Review: F-86 Sabre by Dudley Henriques

Dudley Henriques, well-known for his many reviews, previews and other involvements in the flightsim world, has been helping the Sabre crew with insight and expertise during their development. Dudley ALSO wrote a review of the Sabre-under-development some time ago. Now that the beautiful model is out in the open, lets publish Dudley’s words on the subject. Remember, this is a freeware product, so be amazed!

A World Class F86 Sabre For Microsoft Flight Simulator
An Introduction by
Dudley Henriques
President Emeritus
International Fighter Pilots Fellowship

As a retired professional pilot it’s been my pleasure to have been associated through the years both with Microsoft and many fine add-on developers designing aircraft for MSFS. In this capacity I usually advise on realism, fidelity, accuracy and authenticity on airplanes and the systems of aircraft I’ve actually flown or been closely associated with in real life throughout the 50 odd years I’ve spent in aviation as a pilot and instructor.

One thing you might have noticed about my reviews and articles for the community is that I seldom have anything negative to say about a product I review for you. There is a definite reason for this. I’m what you might call a “selective” reviewer.
In every instance where I’ve chosen to write about the aircraft I’m profiling for you, that product has already met my personal criteria for being the “best of the best” in quality and realism; in my opinion anyway 🙂

Following this “doctrine”, when I introduce a product to you, I am in effect putting my name on it. The trust you have shown in my judgment through the years is all the “reward” I need to justify the time I spend devoted to the projects I present to you.

This having been said…………..

Throughout my career in aviation as a civilian pilot, I’ve had the unusual opportunity to fly military fighters and trainers both propeller and jet. My main area of interest both in real life and in the simulation community has been and remains in this area. Over time it has been my pleasure to profile for you a fair amount of top notch work from various developers. This time around will be no exception.

The Sabre

So with the above fresh in your mind, allow me to introduce you a North American F86 Sabre. The airplane I’m about to profile for you is the result of a major effort achieved over a great deal of time by one of the finest design and development teams I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with in the flight simulator community. In my opinion, this add-on could well be one of the “crown jewels” ever introduced for use in MSFS.

I’ll tell you the honest truth folks. If I was asked to put a fair price on this add on by the team that created it for you, I quite frankly wouldn’t know what price tag would be sufficient to equate the effort and talent this team expended in producing this F86 Sabre. Fortunately I won’t have to attempt this because, believe it or not, this F86, as good as it is, has been done as a gift to you from the design team that created it. It’s yours as FREEWARE!

I’ve been associated with the F86 team through a lot of the Sabre’s development as an advisor on realism and I’ve seen first hand the quality and care, not to mention the sheer creative talent the team expended on this project. It’s been a great experience working with them.

I’m fairly certain some of you might already know the design team by reputation; Jan Visser, Hans-Joerg Naegele (Hansi to his friends), Rob Young of RealAir, and Cliff Presley. My small part in this project, since I’ve actually flown the real F86 (the Canadair Sabre 6 actually) has been as a test pilot for the team and as a general advisor on the aircraft’s performance. I also have a personal angle involved that I’ll explain for you a bit later on.

Speaking as an instructor and check pilot with experience in high performance airplanes I can tell you up front that I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to sit a prospective F86 checkout applicant down in front of a computer screen and have that pilot use this program as a learning tool prior to actually having them fly the real airplane. It’s really THAT good!

A look up close

How good is THAT good? Well, for starters, if you’re REALLY sharp, when you bring up the cockpit for the first time, you just MIGHT be able to tell you’re not looking through the windshield of a real F86…and this is just the beginning! Now take a look around that cockpit; every instrument; every switch; every system; it all works just like the real Sabre.

Where the sim’s basic engine could be used it has been used properly. Where a special behavior or depth of fidelity was required, masterful gauge design has been implemented by Hansi. He’s worked in VERY original and innovative programming that literally, along with Jan’s terrific textures makes the F86 come alive for you. Generally speaking and with little exception, if it works in the real Sabre, it works in this one! You can literally fly this F86 in the simulator, get into your car and drive over to where a real 86 is sitting on a ramp at the airport and instantly recognize everything surrounding you in the real Sabre’s cockpit.

Rob Young’s flight model is typical of the caliber of work the community has come to expect from RealAir and is accurate in every detail to the performance of the actual Sabre. Rob and I have worked together before and I can tell you his flight models are some of the finest and most accurate in the business.

I’ve test flown this F86 for some time now throughout the development of the program and compared every detail of Rob’s flight model to the actual airplane. For all intent and purposes when you are flying this add-on, you will be replicating the performance and behavior of the actual F86.

Just to give you some idea of the accuracy you will find when you fly the Sabre, we spent the better part of a month simply working on the approach behavior. It’s extremely accurate. Just as in the real 86, you will have to handle the airplane correctly both on takeoff and landing.
You will be EXPECTED to fly it correctly at all times! Rob Young has seen to that.

Jan Visser, who among his other talents is identified with the quality found in the wonderful MAAM products he has helped create for the community has continued his museum quality graphics and texture accomplishments by creating for you an F86 Sabre both inside and out that rivals photographic quality. I actually had to inquire at one point whether I was looking at a graphic presentation or a real photograph of an F86. His work is simply stunning; nothing short of spectacular!

Jan feels that the one thing he can’t put in a simulator cockpit for you is the actual smell of that cockpit. His approach to realism is so “tuned in” that since the “smell” can’t be reproduced, he feels the next best thing he can do is to create a visual cockpit for the end user that is so real, so photographically true to life, that the person using the program can “literally” smell the aircraft.
Jan had this in mind when he set out to create the F86’s cockpit for you as he designed it here in this program. To do this he needed extremely highly detailed photographs of the Sabre’s cockpit from which he could create what you see here now finished.
Fortunately for the design team, Warwick Carter, a talented designer in his own right from Australia offered to go up to the Classic Jet Fighter Museum at Parafield Airport near Adelaide. There he arranged to take the photographs Jan needed. Warwick knows his way both around a camera and a cockpit. His help to the team and to Jan specifically was invaluable and much of what you are seeing when you bring up this magnificent F86 cockpit is the result of Warwick Carter’s photographic effort. It’s people like Warwick Carter who make the sim community what it is; a community of extremely talented people; many of whom are friends!

Minute details that function as they do in the real airplane are commonplace in this aircraft. To list all the features and subtle detail that surround you in this cockpit would take a LARGE article. Here Hansi has performed miracles for you. Your discovery of how things work and the time you spend learning to fly this F86 should be part of a pleasant and educational learning curve I’m sure none of you will regret. You have been given a golden opportunity to learn a great deal about flying an early high performance jet.

The manual

Have you ever wished you had a first class reference manual for that great new add on you just downloaded? Well wish no more. You won’t believe the manual that comes with this F86!

The reference manual and aircraft check list data that comes with the program is one of the best manuals you will ever see done for MSFS. It’s a perfect mix of the actual Air Force Dash 1 (Pilot’s Flight Handbook) for the Sabre and complete explanations with accompanying graphics that show you in plain language everything you need to know to fly the F86 properly.

Here I have to mention the great work of Cliff Presley. Cliff is a retired Air Force fighter pilot who helped tremendously with the project. His suggestions are implemented throughout the program. Cliff took on the task of creating the excellent manual that is included with the Sabre. Quite simply what he did was to create some of the finest reference and checklist tutorial work I’ve ever seen done for MSFS. Something every sim pilot will appreciate is the painstaking effort Cliff has made in explaining how and where something in the program differs between a specific system as programmed in MSFS and reality, and trust me, with THIS program, that doesn’t happen very often. This F86 is truthfully “as real as it gets”.


You will note with pleasure that the aircraft is completely IFR capable, equipped as was the actual Sabre with period VOR/ILS/DME/ADF/Marker/and RMI capability. All avionics work in MSFS as they do in the actual Sabre.

You can fly the Sabre VFR or on instruments if you’re good enough :-)) If you want to, you can take this F86 anywhere where an instrument approach is available and make the ILS, ADF, or VOR approach at the destination airport right down to minimums.

All instrumentation is accurate and period presented rather than generic. The instruments work as did the originals and can be used in today’s nav and ATC system.

I won’t even try and tell you all the things that function in this airplane. Half the fun of having it in your sim folder will be discovering all the systems that work as they should and what you can do with them after reading up on what each switch and system does.

I will tell you that you will appreciate the attention to fine detail as you open the canopy after a landing and hear the wind sound change. Dive from 40 thousand feet and notice the altimeter needle vibrate as the shock wave passes the static ports as the 86 goes through Mach 1.

Stall and spin behavior is faithfully reproduced for you, as are a virtual ton of other behaviors unique to the F86.

This North American F86 Sabre folks, is simply one of the finest programs ever developed for flight simulator. It’s a world class program.
The initial release is for FS9 (FS2004). There will also be an FSX version available shortly.

A true story

Now, I promised you a personal slant from me on this project.

On the afternoon of the 19th of March 1955, at exactly 1505, a lone Delaware ANG F86 took off from New Castle AFB Delaware to rendezvous just North of Salem N.J. with an incoming ANG T33 towing a target that had been used on an aerial gunnery training mission that day. The purpose of the 86 accompanying the T33 on in to the field was to insure that nothing interfered traffic wise while the target was being dropped. The 86 was in effect flying shotgun for the T33 as a safety procedure.

The two aircraft approached New Castle and the T-Bird dropped the target on the right side of runway 32 then started a climbing turn into the pattern. The 86 was wide and outside in trail formation.
Suddenly the 86 suffered a compressor failure. The J47 engine started spewing compressor buckets like machine gun bullets and the 86 started down fast as it was coming apart. Captain Walt Hannum flying the T33 later said that he screamed for the pilot to eject as the pilot of the 86 tried to aim the airplane for an open field as it was headed directly toward the town of New Castle which was right next to the Air Base.

The 86 pilot never had a chance. He rode the stricken fighter down as pieces came flying away from the airplane. Finally, at very low altitude, the pilot managed to eject. He was too low and way out the seat envelope for sink rate. The 86 went into a farmer’s field just outside the town and exploded. The pilot, still strapped in the seat, impacted the ground without the chute having time to open. He was killed instantly.

You’ve all heard the classic story of the pilot who tried to miss the populated area. Well here was one pilot who did try to do just that.

The ANG that day lost a fine officer, and I lost the best friend I had ever known. The pilot of that F86 was Captain James R. Shotwell Jr. I had known Jim since I was a boy. He was like a big brother to me.

Jim Shotwell’s F86, Delaware Air National Guard tail number 49-1169; the one he was flying the day he was killed; is one of the liveries included in this F86 package. I know all of you will enjoy flying the various liveries included in the package, and I’ll be personally pleased and honored if those of you who choose to fly Jim’s airplane take just a moment to reflect on him and remember him as I still do 53 years after his death.

Climb High; Fly Fast
Dudley Henriques

The Sabre can be downloaded here. Manual available as a separate download here. And Jan has opened a special web site for the Sabre here.

0 Responses

  1. Thank you for this review. Your words fit my own (very first) impression quite good – this package is a stunning piece of freeware. When I saw the screenshots earlier today, I saw some “tasty” eyecandy. Now that I had loaded the Sabre in FS9, I see it is haute cuisine for heaven’s sake! Crisp and lifelike looks garnished with lots of detail. Awesome! So are the sounds. The engine howls and screams as if there was no tomorrow and plenty other audible gimmicks are waiting. So your senses are in good company while you just have plain fun with the flight model. F U N, I say. Good to see there are still such ambitious freeware projects for FS9.

    Two thumbs up and to the team a big THANK YOU from Hannover, Germany.

  2. Thanks for your great review of SectionF8´s Sabre. It is indeed a a work of love and art!

    I sincerely thank the team that produced such fine work and also to you for your assistance and nice review. I will certainly fly the ANG tail number 49-1169, as per your suggestion.

    With warmest regards and sincere thanks!

    Lisbon, Portugal

  3. A very interesting review. Those as knows me knows I don’t like “Paraffin Heaters” much (pardon the accent), but this review and the pictures have convinced me. I will be downloading and trying this out asap! (When the FSX version appears of course…)

    Thanks for a highly readable review.

  4. Fabulous aircraft in every respect. Handles like a dream and sounds extremely good. Visual model and animations are excellent.
    Be careful with max speeds for flaps, gear etc or you will be in trouble!
    I have spent a little while flying this but have to confess just jump in and go. Can’t wait to do it properly when I have time. Can’t believe how stable this craft is…. was it really this stable in real life?
    Great review Dudley, I like the personal tribute.
    The guys have done a fantastic job with this and could easily have charge $50 for it. It outstrips many expensive payware models by a very long way.

  5. Hi Dudley,

    Thanks for a great review, this addon is Awesome and congratulations and thanks to all who made it possible,

    It will give me hours of enjoyment and has been one of my favorite aircraft since i was a boy in the 50’s,


  6. Hi Dudley
    I can stiil remember the Sabre 6 taking off from Waterkloof AFB (FAWK) in Pretoria, South Africa. As far as I know the SAAF flying in Korea handed all the Sabres back to the USA and got the Sabre 6 of which about 30 were delivered and rendered in the camo colors of the SAAF. What a glorious site to us young boys in those post Korean days to hear and watch them screaming overhead. Thanks to you and the rest of the wonderful team for this great fighter!

  7. Dudley,

    thank you so much for your enthusiastic help on this add-on. And also thank you so much for a review in which you found exactly the right words for this outstanding plane.

  8. Dudley

    Thank you for your very honest review, it was a pleasure to read it.

    As for the SectionF8´s Sabre, I would have paid for this quality, it is a shame that some payware is but a 1/4 of the quality of this freeware.

    This is the first time I have been able fly a jet in FS9 from T/O to T/D, and thats not because it is easy but rather because of the quality of the fligth model and systems. As for the looks, there is may be 1 or 2 payware AC I would rate higher than this in quality.

    I must say a huge THANK YOU to the team for their labour of love and giving us this wonderfull AC for free.

    For the first time I am actually enjoying fly a JET and want to fly a Jet.

  9. Many thanks to the Section F8 team that made such a wonderful review by you, Dudley, possible in the first place! I was still flying Jan’s beautiful DC3’s, but on to the jet age and for FREE! Thanks again all of you!

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