In August 2002, a group of aviation and flight simulation enthusiasts from various parts of the world, assembled in loose formation to create a new service to provide high quality enhancements for the flight simulation community and enthusiasts of one of the world’s fastest growing computer-based hobbies.
With the business based in Brisbane, Australia, Aeroplane Heaven opened its doors in September of that year with a small downloadable product line available from their new website.
Some two and a half years later, the company now has an enviable reputation for delivering a wide variety of top quality virtual replicas for use in the Microsoft Flight Simulator series.
Specialising mostly in historical warbirds, the group received its first commercial commission in 2003 to build for a large international distributor. Aeroplane Heaven was also commissioned by Historic Flying Limited of England, world renowned restorers of real Spitifres, to build a virtual replica of their two-seat Spitfire trainer, being restored to flying condition. Details of this project can be found at their site http://www.aeroplaneheaven.com or at HFL's site. You’ll also find product reviews and articles on the company in many of the world’s better aviation and flight simulation magazines.
Early in 2004, the idea of a virtual version of Steve Fossett’s record attempt was first mooted and Aeroplane Heaven made contact with Virgin Atlantic and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer team to arrange to meet in London and discuss the project.
Throughout the year, research and development was carried out and using information and data supplied by the VGAF Team, a prototype model was flying the virtual skies by August 2004.
Flight modeling, the ‘black art’ of programming a model to fly realistically in a simulation, was entrusted to one of the industry’s ‘legends’ and major contributor to many of Aeroplane Heaven’s creations, Jerry Beckwith.
Jerry was able to take the basic data available and compute the necessary flight and performance envelopes for the Virtual Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. Challenges to be overcome included persuading the host simulator to even accept a very unconventional aeroplane like the VVAGF. The massive change in all-up weight of the machine as it consumes all that jet fuel is no easy computation as the landing weight is considerably lighter than that at take-off. Gear suspensions behave differently, and the shift in center of gravity of the craft can be severely affected if the center of balance is not worked out accurately. Jerry’s work has resulted in an amazingly realistic flight experience which can severely test the prowess of even the seasoned simulation pilot. Of course the model is also designed to work with lower or easier settings in the simulator, so novices and less-experienced pilots alike can enjoy this unique simulation to the full.
Aeroplane Heaven are justly proud of their work in producing this unique virtual replica.
Knowledge and new skillsets acquired in the process of creating the Virtual Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer will now go on to be used in Aeroplane Heaven’s next generation of simulation models and many features will be seen in the upcoming Vought F4U Corsair series of US wartime carrier fighters, a definitive history of the Supermarine Spitfire and AH’s first major foray into non-combat, commercial aircraft soon to be flying the virtual skies on a computer screen near you.