If you are struggling to get your new FlyingIron Spitfire off the ground on your maiden flight, here are some of the essential steps for ground handling.
Note: This article is currently being edited: sometimes its easier to work on a published article than to keep it in draft mode. Updates will be subject to a period of review and refinement that may affect the content in the near future.
- 1 Why This Article?
- 2 Install the Spitfire
- 3 Check Your Controller
- 4 Get Updates and Repairs
- 5 Create a Controller Profile
- 6 Required: Bind a Key to the Parking Brake
- 7 Required: Bind a Key to the Wheel Brakes
- 8 Lock the Tail-Wheel to the Rudder
- 9 Use a Tail-Locking LUA Script
- 10 Turn Off Ground Wind
- 11 Set Flaps Correctly
- 12 Start in the Air?
- 13 Start with the Engine Running
- 14 Tips From FlyingIron
- 15 Tips From YouTube
- 16 Stabilise Roll
- 17 Related Posts
- 18 Feedback
Why This Article?
This is a quick-start flying guide for an X-Plane add-on made by FlyingIron: a Spitfire Mk IX. I made it because I was spending far too much time in ground-loops and getting nowhere.
The Spitfire model mimics the foibles of the real aircraft closely and its ground-handling issues are well known. I’m not a great fan of having to read manuals extensively before having the fun experience, so I hope this quick-start guide will offer the shortest route to enjoying your new aircraft :o)
Install the Spitfire
- Download your aircraft, it will be a ZIP file.
- Extract the ZIP file to a folder.
- You might want to take a copy of the ‘FlyingIron Spitfire LF Mk IX Pilot Handbook.pdf’ file from the root level of the folder so you can read it away from X-Plane.
- Move the spitfire folder to your X-Plane aircraft root folder something like: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\X-Plane 11\Aircraft\Spitfire L.F. Mk IXc
The pilot handbook has a section called Quick Tips containing some required and useful steps from FlyingIron. Since I have an iPad, I have loaded the manual into iBooks for some careful reading later.
Check Your Controller
Before you even get anywhere near using the new aircraft, check that your controller is calibrated and working properly.
In my case, and for no apparent reason, the horizontal and vertical axis was split into two and made no sense at all. Check your controller.
Get Updates and Repairs
Updates and repairs can be performed using an aircraft updater plugin called ‘SkunkCraftsUpdater’. Set it up and run it to make sure all is well with your installation.
Be aware that you cannot update an aircraft that you are currently using.
The updater should be installed in a folder that looks something like: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\X-Plane 11\Resources\plugins\SkunkCraftsUpdater
You can set it to auto-update with X-Plane but this might delay an already long loading sequence when there are no updates to be had.
Create a Controller Profile
First, select the Spitfire and an airport and enter the sim at that location. Now edit the Joystick settings the FlyingIron variables will be available to the controller configuration screens.
If you are using a HOTAS or similar you can make a new flight-control profile based on an existing one specifically for the Spitfire. At the foot of the X-Plane joystick configuration page open ‘manage profiles’ to create it. After that you will be able to change key binds without affecting other aircraft.
In the same place, you can also associate the Spitfire profile with the aircraft to make sure its always selected when needed.
In a properly installed version of the FlyingIron installation you should see multiple control variables listed under the heading of FlyingIron when you start editing key binds.
Required: Bind a Key to the Parking Brake
You won’t be going anywhere until you have a key bind to release the brakes. The value for this is ‘Parking Brake’. You will hear a hissing noise when the brakes are released and the plane will begin to roll forward. Apply the parking brake again while you decide on your taxi control method.
Required: Bind a Key to the Wheel Brakes
The correct way to manage a Spitfire on the ground is via the differential wheel brakes that are controlled by the rudder.
Bind your braking key to ‘wheel_brakes’ in the FlyingIron settings section of the joystick configuration screen. The direction of the rudder controls which wheel the wheel brakes are applied to. For example, right full rudder + wheel braking slows the right wheel only, and the plan slews around to the right (in theory!). The same goes for the left full rudder.
The use of the rudder and brakes will keep you going where you choose, but it’s not easy, especially in a crosswind. I have spent a lot of time spinning in circles and that’s no fun when you want to be in the air. Tarmac is easier to mess up on than grass.
Lock the Tail-Wheel to the Rudder
You can lock the tail-wheel to the rudder direction using the FlyingIron tablet by enabling the ALT Control Mode
Since the tablet settings have to be applied each time you start a new flight, I made a LUA script to do it for you on every flight (refer to article contents list). If you want to use the tablet method, continue here.
You can then select Alternate Mode (ON) – In this mode, the Tail-wheel is locked and steered via the rudder pedals. This will help until you can set aside time to learn the authentic control method properly.
To enable the tablet, open the white tablet at your right shoulder and click on the settings cog at the lower right of the screen (it’s difficult to access in VR).
In the Settings screen, set ‘ALT Ground Handling’ on then press the tick icon to exit.
Use a Tail-Locking LUA Script
This LUA script locks the Flying Iron Spitfire Mk IX tail wheel to the rudder direction each time you start a new flight.
Locking the tail wheel will help a little bit more in steering the aircraft during take-off and landings. When you become proficient, you can remove the script and learn to fly using the original controls.
- Install FlyWithLuaNT
- Download the LFD Lock Tail Wheel zip file
- Unzip the LUA file inside
- Place the LUA file into this location:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\X-Plane 11\Resources\plugins\FlyWithLua\Scripts
- The default value is ‘locked’ (to the rudder)
The script will run each time you start a new flight to ensure the tail wheel remains locked to the rudder direction each time. You can also toggle the lock setting on the FlyWithLUA Macro Menu.
Turn Off Ground Wind
“Wind currently blows the Spitfire around on the ground for some reason. I’d advise turning wind OFF when on the ground.”FlyingIron
Set Flaps Correctly
During take-off ensure the flaps are up, and down during landing. There is only one setting: up or down.
You can see the state of the flaps by looking for a small tab of metal standing vertically on the wing by the cockpit, or by going to an external view.
Start in the Air?
Although this probably isn’t a popular option, its worth considering. You can avoid all the pain of trying to take off by simply starting in the air in the first place!
The setting for an air start is in the Location Customisation dialogue where you can also select the runway etc.
But if you want to get a feel for the ground handling, continue on and there are some other things you can do to make your first flight more accessible.
Start with the Engine Running
Starting a Spitfire requires some special key-binds and a specific sequence of operations you can find in the manual. That’s not what I was looking forward to on my first flight. You can avoid those steps by loading the Spitfire with the engines already running. The checkbox for that is in the Spitfire customisation dialogue.
Tips From FlyingIron
The Spitfire is a very tricky aircraft to control on the ground. Here are a few things that should help keep it under control;
- Taxi by setting the throttle for 1500 RPM in short bursts, retarding the throttle back to full aft between bursts. Using too much throttle is a sure way to get stuck in a ground loop!
- Trim the rudder right by pushing the small trim wheel fwd. I find that setting it ~50% right trim does the job, but play with it as needed.
- Wind currently blows the Spitfire around on the ground for some reason. I’d advise turning wind OFF when on the ground. We are working on this however we cannot guarantee this will entirely fix the problem as it seems to be an X-Plane problem (most tail draggers are notoriously difficult – more than their real-world counterparts).
- Be sure to use the Wheel Brakes command in combination with the rudder pedals in order to use the differential braking.
- Be proactive on the brakes.
Tips From YouTube
The following links are all from DCS World simmers who have made decent videos on handling a Spitfire for taxi and take-off. Although DCS use a different model than the FlyingIron version, the handling tips are consistent.
The rudder trim wheel is the smaller wheel on the left of the cockpit. The rudder is used to counter the roll due to engine torque.
Rotate the wheel anti-clockwise so the space between the words ‘Port’ and ‘Rudder’ is at the top of the wheel. This will get you near to balancing the aircraft and then adjust from there.
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