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Performance Paramotors
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Articles of Interest

HANGSIM Flight Simulator Review
By Jaco Wolmarans jaco@pictureperfect.co.za

Produced by Wilco Publishing.
Obtainable in South Africa from Xplorer UltraFlight.

It was going to be the flight of my life. The sun was high, lots of instability and a spectecular valley in front of me beckoning. And I had myself a darned nice choice of gliders - from a medium performance hang glider to high performance paraglider to an extra cool three-axis monoplane.

Well, scratch the three-axis. In fact, scrap it, Ďcos I decked it. Straight after take-off. OK, so didnít have a joystick. Or any experience in glider flying. But hell, surely 9 years of paragliding should count for something?

No it doesnít. Not in real life, not in Hangsim. Because Hangsim is as disorientatingly realistic as flying can get. When you hurtle towards the deck at high speed, youíre only too aware of it.

Switching to a high-performance hang glider, I tried to take off again and managed to crash this too, in my first sweeping turn in a thermal. Mountain got in the way. And that just drives the lesson above further home: expect a new learning curve every time you climb in behind the stick/take the bar/yank the toggles of a new craft.

Wilco Publishing pulled no punches in designing it. Although the simulator carries three levels of difficulty, Iím still fighting to stay airborne at the Beginner level, No easy climbs, no easy turns, and Iím getting my ass whipped in every competition. But having fun.

Exactly because itís so real, it appeals to exactly the personality trait that drags most pilots into slogging up the hill time and time again: perseverence to attain that ultimate of new perspectives - the one from above.

In this regard, Hangsim does not disappoint. You will not get tired of flying your simulator. Frustrated, yes, and mad as hell, yes, but not tired. Because like in real flying, you set your own challenges and levels, and you choose the craft and the flying terrain.

You can even set the thermal strength. I did (quite high, in fact), because thereís now way in hell Iím testing my balls in 20+ m/s thermal climbs. After all, thatís what simulators are for, not so? Iím happy to say that I was quite comfortable at a sustained 28 m/s climb and soon afterwards burning off height at full bar, not at all concerned about the possibility of structural failure flying into a massive boomer at that speed.

This version of Hangsim is much slicker than the original Israeli programmer Ilan Papini developed a few years back. The slickness is not confined to the packaging either. It goes right through from scenery to options and scores high on the Idiotís Useability Scale. Easy to install, easy to run.

It offers a choice of scenes ranging from racing through gorges, over cities, returning to your start point while navigating through fog or just plain beach soaring to get used to your craft. If youíre in a particularly foul mood after a Torrey Pines kinda day, you can load your motorised hang glider with rockets and shoot down those ridge hoggers or eliminate troublemakers in cities!

Hangsim features gliders, ultralights, motorised hang and paragliders and free flying hang and paragliders that may be flown at three levels. It allows you to change the wind speed and direction, the thermal strength, the cloud base, visibility, number and size of thermals, and your average climb rate.

As for resources and requirements, it is relatively power-hungry. You need a 3D accelerator card and plenty RAM. My trusty Pentium 233Mhz with 32Mb of RAM was not quite up to it, causing some jerky scene-changing when the programme attempts to load new scenery during a flight. Throwing 32Mb more RAM and a new 8 Gigabyte hard drive at it made a big difference, but itís still graphic intensive, so make sure your PC is up to it.

Jaco Wolmarans

This article brought to you by
XPLORER UltraFlight Performance Paramotors, in the interests of safety and pilot education.

Address comment or questions to Keith Pickersgill at keith@xplorer.co.za