At AirVenture in Oshkosh last summer, one of the many customers I had the good fortune to meet was a man named David Kirk. He and his son came to our booth and we had a great conversation about Lindbergh's Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis as we modeled it in Flight Simulator 2004. I was lucky enough to fly the EAA's replica of the airplane as part of our research on that product, and David got his turn just recently as well. David was kind enough to send me this note and the attached photo, both of which I thought our readers would enjoy:
You may remember me...my son and I talked to you at length during the EAA Fly-In about the Spirit of St. Louis replica and the authenticity of its handling characteristics as modeled in Flight Simulator 2004. Several weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend an EAA Fantasy of Flight Weekend, and got to fly the replica NYP. After the extensive amount of time I've put in, flying this airplane in MS Flight Simulator, transitioning to the real thing was quite easy. The real Spirit handles remarkably like that modeled, and I was able to maintain level flight, hold course, and make coordinated turns without any problems. Even got a compliment from the instructor.
The real airplane is a blast to fly. I like the instability and the fact that you must control it at all times. The ailerons are heavy and slow, and the adverse yaw is easily corrected for when you know its there and anticipate it. Now flying it for 33.5 hours would be a major undertaking (I don't see how Lindbergh did it), but for the 15 minutes I flew it, it was a delight.
My compliments to you and all those involved with MS Flight Simulator in accurately modeling this airplane. I'm sure that if it weren't for all my simulator time, I would not have been a good first-time flyer of this aircraft.
If you've got Flight Simulator 2004, you'll be glad to know that you can import the Spirit into Flight Simulator X - for details on importing aircraft, check out this 2-part series of articles from our partners at Computer Pilot Magazine. And if you've had a similar experience, tell us about it!