Well over two centuries ago the idea of gliding soared into the world. As early as 1799 an English engineer and aviator known as George Cayley began to discover the characteristics of flight and successfully flew his kite wing glider concept in 1804. The Wright brothers later expanded upon what was possible with gliders. By the end of the first World War gliding really began to takeoff. Throughout the 1920’s and 30’s Germany began developing more efficient gliders all while discovering how the weather can sustain their flight for longer periods of time. By 1940, Germany alone had 50,000+ glider pilots, partly thanks to Peter Reidel who popularized competitive gliding.
This brings us to May of 1963. It was at this time the German company Scheibe Aircraft GmbH first flew the SF-25A Motor Falke. This glider was unlike any other before. It was a more practical design, with a Hirth F10A2a engine mounted to the nose and two seats up front. The idea behind this glider was to eliminate the need for tow planes and winches. With this design pilots can fly up to altitude, cut the engine, and then soar from thermal to thermal. If pilots can’t quite make it back to the airfield, they have the option to fire up the engine and fly it in. This is what makes this aircraft an excellent trainer.
Now that we’ve covered the history, I want to introduce you to Propair Flight – the developer behind the aircraft that I will be reviewing today. Propair Flight was founded in 2016 in Budapest, Hungary. Their overall goal is to provide future pilots with an easier and more affordable way to learn aircraft before ever leaving the ground. Now they have released their very first aircraft for Prepar3D: the SF-25 Motor Falke. I think this is a great place for them to start. Not only has P3D never seen a motor glider like this, it’s symbolic to start with an aircraft that has taught many the basic principles of flight.
The exterior models are, for the most, part clean while showing a slight amount of dirt on both the under carriage and wings. One thing that is missing, is the cockpit does not include a person piloting the aircraft. This is a very minor thing but it would make the exterior views a little nicer looking. The aircraft interior is very detailed, showing age and imperfections that give the glider character. When flying at dusk, the instrument lighting looks really nice and is easy to read. The only thing I didn’t like was the glass used in the canopy. It seems to dull down the colors of the land ahead of you. I understand that the ‘glass look’ was intended here, but on the real SF-25 the colors through the canopy glass are still very vibrant. I have confirmed that Propair Flight will be taking a look at this in a future update.
To get a good feel for this aircraft I tested it all over the world. I visited Southern Germany, Innsbruck, Lake Tahoe, Greece, and Rhonerville. What I really liked about this plane is that you can’t just get in it and fly without first respecting the aircraft. On my very first flight I had the engine quit just a few minutes into the flight. You have to watch your RPMs and make good use of the cowl flaps or you might just have to land in a nearby farmers field. When starting the engine you will notice the temperatures slowly rise as they should. The outside air temperature also plays a role in how you should go about starting the engine. Speaking of engines, the sound of the engine is pretty nice too. I compared the sound to a few videos I found online and it’s pretty close to the real thing.
When taxiing and flying around I found this aircraft handles very well. On the ground, this plane needs a little more attention and planning before making sharp turns. With proper rudder and toe brake you will be fine, but it’s not an aircraft that will turn on a dime. When flying around the controls feel smooth and the aircraft is very easy to gently maneuver. When you are ready to glide just close the throttle, turn off the ignition and from there the experience is awesome! You will feel when you hit lift and it’s fairly easy to maintain your speed while making sharp turns in the thermals.
If you like variety then this plane is for you! The Propair Flight SF-25 comes with three different variants for you to fly. These are not just your typical liveries with different paint. Each model actually has its own physical and mechanical characteristics based on the real models. That being said you also get a total of 7 paint schemes to go with the three variants.
The first is the SF25-B. The difference in this model when compared to the A are that the wings were lowered to the base of the fuselage along with wheels placed under the wings. This solved the problem of needing an additional person to hold the wings up until the plane had enough forward momentum to hold itself on the ground. Lastly a VW 4-stroke Stamo motor replaced the Hirth F10A2a.
On this model the engine was improved, providing 35 more HP. In the real world this model also has several sub-variants. The Bendix/King does not work on this model. The knob is stuck on off, however you can change the squawk code.
Also known as the Super Falke. In addition to the wings being extended to 18m, air brakes were added along with a more narrow-chord vertical tail. Also, the bubble canopy was raised. These additions improved the glide ratio of the Falke. The same goes for the Bendix/King on this model. The squawk code works but the STBY to ALT does not.
I’ve always been a fan of missions and scenarios going back to my earliest memories of FSX. Propair Flight has provided 3 unique and highly detailed scenarios to go with the SF25. Each one requires a different level of skill and experience. The first one I recommend you begin with is the takeoff and pattern scenario. This is probably the most important tutorial. You will learn how to takeoff, add climb power, fly the downwind to base leg, and finally how to approach and land. You are not on your own in these tutorials as there is a voice guiding you every step of the way. The next scenario will teach you how to climb in thermals and the third will teach you the art of mountain flying.
For further help there are three manuals provided for each variant of the Falke. The manuals are very detailed including performance specifications, limitations, operating instructions, checklists, and performance figures.
My overall experience with performance was very good. The only issue I ran into was with the SF25-B. When using this aircraft I noticed that the fps would stutter while the engine was running. Once the engine was turned off it went back to normal. I only encountered this on the SF25-B. All of the other aircraft do not have this problem. Just to be sure I tested this model around the world at 4 different airports. The stutters occurred at each location.
The Propair Flight Falke SF-25 will set you back $39.99. Personally, as someone who likes gliders, I think this price is worth it for what you get. They really took the time to make this aircraft realistic, and spent time making sure you have opportunities to learn how to fly it properly. For someone interested in learning the SF-25 in real life I believe this is the best place to start. That being the goal of Propair Flight, I think they have really achieved it with this plane. I’m looking forward to what comes out of their workshop next.