Until fairly recently I didn’t have many add-on aircraft for FSX, mostly because a lot of add-ons seemed to be big jets that I don’t personally enjoy flying. As a passenger, one of my favourite planes is the Dash 8-400 and I was on the lookout for a decent add-on that suited me.
I should say at this point that I’m not looking for ultra-realism in my sim; I want to be able to set up and fly, exploring the world away from big cities and major airports mixed in with flying real-world routes I’m familiar with, in the limited amount of personal time I have. I saw the VirtualCol Dash 8 series on sale for €14.98 at simMarket and decided to take the plunge, having already purchased their CRJ series.
As with the CRJ, the Dash 8 series (100, 200, 300, 400) provides a wide choice of liveries, which should suit most tastes. I prefer the 2D panels so I can’t really comment on the usability of the virtual cockpit, but the brief play I’ve had with it seems reasonable, although you might need good eyesight for some of the displays.
The 2D panels are slightly frustrating in layout – which is probably more down to the real-life layout – and you might find yourself flicking between panels fairly often. I use an Elgato StreamDeck (with FSUIPC) for many buttons and this has probably saved me from RSI.
I’ve said there’s a wide choice of liveries for the Dash 8. There is – but there is one annoying problem with the 300 series, where the aircraft ID and callsign have been transposed in the aircraft.cfg file, making the livery unusable unless you edit the .cfg by hand. It’s just a little time-consuming annoyance that shouldn’t really have got through quality control.
Given that I run a lot of other add-ons, I was worried about the effect of add-on aircraft, but the VirtualCol aircraft seem to have minimal effect on framerate on my rig. With SimStarter, which I’ve written about previously, I can tailor what loads into the sim anyway, but even in areas where I have a lot of scenery add-ons (eg PNW) the VirtualCol aircraft don’t seem to have any negative impact on my flying experience.
Ultimately, if you like ultra-realism and top-quality simulation of your aircraft, the VirtualCol Dash 8 is probably not for you. If you want a plane that’s fun to fly, reasonably priced, low-impact on framerates, and comes with a wide choice of liveries, this is the series for you.