Shergood S92: Raising the Bar on Helicopters in SL

The S92 Executive Helicopter by Shergood Aviation has been out for a few months. Since its release, it has already had two updates, each adding new features that made it even better than the original. The best way to summarize the S92 is that it is a serious game changer for helicopter enthusiasts in SecondLife®. Having watched this craft evolve through its later beta stages, I can tell you it was a labor of love on Kelly Shergood’s part. The attention to detail that was put into building this craft continues to amaze everyone that sees or flies it.

S92 on the ground_001

What You Get

The package is a well put together pack containing everything you need to get started with flying the copter:

  • Five note cards of documentation and a link to the texture files
  • SA – KellyFuel. A refueling station designed for Shergood aircraft.
  • SA – S/H-92 HUD. A full hud that shows and can control the cyclic and collective and a panel that can be switched to one of four different display options
  • SA – S/H-92 MiniHUD. Similar to the above but without the extra display panel
  • SA – S92 Paint Applier
  • S92 Gestures.  A small gesture pack with the basics
  • SA – S92. The helicopter

The helicopter is delivered with a modifiable airframe. As most every reader of my column knows, I consider this a critical feature. I  no longer purchase or review aircraft that do not have modifiable airframes.

Features

The S92 is fully loaded with just about every feature you can imagine and a few you probably never imagined would show up in SL. The feature load is one of several reasons it has been out for so long before I felt I could write up a fair review.

Of course it has pretty much everything you would expect a helicopter to have. In that light, I’ll stick with just the major items, and the things that make the S92 stand out from the rest.

Flight Deck

S92 Overhead Dash_001 S92 Lower Dash_001

The S92 is a glass cockpit configuration. It include five changeable display panels. There are actually only four options for the panels. But as you can see from the picture, there are two intended for the pilot, two for the co-pilot and one centered. The buttons across the top of each glass panel are working selector buttons.

On the upper panel, pretty much every switch is movable. Not all of them have actual functions beyond RP. Hard core aviation enthusiasts will, however, appreciate the presence of things like de-icing systems.

Every switch can also be controlled with chat commands. So if you don’t want to cam around to find the switches but still want to run the procedures, you can set up gestures to control pretty much anything you want.

Much of what is on the lower panel is eye candy. But some of it also has function, such as the autopilot panel.

HUDs

S92 comes with two different HUDs. The mini-hud is a small panel that attaches in th lower right corner and shows the collective, cyclic and anti-torque setting, as well as the tail number and a sim crossing alert indicator.

The full hud also adds a display panel the shape of the displays in the flight deck. Like the ones on the flight deck, the display is selectable, but it’s assumed to be used for the gps display.

S92HUD S92 Minihud

Unique Tail Number

Shergood Aviation maintains an aircraft registry that builders can leverage to provide unique tail numbers to aircraft. The S-92 is a part of this system. When you first rez your S-92, it is assigned a unique tail number. The tail is maintained by aircraft owner and aircraft type so once the ship is registered, it will pick up the same tail number in subsequent rezzes. However, you can save a little script time on each rez if you take the initially rezzed version back into inventory for future use. Once saved, it does not to do a phone home to the server to get it’s registration number.

You can also request a more custom tail number, within certain rules. See documentation for more details.

Note: Please see the privacy section at the end of this article for some additional details about this.

Built in GPS

Included with the S92 is a built in version of the Shergood Aviation GPS system. When your craft is active and running, it registers with the GPS system and becomes visible on the Shergood Aviation Radar Map. You also get a display map on one of the panels that shows your current position as well as other nearby pilots using the system, and registered airports and waypoints within map range.

Note: Please see the privacy section at the end of this article for some additional details about this.

Passengers ARE Free to Move About the Cabin!

The S92 has a unique feature, allowing passengers to effectively move around the cabin. A passenger can click on a specific point in the cabin, or even another seat and their avatar will get up and move to that spot. If it is a seat (including the lavatory seat!), they will then sit in that position. If it is a spot on the floor, they will move to that spot and remain standing. The passenger technically is still seated in the original seat.

You CAN Crash and Burn

If you land too hard, or hit a nearby object, your copter WILL crash and burn. If you used the standard start up procedure, it will also sound a short alarm with the Shergood ELT system and a fire suppression system will activate and extinguish the flames quickly. This feature can be disabled through the admin menu.

Autopilot System

With release 1.2 of the S-92 came the same autopilot system that was added to the H-92, which is the Search and Rescue configuration.  For pilots that are flying without a flight attendant or copilot to interact with passengers.  When we talk about the flight dynamics, the reasons will become obvious.

Fine Detail

The attention to detail in the S92 is unbelievable. Some of these items are “little things” that in and of themselves might be thought of as “fluff”. But they bring together an amazing artistry that more than justifies anything fluffy about it. Examples:

  • Personalized airworthiness certificate
  • Working fuel caps and APU plug cover.
  • Moderate use of advanced lighting, with glow and bright effects for users that can’t benefit from advanced lighting model.
  • Significant attention to detail without compromising performance significnatly.

 

Flying the S92

Lets get one thing out of the way now. This is not a simple helicopter to fly.  All Shergood Aviation helicopters have the following warning posted clearly in the graphic:

WARNING: The flight system in this helicopter is designed for expert/advanced pilots seeking an ultra-realistic flight experience requiring practice and skill to master.

This is not an exaggeration.  Do not expect to hop in this copter and fly it like a pro. You will need to work with it. But if you like a challenge, it is a fun ship to fly with characteristics about as close to realism as can be reasonably achieved in SecondLife®.

Start up

There are two official ways to start up the S92:

  • Detailed start. This procedure is documented in detail on the display panel. To see it, however, you need to either turn the battery on, or use the full size HUD.
  • Quick Start.  This is a single command that runs through the startup checklist very quickly.  Just type in the command qstart.

I have chosen a third less official method by creating a multi-part gesture. This gesture basically runs all of the commands in the detailed start approach, but includes delays where appropriate to allow commands to take effect and present a more realistic appearance to passengers. The shutdown gesture is basically reversing the sequence.

Flight

The S92 is an advanced mode helicopter. Balancing the collective and anti-torque in this craft will take a considerable degree of skill and practice. It is challenging but very realistic. With some patience (and a good insurance policy) you should be able to get the hang of it. The sensitivity of the controls can be switched between normal and fine as needed for different flight situations.

Using normal flight mode, do not expect to be able to interact very much with passengers. The craft needs constant attention when flying manually.

Auto Pilot

Release 1.2 of the S92 added the auto-pilot system. For pretty much everything except landing auto pilot will work out well. The demo below shows a short flight from White Star Airfield using autopilot for take off, direction and approach, ending with a manual touchdown.

The auto pilot has one issue that is probably the only thing I’m not pleased with on this copter. In fairness this may be a personal preference. The altitude is presented in feet, while all measurements in SL are based on meters. This is most likely in deference to a desire for realism, the same way that many aircraft makers use a scaled figure for airspeed. I don’t care for it in either place. While deference to realism is cool for RP purposes, when it comes to flight controls, I prefer the actual numbers needed to control the aircraft. This is one of the reasons I created my own HUD for flying. Others may respectfully disagree. Please comment on this with your preferences (scaled for realism or actual, meters or feet, etc.).

Privacy

There are two things about the S92 you need to be aware of. First is the GPS referenced above. As indicated, when the S92 is powered up, it’s location is shown on the Shergood Aviation radar system. Currently this cannot be disabled. I do not see this as an issue. It is in fact more secure than having the purchased transponder attached to your avatar. When it is on the plane, then it only tracks the plane. The wearable GPS or transponder tracks you whenever you are wearing it. This is disclosed clearly in the documentation. But with the plane, once you leave the plane, you are not tracked.

Personally, I wish all pilots would use the transponder when flying. This would make for a much safer flying experience, particularly along the Bingo Strait and Coastal Waterways.

The second item to be aware of is the tail number database. Airplane tail numbers are recorded in a database which can be reviewed by registered members of the Shergood Aviation site. Once again, I and most pilots I’ve talked to see no issues with this. Other makers including Laminar use this system for tail number registration as well. If you do have issue with this, you can register on the Shergood site and change your profile to private. This removes it from visibility.
To register your account, go to Kelly’s Store at Cheerport. You will find a registration port there.

Summary

The S92 is a labor of love that Kelly Shergood has spent many hours planning and perfecting. The attention to detail in this craft is nearly unmatched in SL. While the copter does have a learning curve, it is worth it. And once you pass that curve, you may find it hard to “go back”.

You may want to consider the package with the S-92 as well as it’s sister ship, the H-92 (SAR model). They can be purchased as a discounted package if you want both.

As always, Blue Skies and Fair Winds.

Starbuckk.

 

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