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Propair Flight Scheibe Falke SF-25: The FSElite Review

Propair Flight SF25 Falke The FSElite Review

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.

Presentation

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.

Features

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.

SF25-B
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.

SF25-C
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.

SF25-E
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.

Scenarios
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.

Performance

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.

Value

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.

 

Review overview

Presentation 8.5
Features 10
Performance 9
Value 8

Summary

8.9 As someone who enjoys gliders I think this plane is worth giving a try. Propair Flight 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 aircraft.

Tags : gliderpropair flightSF-25sf25soar plane
Patrick Moore

The author Patrick Moore

Senior video producer for FSElite. Patrick is a flight simmer/aviation enthusiest and creator of 'The Flight Sim Deck' YouTube channel. He also enjoys skateboarding, barbecuing, graphic design, photography, film making, beer, and coffee. | View My Specs

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Being a flyer on Falkes in real life, I jumped on getting this little gem in aviation.

It’s robust, extremely easy to fly and control and as far as flying goes with a cockpit around you also very cheap, making flying as a hobby very maintainable for almost anyone holding a full time job. As I normally do not react on reviews, let alone write one myself, I feel compelled to do so on this aircraft that has stolen my heart.

following your setup as above:

Presentation

The exterior models are nice, but I also find them lacking the small details. For instance, the tailwheel is steerable, connected to the rudder with the rudder cabels and springs attached. This makes the functioning of the tailwheen easy to check in the pre-flight walk around, as a limp spring or cable suggests a steering issue on the ground. Unfortunately these springs and cables are not visible in the outside model, under teh horizontal stabilizer. http://www.ehhvphotobook.com/fotoalbums/98/ph-818/3193 .

Other little things I miss is the canopy latch. It’s a big red round knob located on the inside in the middle and at the end of the folding canopy, locking it shut. http://www.ehhvphotobook.com/fotoalbums/99/ph-826/3205 .

It’s not there and of course not animated either. Also the struts of the stabilizing wheels under the wings do not bend, as in real life they are flexible. In real life any cross wind while on the ground makes the aircraft tip around on it’s central wheel, and also bending when under speed. http://www.ehhvphotobook.com/fotoalbums/168/ehhv-tmg-rally/4845 .

This makes cross wind landing and taxiing so much fun. Sadly lacking a bit. What I do like is that these wheels turn while taxiing as the main wheel does.

The external models of B, C and E versions seem well presented, although implemented at the free interpretation of the developers. The SF25B

for instance would have been a 45hp Hirth engine. In sim this model is portraied as having the L1700 65hp Limbach engine.

The SF25C is implemented as the only one with 2 main wheels, while this is actually an option on all submodels. I fly the C model in real life mostly myself, but all with the central wheel and 2 supporting strut wheels under the wings. It also has the L2000 80hp engine seen most on the C models and above. The E model should have a slightly raised canopy. It has, but also the B and C models (wrongly) have this. Strangely enough, the E model also has the older B model 65hp engine instead of the 80hp engine of the C model.

In flight I find the disc of the turning prop a bit too pronounced, as it’s barely visible in real life. All in all little things I know from flying the type in real life, but definately no large negative impact on me, let alone on the typical armchair pilot.

Sound

The sound is really quite good. The ticking of the engine magneto (yes, only 1) on starting and shutting down (Limbach’s have a tendency to “diesel” after ignition off) and engine sound are very nice real life features. Also the engine sound itself is quite on the mark. I find it a shame that the little portholes and cabin vent do not create the wind sounds like in real life. Again, little negative issues.

performance and handling

Ground handling is as I’d expect, besides missing the “tipping” of the central wheel versions I already mentioned. Also, although the choice to put the 2 wheel version on the C model and the central wheel on the B and E model is of course a developer’s choice, making toe brake steering on a 1 wheel model aircraft possible is just silly.

Also, in real life on the central wheel versions, the air brakes handle must be pulled through a stop to actuate the wheelbrake. A blocking pin can be rotated around the air brakes handle to keep the wheel brake actuated, acting as the parking brake. Thus you can not set the parking brake without having the air brakes permanently opened. This is not modeled.

Engine handling is good enough, although to me the engine reacts too slowly to throttle responses.

In real life both the L1700 and L2000 engines are very feisty and quick to respond to the input of the pilot.

Also, they are off the real life mark, gauge numbers wise:

The L1700 engine in real life does a max of around 2900rpm and cruise 130kph at 2300rpm.

The L2000 engine in real life does a max of around 3000rpm and cruise 130kph at 2500rpm.

It seems the numbers for the L2000 engine are used on all models, while only the C model has this engine modeled.

Again not a big deal. Just hold 2500rpm and you’re set at a nice cruise, burning only 10 liters of fuel per hour.

Speaking of which, if you are looking for the fuel gauge, look behind you. It’s a bit of plastic hose running through the fuel tank behind the cockpit, showing the level in the tank. Very true to life.

Starting her is off from real life too: cold engine is with choke and no throttle; warm engine without choke and throttle cracked.

True to my real life practices I couldn’t get her started withouth checking out the youtube tutorial.

Air handling is where this aircraft truly shines. It does behave as it does in real life. It’s sluggish and requires quite some muscle when going over 130kps to steer her around. It’s very finnicky to trim out, as only a minor shift in rpm (30-50 more or less is enough) coaxes her in to a slow climb or dive and affects speed accordingly. As a trainer should do, it forces the pilot to do it right: after climb level off, let speed climb to 130kph, then throttle back to 2500rpm and set trim to keep level. It’s generally easier to trim with only the tiniest variations in throttle than the small elevator trim poke. As far as climbs and descents go: 90kph is the target, with 100kph the target on winds around 10kts. The same goes for soaring, either engine off or idle. 90kph Indicated will get you the best distance, it’s glide number 1:22 (every 22 units you go horizontally, you go down 1 vertically). It’s squared sides make it very sensitive to cross wind landings above 12kts. In this type in real life, my personal limit is 10kts ;-). Landings are easy, IF you play by the rules. As it’s a glider at heart, landing is something this thing does not want to do. Especially close to the ground, the ground effect beneath the large wings can make you glide on across the entire airfield and beyond! The normal procedure is to do downwind around 700ft. When the point of landing is 45degrees behind you, enter carb heat, cut throttle and go base, keeping cruising speed of 130kph by descent. When turning base, lift the nose a little to come to the aforementioned 90-100kph, controlling descent with the speedbrakes.

All in all the air handling is where the model truly shines compared to it’s real life counterpart.

value

Always a bit subjective I suppose. Despite all the little issues I have with this model, I love it.

It’s an aircraft I enjoy tremendously flying in real life. With all the bits missing and a bit off from the real world aircraft, I love the correct air handling the model has. All in all I find the price of 40$ a bit steep, especially if you compare it to for instance A2A GA aircraft, which go for only 10$ more and are spot on at all their real world counterparts, and come with a damage- and wear-model to boot.

And what it also has going for it: as far as I know it is the ONLY touring motor glider for P3D, with the only other example I know, the Aerosoft H36 Hoffman Dimona, still only available for FSX.

All in all I recommend getting her.