PRESS RELEASE June 8, 2000
R4D-6 USN #50819 FLIES AGAIN AT READING AIRSHOW!
...VIRTUALLY SPEAKING, THAT IS...
One of several hundred re-enactors at MAAM's 10th Annual World War II Weekend tries his stick hand on the R4D-6 Simulator.
Good old Navy Eight-One-Niner, arguably the best known R4D in the world today, (R4D is the U.S. Naval designation for the famed Douglas DC-3, called the C-47 by the Army and Dakota by the UK) is still grounded for lack of a working number one engine. But her virtual counterpart, an exact replica add-on for use with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 took to the skies nearly in the shadow of her big sister's long wings this past weekend. The software demonstration at the big show was timed to coincide with the release, here and elsewhere, of the latest Freeware Version 4 of the award-winning R4D NATS plane and WJRDC3 panel package. The effort at Reading Regional Airport during the huge Mid Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend was aimed at raising donations for the MAAM Engine Replacement Fund by selling a specially produced "Donation-Ware" issue of the popular "Gooney Bird" sim by the development team of Bill Rambow, Roy Chaffin, and Jan Visser.
Hopefully the last year 819 will be displayed this way at the show.
Among the many hundreds of airshow goers piloting the R4D through virtual blue skies around Paris (it's fun to scare the Parisians by blasting through the base of Le Tour Eiffel!) were a couple real world DC-3 pilots, and quite a number of flyers of other types . Needless to say we were especially eager to gather their impressions of our creation. One such was a present day pilot of a DC-3 from the other side of Reading Regional Airport, MAAM's home field and the site of the show. He was very complimentary about the sim and the way it handled. He bought a copy of the donation-ware, by the way ;-)
Co-piloted by team leader and graphics guy, Bill Rambow, Ex-USAAF 1LT Tom Wiley shows he can still fly a Gooney Bird with a sure touch.
But most thrilling to us was when Tom Wiley of Pittsburgh sat down and grasped the controls. Mr. Wiley is one of those unsung heroes the show is honoring, having flown as Pilot In Command on B-17 Flying Fortresses with the 463rd Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force in Italy. This gentleman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and was recommended for another DFC which did not come through before the war ended. But of special interest to us, First Lieutenant Wiley had also flown the C-47 out of Naples! We were most interested in getting his impressions.
Team programmer, Roy Chaffin slides into the "co-pilot's seat" while beta tester Keith Maton looks on from the "radio operator's jump seat".
Though he had never before tried his hand at a computer flight sim, Tom took off and put the big transport through her paces like the pro he was and is. No need to tell this man to fly the tail off the ground on takeoff! His comments on the sim: "Beautiful! I love it! Amazing!" It was my honor to present him with a copy of the CD with the team's compliments and thanks.
The crowd and the real Pratt & Whitney sounds, courtesy of the DDA, might have been a bit much for our neighbors in the hangar!
We had a crowd around us through all three days of the event and were very pleased to have raised just under $2000 for the MAAM Engine Replacement Fund. This was very gratifying considering this was not a flight sim oriented crowd -- these were WW-II history buffs and airshow fans! Most had never heard of MSFS and we even sold several CD's to people who were then going out to buy their first computers so they could fly it!!
Young in years, young at heart, male and female, we had 'em all.
My panel partner, system and gauge programmer supreme, and world famous wildlife artist, Roy Chaffin, had flown all the way from England, as had chief beta tester and long time FS mate, Keith Maton. If only our "Supreme Allied Aircraft Designer" Jan Visser could have made it from The Netherlands, the team's invasion of Reading would have been complete. Jan didn't send a photo for the display board, either, we suspect because he probably looks like Brad Pitt and doesn't want to put us to shame -- well, perhaps an older Brad Pitt, since all three of us developers are the same age to a year! I won't tell how old that is, but suffice it to say #819 still had that "new plane smell" when we rolled off the assembly line! Keith Maton is younger, but then test pilots have to be, don't they?
The "Shattered Nerve-Center" ------------- Corporal Coffee at his duty post ---------Keith catches 1.5 Z's, while burning more CD's
My trusty Southwind 36Z motorhome became the "Shattered Nerve-Center" of the operation. We were envied for our creature comforts by the other MAAM Volunteers who passed by on their way from their canvas army tents to the showers, but they couldn't see inside or they might have changed their minds! You couldn't swing a cat without hitting a computer. (We brought and used four!) Here we burned CD's along with the midnight oil, printing and cutting labels, barely keeping ahead of the demand when sane people would have been sleeping! Mr. Coffee was inducted into the service and by the end of the weekend had been promoted Corporal.
The weather was perfect for an airshow and the only sad note was that the lovely C-47 belonging to the Yankee Air Force had an accident while taxxiing for takeoff Sunday morning. One of her landing gear was accidentally retracted and the prop destroyed itself and possibly the aircraft. No one was hurt, but the mishap was particularly disappointing to the R4D team as we were scheduled for a later VIP flight on the C-47 as a thank-you from MAAM. It couldn't be helped, so we traded our $1900 + donations to Russ Strine, President of MAAM, for the keys to #819 where it was my great pleasure to introduce Roy and Keith to the cockpit in which I had spent so many hours with my trusty digital camera.
"Watch your airspeed! You're going to kill us all!" --- "What's keeping the dolly with the coffee?" --- "Must get over the hump to resupply our chaps!"
The Donation-Ware CD-ROM (see the CD labels below for a partial list of the special features included) will soon be available in the Mid Atlantic Air Museum Store as well as the On-Line Store where it can be purchased by credit card. That's going to take us a little time to get organized -- we are burning and printing everything ourselves, and the museum staff are still recovering (happily) from the most successful show ever.
There is even a special, unreleased version 3.5 of the dual panel for FS98 installed in the v3 aircraft. All of the new panel features supported by FS98 are in it, including the new sound package, photo-real quadrant and overhead panels. This version is more stable than previous ones for FS98 because, like the 2000 model, it has the multi-gauges which save overhead and has been refined in other ways.
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.
IF this version becomes available as Freeware, it will not be anytime soon! So if you FS98 holdouts want to fly the new panel, this is your big chance.
Perhaps best of all:
NO 25MB DOWNLOADS and BOTH AIRCRAFT PACKAGES ARE SELF-INSTALLING!
So, if you would like to donate to the cause of getting R4D #819 back in the air while at the same time receiving some really unique extras which will not be made available any other way, you may order one from the store by calling (610) 372-7333 or at the On-Line Store (as soon as we have it set up!) The price is $27, including $2 for shipping and materials. The whole $25 donation goes to the MAAM Engine Fund -- we don't want to jeopardize our Freeware Developers' status for the next Sydney Olympics ;-)
Happy Landings -- "Tail-Low"
Bill Rambow for the WJR/RCS R4D Development Team