Hang Gliding On Your PC

Bruce Von Stiers

I was recently speaking with one of the public relations executives that send material to me for evaluation. She asked if I liked simulations. When told that I did, she offered to send out a new simulation program. This was just not the average city building or war simulation. This simulation was all about hang gliding and light-flight aviation. I just couldn't resist trying it out. The name of the program is Hangsim and comes from Wilco Publishing.

Hangsim is Wilco Publishing's first stand-alone product. Their previous releases have been add-ons for Microsoft's Flight Simulator. These titles are Grand Canyon, Tahiti Scenery and Airport 2000.

Hangsim has four different flight modes. The modes are Free Flight, Challenge, Competitions and Just For Fun! With Free Flight, you just strap into a harness, hit the skies and try to fly. With the Challenge mode, you have to accomplish a specific mission when flying. You fly against other AI generated pilots in Competitions. And in Just For Fun! You can eliminate other aircraft during flight by shooting them down with a rocket. Each mode has difficulty levels to choose from. These range from Beginner all the way to Expert.

Just what are you supposed to accomplish with Hangsim? You learn flight strategies of light-flight aviation and use these to get ahead of the other pilots in the Competition mode. Start out by learning the basics of gliders and light aircraft. Move on to advanced studies like thermal flight and slope effect. By the time you've played Hangsim for a while, spouting off light aviation terms will become second nature.

Some of the things that you can modify in the simulation include the time of day and the weather. Want it to be overcast? How about flying in late afternoon? You can set those environments up. You can also adjust the wind using certain settings.

As for the view, you can have either external or internal view. The Pilot view is the default. This shows the world outside the aircraft from the pilot's point-of-view. The Map view is an overhead terrain shot that documents your flight progress. The Chase mode shows your aircraft from the outside. This makes for some interesting screen shots. The Leave mode is also an external mode. It stays in place as you move about the skies. There is also a Toggle mode that lets you switch between the Chase and Leave modes.

Another cool thing about the program is the on-board instruments. You have the classic instruments that include the altimeter, tachometer and the compass. Then there is the Heads - Up Display. This is a display that appears at the top of the screen. Instead of glancing down at your instrumentation, just peek up at a visual display just above eye level.

To use Hangsim you'll need a Pentium 166 computer using either Windows 95 or 98. You will also need at least 32 MBN of RAM and 200 MB of free hard drive space. And you're going to need a graphics card with Direct 3D hardware acceleration.

Is Hangsim fun? Yes. Will it appeal to everybody? I'm not sure. It doesn't have the glitz of some of the other simulations. But it does give a good peek into what light-flight aviation is all about. It's the best simulation that I've seen in a while.

To check out more information on Wilco Publishing's products visit their web site at www.wilcopub.com


Copyright © 2000 Bruce E. Von Stiers