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On Vortex Ring State from active Mi-8 instructor


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Hey Ed, I’ve got an Mi-8 question hoping you’d be up for fielding. No rush, but you’re the perfect guy to settle a debate.

So the question is regarding the Hip and vortex ring state in a game / sim I play. I finally got the bug to fly again, if you will, a few years back and play one called DCS. Anyhow, it's a great module (mi-8), but it's so prone to VRS I suspect it's unrealistic. My question is essentially, is the hip more or less similar to say a 47, or is a more pronounced phenomenon in the hip and much easier to get into? In the sim anything above exceeding 300 feet per minute near vertical descent, regardless or G.W. or density altitude and you are likely to crash. My supposition is they just used the 300 feet per minute number, that's actually more a rule of thumb for pilots. So in a nutshell, is VRS more problematic than the 47, and if so, are we talking night and day or slightly more susceptible?


I’m assuming you’re looking for the differences/similarities/correlations of vortex ring state as it applies to settling with power in a vertical or near vertical descent for landing (or for any other reason we may find ourselves in that position for anything other than fwd flight with airspeed. Given that assumption, then I would say that the Mi is more comparable to the 47—you can definitely get into it but not as easily as a smaller airframe/smaller power capacity. A more accurate statement would probably be that the Mi IS more susceptible to all things in the aerodynamically scary closet—vortex ring state, dissymmetry of lift, settling with power etc—than a 47 simply because the Mi is a tail rotor aircraft (huge tail rotor, but a tail rotor nonetheless), but only by a matter of degrees. Not sure why your sim behaves in that manner other than your observation that the coding has to pick a specific number “trigger”, 300fpm, or a specific flight profile, 300fpm and vertical descent—once reached it may simply execute the predetermined coding result.

One other obvious note is the Mi rotors turn clockwise as opposed to our US counterclockwise blades. All relevant aerodynamics still apply, but some with diametrically opposite results , i.e. dissymmetry of lift for the Mi = pitch up and roll left as opposed to US tail rotor aircraft.

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For anyone following this thread, the discussion migrated to the Russian forums.  I have elected to no longer beg intrusion on a foreign language forum, as the case has been made.  I follow up only to

Attempting to communicate the real world reality of VRS around here is an exercise in futility. They've read books and seen YouTube videos. Thousands of hours of real world flight time and experience

VRS zone diagramms exist for the MT variants, I cant post them though since my source is a training document from the russian AF. Above 40kph, there is no risk of entering VRS. Below 40kph, maximum ve

24 minutes ago, cw4ogden said:

In the sim anything above exceeding 300 feet per minute near vertical descent, regardless or G.W. or density altitude and you are likely to crash. My supposition is they just used the 300 feet per minute number, that's actually more a rule of thumb for pilots.

 

I haven't found the DCS Mi-8 to be as prone to VRS as you suggest (300 ft/min = 1.5 m/s).

 

The barometric VSI does model instrument lag and it's scale is rather course - making the doppler instrument the preferred reference.

 

Last time I checked (using tacview), the VRS risk zone in DCS was closer to ~3 m/s (600 ft/min) but that was several years ago.

 

IIRC real life pilots have said DCS's Mi-8 is overly susceptible to VRS when compared to the real, so you are right in that regard. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Ramsay said:

 

I haven't found the DCS Mi-8 to be as prone to VRS as you suggest (300 ft/min = 1.5 m/s).

 

The barometric VSI does model instrument lag and it's scale is rather course - making the doppler instrument the preferred reference.

 

Last time I checked (using tacview), the VRS risk zone in DCS was closer to ~3 m/s (600 ft/min) but that was several years ago.

 

IIRC real life pilots have said DCS's Mi-8 is overly susceptible to VRS when compared to the real, so you are right in that regard. 

 

 


I wasn't intending to get wrapped up in 300 feet per minute.  The main point was I have no reference for the hip because I didn't fly it, to be able to speak with experience.  But my source and I served together on CH-47s.  He has thousands of hours in both airframes.  And his assertion that they behave similarly was my main point.  

It is a lot harder to encounter VRS in a CH-47; a lot harder.  And by association and his assertion, being they are similar in regards to being prone to it, I'm hoping we'll get some momentum going to relook VRS.

I've known or suspected VRS is broken in the hip based on my time in CH-47s but was hesitant to speak because I have no first hand experience actually in the Mi-8.  This is my attempt to appeal the ruling of the SMEs who seem to think it's modeled well.

 


Edited by cw4ogden
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Sorry, if I'm missing the point here, but...

in any diskussion about the VRS with the Hip, I found that most people get confused with the units.

 

The dials in the hip are metric, and it will hit VRS with about a descent rate of 400 m/m. That is 1200 f/m.

I don't see, why this should be unrealistic.

 

EDIT: Just seen, that the VSI reads meter/sec. and not hundred meters/minute, but that is still around 800 f/m

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Hiob
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24 minutes ago, cw4ogden said:

This is my attempt to appeal the ruling of the SMEs who seem to think it's modeled well.

 

I don't recall a Mi-8/Mi-17 SME saying DCS's VRS wasn't over-modelled who wasn't part of the development team.

 

However the lead dev. (joined ED 2012/13) Aleksandr ‘PilotMi8’ Podvoisky flew the Mi-8TV, Mi-8MT and Mi-8MTV has +1200 hours on the type.

 

 

With that number of flight hours, all I can do is leave the real life pilots to talk it out.


Edited by Ramsay
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14 minutes ago, Ramsay said:

 

I don't recall a Mi-8/Mi-17 SME saying DCS's VRS wasn't over-modelled who wasn't part of the development team.

 

However the lead dev. (joined ED 2012/13) Aleksandr ‘PilotMi8’ Podvoisky flew the Mi-8TV, Mi-8MT and Mi-8MTV has +1200 hours on the type.

 

 

With that number of flight hours, all I can do is leave the real life pilots to talk it out.

 

 

I'll add then that I'd half expected him to say: "It's no joke in the Mi-8, you gotta watch your rate of descent."  But he made no such indication.  

And had that been the case I'd be singing a different tune, altogether.

And let me say as a former real life pilot, I don't like to come on here and claim omnipotent knowledge of anything.  It's hard to not sound like a washed up has been, but when it comes to SMEs and what the community has to offer, I hope we don't sound like douche-bags.  But for VRS in cargo helicopters, I'm putting forward: I am an SME.  And where I found my experience lacking I sought out and actual SME who's messaged from after a flight.  I'm not seeking anything but to re-open a can of worms.  But I hope I'm attempting to stick to a scientific methodology. 

I'll reiterate, had he said VRS = bad news in the Mi8.  End of debate.

As it stands, I will say definitively: VRS is absolutely unrealistic as currently implemented.  And the historical evidence proves it as well.  There is not a laundry list of dead Mi-8 crews resulting from the slightest inattention to near vertical descent flight profiles.

I have read some of the many post on it, so I know it's not a new debate.  But in my opinion, it's broken enough I'll be that dork who comes here and claims to be the expert 🙂

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Hiob said:

Sorry, if I'm missing the point here, but...

in any diskussion about the VRS with the Hip, I found that most people get confused with the units.

 

The dials in the hip are metric, and it will hit VRS with about a descent rate of 400 m/m. That is 1200 f/m.

I don't see, why this should be unrealistic.

 

EDIT: Just seen, that the VSI reads meter/sec. and not hundred meters/minute, but that is still around 800 f/m

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 300 feet per minute can be disregarded.  I understand the unit's and that the instrument has lag.  

You don't need to look at your VSI honestly in real life, as a primary instrument, nor should you in DCS for the environmental conditions i.e. density altitude and G.W. settings we mostly fly at.  VRS modelling in the Mi-8 happens too soon, and onset to fully developed state is way too quick and far too hard to recover from.

It's absolutely unrealistic to need to pay so much attention to VRS in a normal flight profile, frankly that ought to be enough to relook it.  

 

Near vertical descents yes, you're gonna throw the VSI in to your scan, but VRS in the hip doesn't seem to need much in the way of "vertical descent"

I'd add the VSI to my scan in any near vertical descent if the situation requires a vertical descent, but VRS in the mi-8 will kill you on a VMC approach (term for standard 3 degree approach under VMC conditions) and that's just unrealistic.

VRS is not something one normally gives two shits about.  VRS is very much something that will kill you, just not in the way DCS models it for the hip.  You need some severe aggravating conditions, or severe pilot inattention to flight profile for VRS to be a killer.

At sea level with 60 to 70% fuel load, a full load even, VRS should kill you once in every hundred thousand hours and even then, it should clearly be your fault.


Edited by cw4ogden
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I‘m really sorry, but then you need a lot of more practice.

The only times VRS occurs for me is, when I‘m descending vertically and don‘t pay attention to my descend rate.

The only other thing where one has to be careful is when slowing down fast - then you need to be fast with the collective input...

but other than that, no problems.

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3 minutes ago, Hiob said:

I‘m really sorry, but then you need a lot of more practice.

The only times VRS occurs for me is, when I‘m descending vertically and don‘t pay attention to my descend rate.

The only other thing where one has to be careful is when slowing down fast - then you need to be fast with the collective input...

but other than that, no problems.

 
I'll go out on a limb here and say it's not lack of practice and you missed the point.  I can fly it fine.  It's just absolutely unrealistic.  I'm glad you are a hip fan, but it's still a fugazi.  It's not an approximation of real life.  It's broken.  

Because we can work around the broken doesn't make it unbroken.

 

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Posted (edited)

The Mi-8 has the best flight module in the game for helicopters.  

It actually feels like flying a helicopter.  It's a great work.  It's a masterpiece in flight simulation.  But it is off the mark for VRS.  

I base that off 2500 hours or so of heavy lift helicopter flying experience.  

I'm not bashing the module.  I love the module.  But the VRS modeling is not realistic is what I am saying.  I'm not speculating as much as offering my real world experience and backing it up with someone who is actively in the mi-8 community.  It's far too prone to VRS in DCS verus real life.

 

I used to demonstrate vortex ring state to students.  I have a pretty good understanding of the phenomenon and know first-hand what it feels like and DCS feels wrong.  Very very wrong with regards to VRS.  

 


Edited by cw4ogden
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Hiob said:

I‘m really sorry, but then you need a lot of more practice.

The only times VRS occurs for me is, when I‘m descending vertically and don‘t pay attention to my descend rate.

The only other thing where one has to be careful is when slowing down fast - then you need to be fast with the collective input...

but other than that, no problems.

 

Experienced pilots rarely get into VRS.  There is no indication the Mi-8 is much different than any other helicopter with regards to VRS.  Yet to fly the Mi-8 in DCS you need to be hyper-vigilant with regards to Vertical speed.  And that's just not how it is in real life.  


You're saying I just don't know how to fly the sim.  I'm saying the sim doesn't fly right.


Edited by cw4ogden
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@Hiob I think you missed OP's point. It's not whether you get good in a sim or not - it's about the simulated flight model. Anyone can get used to the specifics of a simulation, which, if the simulation is not accurate, will never translate into a useful real world application of skills. It's also not about bashing the developers, it's simply a matter of constructive criticism coming from people with real life experience in aviation, who can actually judge whether the sim is authentic or not.

 

Since I don't know if you have any real life experience in professional rotary aviation, I will not judge your statement - I myself have no such background, hence I'm thankful for anyone who has and is willing to get DCS as close as possible to the real deal.

 

Cheers

Maxl 


Edited by maxl
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Listen, I don‘t want to start a fight.

As you may know, there is already an elongate thread regarding this topic - every argument that we could possibly exchange here, was brought up there at least twice... there are people that share my opinion (including real life helicopter pilots as far as I‘m aware of), and people that share your opinion...

so there is no point in starting a second discussion here.

 

One last statement on the topic from my side:

The single main shortcoming of any simulation is the lack of accurate haptic feedback. In the real world you feel ascend and descent, wether in VRS or not.

You feel vibration, shudders and so on, you will feel the loss of lift in an very early state (like you feel the lost of grip on a wet road) - in my conclusion that makes the flying of a simulation even more difficult than flying a real vehicle (in this very specific aspect).

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Hiob said:

Listen, I don‘t want to start a fight.

As you may know, there is already an elongate thread regarding this topic - every argument that we could possibly exchange here, was brought up there at least twice... there are people that share my opinion (including real life helicopter pilots as far as I‘m aware of), and people that share your opinion...

so there is no point in starting a second discussion here.

 

One last statement on the topic from my side:

The single main shortcoming of any simulation is the lack of accurate haptic feedback. In the real world you feel ascend and descent, wether in VRS or not.

You feel vibration, shudders and so on, you will feel the loss of lift in an very early state (like you feel the lost of grip on a wet road) - in my conclusion that makes the flying of a simulation even more difficult than flying a real vehicle (in this very specific aspect).

Nor do I mean to sound combative.  Please take my apologies if it sounded so.  I'm just making a case to revisit this. 

 

Yes, I know it's a dead horse, been beaten on many threads here.  But ultimately, what you've got is a forum full of people who either agree it's broken, or learned to live with it and therefore feel it's a trial by fire then next generation should have to endure.  

If you are saying you feel it is correctly implemented, that's a different point.  I took it more to mean we should kind of learn to live with it, and I think that's too low a bar for the best helo module in DCS.

I'm making a subjective case to some extent, but trying to bring objectivity to it where possible.

The fact is no one in real life ever says "whew, took me a while, but now I finally learned how to stay out of VRS!"  But this board is littered with similar posts.
I'll use another analogy from driving, VRS is akin to not running into the guardrails on the side of the road.  Normally it's not a problem, as you know where they are and there is ample clearance; but in the hip module you drive three inches from the guardrails.  

 

If you look at a standard vortex ring state diagram you'll see anything less than about 30 degrees approach angle and you just can't get into it.  That's not replicated here.  Maybe that's the hiccup.  A thirty degree approach angle is a point in space down by your feet somewhere.  It's a very steep descent.  Any flight profile with a circle of action above that 30 degree approach angle should never enter VRS.

And I don't necessarily disagree the flight model has the parameters wrong, with the exception state above, as much as the early warning signs, as you alluded to and the rapidness with which it becomes unrecoverable.  It's too quick for a lightly loaded aircraft at low density altitude, in my opinion.  

But I also don't know why people wouldn't welcome a relook.  

 

Fig_2-82.gif
 


Edited by cw4ogden
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I don‘t know.

As far as I know, there has been real Hip pilots involved in the development of the flight model. 

They must have come to the conclusion that it is well represented. I mean it couldn’t be that hard to change this parameter. 

I honestly don‘t know if there is an issue here.

 

Regarding the diagram. A thirty degree angle is already quite steep, isn‘t it? but I don‘t know what vertical speed id correlated to this, but it certainly needs more forward speed (estimated 150% of the vertical).

To be honest, I never tested VRS in an angled approach. Only in hovering/deacceleration.

I will try to test this, I mean the 30 degree approach. Just need to do some math beforehand and perhaps reinstall tacview...😄

 

EDIT

what is the unit for v in the above diagram?


Edited by Hiob
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16 minutes ago, Hiob said:

what is the unit for v in the above diagram?

Here is the source link I used.  http://cybercom.net/~copters/aero/settling.html

I believe the units are arbitrary, you can substitute any unit of your choice and as long as you do the conversion to the other line of the graph you are ok.
 

VRS diagrams are notoriously non-specific to model of helicopter.  That's also a direct result of, as I described, it's just not the hazard it is in the MI-8 module.  There aren't a lot of charts on it. 

My main assertion here is we have people complaining routinely, they can't figure out how to do a normal landing because of VRS. 
And that is a three degree (using a glideslope) to five or six degree approach.  VRS should be isolated to steep approach angles, vertical descents or operating with significant tailwind limits.

I like the fact they implemented it, and it reacts the way I would expect a fully developed VRS to react, just way too fast, with too little warning, and happens in flight profiles I would never expect to encounter it.  

In DCS it feels like it's not safe to take a large helo straight down, and there is some truth to that.  You absolutely don't want to mess with VRS.  My demonstrations were at at least 1000 feet AGL if not higher.  It will kill you, and you will die before you have time to scream in the flight regime it occurs.

But not the way it does in DCS.  Not during routine approaches to landing at an airfield.  

I'd be happy to hear what you find, and I can give it some tests myself.  But I'm not TACVIEW smart, and that's the tool needed to see the parameters versus say the instruments.  

 

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Having a pilot say it broken. and pilotmi8 saying its fine. means we have a stalemate.

so don't ask pilots.

 

what does the VRS charts for the airframe say?

ask the engineers for the win.

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Those are exactly my two concerns.

First, pilots opinions are biased because they heavily rely on memories and „feels“. And the latter can‘t be reproduced by a sim as I mentioned.

Second, due to the physics of VRS, it depends on factors like, rotor diameter, blade profile and so on....

and maybe depends on weight in how fast an unrecoverable VRS developes. Don‘t know.

Therefore I guess VRS diagrams should be specific to a model of helicopter....at least that‘s what I figured.

 

But I can‘t emphasize it enough - I don‘t know!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Hiob said:

Those are exactly my two concerns.

First, pilots opinions are biased because they heavily rely on memories and „feels“. And the latter can‘t be reproduced by a sim as I mentioned.

Second, due to the physics of VRS, it depends on factors like, rotor diameter, blade profile and so on....

and maybe depends on weight in how fast an unrecoverable VRS developes. Don‘t know.

Therefore I guess VRS diagrams should be specific to a model of helicopter....at least that‘s what I figured.

 

But I can‘t emphasize it enough - I don‘t know!

 

My only goal is to make your sim better.  I have no motivation besides it being more accurate.  

Motivations a developer may have are many.  It's old code, it's a mostly "finished" module they don't want to revisit.

I wouldn't be here making a case to relook VRS if it was well implemented.  

I'm not sure what kind of evidence you would find convincing, but bias, opinion etc. doesn't account for how completely broken VRS is.  Period.  
It's not like it's a close call, like somehow maybe I'm mis-remembering how flying works.  

That's what makes this problem so egregious, the sheer obviousness of how flipping broken it is.
It also has the unintended side effect of giving the impression helicopter flying is more dangerous than it is.   No one in their right mind would EVER get in an mi-8 if it was as dangerous as DCSs version is.  It would have never made it out of flight testing certification.

The R-22 is a perfect example of a flying death-trap Pilots DO have to work around.  And guess what?  I can find tons of information on R-22 mast bumping, how to avoid it, charts data etc.  It's got it's own section of special regulations just to fly.  None of that exists for the pilot for the hip regarding VRS.  

Why?  Because it's not a flying death trap.  VRS modeling is so bad, no agency would ever certify the DCS MI-8 as safe for civil or military use.  

You can question my credibility, I get that.  I'm just a random internet random person.  But I am in a position to know it's broken.  And when that wasn't enough, I solicited the input of my hip pocket MI-8 instructor, I called a favor in to ask to help make your sim better.

But guess what?  It really sucks to come on here and try and help.  I get why no one tries to bring any real life experience to DCS in the form of improvement because, it seems the DEVs always know better than a player base saturated with former pilots to some.  

Nothing like a player base trying to bite the hand that feeds them.

You guys are saying maybe it's this or maybe its that.  No, it's not.  The answer is staring you straight in the face, you just don't like it.  Nor does ED's subject model expert.
 

VRS modeling for the MI-8 is a joke.  It's worse than a joke.  It's a black eye on an otherwise very good module they refuse to address. 

Personally, I think they put so much effort into coding it, maybe they felt the need to exaggerate it on purpose, so players would "experience" their work.



There is no debate to be had here honestly.  You want to believe it's some kind of subjective experience thing, and that could be a plausible explanation, If it weren't so obviously unrealistic.

 

I've been there and done that, to include working on the certification of various simulators.  
I'll also let you in on a secret:  subject matter experts trying to get a job with a software company may pad their resumes.  They may not be the guru's they claim to be to get the job.  
 

What I find disturbing is how quickly you can throw out what I'm saying.  Do you treat your doctor the same way?
I'll say it again, as far as DCS goes and user subject matter experts within the community that have the specific experience and the knowledge base to be considered an "expert" regarding Vortex Ring State, you are talking to him.  You just don't believe him.

I'm happy to keep my input to myself if this is the kind of reception I'm going to get.

To borrow on what you said:  "I can‘t emphasize it enough - I do know."


Edited by cw4ogden
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We will see, how VRS is implemented in the Hind.

Since, this will be the most recent, most advanced, most complex helicopter-simulation AND it should have a lot similarities to the hip AND I'm sure the developers are well aware of the strong feelings regarding VRS (you're by no means the only one, that's for sure) -

I am sure, they laid a lot of focus on that aspect.

Let's see, how it turns out and if they will transfer new learnings to the Hip (at least I hope, that they will overhaul the hip at some point)


Edited by Hiob
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Posted (edited)

When an experienced pilot hops in your sim, and their very first impression is: 

 

"What the heck was that?"  And it's so foreign feeling you have to google it, just to see what they are trying to simulate. 

 

And when you do, you say, "Oh, that's supposed to be VRS?'  Literally with less than 10 minutes of play time.  Your sim isn't right.

The difference being I have been flying it a year mostly in silence, because I didn't feel my personal experience base was enough.  No MI-8 time at all.  So how can I say it's broken, now?

Hey Ed, does the hip fly significantly different than the bird we both flew with regards to VRS?  No? ok thanks.


Edited by cw4ogden
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@cw4ogden Rest assured no one's... or at least not everyone is throwing out what you're saying! And - having no RL experience - I was just about to come and bring one of the arguments you just have - a common sense argument.

If something was this dangerous, there would be special regulations or - what I wanted to say - there would be some protective means built by the engineers in the form of multiple VVI's connected to some warning system or some "auto-pull-collective" feature when vertical velocity (negative) increases dangerously or WHATEVER they could come up with to try and save lives. I have no idea what that would be exactly.
But there's nothing of this sort in the real Mi-8 and that makes me think... maybe it's not an issue? Maybe it's not THAT dangerous? Maybe a sober pilot can just handle it without nervous glimpses at the VVI every 3 seconds? Or what would happen if the VVI got broken? All dead? Just my thoughts.


Common sense arguments are, IMHO, very valid, but for some reason quite often underrated here. (Even if we intentionally skip the RL experience part of what you are saying - which we shouldn't skip, of course.)

 

There is one "shady area" in this equation however - we don't get visceral physical sensations when armchair flying, nor do those who use 2D screens perceive space depth. This may be responsible for us falling into VRS easier than IRL, but even if this effect is true (seems very likely and VR users confirm the 3D view helps a lot), it's possible that it's just one part of the story, while the other part is that VRS is just off, exaggerated. Both things at the same time. How about that?

 

As for "ED pilots saw it, so they must have concluded it's all correct" (someone wrote it above), it's... I'm sorry, but it's a bit childish. Here's a quick speculation - and you may come up with a dozen of them:
[A pilot] - Hey, VRS is bad in this thing!
[Devs] - But man, release is due on Friday and we really have no idea how to make it better.
[Management] - Okay, good enough is enough for now. We may get back to it at some point in the future.
No big deal, really, it's just life, nothing to write home about. But claiming that because you hired competent people (which ED apparently abounds in) your company have become "divine", "error-proof" is just... not true.

 

Yes, I've learnt to be cautious and I fall into VRS very seldom now, but it's not the point.
And, to make it clear - I'm enjoying the DCS:Mi-8 tremendously!

 


Edited by scoobie
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1 hour ago, cw4ogden said:

When an experienced pilot hops in your sim, and their very first impression is: 

 

"What the heck was that?"  And it's so foreign feeling you have to google it, just to see what they are trying to simulate. 

 

 

 

Sorry, real world piloting does in no way qualify someone for playing a simulator.

Pretty much in the same way in which playing a sim doesn't qualify you for flying a real aircraft.

There are plenty of examples for that (first point) on youtube.

 

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@scoobieThanks for the vote of confidence and getting what I’m trying to say. 

 

The debate seems to be focused on if it’s even broken, somehow, and that boggles my mind because it’s never gonna get fixed if people can’t agree it’s messed up. 


I don’t really care if it ever gets fixed because helos in dcs are secondary to me, and the hip beautiful as she is is just too close to my old job to be a whole lot of fun, versus the harrier which brings me a lot of joy to fly.  A window into a different world I’d you will.  
 

 

Just now, Hiob said:

Sorry, real world piloting does in no way qualify someone for playing a simulator.

Pretty much in the same way in which playing a sim doesn't qualify you for flying a real aircraft.

There are plenty of examples for that (first point) on youtube.

 

You’re just a troll at this point.   
 

and kind of an unpleasant one to interact with.  

 

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