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Home flight sims

Old 23rd Apr 2016, 15:32
  #1 (permalink)  
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Home flight sims

It's some time since I was involved with home computer flight sims and I am well out of the loop on where things are today
MSFS used to be the most supported then MS dropped the product coming back in a supportive position rather than new products
X plane has continuously been in production but I was never wild over that product

What is the most realistic sim around nowadays

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Old 23rd Apr 2016, 16:15
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For "normal" (read: contemporary civilian) flight simming, I am not aware of any new developments besides FSX (or its quasi-successor Prepar3D) and X-Plane. FSX with good add-on aircraft (RealAir which you were working with IIRC; A2A, PMDG, Dodosim JetRanger) is still ok and fun. Briefly tried X-Plane, too, but although the aerodynamics appear indeed to be well simulated, the overall feel was too much "paper plane" for me.

For pure "make-believe flying immersion", my favourites are:
a) Rise of Flight (free with three planes). WWI aircraft, so purely seat-of-the-pants VFR, where PC(?) sims are obviously extremely limited in their "realism" compared to, e.g., procedure training, but IMHO within these restrictions they did an awesome job of creating the illusion of flying an airplane, especially at the border zones of the flight envelope, and the damage model is enjoyable, too;
b) based on my very scarce dual rotary experience, the DCS Huey is a well-simulated aircraft, too.
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Old 23rd Apr 2016, 19:05
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A lot of universities are using Flightgear for a very realistic set of aircraft models, if not nececssarily the best visuals....


I haven't used it for a few years, but certainly found it useful when I was a proper academic using stuff like this for teaching. I've heard nothing to say it's other than still good (and still free!).

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Old 24th Apr 2016, 21:05
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I installed FSX and X-Plane from steam when they were on special offer near the new year. I also bought a few addon packs to improve the scenery.

I would say that it is not realistic for GA aircraft, the landings are completely different (you just plonk it on the ground) and the planes seem to be far too stable, no real corrections needed.

For Nav the VFR scenery is dated and only really visible at high altitude. Things like roads, train tracks and rivers are in the wrong place, or randomly placed.

Basically for GA type flying it's not really useful, except as a 'toy'.

For jets it may be better, as the instrument rules flight bits may be easier to get right on a computer. I cannot comment though as I have not bothered with that.

It is a pity that in the time of google maps and extremely powerful PCs there is no realistic flight sims for the home market, but I guess there is no real market for them any more.
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Old 24th Apr 2016, 21:56
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Thank you for all this information ! Years back there were new Programmes like Fly ! Pro pilot and the most immersive flight unlimited which had some great adventures
9/11 came along with claims that terrorists had used MSFS for training and all of a sudden MS dropped the product which had many 3 party addons
Flight unlimited was really quite immersive the biz jet adventure was really quite realistic

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Old 24th Apr 2016, 22:43
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The best development in home flightsims since they first became available many years ago is the virtual reality head mounted display (HMD). I've just got an Oculus Rift, and basically it is as though you are in the cockpit, you can look anywhere, even behind you. You can even move your head around to look around the cockpit framing.

My favourite sim to use it with at the moment is DCS where you can fly a Huey as mentioned above, but also a P51 Mustang and an extremely detailed A-10. When I say detailed, it takes about 10 minutes from a cold dark cockpit just to set all the switches and get the engines started.

Apparently it works with FSX as well but haven't had a chance to try it yet.

One of the striking things is how much more realistic it makes flying in the circuit, where you can glance across to the runway threshold and gauge your position.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 01:07
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Flight sims have not changed that much over the years.
FSX is FS2004/ Xplane 10 are still being used, with the professional add ons which makes the game more realistic.

DCS is an excellent fighter simulator.

What has changed drastically is the hardware and the controllers. Have look in youtube at some of the home cockpits being built these days. Some of them are virtually indistinguishable form the commercial sims, apart from not being full motion. All made possible with clever programming, and lower costs in electronics.

I am excited about the Oculus Rift and its competitor VIVE and cant wait to get my hands on one. Because so much of your experience comes from visual cues, having a 360 VR set integrated with a flight sim will be a step up form from just having a flat monitor in front of you. Ive seen people get motion sickness form paying flight sims with the Oculus Rift.

Check out this guy trying out DCS with Oculus Rift for the first time, its pretty funny.

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Old 25th Apr 2016, 07:21
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This has a lot of potential for a real world trainer simulation if they can only get the flight dynamics and control feel correct. Yes Armchair Flyer I did set up RealAir Simulations with Rob Young years back and tested the real Sia Marchetti before working with Rob on the dynamics but stepped out when i moved to London and the real stuff took over my time We worked on MSFS to try and get more realistic handling

MSFS flight dynamic engine was a nightmare as every time you tried to do something it was at the expense of the dynamics elsewhere. At least we got the SIA Marchetti to spin of a fashion or rather Rob Youngs Mathematical Genius did.

But I can see a lot of potential with this. The guy in the video was driving me mad Who knows something like this might temp me back into home flight sims


Last edited by Pace; 27th Apr 2016 at 10:54.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 09:03
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Flight Unlimited 2&3 were excellent sims and "felt" far more realistic than anything Microsoft have ever produced. The only thing I've found thats been close since is AeroflyFS which really very much reminds me of Flight Unlimited, there are hardly any systems to manage, no ability to fly serious IFR but for the feel of hand flying a light aircraft it really is excellent.

AeroflyFS 2 is due out on the PC soon and should have much more functionality but if you liked Flight Unlimited give it a try, their flight model really is excellent...

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Old 25th Apr 2016, 09:39
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Prepar3D + A2A Cessna or Piper aircraft + orbx scenery + Active Sky Next + Ezdok and you've got yourself a pretty good sim. You could spend a fortune on add-ons to make to look amazing and dont forget hardware, yokes and pedals can cost an arm and a leg.

Maybe worth Googling Dovetail games new flight sim that is coming out this year, from the looks of it its just a re-working and upgrade of FSX but we'll see.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 11:52
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I have been using X-Plane since version 6 or was it 5? Now on version 10.
I used it to 'play' around, but also to prepare for my annual IR check. This year was interesting since my aircraft is grounded since December because of an AD. My IR Profcheck came up last week and I had only flown one hour and not even IFR. Thanks to my preparation on X-Plane, there was no degradation of my flying skills and I passed without any problems.
My experience with X-Plane: I bought the Saitek yoke and throttle and rudder pedals, but they sit in the closet now. I prefer the mouse to fly and the autopilot.
I have the app to connect X-plane position to my Skydemon on my tablet. It makes for very realistic SID, STARS and general situational awareness.
I have the Carenado Beech V35B, the Baron 58 and the Kingair C90. The V35B layout closely matches my own aircraft as far as panel layout is concerned..
You do need a powerful graphics card. I run on Linux and X-Plane is one of the few that will do this.
I don't like the propeller doesn't simulate braking when reducing power.
All in all, for about 150 including a decent graphics board you can get started; before actually buying the program (about 25) you can download the demo version to see if your hardware can handle it.

I attach a screen shot of my Carenado C90.
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KingAirC90B_1.png (772.1 KB, 21 views)
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 11:58
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Here is a screenshot of the panel.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 13:44
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Some of the panels look and are very realistic. When I started flight simming years ago it was for IFR practice and very often I could complete a flight the day before on the sim and do the same for real the next day.

they were great for IFR practice but bad autopilot disconnected with a puppet on a string feel .
I took measurements in the real aircraft.
At slow speed landing you would pull the Yoke right back for a near stall landing maybe a movement of 9 inches for a given effect. In level flight the controls were far more solid with maybe 1/2 inch control movement and a lot of resistance to pitch 15 degrees

Control forces were way out as was out of the box handling like stalling spinning spirals etc

You could simulate those things to a certain extent but were always very limited
Taking the flat screen and multitude of pop up windows to display views and sub controls all made the sims poor for actual flight training
The new VR head pieces will help a lot with the views but still the flight dynamics need a lot to be desired

The Biz jet in flight unlimited did give a true impression of landing a business jet even if the graphics were dated. The One night departure adventure into thunderstorms was amazing you saw the cells painted on radar and approaching got all the turbulence and flashes.
Had that still been in production and up to date with Graphics it would have been something else

Fly! I was also involved with but in an advisory capacity. sadly the lead guy one heck of a nice bloke got cancer and died but that too had promise


Last edited by Pace; 25th Apr 2016 at 15:01.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 15:45
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For me the most important benefit I try to get out of X-Plane is situational awareness, doing approaches or complicated SIDs or STARs. There are force-feedback yokes available for several thousands that will greatly improve the feel of flying even with the standard X-Plane programs. I have a friend who installed the PFC 'cockpit' similar to his Mooney in his cellar. It has three projectors on a curved screen, 'real' Garmins in the panel and a flushing loo in the corner of his cellar.

Maybe in twenty years we will be flying real aircraft with a mouse as well, the gap will become narrower then.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 19:08
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Flying light aircraft well involves all of the senses. The home sims only provide visuals without the true 3 dimensional "look" that you get from looking out the windshield of a real airplane. For that reason I discourage pilots, especially students and lower time PPL's, from using them as a replacement for maintaining VFR flying skills

However they are brilliant for instrument flying practice. They are much more unstable than a real airplane so they force you to have a very effective scan and you can practice every kind of instrument procedure at a cost of a few cents for the power.
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Old 25th Apr 2016, 19:32
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Agreed but the new VR sets may improve matters a lot and coupled with a handling bespoke flight dynamic engine for training might offer a new possibility
MSFS is a complicated old design flight engine which isn't up to it
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Old 26th Apr 2016, 13:37
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I actually fully agree Pace.

I first tried VR and flight sims back in the 2000's using the Forte VFX1 and EF2000, I still have everything required to play this in my loft, it was rather good fun dogfighting in VR if a little vomit inducing.

I have also had the DK1 Oculus Rift since it was released and then the DK2 since that came out (still waiting for my CV1!). The DK2 with DCS is a fantastic experience and the flight model feels very realistic. The only problem with DCS using the DK2 is that the resolution isn't quite there for me to operate some of the more complicated jets. I can however start the Hawk up from cold and dark and take it on a mission using the Rift, the experience and feel of "being there" is incredible.

AeroflyFs has however by far the best "feel" of any sim since Flight Unlimited 3 but its not yet compatible with the Rift, when it is I would expect it to be an excellent way to practice handling skills as the flight model handles anything you can throw at it, including complex aeros.

You can 'Fly' FSX using the Oculus via an addon called FlyInside FSX however it all feels a bit numb for my liking, always found X-plane to be the same, fine for procedural stuff but the handling feel is junk.
I'll stick with DCS for the moment until they release AeroflyFS 2 and add in Rift support, god knows when that will be however as it was due out months ago on the PC.

I fully believe VR and flight sims have a very exciting future however!


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Old 27th Apr 2016, 10:46
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If you're not ready to splash out on an Oculus, or even Samsung Gear, I started using one of the smartphone headsets. 20, slide your phone into it and with a bit of cheapoware called Trinus VR you get the full experience.

It also spoofs the Track IR protocol and uses the gryos in the phone to track head movements. It blew me away, completely changed the way I use x-plane.

Trinus VR

VR Headset

There are a few youtube vids around with a walk through, took me about 10 mins to get setup.
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