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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: August 3, 1998
On June 25, 1936 the first ever commercial flight for profit was flown from New York to Chicago; American Airlines was the airline, and the Douglas DC-3 was the plane. Back in those days, the DC-3 owned the skies, with over 10,000 of them in service from 1935 to 1947. Today, the Douglas DC-3 is more of a relic than anything else, although there are over 1,000 of these planes still in use. Most of them are used for cargo transportation within third world military operations, and some are still used by commercial companies here in the States. In order to see one in operation you’d have to visit an air show, and in some cases the plane can be found at large aeronautical museums.
Alpha Software has recently released three add-ons for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 98; one of them, DC-3, gives us an opportunity to fly this old legend. DC-3 isn’t as robust as Air Force One, and doesn’t have as many additions as AirBus, but it does have personality, and that’s something the others lacked. The add-on only includes one scenery package, the Antarctic Airfields, and it’s not much for sightseeing. There are only three different airfields you can take off from and land at: Kilo Mike, Tango Mike, and South Pole Station. DC-3 ships with numerous models of the DC-3, as the plane was used by over six commercial airlines; however, these models are only the same plane with different paint jobs. The best attribute of DC-3 is the adventures. There are ten different pre-defined adventures, all with real air traffic control. They are quite diverse, and take place all over the world. I especially enjoyed the adventure through Rome; seeing Europe from the cockpit of a 1930s plane gave me the feeling I had traveled back in time.
Flying around in this old plane was a refreshing change from the 747s and Lear Jets I had been flying for my other reviews. I found the flight modeling to be much more challenging from a pilot’s perspective, whereas the challenge faced with the modern aircraft is more instrumentational. I never felt quite safe flying the DC-3, as Alpha did a good job of showing the age on the Douglas workhorse. The realism factor in DC-3 is both its best feature and its Achilles’ heel. Experienced pilots will have quite a challenge navigating the skies in a plane of this weight, but novice flyers should steer clear of this title altogether. As a novice pilot, I ran into numerous obstacles that hampered my gameplay experience.
Maneuvering around mountains is especially difficult, as the dual Pratt & Whittney R-1830 engines can only produce enough horse power to achieve 1100 feet per minute. Because the DC-3 is a prop-plane, even such trivial tasks as taxiing down the runway is a skill that must be learned. I imagine once mastered, the DC-3 could be a fun plane to fly; unfortunately I never achieved such lofty status. Most of my time was spent trying to get enough speed to gain the elevation I needed to navigate over mountain ranges. I was able to have some success with the adventures, as I completed three of the ten. DC-3 is a difficult plane to learn, and should probably only be flown by seasoned MS Flight Sim pilots.
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