Bookmark and Share

Pasped Skylark (V1.1)
For FSX Published by Lionheart Creations
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
August 2010

The history of this aircraft is not that well documented. Various sources all point to a few known facts and a lot of conjecture. This summary is designed to give to a feel for its history although may not be 100% accurate.

The one and only Pasped Skylark was produced by the Pasped Company of Venice California in 1936. Fred Pastorius and Stanley Pedersen (Their names are the components of the company name) had designed and built the aircraft whose design mirrored the pre-war 1930's fashion of the day.

The aircraft is a side-by-side, bench type two-seater monoplane originally fitted with a 125-hp Warner Scarab radial engine housed in a low-drag cowling; the restored Skylark was fitted with a more powerful 165-hp Warner Super Scarab engine. The fuselage was built around a rectangular steel tube with Duraluminum metal panels forward and fabric to the rear. The wings were wire-braced from above, had plywood leading edges, and were covered with both fabric and Duraluminum.

The landing gear is fixed and streamlined by a very distinctive fairing which can be recognised miles away! It was painted pure white, folklore is that Pastorius and Pedersen went to the hardware store in town and asked what paint they had in gallon cans. All they had was refrigerator white.

Unfortunately production of the Skylark was interrupted when World War II broke out and never resumed, this, along with the theory that the Pasped did not sell and the expenses bankrupted the company resulted in no more aircraft being built. Its popularity however lived on. It was featured on the cover of Flying and Popular Aviation magazine in 1941 sporting a fire-engine red livery and starred in several movies of the day.

The aircraft was eventually restored after 6 years of painstaking work and initial legal wrangling. Tom Brown, a specialist restorer of vintage aircraft, took over the restoration and completed the job returning the Skylark to its historically-correct state and original colour.

The aircraft is now owned by Robert "Buzz" Penny, he currently has just one hour in the Skylark but he plans to build time and have fun; Tom, who test-flew it after restoration, has 14 hours! As for the future of the Skylark, Robert says "I want to enjoy it for a couple of years and then find a home to put it in," 
Performance and Specifications
  Crew: 2
Length: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 11 in (10.95 m)
Height: 7 ft 11 in (2.41 m)
Wing area: 187 sq ft (17.4 m2)
Empty weight: 1,288 lb (584 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 1,885 lb (855 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Warner Scarab radial engine, 125 hp (93 kW)
Maximum speed: 139 mph (224 km/h; 121 kn)
Cruise speed: 125 mph (109 kn; 201 km/h)
Minimum control speed: 35 mph (30 kn; 56 km/h) (50 MPH in Flight
Range: 475 mi (413 Nm; 764 km)

Lionheart Creations
LHC Ltd is a small design company founded in 1986 by William Ortis. Bill's background lay mostly in design for the automotive industry but also encompassed other diverse product design such as movie lighting, boats and hovercraft and through to aircraft systems including landing gear.

The company diversified into the computer gaming world and simulators such as MS Flightsim.  LHC has a proven record in producing niche, very high quality products and their flight simulation products carry this reputation on into FSX.

Some of Bill's aerospace concepts are available as freeware through the usual outlets and make for an entertaining experience!  There are other unusual payware titles including the Quest Kodiak and Epic Victory VLJ aircraft.

The product
I only found out about the Pasped Skylark by accident as I am a previous customer and have LHC bookmarked in my browser.  It is available in download version direct from LHC using PayPal or from Flight1 or SimMarket, both respectable and trusted sites.  It is worth remembering that SimMarket do offer a CD service if you are prepared to wait up to 28 days for delivery.

There are 2 versions available, the HD version, which I advise you buy, that has the HD textures which are all 2048 size textures, but in standard DXT5 format, not 'high-res', only double size. The "Regular" version textures are also DXT5 standard, but in 1024 pixels instead of 2048. Only the panel and fuselage textures though are double size, the rest are regular size and smaller. There is a switchout service provided by LHC so if you have trouble running the large textures you can change to regular.

The download is just a tad under 50Mb, I used the Flight1 service and the file was on my desktop in no time.  The Flight1 wrapper is pretty straight forward to use and the installation is completed in a minute or so.

Included in the download is the Pasped Skylark Owners Manual.

This is a leather bound book (Actually pdf!) which like the aircraft has that custom-built aged quality. 

The manual lists the specs of the Skylark, flying tips, panel layouts etc.  If you wish to get a feel  of the instrumentation, etc. this is a free download from LHC here  and gives you a perfect insight to this package.

Looking around the Skylark - Cockpit
The first thing you notice is the side-by-side bench seat which makes for a snug cockpit if you're not flying solo. Immediately in front are dual sticks that have real leather look gaiters.  Behind the seat is a small shelf to keep small bags and a picnic!

The floor is wooden and crossed with an aluminium step plate type material where the pedals enter the cockpit through brushes. Loads of detail here too including the cross hatching on the plate.

On the left side of the cockpit, for convenience, is a switch panel which has the master battery and starter switch along with sim controls such as tie down mode, Hdg and Alt lock switches and master auto pilot switch.  These can easily be brought to the fore by pressing shift+7. When in flight, as Bill suggests, you can just use Ctrl+H & Crtl+Z and Z to actuate these controls, much nicer.

The main panel has very few gauges but what is there is modelled in very high quality.  The dials are sunken slightly into the bulkhead and the main 6 (Alt, Compass, ASI, VSI, Artificial Horizon and Tachometer)  are straight ahead with a nice big clock to the left. A feature of the Skylark is there is no Vacuum (Manifold) gauge so you have to look at the tachometer red and green lines to gauge cruise and max RPM.

In front of the co-pilot are smaller gauges that denote oil temp, oil pressure, fuel, elevator trim and flap indicator I say flap but not in the conventional sense, more later.  A map box is to the far right with an animated door revealing a well-worn interior.  The open and closing of the map box produces a quite eerie creaking sound that made my teeth itch!

Below these gauges, we have a detailed model plate and electrical switches for the fuel pump, flap and lights. Dead centre is the carb heat, mixture and throttle, which is embellished with a very nice lion centrepiece (Well deserved self-promotion I say) and fuel sector switch. All the switches come with a nice sharp clicking sound when operated.

On checking these controls out I only found one to be inoperative by mouse, the flap, however, the switch was animated when switched by other means. I checked the manual and unlike the elevator trim, it doesn't suggest this is non-mousable.

The sliding canopy and doors either side can be operated by mouse and their animation was very smooth.

There is a 2D panel available with all the knobs and dials, but for the life of me, I cannot see why you would use it as the VC is so gorgeous!

Special features
Here I intend to list features not accessed from the panel, using shift+5 you get a rather smart looking nautical compass, this makes for clearer reading than the whiskey compass and I will check its use later on, it is quite a fancy contraption!

The kneeboard is very much in keeping with the style of the aircraft and the compass. I found it very useful and easy to use. One interesting feature is a runway visualiser which is helpful to gauge direct, parallel and teardrop pattern entries.  Also on this page is a trip computer showing fuel remaining and probable range. the range figure changes instantaneously when you add and decrease the throttle.

Also included is a fictional 1940's GPS! this is just like the default Garmin model with the same display and functions, however, it looks like it has an old metal case rather than the plastic we see today.  I like that touch, as I mentioned earlier you do have basic autopilot functions so it would be easy to follow a track from a flight plan.

Walk around
If you have set the aircraft to tie down mode she will be chocked and the canopy covered. Nice details and not wasted on me! The aircraft isn't exactly tied down but the chocks and cover looked good.

The aircraft is interwoven with metal wire braces going in all angles, above and below the wings and elevators as well as between the wheel fairings. On close inspection you can detect the strands of the wires.  This aircraft will withstand a lot of close inspection, Shift+E+4 gives access to the nose compartment, here you will find the Exide battery and Sunoco oils, all these small details have not been overlooked.

The Warner Scarab radial engine is housed in a low drag cowling, I was surprise at how small it is but at 125hp, that is a lot less than my car! The wooden fixed-pitch props are just about photo-real.

Turning now to texture quality, I would say these are amongst the best I have seen, I loaded the HD set which are the larger versions, the bump mapping is very evident and all the rivets, lines and detailing are as good as you get. The textures are a little clean looking for my liking but it is possible that this being the only airframe made that it was kept in tip-top condition.  I would like to see a tatty version though.  There is a paint kit supplied so hopefully some other liveries (Although fictitious) may be made by enthusiasts. (I know a few!)

Moving back from the aircraft you realise how big the wings are, they have a huge surface area and are rounded at the tips.  Along with the fairings this gives here quite a heavy look.  Mounted under the wings and belly is one huge electrically operated flap, more later about its use.

Looking to the rear of the aircraft you notice there is no rudder trim so that could be interesting on take off, the tail wheel moved with the rudder and can be locked in theory but is not modelled so it just free-wheels, that didn't affect the performance that I could see.

Finally, the small doors open each side to allow easy access to the cockpit and the canopy slides back on its rails. Having the canopy open like this, as with a lot of old military tail-draggers is an absolute necessity when taxiing.

Flying the Skylark
Overall, I would say she is quite easy to fly. She does tend to be more like a much larger aircraft in her feel, in no way a nimble racer!

The kneepad start up instructions are clear and easy to follow. There is a fantastic start up sound and the unmistakable deep roar of the radial engine. As part of the animation a small amount of smoke will fly past your head.  Not being that complex an aircraft, once warmed up, you will be able to taxi in no time. You will tend to snake along the taxiway as you look out the side to get your bearings.  Steering is done by using the toe-brakes, this is quite familiar to me as this is my favourite type of aircraft.

The take off roll is generally short and the tail rises quite quickly, she floats into the sky with the minimum of fuss, just be sure to gain a bit of speed before increasing your clime rate.  You can push the RPM past the red mark momentarily if you need it but what's the hurry!?

Trimming her in level flight is quite straight forward but I was amazed at how quickly she responded to a change of trim.  Book cruise speed is 130 mph on the green line and she achieved this easily and seemed quite happy to chug along all day.  It is true to say that she handled like a much larger aircraft, she turned well but liked a gradual turns more than deep banked ones. 

In most other manoeuvres she felt solid and reliable. Great for sight-seeing and there's no real need for the autopilot unless you are undertaking a longer flight and possibly following a flight plan on the GPS.  There is no GPS tracking so you purely change the heading setting and let her go.

Bringing her into land is an interesting affair.  You have a choice of bringing her in straight shallow which makes the runway a little difficult to see unless you fancy trying out your side-slipping which I did and I was impressed she handled it so well. Or turning onto a short final and using the "Flap" airbrake to bring your speed down quickly from 110 through 90 last notch of flap and keeping her at about 70 with quite a lot of throttle.

These manoeuvres aren't mandatory, just more fun, being in mind the stall speed is a measly 50 MPH you are bound to get her down safely!

The radial engine sound wonderfully deep and growly from the outside. I thought the engine sound in the cockpit was a bit weak but this can be improved in the FSX sound settings, I soon achieved a good balance.

One thing that would have really impressed me is if there was a sound difference when flying with the canopy and closed as this is integral to the whole take off and landing experience.  However, I haven't experienced this on any aircraft so maybe it's not possible and I am sure Bill would have thought about this.

Sim performance
After reading that using a non-"HD" texture set would increase performance, I thought the Sim would struggle? Not a bit of it, using default FSC scenery, REX2 clouds (I am not un-installing them for anyone!) and an overall setting of "High" in the display options, my FPS were in between 66 in the VC and 170 in clear air.

I think that says a lot for the efficiency of the model.  Infact, I found myself having to throttle the FPS by using FPS Limiter an excellent 3rd part utility to stop the sim being jerky.  Capped at 30, she ran like a dream. 

Please note, that except for these sim performance shots, all the others in this review are featuring various 3rd-party sceneries which will have further impact on the performance depending on their build quality.  The idea of using these sceneries for screenshots is purely to promote the eye-candy aspect of this product.   

I have to congratulate Bill and the team at Lionheart Creations for a very well presented and well performing aircraft.

It's heartening to know that we still have these small independent design studios creating these niche products.  You may remark, "Yes but at what cost?" I am astounded to reply, $12.00 and be deafened by your numbed, open-mouthed response!!

I loved the detail in the manual, overall she was a delight to fly and will certainly be used again on one of my cross-country adventures.

I am pleased to award this a very respectable Mutley's Hangar score of 9/10

Joe Lawford
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Tri-Channel Corsair DDR3 Ram |GX260 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit Pro

      System Requirements (Mutley's Hangar advice)
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required) )
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • 2.8 GHz CPU (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 Gb RAM (2 Gb recommended)
  • 512 MB Graphics Card
  • 50Mb Download size
  • 151.2 Mb hard drive space (HD Version)