The Realism of Flight Simulator Software

VFR at night

The realism of flight simulator software has evolved in proportion to the hadrware, processing power, and software of our computers. Flight sims have been around for almost as long as the personal computer.  Flight simulator software has always been a best seller over the past few decades.

It was the idea that there might be a realistic alternative to actual flying that first attracted me to PCs. I was learning to fly in the 1980s but I didn’t have enough money to fly as often as I’d like.

To have a very realistic flight simulator on a powerful home PC seemed a great idea.  However, it was to be a long time before the software and the processing power evolved into something satisfactory let alone a package that was truly impressive.

The evolution from the first attempts to the visual, auditory, and process realism of today’s flight sims are demonstrated in this video  (it’s over 30 minutes long so you might want to scroll through it for glimpses).

Perhaps you can remember those early versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  At first they seemed poor subsitutes for a real cockpit and instrument panel.  As the years passed they began to take on a depth of realism that has evolved into something very close to the real thing.

The Realism of Flight Simulator Software

Today, realism is everything.  Real pilots who want practice on light aircraft and aviation enthusiasts who want to fly airliners demand accuracy.  They want total immersion in the experience.

Combat flight sims have always been popular but as the realism has improved the demand for civil aviation simulators has increased as well.

Today you can fly an airliner from startup to shutdown and select every button for every task, just as the air crew would do in real flight.  Perhaps some of those flight sim enthusiast daydream of being asked to assist with any emergency that results in the air crew being incapacitated!

Cockpit of an airliner - Realism of Flight Simulator Software

The Virtual Cockpit

The idea of a passenger being able to land an airliner in an emergency has often been the subject of debate among pilots and aviation writers.  As the realism in affordable flight simulators improves it can only add more fuel to the fire.

Today’s flight sims contain fully functioning instrument panels to the front, overhead, and to either side.  You can turn and select buttons and turn dials.  The instruments give clear and accurate information based on your flight parameters.

For some years now it’s been possible to select the time of day, weather, and random flight emergencies as well as dozens of aircraft types.  Given the amount of locations and terrain available it is not possible to live long enough to try every combination available.

What’s Next?

It seems likely that the next generation of flight sim developers will exploit the potential of virtual reality.  Surely there can be no greater fully immersive experience.

As well as, and perhaps in conjunction with VR, there is likely to be more advances in the feeback from the control columns and pilot seats.

So, whether you’re a pilot who is unable to fly due to bad weather or an enthusiasts looking for the next best thing, there is plenty of scope for exercises and enjoyment in the world of flight simulator software.

The Realism of Flight Simulator Software : The Future

The limitiations of flights sims used to be the fact that, no matter how realistic the graphics displayed on the screen nor the sounds coming out of the speakers, the pilot couldn’t feel the sensations of flight. Now that augmented and artificial reality has now found its way into the world of flight sims it’s possible to experience the physical sensations both by using cockpit seats that move in response to the aircraft’s movements and by fooling the mind using virtual reality goggles.

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X-Plane 11 and Aerosoft Airport Collection PC DVD
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Bestseller No. 2
Official Version - X-Plane 11 Global Flight Simulator (PC, MAC & LINUX)
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Bestseller No. 3
City Plane 3D: Airplane Pilot Flight Simulator
  • Become airplane pilot for the flying of flight simulator
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  • Cargo Jet Landing is like Boeing flying simulator that flying over the New York city"

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