Flight Simulator

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by wahoo10, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. wahoo10 macrumors 6502

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    Feb 11, 2009
    #1
    I'm working on my private pilot's cert. and looking to get as close to real-life flight sim to practice on when I can't get into the air/real simulator. Any decent Mac ones out there? I dug up old threads but they're, well, really old :rolleyes:
     
  2. prwood macrumors newbie

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  3. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a

    sanPietro98

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    #3
    Definitely go with X-Plane. It is extremely realistic.
     
  4. Sambo110 macrumors 68000

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  5. jknight8907 macrumors 6502a

    jknight8907

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    #5
    X-Plane or, if you're bootcamping, Microsoft Flight Sim. I actually prefer Microsoft's over X-Plane.

    As for using it as a flight-training aid, at the private pilot level it's not terribly useful (and can be detrimental). It's useful for learning how all the instruments and radios and such work, maybe VOR navigation, and stuff like that. As for actual flying, though, it's really not good. In Flight Sim/X-plane, it's easy to start using the instruments a lot, since you have a very limited field of view compared to in the real thing. That's a bad thing, as when you get back in the real plane, you'll be looking inside way more than you need to be as a VFR pilot.

    Where it can really shine is for your instrument rating. The ability to shoot approaches all day long is fantastic. Obviously then the view limitations don't really matter.
     
  6. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #6
    IMO if you are a serious pilot then definitely X-plane. Flight Sim X is little more glitzy than X-Plane but its physics are not as accurate as X-Plane's.

    If you need more opinion than what has been posted here I suggest calling X-Plane directly. They can tell you about major aerospace companies who have used X-Plane for development as well as military interests. There is also some sort of FAA certification available but, again, you should check it out for yourself.

    I have a stick, yoke and pedals for my setup. If you wan to get fancy you can even get quad throttles. If you want to get really crazy X-Plane can tell you how to set up your own sim with side displays as well as a rear display. You can can also have someone induce equipment failures remotely across the net if you feel you need that too.

    There is also a plane builder if you want to design a plane. It has a list of known foils but you can make your own if you like. Totally from the ground up if you want.

    Fun flying!
    :)
     
  7. akdj macrumors 65816

    akdj

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    #7
    I've been a Flight Sim geek for close to two decades and the above advice is spot on!

    XPlane for true to life physics
    MFS for Eye Candy

    Flight Sim X is a bit more than Eye Candy, I am under stating it a bit...it is a VERY cool platform, excellent airport/ATC structure and Multi Player system, but for true to life physics, X Plane is unapproachable.

    BTW, I have the latest of Both platforms...it's way too tough to compare. You better prepare with hardware though. Both programs are reliant on RAM and CPU power!

    J
     
  8. wahoo10 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    #8
    X-plane it is.
    I just want to use it to help prep for when I have to fly by instrument/under the hood. Also will be good for takeoff/landing.
    As for CPU/RAM, I'm running a 2.66GHz, will definitely use the faster graphics card, and 4GB of RAM. If that all isn't enough..well...not good =P
     
  9. jknight8907 macrumors 6502a

    jknight8907

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    #9
    To be honest, takeoff and landing are when it will be the least helpful or 'real' for you. In real life you're using peripheral vision and all sorts of outside and 'seat-of-pants' senses that just don't get reproduced in flight sim.
     
  10. jzuena macrumors 6502a

    jzuena

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    Feb 21, 2007
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    Lexington, MA, USA
    #10
    I agree, save it for learning how to set up and use the instruments. For your private, hood time is very minimal (is it still 2 hours?) plus recovery from unusual attitudes. When you go for your Instrument Rating it will be very helpful, letting you shoot all kinds of approaches and holds, then looking at the ground track screen afterwards to see if you did things right and doing partial panel work.

    I just wish one of these sims would come up with more accurate helicopter dynamics. Practicing full-down autorotations would be fun and a lot less expensive than $339/hour!
     
  11. Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #11
    I agree.

    I'm a pilot by trade and a flight simmer for fun, although I've not flight simed it for some time now. The most benefit you'll get from a flight sim is for instrument flying and developing some kind of a scan especially important if you are flying steam gage airplanes (pre-glass) along with eye hand coordination and anticipation. You still need a scan, but glass flight decks, the instruments are so consolidated, the scan is easier to pick up.

    There have also been some outstanding flight sims like Warbirds, if you are equipped with a joystick/hat switch, you can scan around quickly and keep very good situational awareness while flying, acrobatic, and dogfighting although it's obvious you won't get any of the environmental forces on you.

    Takeoffs are no brainers in real airplanes. Landings are tough and there is no sim made today and I'm referring to multi-million $$ sims that accurately simulate landing- basically fly into the flare and chop the power. While in real life, landing is one of the most dynamic things a civil pilot will do, peripheral vision is a big part, speed, height above ground, seat-of-the-pants sink rate, eye to ground calibration, and wind effects, especially crosswind, slipping vs landing in a crab and knowing when to kick the crab out. Most big airplanes crab. Why? Because when you fly down to Cat II minimums, 100'agl you won't have time to set up a slip, so might as well land the same way every time. For some swept low wing airplanes, slipping can be hazardous as in catch a wing tip on the ground. Slipping works well for small airplanes in visual conditions.

    And if you want realism, I'd pick X-Plane. As I recall both Warbirds and X-Plane display P-effect. The torque effect of the prop during takeoff which requires large rudder input to stay aligned with the runway. X-Plane is the only home sim I'm aware of that actually calculates lift and drag based on airfoil/aircraft shape plus what the model is told is the available horsepower. I believe the Microsoft products just use charts that say at this altitude, angle of bank, etc, you'll get this performance.

    To the OP, have fun! :)
     
  12. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    #12
    Flight Sim

    I am also a pilot by trade with a fractional operator. I wanted to second the suggestions of Xplane (OS X) and MS Flight Sim (Bootcamp.)

    I have a GMA 950 Macbook, I haven't tried MS Flight sim due to the meager graphics chip, but Xplane 9 does work. (Much of the eye candy is turned off, but you can use what you have at least.)

    Good Luck!
     
  13. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    #13
    Another X-Plane recommendation here.

    As others have mentioned, even the best professional simulators don't really do a great job of simulating seat of the pants stuff, so I wouldn't sweat the realism that much anyway. That said, X-Plane *is* better in that department, and I also find that you can scale it way back to make it work on even meager hardware if needed.

    MSFS is prettier, but I find an ultra smooth frame rate with simple graphics to be far more immersive than ultra-realistic graphics at even 40fps. To this day, the most immersive home simulator environment I've ever had was A-10 running across three monitors on a 7500.
     
  14. dimme macrumors 65816

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    #14
    I have both X-plane and MSFS. I am not a pilot but a fan of flight sims. I have been flying with a computer for about 20+ years. I have always been a fan of X-plane, but lately I have been flying MSFS exclusivity. It seems like the combination of Windows 7 & a macpro is the perfect platform for this sim. The way the virtual cockpit move with climbing or decrease in speed is fantastic. Also the detail of the planes and scenery is far superior to X-plane. I have read a equal number of articles about flight dynamics, and it looks to be a even split between the two as to who is more realistic.
    We are lucky to have two good sims to choose from.
     
  15. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    Jul 24, 2007
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    Troutdale, OR
    #15
    Well, right now at least. The Microsoft Flight Sim team was disbanded (either early in 09, or the end of 08.) No word if Microsoft will make another version, but if they do they will either have to get a new group of programmers, or simply farm it out to another (non-microsoft) group for development.

    The only actively updated flight sim program is now X-plane. Right now, no big deal, as the discontinued Microsoft sim still works great. In the future, as computers advance we will probably have to transition to X-plane, unless another program enters the scene.
     
  16. electroshock macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

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    Sep 7, 2009
    #16
    That's why I usually do poorly for setting up the turn from downwind to base (and then to final) legs then nailing the flare -- in a PC-based flight sim. Leads my buddies to wonder how well I fly a real airplane in real life. :D The visual cues just aren't the same with a PC-based sim, though it's much easier with a FMS.

    This is one of the areas where I find it much easier to fly the real airplane better, without a flight sim. For other aspects of it, particularly pertaining to training for the IR, agreed, a PC-based flight sim plus proper discipline helps quite a bit in shaving time and cost off the learning curve.

    Hi dimme, I'm glad you enjoy MSFS and a taste of aviation! I certainly recognize that each person is different with their own needs and preferences. In my case, I do fly for real as well as run the occasional flight sim. I've used both products for years but strongly prefer X-Plane because of its much less demanding computer system requirements and much better flight physics modelling. I agree MSFS generally has the better 'eye candy', since it's targeted at a slightly different audience, and is what partially contributes to its demanding resource requirements.

    I can't say I've enjoyed doing circumpolar flights with MSFS, for instance -- the version (a few years ago) would hit 89.99 degrees of north latitude and that was it. Just couldn't 'go over the top' because of how it did its polar math. A big disappointment. Also the default of having a plane bounce and skip along the ground for some crashes took away from the experience for me. All in all, MSFS is still a nice flying experience. Just unfortunate that it's Windows-only which limits my opportunities in using it.
     
  17. flyer.mw macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2009
    #17
    I fly the DC-10 and I agree that for the private pilot level, none of the programs available would offer much help (although they are fun to fly). Not until you get into the instrument flying would they become a huge asset. When I was going through my instrument training I used them quite a bit to help me get familiar with reading approach plates and actually flying the approaches before my next flight. When you get past the fact that you're in an actual airplane, flying instrument approaches in the weather is very similar to what you would be doing in front of the computer on a flight sim. Hope that helps and good luck with your training!!
     
  18. Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #18
    I don't remember if X-Plane supports view shifting to look 45° left or right by means of a hat switch. As I recall, there is a button that allows you to shift to an external view which gave pretty good situational awareness for eyeballing the runway on a base, but you could not stay there too long if you are trying to monitor your instruments. :) And ultimately there is no real depth perception in simulators.
     
  19. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #19
    You can look around using the keyboard as well as other views.

    If the OP feels he needs it, a very cool capability of X-Plane is the ability to surround yourself with more monitors to have those views in real time. However, the last time I checked, you need is a computer to drive each monitor but you can do it. You can do a lot with X-Plane but the main limit is how far do you want to go with your wallet. The OP could build a certified simulator if he wants; he just needs deeper pockets than doing a PC simulator.
     
  20. Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #20
    Actually I only think you need multiple graphic cards for multiple monitors. I run two connected to my G5.
     
  21. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #21
    Agree with X-Plane.

    Completely agree. Awesome flight physics. One of the few that can accurately simulate accelerated stalls and cross controlling.

    Same here. Having your head on the swivel is not easy in a flight sim.

    What was nice about the A-10 flight sim was the ability to drive three monitors so that you could look left, forward and right without pressing any buttons.
     
  22. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #22
    Any flyers here have opinions on warbirds? I had IL2 for my pc and want a realistic WW2 simulator for my Mac. I loved the the P40 in IL2.
     
  23. Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #23
    Last time I played it about 10 years ago, I thought its flight modeling was superb.
     
  24. dimme macrumors 65816

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    #24
    I am not a pilot but I enjoy flight sims. I have bin flying with a computer for over 20 years. I have owned every version of x-plane and MS flight sim, plus many more over the years.
    The current X-Plane and MFSX are great, but for total enjoyment and realism for me it is MFSX. Everything from the realistic add on scenery to the movements in the virtual cockpits are fantastic. Mabey X-plane will leap frog them with their next version .It is great we have such fantastic products to choose from.
     

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