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Introduction to flying an RC Plane #2 - Purchasing a Flight Simulator

Written by Thomas

The best way to learn how to fly (and cheapest), is to purchase a flight simulator. This will allow you to develop much needed hand and eye coordination. This by far will make the biggest impact on your first successful flight.

You should spend enough time on a simulator to the point where you can take-off, perform a figure of 8 and land. Your flight should be smooth and controlled. If possible, try and fly a plane as close to the first model you plan to buy. Even better, try doing this on multiple models in the simulator to really fine tune your skills!

Most simulators have settings allowing you to change weather conditions. If you can, increase the wind so you can get a feel for what it’s like flying in to the wind and with the wind. This is something that you will have to do almost on every real world flight.

Lastly, if the simulator you choose has challenges like limbo and flying circuits, try as many of these as you can. You can have real fun while developing much needed coordination.

Almost all RC pilots continue to fly using a flight simulator even though they have years of flying under their belt. If you can afford it, it’s well worth investing in a more expensive flight simulator like RealFlight 7.5 or Phoenix R/C. An alternative is to buy an older version of these platforms second-hand.

You have a few options when it comes to setting up a flight simulator. The main difference between a cheap simulator and an expensive one is the detail and how it feels to fly. For instance, RealFlight 7.5 is arguably the best flight simulator on the market because it is as close to the real thing as you can get. When flying models in this simulator, it has the most realistic look and feel of the lot!

At the low end, you can download a free simulator but you will need to plug your own RC transmitter in to the computer requiring an adaptor. This is not such a bad thing as you will need to get used to the way your transmitter feels. However, as already mentioned, the other end of the spectrum in the most expensive simulators are marginally able to assist you in developing those much needed skills. But you also usually get a transmitter and cables with the more expensive option.

For some of the following simulators you will need to purchase a radio transmitter and cable to connect them to your PC which we have indicated next to the appropriate software. We recommend HobbyKing's USB simulator adaptor because it connects almost all transmitters to a PC and also enables you to use it later on as a single connection if you have purchased multiple flight simulators.

Low Cost Simulators

These simulators are free to use but require a transmitter and a cable to connect to the computer as outlined above. It's actually best to use your own transmitter on the simulator anyway because it gets you used to the way the transmitter feels. It may sound funny but each transmitter has it's own feel when using the gimbals (sticks on each side of the transmitter that allow you to ascend, descend and bank. Here are a list of examples of good low cost simulators:

Flying Model Simulator

This simulator is very simple to use and has basic graphics. It's enough to get you started and will certainly assist in developing your much needed coordination skills. Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: http://modelsimulator.com/

  • Price: Free
  • You will need to purchase a USB cable and use your own transmitter with this simulator.

RC Desk Pilot

Another great free RC simulator, RC Desk Pilot has some great graphics for a free simulator. Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: http://rcdeskpilot.com/

  • Price: Free
  • You will need to purchase a USB cable and use your own transmitter with this simulator.

Clearview RC Flight Simulator

Clearview is another great free RC simulator that will assist you in developing coordination.Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: http://rcflightsim.com/

  • Price: Free
  • You will need to purchase a USB cable and use your own transmitter with this simulator.

Hobbyking 6CH RC Flight Simulator System

HobbyKing offer a great value simulator that includes the transmitter and software. This is the best value for money in the low cost simulator category. The best part is that you can use the transmitter with all of the above simulators! Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: https://hobbyking.com/en_us/hobbyking-6ch-rc-flight-simulator-system-mode-2.html

  • Price: $25.00

Medium to High Cost Simulators

These simulators require purchase, but come with appropriate cables, however, will still require you to use your own transmitter.

Aerofly RC 7

Aerofly FS is a gret simulator for the price! The graphics are very nice and there are some great features including weather control. This is a major stepup from the free simulators and is the best value for money in this range. Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/322930/

  • Price: Starting from $39.95
  • You will need to use your own transmitter with this simulator.

Phoenix R/C

The Phoenix R/C simulator has some really nice graphics and features like adjustable weather and challenges to enhance your skills. Other settings allow you to hone your skills on this simulator. It's well worth looking at as a serious RC simulator!Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-R-C-Pro-Simulator-V5-0/dp/B00IK0CZBO

  • Price: $150.00 - $270.00
  • You will need to use your own transmitter with this simulator when purchasing the cheaper version. Transmitter supplied with higher price.

RealFlight 7.5

RealFLight 7.5 appears to be the market leader with great graphics and a range of features that are very useful in honing your skills. With over 140 models, various challenges you can take and weather control, RealFlight 7.5 is a great simulator. One really cool thing you can do is simulate in air failures which better prepares you for things like mistakingly having your ailerons configured the wrong way.Further information about this flight simulator including download links can be found here: http://www.realflight.com/products/rf7_5/gpmz4520.php?moreinfo=features

  • Price: $149.00
  • Includes a transmitter.

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