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What is the best flight simulator for PC?



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5 Answers

I personally prefer FSX, but have not tried any recent versions of X-Plane so I can’t comment on that one. There is also Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3d. Prepar3d is actually derived from FSX. LM purchased the code from Microsoft when MS closed the studio that developed it. I understand they have made some great improvements. There are some really good payware addons for FSX/Prepar3d that are much more accurate than the default aircraft. I’m currently training in a C172M, and the 172 Trainer from A2A Simulations has been invaluable to me. It simulates the pre-flight walkaround, wear-and-tear on the aircraft and engine, and the aircraft’s condition is persistent between sessions.

Helpful tip for turning knobs in FSX: Use your mouse wheel. Just hover over the knob and scroll up or down. Can’t tell you how much things got for me when I realized this. In fact it also works for flipping switches, turning the key on startup/check mags, etc.

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I use Laminar Research’s X-Plane, which runs on PC, Mac, and Linux. It does a great job of aerodynamic modeling, there are plenty of good free aircraft included and many available as add-ons, and Laminar Research constantly updates the program.

A key feature is the ability to provide GPS position information via Wi-Fi to tablets running ForeFlight, WingX, FltPlan Go, CloudAhoy, and iFlightPlanner apps. This makes it easy to practice using these apps safely on the ground but as if you’re really flying. There are also plenty of X-Plane plug-ins that add many capabilities, for example, the FlyRealHUDS plug-in, which adds a real head-up display to any aircraft and can be used to teach HUD flying.

One drawback of X-Plane and probably any PC-based sim is that avionics functionality is still woefully lacking. In the aircraft included with X-Plane, for example, the Garmin GNS430 found in many panels has limited functionality and can’t be used for anything other than basic navigation and GPS direct-to functions. Approaches cannot be loaded. The same is true for many other avionics that are included in X-Plane and third-party aircraft, so if you are buying an add-on aircraft, check carefully to see if it has the functionality that you want. One airplane that does a pretty good job is Carenado’s A36 Bonanza with the Aspen Evolution glass panel. The Aspen panel does work just like the real thing, and this is a great airplane to learn how to fly with the Aspen panel. That said, there are X-Plane hardware and software products that can be used for real avionics functionality, but this might be more than the average simmer wants to try.

Keep in mind that being a PC-based sim, knob turning is a challenging design element, and it’s often difficult to get simulated knobs to do what you want and takes a lot of practice.

PC-based simulator flying can not only be fun, but it is a tremendously useful aid for practicing instrument flying. If you want a better, more realistic experience, try the PilotEdge live ATC system, which connects the sim-flying pilot to a live controller. This is as realistic as it gets.

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Before I started flying, I’ve used Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and X. I really enjoyed using FSX because the functionality of going through procedures (especially navigation) is fairly accurate. Learning how VORs work was struggle in my learning, but using this simulator in my own time definitely helped me apply the knowledge.

I have yet to try X-Plane, but hope to do so in the near future.

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I think the AOPA Jay Flight Simulator by Redbird is a good investment, both for new pilots, instrument pilots and pilots proficiency in general. It’s made for pilots, not for simmers.

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I’ve been an FSX user and I will continue to. I recently purchased the X Plane 10 software and I feel that its not as good as FSX. I seem to have more control with FSX with add-ons and better graphic quality. I really don’t care for xplane’s flight characteristics as they seem too jerky and sensitive. In FSX, you can control the aircraft effects to more realistic settings and practice ifr procedures in a clearer, visually satisfying and realistic environment without making your computer CPU go crazy such as that of XPLANE. This is just my personal opinion as there are some hardcore xplane users out there that might disagree.

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