It’s no big secret that one of the greatest assets to the hobby has been the RC flight simulator. Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned pro, it’s one of those things you almost can’t live without. The first generations of simulators were quite basic when it came to performance, and the appearance was certainly nothing to write home about, but their usefulness was quickly realized. No longer would you have to make several sacrifices to the modeling gods just to learn the basics of flying, and those that already had the skills could hone them in the comfort of their own home during bad weather. The first visually stimulating sim had to be the original RealFlight by Great Planes. The models were more than a just a set of colorful polygon shapes, and the sceneries actually resembled something you’d see in real life. RealFlight has been evolving ever since, and the newest version, RealFlight 6, is the best yet.
So, what’s new?
When you first look at the box, you’ll wonder what’s so different about this version, since the packaging appears very similar. Well, it’s what changed inside that matters. After installing RealFlight 6 on my computer, I noticed how much quicker it loads up. It’s approximately 30 percent faster than the previous version at start up and switching between the great-looking photo-realistic and 3D sceneries. Changing between models is now nearly instant. The program also defaults to the best settings for your particular system, so whether you have a simple laptop or the latest, greatest desktop gaming system, you’ll have the best performance available to you.
There are actually two versions of RealFlight available now: one geared towards fixed wing and the other towards rotary wing. One difference is that in addition to the over 80 stock aircraft, you get an additional Mega Pack, that adds 36 planes for the airplane specific version and 47 helis for the helicopter specific version (see real flight.com/megapacks for a full listing). The heli version also has a slightly different InterLink Elite controller where the rotary knob has been swapped with the gear/throttle hold switch.
Let’s see that again
A great new addition is the rewind feature. Simply hold down the reset button and the sim will start to rewind. When you get to a point where you want to start flying again, release the button and you’re off. I’ve used this quite a bit when flying through the obstacle course while in cockpit view and don’t want to do a full reset after crashing or missing a gate.
See Michael York’s full review in the March issue of Model Airplane News.
I am absolutely brand new to the sport of R/C modeling and flying. I haven’t spent a dime other than a few books, magazines and my membership here. I was planning on getting a sim program but wasn’t sure what to get so I’m consuming all the advice and information I can gather. I’ll look forward to the full article and hope that it doesn’t arrive too late to be of use.
Thanks for stopping by! I highly recommend a sim, and this latest one from RealFlight is downright amazing. As a new pilot, you may want to consider RealFlight Basic. It’s the same as RealFlight but doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that advanced pilots use. Also need to make sure you have a high-zoot PC to handle a high-zoot program like RealFlight 6 … I have RealFlight 5 and had to turn off some parameters so my [older] PC wouldn’t crash. That wasn’t a problem with the Basic version.
Thanks for the info on RF6. I’m looking forward to a sim this year to improve faster, as I’m new to flying helis.
Do you have an active Twitter account? Would like to follow you!
We do! It’s @modelairplane.
As a modeler and R/C flyer with many hours on the stick, I can say you are gonna love this hobby/sport. You are being smart about it in this phase. Research and learn all you can BEFORE you go out and bust your wallet getting your first plane and equipment. Be sure to check in your local area to see whether they have an RC flying club. If there is more than one, check them all out and join the one where you feel the most comfortable. They can guide you in getting your AMA certificate which you’ll need to fly with a club.
When I first learned to fly, there wasn’t anything like RealFlight. I recommend you invest in the full version………that is…IF your computer can handle it. Be sure to check the computer requirements. If you need to upgrade some on a computer, it WILL be worth it. RealFlight is a system resource hog no matter what version you have. If you don’t have a computer to run this on yet, I’d consider going with a high end graphics computer, as these types will handle the intense graphics related video and gameplay.
Another reason to go with the full program is the controller will be multi-channel and resemble the actual controller. It’s better to get the feel of and know how to use ALL the switches, knobs, etc. while looking away from the radio transmitter. The version I have utilizes a Futaba radio setup. Once you’ve spent the entire winter on the SIM, you will actually be more prepared to get with your local club’s RC flight instructor this spring for your initial buddy flights and solo.
This hobby is a serious and expensive one. I won’t kid you there. You need to develop a mindset of learning this sport just as you would a real, fullsized aircraft as you will be required to fully control that RC airplane in just about any situation. Add the fact that you will have people all around when you are in a club scenario and it will make you sharpen up and be on your toes. I’ve seen people get hurt in this sport as the pilot wasn’t capable or qualified to fly the model they were showing off with. I’ve seen a lot of guys with fat wallets buy the whole smash only to come out to the club field and first time out crash and trash it all. Why did they do that? They weren’t prepared and didn’t know what they were doing. It’s guys like that who have no business being on the field yet. Don’t you be one of those guys!!
There are all kinds of RTF kits out there. You can actually start out with a good used setup if you can find one and it isn’t that hard, especially this time of year. Check Craigslist and Ebay in your area and buy used to start out with. You are more likely to crash and trash your very first trainer while learning, so I wouldn’t spend a fortune on a really cool looking plane to start with. If you join a local RC club, there is another good way to pick up equipment and planes. The guys and gals are always upgrading and will sell their older planes and equipment to you cheap.
The first plane you will want to learn to fly with is a “high-wing” trainer. There are a multitude of those out there. My absolute favorite is the SIG-KADET, SR. An extremely stable and easy to learn on and fly model. Because it has large wing area, it is more forgiving and give you longer reaction time in the sky and will help you learn easier without crashing and burning. I believe the later versions of Real Flight have that model, but don’t quote me on it.
I’ve still got my original Sig Kadet Sr. It’s been repaired and recovered numerous times, but it was always the model I came back to for those flights away from the hotshot sport models that will fly circles around anything. Sometimes you will find a summer evening before sundown that is perfect and you’ll want to slow down, take it easy. The Sig Kadet Sr. is your ticket.
I’ve had mine tricked out with snow skis for a winter adventure. I’ve had pontoons on it for fun in the sun lake flying. I’ve had remote drop boxes for precision bomb runs. Even mounted a digital camera for still photos. Now with the latest tech equipment, you could mount wireless video and could remote fly it like the military preditor drones. How cool would that be!
You are about to step into a facinating hobby that I guarantee will provide you with years of feel good flying. Like all good things that last, you’ve got to build a solid foundation. Once you master the skills required to fly, you can then aquire models with ever increasing degrees of difficulty. You may even want to go for broke someday and master the skills to fly helis. Again, Real flight has numerous helis to choose from and the actual flying physics model is spot on. It’s like trying to balance a bowling ball on a balloon!
You can’t go wrong with your RealFlight investment. It by far is the best RC sim I’ve seen and has a great upgrade path for subsequent versions. Keep your eyes open for internet deals this time of year. They’re out there.
Good luck with your new hobby. You will love it, I guarantee!!
I have an older version of Real Flight Simulator, and it is way cool. And it has helped me learn more about how to fly a model plane.
You won’t believe this, but I run this on a Mac Book using the Windows partition. Yes, this will run on a Mac using a Windows partition created using Bootcamp. You have to have a Mac with the Intel processor, though. The older Macs won’t run it.
I’ve got RFS 6 under the tree now but will have to wait till XMAS for my fun to begin. I’ve gotten into EDF jets and hope to simulate alot of features like crosswinds and model wing loading etc so I can be ready in the spring for the flying seasn.
I’ve heard you can upload other airplanes and flying fields sites for your RFS 6 at this web site Knifeedge.com
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