First impressions on VSkyLab’s Cabri G2 helicopter

I don’t do much helicopter content on Stormbirds and that’s largely because flying them have mostly eluded me when I have gone to try. In DCS World I have the DCS: Mi-8TV2 which is an impressive module for that sim with plenty to like about it, but me getting that helicopter under control has been a bit of a challenge, and so I went looking for something simpler and more training oriented. Enter VSkyLab’s Cabri G2 for X-Plane 11 which is a brilliant two seat helicopter with safety and training in mind. Here are my first impressions not only of the helicopter but of trying to learn how to fly it!

Simple training helicopter

Bruno Guimbal’s Cabri G2 helicopter in X-Plane 11

After crashing the Mi-8 several dozen times I figured it was time to try something different and after some research and talking to different people around the community I decided to go in on the Cabri G2 from the X-Plane.org Store. Flying a helicopter is like learning to fly again and it’s a bit humbling after many years of fixed wing piloting.

The Cabri G2 is a helicopter designed in the 1980s by Eurocopter engineer Bruno Guimbal who started his own company to build the helicopter. It’s a three rotor, two seat helicopter with a Lycoming O-360-J2A piston engine and a Eurocopter Fenestron. What’s a Fenestron? That’s the tail rotor of the helicopter which, in this arrangement, is located within the tail fin rather than exterior to it.

The type is small, simple to manage, relatively easy to fly while still being very much a ‘stick and rudder’ kind of experience.

Almost everything you need to know about the status of the G2 is located in a central pod within the cockpit with a mix of traditional and digital guages.

Approach to helicopter simulation

VSkyLab’s approach to aircraft making for X-Plane is designed around using as much of the X-Plane systems as possible without custom coding and plug-ins. It’s very much an out of the box X-Plane simulation and it’s something that VSkyLabs mentions in their product details.

Highly engineered, robust helicopter simulation which pushes X-Plane’s out-of-the-box features and flight dynamics model to its extent.

VSkyLabs product page for their Cabri G2 Project

That makes the Cabri G2 an easy install with no real dependencies needed to get going. It also seems to run really well with no significant frame rate loss caused by the aircraft itself and, when using the X-Plane 11.41 experimental flight model as recommend, it flies like a real helicopter should. For me that’s a bit of a challenge but then that’s a good thing and that’s why I wanted it.

First flights

Unlike when I write about my first flights in most aircraft on this blog, helicopters are something that continue challenge me, so my first flights are a bit more stumbling around in the dark than usual.

The Cabri G2 is a good teacher as I said above as it’s simple yet capable and I’ve already had some fun with it thanks to some lessons from friends and from a YouTube channel that helped inspire VSkyLabs to make this helicopter. Mischa Gelb, known for his channel Pilot Yellow, has some great introductions both to helicopter flying in general as well as instructions on the Cabri G2 itself which he uses to teach new helicopter pilots.

You need a good playground to fly a helicopter and really enjoy it in X-Plane 11. There are other options out there but Orbx’s 74S Anacortes Airport is one that I already owned and is an ideal package for helicopter flying. It’s scenic for one (alongside TrueEarth Washington) but it also has a full GA airport plus a dirt strip and two helicopter landing sites. I’ve got some exploring to do but for the first couple of flights I flew around Anacortes and the nearby islands.

74S Anacortes Airport on the right with the town of Anacortes all around

Right now I’m trying to learn how to manipulate the collective and manage the cyclic together to achieve flight. One I’m up to speed I’m pretty happy with how this flies and a little trim work can keep it centered and flying without too much adjustment. It’s the transition into hovering that I struggle with and then holding position once I’m there.

I’ve crashed the Cabri G2 more than a few times already. Into the water, into a landing pad, onto the grass at Anacortes (without any apparent damage), and then finally successfully landed not too harshly a few times after that. I’ve crashed the G2 more than I’ve crashed any other aircraft in X-Plane – but this is why a simulation can be so useful as you just restart the flight and try again. Multiple times if needed!

Watching the RPM meter, keeping an eye on my speed, and gauging how much authority my tail rotor is going to have at different speeds makes things unique and interesting in ways that are quite different from conventional aircraft.

A helipad located next to the Burrows Island lighthouse.

Looks like a great helicopter

With 4K PBR textures, a nicely detailed interior, good sounds both inside and outside the helicopter, I’m overall already very impressed with the effort by VSkyLabs. The Cabri G2 Project is a fun little helicopter to fly and although it doesn’t have much that it can do, as a trainer, it’s already doing a lot for me with its smaller size, zippy performance and easier handling than the DCS: Mi-8 that I’ve been trying to tame.

Once I’ve really gotten the hang of it I plan to write some more about the Cabri G2 and my adventures in it. It’s available for $29.99 USD at the X-Plane.org Store.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Jonathon Coughlin says:

    MORE HELICOPTER CONTENT

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gretsch_Man says:

    Have you tried the Huey in DCS? They say it’s the most forgiving helicopter module in DCS currently.
    I’m no helicopter guy at all (I don’t think Janes’s Apache Longbow doesn’t really count here), but I recently bought the Huey for DCS. I haven’t flown much in it yet, but I like it, though hovering the thing is pretty difficult indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I have heard that the Huey is relatively easy to fly for DCS World but the emphasis is definitely on relatively. There are aspects to helicopter flight that you just don’t get with a fixed wing aircraft.

      Great learning opportunities however!

      Like

    2. Warlock says:

      Mi-8 is the one got me into Helos in DCS. It’s still my favorite of the bunch, though they’re all good (except for the flight model of the Gazelle). Yes, it is the most unforgiving, and can be brutal at the hover transitions, especially when loaded. At some point, I also thought I just won’t be able to control it, and it took me lots of practice to fly right. I thought I did something inherently wrong, but I really didn’t and it all comes down to practice, which I actually wasn’t really used to in planes. Bottom line is, keep doing it, and eventually you will just “get it”. The muscle memory needed for the fact that moving one of your control axes affects all the rest takes time to build.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Helicopters do seem to be unforgiving in that way. I’m getting better and had some slightly more successful flights last night so I’m making progress!

        Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.

        Like

  3. JA says:

    The Huey in DCS is great and fun, and the Dreamfoil B407 in X-Plane 11 is a solid solution to have fun and learn. But helicopters are better if you can fly them in VR, as it gives you the spatial notion needed to get them in the right place. Moving into VR made me a better helicopter pilot in both simulations. I’ve written some about the experience in this article:
    View at Medium.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Great article! Thanks for sharing that. VR I’m sure makes a difference there that I’m just not getting in 2D.

      And yes I’ve heard great things about the Dreamfoil 407. I nearly picked that one up as well!

      Like

  4. Chris says:

    I did buy this helicopter too. It is really great.
    By the way the VSKYLABS Fraundorfer Aeronautics Tensor 600X Project will be released soon. It´s an autogyro.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Autogyros are an interesting subject as well. I’ll have to keep an eye on what they are doing with that project.

      Like

  5. Cam says:

    Nice choice! Best chopper in X-Plane by far, really nice to fly especially in VR and having flown the real thing it is very close to real. Just needs to be a bit more sensitive which they are working towards, and you can’t replicate the weight of the cyclic which is quite heavy not having any hydraulics. Also a perfect fit for your Mi-8 training – being a CW rotating MR so all your pedal inputs are the same etc and you will learn good muscle memory. I also fly the Mi-8 a lot in DCS and still have a blast in the G2. No big loss on the 407 either – you made the right choice 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. clannk says:

    came here to lend encouragement and friendly advice, but seems like the other guys have mostly beat me to it 😉

    One thing that’s been tremendously helpful for me has been following Chuck Owl’s advice for helo joystick settings – particularly and primarily cutting the Saturation from 100% to appx 80%. Made all the difference in the world. These can also be applied in X-Plane, though xp uses a different scale.

    After that, the biggest adjustment is just remembering that helos don’t like to be rushed – they need distance and time to slow down and get on the ground, just like fixed wings.

    Keep at it (especially the Mi-8 – it’s a wonderful beast) and sounds like the Cabri is an excellent way to learn, just like IRL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks Clank and great suggestions too. Need all the help I can get in piloting these things 🙂

      Like

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