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Why Vistaliner!? Why? (page one)
- Erick Cantu (12.22.04)

     If it's one thing I'm not very good at, it's writing crap like this, and introductions are my absolute weak point! Upon the release of the 727 (the 3 week wonder), I was asked to write an article for you fine folks at Virtual Eastern (Director of Latin American Operations excluded), and after thinking long and hard about what to write, I decided to just talk about the 727, what led to its development, how we made it, and who did what.

     The new 727 had its genesis in a small GMax scene I started about 6 months ago with the intention of leaving alone until sometime next year. It consisted of a 727 fuselage, tail, engines, and a basic wing without any surfaces cut into it. The intention was to get a few basic shapes down now, and tackle the aircraft sometime in 2005 to replace the aging FFX 727 (which as we all know is a rather poor model by the standard even then). My motivation for starting a new 727 was basically to pay reparations for the old one! I got the shapes together, set the project aside, and went to finish the DC-9, a process which would ultimately take several months (gotta love year long development cycles).

     This all changed when I got a request for a repaint of the FFX 727 for this airline. I don't know about you, but I refuse to paint that thing for two basic reasons, the first being the model is poor, the second being the texture layout was worse. Being somewhat reluctant to paint the thing, I said no and prepared to shut down for the year (releasing 3 aircraft families and an addendum to one kind of tends to wear you out). After some creative cajoling (apparently I'm not as much of a heartless bitch as I used to be), I agreed to a stop-gap. The new 727 was not due until sometime in 2005 and the FFX 727 was out of the question, so we agreed to a situation akin to what I did with the 737 for my VA earlier this year. I would create a basic visual model as a temporary measure. The aircraft would be somewhat simple, lack the features planned for the final aircraft, come with a rudimentary FDE, and be ready within the span of a few weeks. It would also be completely unsupported. The terms were set in stone, and I got to work. I enlisted the help of Fraser Turner for the FDE since he said it wouldn't be too hard to get the DC-9 into a reasonable facsimile of a 727 in that time period, gathered hundreds of reference photos, including loads that Chris Trott had taken when I told him my intentions to do a new 727 a year or so ago. We had photographs of every part of the plane down to the tiniest details meaning that we could, presumably, model everything, and give everything photoreal textures to boot.

     We also had the help of several 727 people - ground staff, pilots, and so on. We chose not to flaunt it because we figured it'd be in poor taste. I suppose this leads people to assume that the aircraft wasn't designed with the input of real 727 pilots and other staff, well, they're wrong, it was! When you work in the freeware community, your lifeline is other people. I suppose this is true of most things, but when you don't have the money to finance a project and get references, you simply rely on the kindness of other people, and in our case we got lucky. We had any and all materials a designer could ever want. We had engine tables. Performance charts. Diagrams. Photos of everything. Three ex-727 pilots - one being Captain Jim and two other being relatives of testers. We had the bases pretty well covered, I'd say. About the only thing we lacked was the fact that I've never been a 727 crew member, but you modelers out there all know that means precisely - for lack of a better term - dick. Makes for good advertising, perhaps, but not much else. I also had the help of some of the harshest critics in the universe (take, for example, the previously mentioned Mr. Trott) - was it a bugger to put up with when they were convinced they were right and I wasn't doing it as it should be? Sure, but the end result was worth it. You cannot design something without people's input, and I'd rather listen now than catch fire later!


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No portion of this website may be reproduced or duplicated without the prior written consent of Virtual Eastern Airlines
All logos and trademarks are the property of Eastern Air Lines, Inc.
2002 Virtual Eastern Airlines