It was just a month ago that we first wrote about the very first helicopter for Flight Simulator, the freeware Airbus H135. It has come such a long way since then that it’s almost impossible to believe how little time has passed, and how good and ridiculously fun it is right now!
The H135 is a project by the Hype Performance Group, a team of talented developers who set out to create something that was tragically missing from Microsoft Flight Simulator: a helicopter. Their work has paid off immensely: it has since become one of the most popular freeware addons for MSFS, and a true testament of this extraordinary community that keeps on giving.
The H135 is getting very close to version 1.0 status. The graphical model looks great and needs just some final touches, and although there’s still some work to do with the sounds, they are quite good at this point, and will surely get even better in the near future. You can start it from cold & dark (make sure to be on a parking spot for that), and there are three flight models available to select, with slight variations in order to provide a more demanding or relaxed flying experience.
The three flight models include an XBOX mode, specially optimized for those using and XBOX controller, with less responsive controls; a Basic mode, similar to the previous one, but more responsive and lacking some dynamic helicopter effects; and an Advanced mode, which introduces engine torque and other effects that make the H135 feel and behave more like an actual helicopter.
The truth is, the H135 is as impressive on the outside as in the cockpit. It’s now fully rendered up to very impressive standards. There’s a complete set of custom avionics here, which are built on top of the existing systems from MSFS. Some cool features include synthetic vision and the default weather radar, which come from the Garmin G3000. Even better is the addition of a landing alignment system built into the HSI, a green circle that aids you to get lined up for landing.
All this adds up to a seriously impressive package that has gotten very good, very very quick. Taking of in the H135 and flying over the beautiful MSFS scenery seems like the thing this sim was built for. There’s no better way to enjoy the best landscapes MSFS has to offer than peeking down from this helicopter. In one of our flights over London, which is now fully rendered in photogrammetry (since the UK update), the H135 provided some unprecedented levels of immersion. Coupled with the stunningly realistic scenery, flying close to the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf heading to Westminster was just an absolute blast.
The release of the H135 has brought with it some nice side effects. For starters, there’s now an entirely new ecosystem for people to explore. Helipads have become a thing, now that we have something to make use of them. And the most artistic creators are coming up with new liveries every day for the H135. There’s now more than 100 available at flightsim.to!
All in all, we can only say one thing: stop what you’re doing and go get this. Even if you’re not a helicopter person, we can guarantee that you will have a ton of fun flying this. It’s definitely one of the most incredible freeware projects yet for Flight Simulator, and the future is bright for these guys (and for helicopters in MSFS). An absolute must-have!
If you’re looking to get help from the team, give your feedback or overall be more in touch with the project, make sure to check the official Discord server. There you will find a very helpful community ready to help and share experiences, as well as the developers, who continue to need your feedback to make their Airbus H135 even better!