One of the great things about Microsoft Flight Simulator has been the accessibility of the sim to literally thousands of pieces of new content from developers all across the industry. The downside to that is that some of that content may not be up to the standards that some or even many simmers have come to expect. In this one case I have to report on a buyer beware moment as a payware aircraft has emerged that comes lacking a key piece of the experience – there is no cockpit! Here’s what you need to know.
There’s no cockpit?!
Launched yesterday and picking up considerable community attention, Captain Sim’s new C-130E Hercules features and exterior model with advertised 4K textures, six liveries, animated cargo door and “No virtual cockpit, exterior model only.” That’s a direct quote from the product page. For all of those features, you pay $15 USD on the Captain Sim website.
I think most of my readers are going to come into this with some level of incredulity. I know I did. Nonetheless, it is true that it really doesn’t come with a cockpit. Twenty or thirty years ago, flight simulation was a very different experience and so having a basic 2D cockpit was to be expected. We are a long way from that now with virtually every virtual aircraft that I’ve come into contact with in the last couple of decades coming with a 3D cockpit of varying quality and capability. One thing has been true that all of them still came with this as a feature.
Is it a scam?
Many have been quick to suggest this is a scam. My opinion is that it is not a scam as the feature list clearly marks what is and is not coming with the $15 purchase. There’s no deception that you would see with a scam. The name of the aircraft on the Captain Sim website is even “C-130 Exterior.”
What it is, however, is so far below minimum expectations that I can understand why people might want to call it that. It’s been a long time now where flight sim modules across a wide cross section of sims where you assume that a 3D cockpit is just part of what you expect to see.
The lack of a cockpit might escape the buying process if someone were to quickly scan the feature list.
I’ve really tried to see a silver lining to this. I can see this partially from the point of view that there is a market for simpler aircraft that appeal to more casual flyers. To that point, MSFS has an extremely wide user base that includes the discerning airliner pilot that wants to program custom and accurately modeled flight computers, do their RNAV and ILS approaches, and can tell when a screw is out of place. It also includes the very casual pilot who just wants to fly with their Xbox controller from their couch and marvel at the scenery as it passes by.
Both extremes and everyone in between are represented in the sim and so I’ve tried to see this C-130 from that more casual extreme. Does this C-130 fit into that casual experience? Is there a place for other basic aircraft in MSFS that fits that very casual experience? If you’re only flying from the exterior then maybe not having a cockpit doesn’t matter very much. I’m curious to know the answer from that perspective but I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a reach.
From the more serious simmer perspective an aircraft module having no cockpit at all does seem like a missed opportunity and that’s probably putting it very lightly. Several very good freeware experiences come with a cockpit and offer a more well rounded experience. From that perspective I do think your $15 may be better spent on other more full featured aircraft but only you can make that decision. If it is what you want, the Captain Sim C-130E can be purchased here on their website.