My first SAAB was a '57 91 Safir
First of all, some of you might be asking, what the hell is a SAAB 91 Safir? The SAAB 91 Safir (Sapphire in English) is a three seater, single engine aircraft made by SAAB, whose first flight was done in 1945. It was designed by Anders Andersson (can't make up a name like that), who had previously worked for ze Germans, with airplane maker Bückner, and designed the Bückner Bü 181 Bestmann. The Safir looks a lot like the Bestmann; Herr Andersson basically got the design he made for the Germans and improved it when he worked for SAAB. The Germans had just lost the war and all their designs were being either stolen or copied by the Russians and Americans, at least the Swedes got some for SAAB (not only the Safir but the Tunnan too, different story). The Safir was designed as a trainer and it is aerobatics capable.
The Safir was the last aircraft design SAAB made before they designed their first car. So, coincidentally the first car was the SAAB 92 (the Ursaab is 92001). Born from jets my ass, more like born from props! Still an airplane!
So where do I fit in? Do I own an airplane? Do I even have a private pilot's license to fly a SAAB 91 Safir? No, and no. Although used Safirs are hard to find for sale they aren't too expensive, usually no more than a brand new base model 5 series BMW, which is actually cheap for a small aircraft. And although I do have 12 hours logged as a student pilot, thousands of logged hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator, a few hours on a Boeing CH-47 full motion simulator, and I feel I could safely take off and land a small aircraft, I can't legally fly an airplane unless both pilot and copilot die and the stewardess (yes I call them that) goes around asking "does anyone know how to land this thing??" "Well, what do you know, I landed at LAX using IFR on Microsoft Flight Simulator just last night just in preparation for this unfortunate time!".
So I hinted at my other hobby. I am an avid Microsoft Flight Simulator fan, I'm a Flight Simmer, and I am still stuck on FS9 if anyone here also is one (I like it much better than FSX, have my reasons). I don' just take off, fart around on a plane, crash like an idiot, and go around like a mad man on Flight Sim. No, I plan my flights, calculate my fuel and load, follow ground navigation and actually use proper real world navigation charts. But I still haven't gotten to my SAAB 91 Safir. What makes the Safir "mine"? After all anyone can go online and download a huge number of aircraft, how can I lay claim to a Safir?
Well, another hobby that I have (yes, I have too many), and one that I am not particularly good at, is graphic design. Before the Army I actually worked at USA Signs doing graphic design. I landed that job by mistake because I was the guy putting the signs together; my boss was supposed to be the designer. Often I would help him out and teach him a trick or two on the design program, finally he fired me as a sign-putter-together guy and gave me the job as designer.
Well, when Sibwings made the SAAB 91 Safir for Microsoft Flight Simulator both of those hobbies converged. Sibwings is an online company that makes payware aircraft for Flight Sim. Payware aircraft are usually much better and intricate aircraft than freeware ones. Sometimes they're not. When you go online and you fork over $20-40 for a piece of virtual aircraft software you hope you are getting your money's worth, but many times you're not. I have grown purple with anger every time I paid for a payware aircraft that sucked.
Not the case with Sibwings. I bought their SAAB 91 Safir when it came out in 2007, and after installing the aircraft I instantly liked it. The cockpit was detailed and everything worked, from the ventilation ports, to the window shade, and all instruments were accurately simulated. You can actually get a real SAAB 91 Safir manual and use it on this virtual aircraft. Uncanny. The flight model was perfect, it took off at the same speed as a real Safir, it stalled at the same speed, everything the real SAAB did, the virtual one did too. The aircraft even shook when it was on the verge of stalling and spun like a real one does. The guys at Sibwings were wizards, it's rare that you get a Flight Sim aircraft this good, especially on small single engine aircraft. I loved flying the aircraft, logged tons of hours on it, and I started downloading different paint jobs for this aircraft.
One day I looked at the Safir paint job source files (paint kit) and noticed how simple they were. I had attempted repainting different aircraft before using Adobe Photoshop, but most paint kits were either overly complicated or too simplistic. To put simply, my paint jobs always looked like shit. Sibwing's paint kit was layered correctly and came with easy instructions as to what should be painted, what should not. For an amateur graphic designer like me it was an easy task. So I set off to paint SAAB 91 Safir. To make it mine.
The first thing I needed was a goal. I don't like fantasy repaints, I like those that are based on real aircraft. So I scoured the internet for good source pictures of Safirs until I found a good one. It was a SAAB 91 B Safir, serial number 91343, made in 1957. It was originally a Royal Norwegian Air Force trainer, and in 2007 when I found the aircraft it was for sale in Germany with the registration D-EREK, still wearing its Luftforsvaret roundels. I liked the aircraft with its safety yellow paint, former military background and now civilian registration.
I started the arduous job of painting the paint kit. It's not as easy as it seems, you don't just paint it all one color and hope it comes out right. Each part of the virtual aircraft is covered in either a different paint file or in a different area of a single paint file. Making it all match and look good is not an easy task. Sibwing's instructions helped a lot, and I believe it took me about two or three weeks working a few hours a day to finalize the paintjob until I was satisfied with the results. The black anti glare patch over the aircraft's engine was a challenge, as were the roundels and the trim tabs. Had I worked non stop as a work project it would have takes me a couple of days to a half week to get it done.
The result was good, pretty stunning for my level of graphic design knowledge (I'm by no means good at it). So I packed it all in a handy zip file and sent it to Sibwings. Lo and behold Sibwings actually liked my repaint of their lovely Swedish single seat trainer and put it for download on their website.
So even today if you search for my name on Google you eventually find me on the Sibwings website, linking to a zip file for downloading a repaint of a SAAB 91B Safir D-EREK. SibWings lab: SAAB Safir Repaints
This was in 2007. I didn't buy a SAAB automobile until 2010. So I can say my first SAAB was an aircraft, a SAAB 91 Safir.
A virtual aircraft, but it is mine.
PS: What happened to the real D-EREK I don't know, it's not available for sale anymore. I'd like to think that this ancient SAAB is still flying around, being kept airworthy and hangared, ready to be enjoyed by its owner.
Just for comparison, here is the real D-EREK:
And here is mine, which you've been seeing above:
Last edited by rpiereck; Mon 08 October 2012 at 23:16.
SAAB: More than just a car.
'00 Saab 9-5 Aero Combi - '87 Saab 900i - '89 Peugeot 205 CTI