Building balsa models doesn't have the same immediate appeal as constructing space rockets, and yet Balsa Model Flight Simulator still seems extremely appealing. That's partly because it's from the original developer of Kerbal Space Program, and offers a similar physics construction toolset even if on a more terrestrial scale. It's available now in early access.
Like Kerbal before it, BMFS lets you click together prefab parts to construct your machine, before you take it on a test flight. After that initial flight ends in inevitable disaster, you can tweak your construction until eventually you have a controllable flying machine. Everything is physically simulated, so even shunting a flap or a twisting a wing a few inches can change the aerodynamics.
You can choose to build in order to tackle challenges in a career mode, or to build for the fun of it in a mess around sandbox, or to pit your creations against other players or AI in paintball dogfights. Balsa Model Flight Simulator is also designed to be highly moddable, just like Kerbal before it, with a modding SDK and a scenario editor.
We spoke to creator Felipe Falanghe back in August about leaving Kerbal behind, his lost year spent pitching unsuccessfully to investors, and his return with a new independent project where he has total creative freedom.
Back in the day, one of my favourite ways to play Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 was with its remote-controlled plane. It placed the camera on the blurrily-textured ground and let you perform loop-the-loops with a tiny RC vehicle, and it felt more accessible, and more immediately thrilling, than all the long haul flights. Balsa Model Flight Simulator might not feature any little green men, but I'll be following its early access anyway.
If you want to get onboard the plane now, BMFS is available from Steam with a 10% discount making it £13.04/€14.39.