Microsoft Flight Simulator continues to grow and improve in expected new ways. Not only has the MSFS team brought numerous and continuous improvements to the platform, but also third-party developers have contributed in astounding new ways to the maturity of the platform. Amongst this week’s stream of new aircraft releases, one sets itself apart: the Hot Air Balloon by Hype Performance Group is now out for Microsoft Flight Simulator!
Hype Performance Group is a well-known name in the community as creators of the excellent H145 helicopter. With that massive project now fully featured and in need of less development efforts, the team has turned into new projects, set to continue to innovate and break new ground in the development of add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The HPG Hot Air Balloon is the first professionally-built flyable balloon in MSFS and probably the most realistic implementation yet in any flight simulator. It promises to be a fun experience for simmers looking for something new. I certainly had a lot of fun with the preview copy kindly provided by HPG!
As we would expect, despite being a very simple flying object, the HPG Hot Air Balloon is modeled in great detail and includes a number of really cool features. For starters, it looks very much like the real thing, not only in terms of modeling and texturing, but also in the included animations: inflation and deflation, animated human passengers and operators, flaming engines, and more.
Lifting off the ground in a hot air balloon is a totally different experience from that of an airplane or helicopter. It’s a slow and nearly silent affair, as the hot air slowly pushes the huge balloon up in the air. The sense of peace and relaxation is immediate… even with the ground below getting further and further away.
Once in the air, just like a real balloon, the pilot (you) can control altitude… and not much else. The balloon will drift in the direction of the wind, and it’s up to you to climb or descend to avoid obstacles. In the real world, pilots use wind direction variations at different altitudes to help steer the balloon, but we’ll have to do some further testing to see if this is possible in MSFS.
Hype Performance Group includes a super-useful tablet in the balloon that enables a number of really cool features. You can toggle the display of dozens of balloons nearby, which makes the scenery look absolutely stunning and akin to the world-famous images of Cappadocia, for example. Furthermore, the tablet includes a GPS map and even Little NavMap integration!
There are a few more fun features that you’ll be able to explore, like the fireworks, nearby radio stations, and more. See below the full feature list and get ready to experience this truly groundbreaking MSFS experience! The HPG Hot Air Balloon is now available for just $15.00!
HPG Hot Air Balloon Full Feature List:
Highly Detailed 3D Model, Textures and Animations
– Professionally modeled with incredible interior and exterior details
-17 liveries included, all at 4K resolution and with PBR textures inside and out
– Fully animated cockpit and animations for inflation, deflation, stall and collapse
– Animated 3D humans including a hot air balloon operator and 2 passengers
– Designed and optimized for VR with great FPS performance, working VR Cockpit Zoom and proper visual scaling throughout the model
Avionics & Systems
– Steam gauges showing barometric altitude, vertical speed and envelope thermometer
– Available AI pilot that can control the hot air balloon based off terrain or altitude
– EFB tablet included with maps and additional apps available
– Balloonist Maps App: shows GPS speed and track
– Little NavMap App: connect to LNM, the free open source flight planner, navigation tool, moving map, airport search and airport information system
– Nearby Radio Stations: listen to radio stations local to the area you’re currently flying in
Hot Air Balloon Flight Model
– Fully integrated internal hot air balloon flight model and envelope simulation
– Power Plant: 2x 12 million BTU burners with realistic visual and sound effects
Immersive Sound Pack
– Realistic burner and environmental sounds
– Launch fireworks with realistic visual and audio smoke and explosion effects
– Create other nearby AI flown HPG Hot Air Balloons on demand
– HPG Hot Air Balloon can be set to follow a MSFS flight plan or current wind conditions