Like most flight simulator games, Microsoft Flight Simulator was primarily designed as a platform for a specific kind of flight – namely, fixed-wing aircraft. You know, aeroplanes. While there are lots of different kinds of planes, they have enough in common that you can usually fit a bunch of them into the same sim. But it turns out that Flight Simulator is robust enough to handle other types of flight, too – and a developer has just released a new helicopter add-on that proves the point.
FlyInside is a developer that’s created payware add-ons for flight sims like X-Plane and FSX, as well as its own VR flight simulator. Now it’s managed to inject its helicopter flight model, originally developed for its own FlyInside Flight Simulator, into Microsoft Flight Simulator – and it’s built a Bell 47 to go along with it. You may recognise it as the one from M*A*S*H.
HeliSimmer.com editor Sérgio Costa (who’s also a product development manager at MicroProse) has some hands-on time with FlyInside’s Bell 47, which he says is a convincing recreation of the distinctive chopper, down to its signature ‘soap bubble’ canopy.
“I can tell you that, for me, it checks all my boxes,” Costa writes in his preview of the Bell 47 for HeliSimmer. “It feels ‘real’, it behaves greatly, it’s quite the challenge and, although I will not make any direct comparisons with other sims, I can tell you that I would put this helicopter in the same category as DCS or X-Plane.”
Costa tells us that so far, Microsoft and Asobo Studio have held off on adding first-party helicopters to Flight Simulator because they want to implement them properly – but that the SDK that Asobo has released along with the simulator is plenty powerful enough for third-party developers to take a crack at it themselves, which FlyInside has gone ahead and done.
The Bell 47 is available now for $34.95 or your regional equivalent. The helicopter flight model included with it is impressive, and supports effective translational lift, ground effect, transverse flow, flap-back, auto-rotation, and other things that helicopter pilots probably understand better than we do.
The flight model is customisable, and you can adjust the realism – it’s got settings that will make newcomers feel more welcome, and higher levels that will challenge experienced pilots.