As my fascination with the Comet grew, I looked for a model I could “fly” on my computer. If I had owned a PC, I would have used David Maltby’s superb Comet 4 for Microsoft Flight Simulator and that would have been that. Instead, I had an Apple Mac and X-Plane, by Laminar Research. When I discovered there was no Comet for X-Plane, I decided to make one. How hard could it be?
The flight model was straight forward: I had the correct dimensions, weights and aerofoils, and X-Plane made a very reasonable job of it "out of the box". The only real disappointment was engine thrust at high altitude. This was fixed with a Rolls-Royce Avon plugin by David Plunkett.
The exterior started as a Plane Maker model in X-Plane v8. It looked awful. X-Plane 9 was a colossal leap forward, enabling complex geometry to be created outside Plane Maker and attached to compared with 1,500 nm for the Comet 1. This made the Comet 4 an easier aircraft to fly.
The Comet 4 was equipped with ADF, VOR and DME navigational aids. The automatic pilot was integrated with the radios, and was capable of performing coupled ILS approaches. By contrast, Comet 1 instrumentation was hardly any more advanced than a World War Two bomber; fixing position still relied on an optical sextant, and yet it flew twice as fast and twice as high, which made navigation a full time and stressful responsibility. The Comet 4 is an altogether more practical proposition for a flight simulator.
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