right to open it). Magnetos have 1+2 (both) position on the left, not on the right like in American planes.
Aesthetically the cockpit looks very good. Textures are detailed, markings are sharp and everything fits the model perfectly. The 3d model is also very good.
Unfortunately Aerosoft (or the Octopus group which designed the plane) did not avoid some slips. I think that we should not find them in such a plane. For example – instruments lack tooltips that would show indications. It’s a pity – without any way to easily move around the cockpit I would prefer to read the exact compass course just by pointing to it with the mouse. Fortunately instruments have tooltips so even in Russian cockpit there is a way to know what am I looking at.
I found that there are several low quality textures in Wilga. The clock and cylinder temperature gauge are a little out of focus (when compared with other gauges). There is a serious problem with radio panel in polar version. I do not even know if it is a radio (possibly TACAN) or an old GPS. The only think I can distinguish is a numeric keyboard…
Rating – 4. Good minus this minor slips.
On the outside (5*****)
It is a small plane and I spent a lot of time looking at it from the close range. I could write a long text glorifying the fuselage and it’s details (both model’s and textures’). Wings are great, gear – just perfect. All this tiny devices protruding from the real plane are here in FSX. Just take a look!
You can not see cockpit details on this screens. Not the way I saw it – and I am absolutely delighted. You can see instruments and equipment. There is a pilot at the controls and he is probably the best animated pilot in FSX planes that I have seen. He reacts to what you do! Push the throttle and the hand will move forward. Move the stick and rudder for a turn – this pilot will not only move accordingly but he will also look in the right direction. Applause!
You might have missed in when looking on screenshots – there is a space between slats and the wing – you can look inside and see how the slats are mounted.
It’s nice to have a variety of repaints – several are installed with the plane (Polish, German, U.S., Russian and Polar) and you can find many more on the internet.
Most systems are simulated just as you would expect from a payware add-on. I can click on almost every switch in the cockpit – it fill flip and the appropriate instrument will stop working. Apart from that – some systems are simulated better then in average payware plane and some are simulated worse.
On the downside we have parts of electrical installation and oil cooling. They are there. That is all I can write because they do not work. No matter how much electricity your systems take – ammeter will show only slight variations with no relation to what is happening. Similarly – I may open or close the oil cooler but there is no result of this action. I could have forgotten to open it on a hot day and nothing would change.
What is above average. My favorite feature of this plane is carburetor icing. It is strong! It will seriously change the way you think about flying in icy conditions. And the plane allows you to understand how to prevent or fight this phenomenon. That is very good.
You can also overheat. If you forget about cowl flaps and your engine will get too hot for a long time – it will break and quit. It is nice and still not that popular (apart from Aerosoft, A2A and PMDG planes) that you can damage your aircraft. Sadly – you can not actually damage the engine. You can just break it so that it stops working at all.
If you like radio-navigation – please remember that you will find only a Russian radio-compass here and no VOR equipment. With this ADF you can navigate according to NDB signals only.
Impressions – flight (5*****)
You need to stick to your checklist and everything will be fine. I compared it with a real one – there are no significant differences. When starting – remember to prime more in winter then in summer. That is as it should be and it is exactly what I expect from a payware piston plane.
Takeoffs and landings are a bit better then I expected. Being Polish I read a lot about Wilgas and I think that how this plane behaves in FSX is superb! Wilga is a STOL plane and you can almost land across a runway on a large airport with just a little headwind. It has huge – “barn-door” flaps (manually operated) that allow you to fly very, very slow (of all planes that I have only the An-2 flies slower). Flying slow requires better technique as the plane becomes unstable and the torque effect pulls the aircraft to one side. Remember – there is a 260 horse power engine in front of you. It is 100 more then a Cessna 172R.
This plane depends on it’s engine’s thrust. Turn it off and you will go down like a brick. If you are used to Cessnas and Pipers – learn again how to plan fuel – you will need much more of it in Wilga. Aerodynamically it is terrible! STOL wings and undercarriage that will withstand almost every terrains and every landing take their toll and you really need this 260h.p. engine to fight the drag. But on the other hand – I would never think about landing Cessna 172 in places where I landed Wilga. You may not see this in FSX but this radial engine is very resistant to dust, damages and it is very easy to maintain.
I mostly fly Wilga over Poland but I did some trips abroad – in Kanada, over Alaska and Australia. Wherever I went – I felt that Wilga is a nice and versatile plane. Sadly – it is painfully slow. If you want Wilga – look for some short but demanding routes.
Few of my notes on Wilga
Wilga was designed as a sport plane, agro-plane and utility plane. It fits a pilot and parachutists and it can tow gliders. In fact it can tow three of them together and you may see how poor are it’s aerodynamics when looking at Wilga’s specification – three gliders in tow do not take much of it’s maximum speed.
Ivchenko AI-14 engine is air cooled and the pilot sets the airflow by opening or closing shutters in the front of engine cowling. Wilga has a constant speed propeller.
You will not find autopilot so every flight will be flown by hand (with good trimming it’s not a problem). As I mentioned before – the best radio-nav equipment you will find here is an ADF in upgraded version. In the basic version you have only your intuition to tell you where to go once in IMC.
I strongly recommend this plane for low altitude flying. It is maneuverable as hell, it climbs fast and if you need to dive or you are shooting a steep approach – don’t worry about speed – you are flying one big speed brake disguised as an airplane. Just close the throttle and your speed will drop at once.
I think that if this plane was designed in U.S. it would be one of the most popular bush planes.
I am not the best judge of sounds – I like to hear sounds but I usually do not chase any sound-set for planes. As sounds should be mentioned in a review – let me just say that I like what I hear in Wilga. There is nothing that would strike me as wrong. There is also nothing extraordinary. It is good.
Frame rate (5*****)
I did not notice any negative impact. Frame rates are better then in A2A planes and comparable with Carenado.
Summary – 4****
Wilga is exactly what I think of as a “good” add-on. A market standard.
There a few features that get it above other add-ons and minor flaws that bring back this very good impression to just good.
I recommend it without any doubt that you will be satisfied with this add-on.
Quality to price ratio – good / very good
19 Euro is a good or a very good price for such a plane. When I look around the store – it is hard to find equally good planes in this price range.
Add-ons featured in this review: