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You are welcome to move/delete this thread if these questions have already been answered... :)


I'm tossing up whether or not to ask for a flight sim setup for Christmas. I have a stack of questions though and I figured this was the best place to ask (if I went to a shop they'd just tell me what they think would convince me to buy it I reckon)...


Right now I'm considering the Microsoft flight sim (FSX or FS2004) but I'm open to suggestions...


1st big question is: does it help your actual flying? I'm thinking I could use it as a sort of training aid, to work on various things (stalls, landings etcs). Is it similar enough to be able to do that? I'm slightly worried that I'll get it and get frustrated that it isn't realistic enough after flying a real aircraft (I know it's a game so it won't exactly be totally realistic but still...). Is it hard to look out of the 'window' in the sim and you end up flying mainly by instruments, or is it easy to fly like normal?


The next thing I'm wondering about is if my system will run it. I've got a Sony Vaio CS laptop, which has these specs:


  • Processor Technology: Intel® Centrino® 2 Processor Technology, Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.40GHz)
  • Processor System Bus: 1066MHz
  • Memory Bus: 800MHz
  • Cache Memory: 3MB
  • Main Memory: 3GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Graphics Accelerator: NVIDIA® GeForce® 9300M GS notebook graphics processing unit (GPU)
  • Dedicated Video Memory: 256MB



It's currently running Vista but I am considering changing to Windows 7 (anyone got W7 here btw?). If it's any help, it runs The Sims 3 which has fairly demanding graphics. I can't afford/justify a different computer so these specs might be what decides whether or not I can play flight sim!


How much hard drive space does a flight sim usually take up?


If I got one I'd also get a joystick and throttle but probably wouldn't go for rudder pedals as well (at least not at the moment). Any suggestions on what type of stick/throttle to get (within a reasonable price range)?


Basically any and all advice you could give me would be helpful!


Cheers :)



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Flightsim has always been disappointing for me - just not realistic


Falcon 4.0 Allied force with it's 700 page manual is great, flying upside down at 50' and ripping the gear off when you extend it too fast.


However, the one I've had the most benefit from is Realflight which is a two stick RC program and comes with the remote control module. The aerodynamics are al lot more realistic and you can see the benefit of holding a touch of power on when landing a high wing etc.


You can also fly Mustangs through the open doors of barns and compete with 14 year old top guns from USA, Japan, CVhina and Russia



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Guest Brett Campany

Hey Jen, your VAIO shouldn't have any problems running either FSX or FS9. I only found the sim great for memory items such as engine failures, forced landings, radio procedures, circuit work. Because there is no actual force on the aircraft it does very little for actual flying skills. But when you are using it you can go through everything your instructor has taught you so it's easier to remember when you go flying again.


It can also be a lot of fun.


As for the stalls and other situations, like I said, it's just great for memory items, going through your procedures because it gives you real time situational awareness.


If there's anything you need or anything you want to ask, I'll keep a good eye on this post and do what I can for ya.



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I bought FSX and a Saitek joystick in desperation when my landings were really crap and I thought it may help me to improve my approaches.


I also got some decent scenery and the YLIL airfield (somewhere off the web - I'll find it and post it) - so at least the surroundings were familiar.


Did it help - yes, things did improve with my approaches (and also circuit accuracy).


Was it realistic - nope, you're missing the whole motion thing. And (even using the "hat" on top of the joystick) it's hard to have a good quick look around like you do when you're flying (so, for instance, it's difficult on downwind to have a quick squizz at the runway without taking your eyes off the scene ahead for too long).


I run mine on a dedicated drive on a P4 desktop with a mid range graphics card - with the extra scenery the system can't keep up and the graphics "fracture" at the most inopportune moments.


With all that, I still use it occasionally when I want to practice something particular.



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I've hadthe original Falcon 4.0 for years and have never learnt to use all the avionics. It is extremely involved. Good fun just navigating into Japan and China from bases in Korea. I know some guys who are so into it that they have transportable cokpits and fly on line. Their programs have upgrades in which just about every switch in the sim mimics the real thing. Start up is not just a matter of jumping into the plane, you have to go through every motion as in the real world. All good fun but it will not help or improve your flying skills. Pure escapism.


BTW, it will run on a fairly basic system but of course, not as well as a quad 4 etc. Darky, you should be ok.



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I've just realised that Darky's original question was with respect to the more conventional flight sim. From my point of view, they all have problems with repect to flight models. I think that they put too much effort into covering the whole world with more and more acurate visuals rather than putting emphisis on flight models, decent ATC's etc. One of the best I ever had was Flight Unlimited. Based at Half Moon Bay, just over the hill from San Fransico International, it only covered about 200 miles radius. The graphics were good for the time and the adventures etc were testing. The flying enviroment was great though. You could plan your flight as per normal but it was never straight forward. Whenever you were in contolled airspace, you had to follow ATC directions to avoid other aircraft. The radio chat system was easy to use and if you did something wrong, you got bol....ed. I loved it, Pity I don't still have it.


Darky, beware, I'm told nothing runs well on Vista. I've now got W7 but haven't put any sims or big games on yet. You either love or hate FSX 10, I stuck with FSX9 as did many others. X plane seems to be gaining quite a following as that, apparently, concentrates more on the flight models rather than the pretty peripheries. Hope my humble opinions help.



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Right now the plan is to not get a flight sim....I think the novelty might wear off quickly and it's pretty expensive...


However, Deskpilot, I'd love to hear your opinion of W7, I'm considering upgrading but not sure if it's worth the bother :confused:



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We've got FSX with Saitek joy stick and rudder pedals (the rudder pedals make all the difference!).


For ground handling and directional control, and learning to keep straight on take off etc... it is/was a great help. (that is where the rudder pedals are a real bonus!)


For flying circuits its hopeless! unless you are doing instrument stuff and using Rate 1-2 turns etc... and timing everything to be in the right spot when turning base its ok. But VFR circuits are very difficult to say the least. I just fly base leg and finals so you can keep an eye on the strip and not loose it.


I found the best way to do it was to video record the flight, touch-n-go's etc... and then watch it from a tower view, and you can really refine your flying style to look nice. Even giving yourself a dose of aero's with smoke on is pretty cool when watching it from the outside tower view.


Computer performance wise, Your Sony (nice choice!) laptop should handle it pretty good, you can also adjust the graphics - scenery etc... to make the it perform faster, obviously loosing the realism though.


Space, I'd allow something like 6 Gb (I'm just picking this off the top of my head so not totally sure!) for it.


So for trying to teach yourself to land, I'd probably not do it just for that reason, but you can have a load of fun doing different things, flying different aircraft and learn their particularities (to an extent!)


Real flight is a cracker... a friend has it and I could spend hours on it, (and I'm not a computer games person by no means! Believe it or not, but flight sim is the only game I play!) That is the next best thing to actually buying a RC aircraft, especially when you crash it... it just gives you another!!


Anyway I hope I haven't confused you to much! :big_grin:



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Your system will run it, BUT. Whether you are happy with how it runs no one else can say. I have an I7 clocked at 3.5Ghz, 6GB of RAM and a 756MB NVidia 275 graphics card. Not a bad llittle system and I can finally say I am happy with how it runs FSX. It is very person dependant and I like it to look _really_ good and be very smooth!


I think the graphics card on you system might let it down a bit however FS is CPU limited, not video card limited so a fast processor is way more important than a fast video card.


As for what you can get out of it. With decent add-on aircraft you can have very good flight physics under normal operations. Some have OK stall and spin behaviour and recovery but they feel nothing like the real thing. It is fantastic for practicing the procedural aspects although I must say, the freeware Eurostar for FSX was a great plane for practising my circuits and navs, it really felt a lot like the Sportstar I was flying at the time. I am a slow learner and the sim did help.


A MUST have to get the full benefit is Track IR head tracking, this is so the view on the screen moves as your head moves. Rudder peddles are also very high on the list too of course!


If you do get FSX then I would suggest you get the scenery from Orbx (demo available) and the airfields from OzX (free). Also, turn off AI aircraft and fly on cloudless days. AI traffic and clouds really hurt low and mid power systems.





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Guest Baphomet

Like most things, you get what you pay for. I flew on-line in an Australian squadron in the Sturmovik environment for a couple of years. Ended up with the full monty (TrackIR, HOTAS, rudder pedals etc). Had to, just to stay competetive. Flight models are very realistic. Useful for unusual attitude training, as it will show you where the horizon is during manouvers, so you won't be too disorientd when you try it for real. As others have said tho, there isn't any tactile feedback.......I haven't flown on-line since I bought a real plane, says it all really.





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Reminds me of what a real fight pilot said about Falcon 4. A lot of people were saying the flight model was not realistic because it had to be harder to land in real life than it was in the sim. He said something like "the sim model is good but it feels a hell of a lot different when it is you ass heading towards the ground at approach speed". I agree in that if you can put yourself in-the-sim it can feel quite realistic. If you treat it as a game then it there is zero realism. For me, I made the same errors in real life that I did in the sim (or is it the other way around!). The solution to those errors was also the same. So, for me it was realistic!



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Yes, it is not realistic in many respects, but it can be a useful tool which doesn't cost buckets of money.


I particularly used Realflight for control reversal, which is now a reflex action for me.


Has anyone practiced DR Navigation for track correction calcs etc?



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Ive got Flight Sim 2004 and an older version of X-Plane. The Microsoft is not good for realism at slow flight I find and as far as IFR goes it would only be good for simulating nil wind conditions. The X-Plane allows you to build your own plane which flies very much like the real thing, stalls and spins much the same, but I cannot hold it straight on take off. With all of them I find landing is harder than the real thing.



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. As others have said tho, there isn't any tactile feedback.......I haven't flown on-line since I bought a real plane, says it all really.Baph

I am the same used to come home and fly online everynight with live Sim ATC out of the US or Europe. Since obtaining my certificate and plane I have not even looked at flightsim x and I have the yoke x 2, pedals x 2 Throttle x 3 and six 19 inch monitors and 3 laptops to run it all


Vatsim/Vatpac have good training manuals if you want to become a SIM Air Traffic Controller. these guys tried to make it as realistic as possible. I read somewhere that the EAA or FAA were considering using flightsim and Vatsim for there controlled airspace endorsments.





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However, Deskpilot, I'd love to hear your opinion of W7, I'm considering upgrading but not sure if it's worth the bother :confused:

Darky, I haven't had it long enough to make an honest opinion. It's different from XP, harder to use(for the pc illiterate) but is clever in loading all peripherals. I didn't have to install my printer, web cam etc, it found them, then found and installed all the right drivers etc. So far I'm only using it as a means of comminication and web searches. I installed Firefox with no problems, IncrediMail has a few minor hitches which are being corrected.

Really, you just have to have faith that it's better than Vista if you want Microsoft back-up.



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I've just done a bit of an upgrade. I wanted to be able to use FSX to its full capacity graphics wise. I went from XP to win7 (64bit) lured by the dream of directx 10. I'm happy with it for the fact that I can now turn everything right up and still have decent frames BUT appart from helping the frame rates, directx 10 is a flop. (It actually makes the water effects worse. And there is a major flicker problem.)


Windows 7:


Seems quite good. It automates alot of things that used to take for ever when setting up a machine. Finally taking a leaf out of apples book. (wow there's some puns in that!!!) I highly recomend it. Especially if you've been avoiding vista. Its basiclly a vista that actualy works.




If your going to get it, go all out. You'll need:


- Gold edition (FSX with accelorator and the service packs) flightsim.com have it for around $50)


- Yoke and pedals. I think Logitec do a good set now. $450ish


- TrackIR makes a HUGE difference to the situational awareness. (iWear VR920 looks like a step in the right direction too. Can't wait to try it. 4 times the price tho)


- Addons to get are:


*Orbx scenery(not free but worth it) I only got Blue and Gold for the entire east coast.


*Ants Aussie Airports (free)


*OZx Aus (free)




After all this I asure you, you will still have a buring desire to go feel the real thing. It's not even in the ballpark. The setup above will let you practice proceedures, get your circuits right, practice navex training etc. Basiclly everything but the hand eye coordination stuff like landings. You can practice landings but it will only teach you the basic timing of the flare and such. (prob not even that, really)


If all you want it for is to get you landings right. The money is much better spent on 5 or 6 hours in the circuit.



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  • 3 months later...

X-plane, and you're next investment is to be



A Yoke! I also spent a number of hundreds on the pedals and throttle. Good for practice, and the x plane engine software is pretty solid



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  • 3 weeks later...
They are not bad for instrument and navaid work. The general handling is not like the real thing.

I'm going to agree 100% with this statement. I use flight sim quite a bit (I've got around 160hrs on VATSIM logged. Yeah it's what I do when I'm bored 006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif) Stalling/Spinning is very unrealistic in my opinion, in FSX/FS2004 you won't stay stalled in the spin therefore you won't hold a constant airspeed so it's pretty much a very steep spiral dive. If you wanna practice some instrument work it's ideal, circuit work, VOR/NDB is all good (not that you use it in RA-Aus), it's also a lot of fun and a great way to kill some time while improving *some* skills.


I build computers for a living and with those specs I would probably go with FS2004 (if you really want FSX go for it, it will definitely run.) but FS2004 has a lot of free add ons (a Jab even!) and you can pump the graphics/settings up quite high with minimal strain on your PC. Don't let this fool you, a lot of people complain about FS2004 scenery, there is crap loads of free add ons for scenery in Australia that you can download that will make it equal to or better than FSX. With FSX most add ons you have to pay for and require a high computer spec BUT if you do have a good computer the graphics are the best. So really it's up to you.


Hope that helped! Feel free to PM me if you're interested in some PC help or your concerned with your decision.




I went full on and purchased the Saitek yoke, rudder and throttle add on. Well worth it!





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  • 1 month later...

I have FSX and using a Dell Quad Core Q6600 chip with 4 gig ram and 768 mb Video card. Vista 32 bit is used at the moment, i can get upto 35 fps. Most of the time would be around 25 fps. I am looking at formatting HDD and going to Win 7 64 bit, which will give me better frame rates and then can also increase Ram to 8 gig if i wanted too.


I also use a 22 inch monitor and a 19 inch monitor for the gauges separate to the cockpit view. Handy for GPS, ATC and Engine monitoring.


I had a look at my FSX log and have completed 448 landings, heck of alot of flying, now i can look at doing the real thing with my training.


How many people use Autopilot ILS/APP when approaching ILS cat 3 airports ? Found a great website for USA airports giving you all the required info for ILS, VOR or GPS Approaches. Will post it soon.





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  • 1 month later...

hey Darky, you still there?


g'day guys and Darky, haven't seen a post from you for a while


i write the flightsim articles for Aviator and Australian Flying, which basically means i'm a good riter an i no a lil bit about those flightsim thingys - i also fly a Drifter (just passed the magic 100 hours mark - woo hoo!!) so i'm able to comment on real vs desktop flying too


first thing is that the laptop's major limiting factor for FSX is the lack of ability to install a better graphics card - without that you probably really should stay with FS9. Vista Australis (Voz) is still available for FS9 (about $6 from the flightsim store, freeware, you're just paying for the dvd and post) and that will make a gr8 difference


FSX in its current form with Orbx FTX scenery + the freeware OzX airports gives a fantastic onscreen experience as far as surrounding scenery is concerned, no doubt of that - my view coming in to land at Boonah is so close to the real thing it's a bit wierd really...


aircraft - well, the only one i've seen that will spin and sideslip properly is the RealAir FS260, but it is a GA aircraft. the bloke (i should say genius) that did the redev of Boonah is currently working on a TOP class Tecnam, when it is ready for release i will let this forum know, i am currently flying the second version and it is already brilliant


is it like the real thing? um, doh, no. but the visual impact you will get (particularly if you can find the $$ for the Naturalpoint TrackIR Pro headtracker) WILL help you, particularly with circuits and landings - no doubt of that


i'd done a lot of flightsimming b4 i got my RAA licence and i thought it would help, but it didn't really - funny thing, my flightsimming has improved though !!!!


anyway, enough, looking forward to your reply and PM me if you want any other info i may be able to help with





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Hey Bolero


Yes I'm still here 006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif


As turbo said, I decided against buying a flight sim, I thought about it and decided that I'd quickly get frustrated at the lack of realism compared to, well, the real thing! Not to mention, it seems that to get it run the way I'd like (smooth as) I'd need much better specs than my laptop has.


Thanks for the advice though :)



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