– Ben Martens

RC Flight Simulator

I posted a while back about building an autonomous multicopter. As I read more about it, I realized that’s a bit of a big leap to take. First I should probably be able to fly it. And it turns out that multicopters aren’t the easiest thing in the world to fly. It’s probably easier to start with a plane. But if you’re going to start flying an RC plane, you probably want to either have a friend who can help you learn or get a simulator. I chose the simulator route, and boy, is it a good thing that I did!

There are a few to chose from, but I went with Real Flight 7 with an actual transmitter that you could use to fly an RC aircraft later. When it arrived, I wondered if I had blown my money on something I didn’t really need. I’ve played plenty of video games. I’m familiar with dual joysticks and I’m comfortable with controlling something whether it’s going away from me (easy) or coming straight at me (hard.) All those years of practice in video games probably helped somewhat, but I spent the first HOURS crashing my trainer plane repeatedly into the ground. The simulator paid for itself in the first 5 minutes.

After probably about 5 hours with the simulator, I was getting to the point where I could fly somewhat respectable figure 8’s and generally land the plane without destroying it. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I remembered that I had turned the physics all the way down to “beginner.” Bumping it up to intermediate put me almost back to square one. This is clearly a good use of money.

The simulator itself is fairly detailed. My system can easily handle the graphics cranked up to their max level so it looks very nice. It has a lot of planes and airfields. More are downloadable from the community online. In addition to normal solo flying, there are challenges like landing on a specific spot, breaking balloons, bomb drops and more. These are fun ways to increase your skillset. There’s also a multiplayer arena that I haven’t ventured into yet.

By the time the weather outside is nice enough to fly, I’m hoping to be confident enough to send a physical plane up into the air.