AS 33 Me: the first electric sailplane for MSFS
If you want to try the challenge of flying an electric plane in Microsoft Flight Simulator you should get the free AS 33Me, which is both the first electric plane in the sim and a fantastic competition glider.
Electric planes may well be in our future as electric cars are becoming our present, so the idea of flying them in Microsoft Flight Simulator makes absolute sense. On the other hand, sailplanes are also something people want to have in the sim, especially because the weather simulation engine promises to be interesting for gliders and already allows some great soaring moments. Now, this may come as a bit of a surprise to many, but there is a plane in MSFS that is both an electric aircraft and a glider: the AS 33 Me!
The Alexander Schleicher 33 Me — or AS 33 Me — is a new 18m sailplane equipped with an electric propulsion system similar to the self-launching AS 34 Me. The German company also has the ASG 32 El “turbo” system in its lineup, as the interest among soaring pilots for electric flying is continuously increasing, but for now I want to reveal here the AS 33 Me, which is available for Microsoft Flight Simulator, courtesy of MADolo Simulations.
The AS 33 Me sailplane is available to download from Flightsim.to, and you’ll find it in the Gliders section, which includes — now — five different sailplanes which you may want to try. Some of them seem to have been left at Alpha stage, but that doesn’t mean gliders are a dying species: in fact, I believe more and more people are excited by the challenge of trying to fly a heavier-than-air craft without power by utilizing ascending air currents.
A glider made for Virtual Reality
The AS 33 Me from MADolo Simulations results from the efforts of a team whose names you’ll find associated with other aircraft and systems appearing in MSFS. The model has evolved from its early stage to a version 1.0 that I find impressive, in my journey discovering the challenges of soaring. Living close to a training ground for sailplane pilots and having photographed them, professionally and for fun, for many years, I have always dreamt of flying efficiently and gain altitude solely from natural forces, such as thermals and ridge waves, and even tried it in the old Microsoft Flight Simulator, but never felt it was very exciting there or in other sims.
Things are different with Microsoft Flight Simulator and, in my case, with Virtual Reality, which is the only way I use MSFS 2020. When the first gliders appeared I was curious, but with the AS 33 Me available I discovered that much of my time in the simulation is spent ridge soaring… when I am not flying the Bell 47 or go for a quiet ride with the PA-28R Turbo Arrow III/IV from Just Flight.
MADolo Simulations was started, says its founder, “as a means of getting high quality sailplanes, with high functionality and task data into MSFS 2020. With the quality of the landscape in MSFS I thought it was important to offer as much functionality into one screen to accommodate VR Support. I contacted B21 who has a very well know reputation for working on FSX gauge coding and flight dynamics. Together we have decided quality and affordability are a number one objective.”
The AS 33 Me is available for free and, also according to MADolo Simulations, “the vast majority of or projects will be freeware, with only a few of them will be launched as Payware (but at a very low price), just enough to take the wife out to dinner occasionally and keep her happy while I sit for hours on end at the PC. To start off with we will be looking at modern sailplanes in the FAI Open, 18m, 15m and standard classes. If the models are popular and we have a call for it, we will then look into Club class and older models. We hope you enjoy.”
The Discus-2cFES, a second electric glider
If the theme interests you, there is a MS Flight Simulator Gliders closed group in Facebook which is important to keep an eye on. I recently spotted there that another electric sailplane is coming to MSFS. The next Got Friends side-project is a study-level glider with FES (Front Electric Sustainer) capability based on the — also available at Flightsim.to — Discus-2b.
Got Friends is the team behind the first payware available from Flightsim.to, the Gee Bee R3 Special, which is a concept modern racing aerobatic aircraft that has never been built as a real full-scale aircraft. It was designed by Italian designer Mirco Pecorari and features typical Gee Bee lines but is streamlined to be a modern hot-rod among Gee Bees. This Gee Bee R3 rendition is equipped with a fuel injected Lycoming AEIO-580-B1A engine, delivering 315HP to 3 blades at a constant 2,700RPM.
Got Friends is made up of Jonx, Got Gravel and 270 Inc, names you’ll find associated to freeware available for MSFS 2020, from liveries and interiors to the EA-7 Edgley Optica and the Vertigo or Savage Gravel. The team picks the free Discus-2b from Jonx as the base for the Discus-2cFES, which is both a glider and an electric aircraft.
A glider with Front Electric Sustainer
The Discus-2cFES differs from gliders as the AS 33 Me, as it abandons extraction and retraction of the engine, which saves complex components — and valuable time when engine help is needed. The company behind the project, says that “with the proven electrical FES (Front Electric Sustainer) system built by LZ Design, the Discus-2c now also has an option for an innovative, environment-friendly sustainer system that is very different from all former systems.”
According to the information provided for the real plane, “the reliable and lighting-fast starting and stopping of the engine with any noticeable additional drag allows to spontaneously use the electrical engine, which opens completely new perspectives. The powered flight is perceived in a very new way and can be enjoyed by puristic glider pilots.”
With 18 meters wingspan and more than one additional meter of wing area compared to the Standard Class version, the Discus-2c can be flown at very low wing loads and above-average climbing performance, despite the slightly higher empty weight due to the FES system. I must admit I am very curious to try this new bird in MSFS, as it continues to allow me to explore two areas of interest that occupy me a lot of time in MSFS: electric planes and gliders.
Ridge soaring is extremely fun
So, although Microsoft Flight Simulator and Volocopter have partnered to integrate Volocopter’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi model, the VoloCity, and the future vision for urban air mobility into Microsoft Flight Simulator, the very first electric plane in MSFS is the AS 33 Me from MADolo Simulations. With the added bonus that it is a glider!
To illustrate the adventure of ridge soaring in Microsoft Flight Simulator I created a video, with the aim of sharing both the beauty and the challenge of keeping a glider in the air for a long period of time. Creating the weather conditions for ridge soaring is easy and there are ways to create thermals in MSFS, if you investigate the right places. There is already a lot of technical information available and some of the links shared here point to the essential places to visit.
I hope the video published here with some moments from one of my flights attracts more people to explore other ways to discover the simulation. Ridge soaring is extremely fun, and I hope this article and the video make you want to try it. After all, the AS 33 Me is FREE. It’s a solid starting point for more sailplanes, some commercial, in MSFS. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back.