Alabeo has changed, they’ve changed a lot. For me, gone are the days of somewhat functional airplanes that put visuals as the #1 priority, with everything else being there to support the pretty model. Instead, they’ve slowly gotten better at making systems that better and better resemble the airplanes they’re meant to model. Their performance has improved by leaps and bounds, and their flight dynamics have even taken a big step in the right direction. Nothing better encapsulates this change than their new M20R Oviation, a semi-modern Mooney with character, speed, and very smooth handling. For this one, Alabeo pulled all the stops and dropped their G1000 pit in favor of a modeled 6-Pack and a spot for the F1 GTN 750/650. Their effort shows, and this plane is a far cry from the G1000 same-y cut and paste planes of yonder. Just how well did they do? Well, let’s dig in and take a closer look.
This plane comes in the standard-affair Alabeo/Carenado installer exe, which is easy and fast to use. Input your license key, and the installer is off to the races. Once it’s done doing it’s thing, you’re left with the plane, a utility to add the GTN, and a utility to add the RXP GNS system. The plane also comes pre-installed with a few nice liveries to play with, including maybe my favorite airplane livery of all time, N541JS. Apart from that, this plane doesn’t come with much in the ways of external utilities, or payload management, which is a bit of a bummer, but they didn’t advertise that it would, so it’s to be expected.
Boot this plane up into the sim and you’ll immediately notice what Alabeo still does better than almost anyone else.., visuals. This airplane is stunning from almost any angle imaginable. Some of that can be credited to unique Mooney styling, but most of that is attributed to the absolutely fantastic texturing and modeling job that Alabeo did. We’ll start at the front of the plane, where the chrome nose-cone draws your attention to the powerful engine lying dormant under the hood. To the side of the engine bay lie vents, and below it are beautiful metal exhaust pipes sticking way out of the airframe. As we move back we can look at the very sharp and well modeled AoA sensors, and other assorted small pieces/sensors on the wings look just as nice. Above the wing we find a very nicely detailed interior model (only viewed from the outside) which sports two fine gentlemen at the helm of the plane, both of which are very well modeled and detailed. Move under the wing to the gear and a few textures here and there start to become a bit lower res, but that’s to be expected if performance is to remain good. Moving backwards is more of the same story, with the control surfaces all sporting beautiful animations and sharp quality.
The individual liveries that come with this plane are also amazing, sporting incredibly high resolutions and interesting designs. It also helps that this plane is a looker to begin with, with the striking stance and backwards slanted tail only feeding to the sporty look. This plane also has very good reflection mapping, something that you take for granted right up until you see it done poorly. Alabeo have kept up their reputation once more as a dominant leader in aircraft modeling
The Virtual Cockpit retains everything that’s good about the external model and then some. We’ll start with the gauges, which bounce around during flight and have a very convincing glass layer on top of them, which amazingly, actually looks like glass, something very few devs are able to replicate. We can also take note of the small little smudges and imperfections on the actual gauge texture that give this plane life, even if you never notice those details in specific. Above the 6 pack is an assortment of engine gauges and displays, all of which work correctly, and are crisp to boot.
To the right of the gauge clusters are the radios, and the GPS (I use the 750.) Again, this part of the plane is beautifully modeled and sharp, and the semi-digital radio displays look incredible.
Below the very nicely detailed yoke are some switches to control things like Pitot Heat, and to the right of those controls are your standard throttle, prop, and mixture controls, which.., again, look amazing. Point at any point in this cockpit and it’s amazing. Leather seats? Amazing. Overhead? Amazing. Rudder Pedals..? Amazing too.
Systems have historically been the weak point of an Alabeo plane, but this airplane proves to be an exception, and a step in the right direction. Firstly, gone is the G1000 for this plane, which I think already was a great choice, because every Alabeo/Carenado G1000 plane just feels the same. This airplane, simply put, is the best one systems wise that they have ever put out. To be clear, this plane still is not an A2A or RealAir sim competitor, but it’s almost like it’s from a different company than other Alabeo planes. Every switch can be turned on or off, and even though the engine doesn’t seem to have a complex model like A2A would, it will still punish you for being an idiot, and every normal procedure that a regular pilot would perform on a regular flight can be completed fully. This makes me so unbelievably happy. Alabeo is improving, like, a lot, and this feels like it is the beginning of good things for the company. I found myself considering this as a plane to fly in the GA world on a regular basis, something that I admittedly haven’t done in a long time. This plane is fun, and it has the goods to back it up for simple point to point flights. This plane lets you enjoy flying without worrying about it breaking, and I can’t express how good that makes me feel. I want more of this from Alabeo, because this has shown that they really can make a good set of systems if they want to.
This airplane also comes with a robust 3D soundset, which adds to the already boosted immersion factor. The roar of the engine, the clacking of the engine at idle, the starting churn, the flap extension whir, it all comes to life in a melody like none other, rivaling the soundsets of RealAir and A2A.
Visual fidelity usually costs in terms of FPS, but this plane actually performs on par with A2A planes like the Comanche and the PA28 Arrow III in places like BHB and MBS airports (ORBX and Turbulent respectively) See the graph below:
A Mooney should be fast. A Mooney should be smooth. A Mooney should be nimble. The M20R is all of those things, meaning that this plane is a joy to fly. From take off to touch down, this plane is fast, but in a very manageable way. This plane has a heft to it that means you can’t just fling it around and expect it to do a barrel roll, even if it’s going 120kts on the climb out. It feels like the perfect balance of weighty and nimble, which is a rare balance usually only found by other low wing A2A planes. Alabeo did a fantastic job with how this plane flies.
This plane represents a turning point in Alabeo, one that’s leading them down the path of improvement by leaps and bounds. This airplane is a far cry from those of Alabeo’s past, and that’s a really good thing. This plane is fun, quirky, incredibly handsome, and fast. It’s also really good on frames and VAS to boot, all while carrying a pretty small pricetag. I’m so incredibly happy that this plane turned out to be good, and I wholeheartedly recommend you check it out.