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==== ==== Proflight Simulators are the best ! ==== ====

Flight simulators were some of the earliest games available for desktop computers; subLOGIC's FS1 Flight Simulator, later released as Microsoft Flight Simulator, hit computer screens in 1979. While Flight Simulator is arguably the granddaddy of personal aircraft simulators, other, much more expensive flight simulators were available to professionals as early as the 1960s. Unlike the early days of flight simulators, when there was really only a single product choice, now there are so many choices it can be confusing to choose the correct software to fit your needs. Below are three things to think about when choosing the airplane simulator that will satisfy your needs: 1: Scenery packages. Does the flight simulator offer a high level of scenery realism? The first aircraft simulator programs had blocky graphics and only the barest hints of scenery outside the cockpit. They included "scenery" for four cities, including a few simple buildings, and fewer than 25 airports. Buildings, roads, houses, trees, airports, mountains-everything was rendered in simple tones of color and dotted lines. Some of today's flight sims have incredibly detailed scenery packages for virtually the entire world. Roads, airports, rivers, trees, mountains, cities, rural areas: all are shown in meticulous detail. The sense of realism in the new airplane simulator packages is truly astonishing. 2: Cockpits and control response. Although the basic cockpit layouts for the planes included in the first flight sim packages were surprisingly complete-with gauges, radio stacks, power settings and more-stick response was negligible. Control response is an important factor in how the plane reacts to your inputs. With the early flight sims, there was too much lag between entering a control input and the aircraft response. Today's flight sims respond smoothly and quickly to control inputs, and the sense of aircraft control is greatly intensified. Just as with real planes, if you haul back on the yoke and keep it there, the plane will stall...unless you're flying a military jet or an Extra 300 acrobatic plane. The simulator you choose should respond smoothly to your control inputs through a joystick or yoke; rudder pedals add even more realism to the simulator experience. 3: Added features. Realism in today's flight simulators goes far beyond just the aircraft controls and scenery. You can choose the time of day and the weather, with everything from a sunny, cloudless day to a thunderstorm. One popular airplane simulator for both the PC and the Mac has a default setting that reads your computer's clock, pulls the current conditions from the Internet, and sets the current conditions in the area you're "flying" through. In other words, if your route takes you from Denver, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, it's 8:30p.m., and

the actual meteorological conditions are unsettled late spring rain showers, your flight display will show dusk over the Colorado Rockies, and rain will be striking the plane's windshield. How's that for realism! A flight simulator can be a lot of fun and a good source of flying knowledge. Airplane simulators can provide hours of fun, learning to fly your own aircraft from the comfort of your own desk. Look around at the software available, and compare the control response and the realism in the aircraft and scenery packages available for each simulator. Then launch for the skies with a flight simulator that fits your needs!

Gary MacFadden is a licensed pilot and a flight simulator enthusiast. He has published widely on flying topics including licensing requirements and biennial flight reviews. Visit for a free video on what to look for in your next airplane simulator.

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==== ==== Proflight Simulators are the best ! ==== ====

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