using simulators in the late 80's since the first "wire
frame" sim was introduced. Its physics were
revolutionary for its day, but the graphics were less
than ideal. The airplanes and helicopters were displayed
as a wire frame in a basic aircraft shape and the
backgrounds were only a little better - but they worked!
They gave the beginner a tool so they could practice
flying regardless of the weather, or whether or not
their instructor was available.
years, several companies have introduced a new
generation of flight simulators. I remember the first
time I saw one. It was a few years back, when I walked
into the main floor at the Toledo show and saw a
big-screen TV showing what I mistook for a video of a
model airplane flying. When I realized it was a
simulator, I was blown away! The graphics were amazing
and the physics were so true-to-life that it's as close
to the real thing as you can get.
time, there have been several upgrades, add-ons and new
features added to these simulators, but I was getting a
little concerned that the manufacturers were beginning
to lose sight of the basic intent - to teach beginners
how to fly.
So I was
thrilled when I heard that RealFlight was coming out
with a BASIC version of their popular product.
RealFlight BASIC is just that. It utilizes the same
physics and graphics as their high-end simulator, but
they have removed some of the "frills" that the rookie
just doesn't need (or doesn't need to pay
What it DOES
have is six different flying sites (Including one
indoor), forty seven different aircraft, and the ability to
switch easily between them. You can also view an
in-screen close up of each model, change between low and
high control rates and change the speed and direction of
the wind. All-in-all, it has almost everything the
beginner or advanced flier needs to practice at home at
a much more affordable
Inside the box are the bare esentials. You get a USB
"Transmitter", the software CD, and an instruction pamphlet.
The instructions are so simple that there aren't even any
words, just illustrations of inserting the CD, plugging in the
Tx, and which-button-does-what. I immediately loaded the
software and in no time, I was "flying".
Below is a screen shot of each of the aircraft that FealFlight Basic has to offer.
As you can see, there are 47 different aircraft of all shapes and sizes.
As you can see, the assortment of aircraft is wide and varied. You do not have the option of changing things like power or CG, but there is a good enough variety that most anyone can find a few aircraft they enjoy. I especially like the Ultimate Bipe and the 33% extra.
It was difficult to capture screen shot while I was trying to fly at the same time, but here are a few. As you can see, the graphics are every bit as good as the full-version RealFlight Simulators and the planes flew amazingly like the real thing (and I couldn't fly the helicopters worth a damn, so that just goes to show how realistic it is).
I also want to point out that the screen shots were cropped to the size we use here in the magazine. In reality, the images fill your computer screen.
For a look at the rest of the flying sites available, I made a screen shot video of a quick "Fly-around" of the various fields. And again, a disclaimer: To keep the video file size down, I reduced the screen size. On your computer, the image will fill your screen. Furthermore, I used a screen-capture program to capture the video and the capture program couldn't keep up with the screen, so you'll see some glitches and some choppy frames in the video while in reality, the movement on the screen is very smooth.
RealFlight basic is an excellent way for the beginner to get a first-class simulator without having to fork out the added expense for features that won't be needed for a long time. The physics are as good as the full version of RealFlight as are the graphics.
As I eluded to in the intro, the beginner needs to learn the basic eye-hand coordination. He (or she) doesn't need hundreds of models, the ability to "fly" with others via the internet, or many of the other features found in the more sophisticated simulators. By the same token, many experienced fliers like myself want to enjoy practicing at home without a lot of parameters to deal with.
RealFlight basic really fits the bill - You just turn it on and start flying, and there are enough options to keep it from ever getting boring. Well done Great Planes!
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021 www.greatplanes.com
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.