How to Choose A Flight Simulator
Home Flight simulation technology has vastly improved within the last ten years, to the point where pilots are now beginning to create reliable ‘at-home’ training devices. Now one can enhance their flying skills without spending an upwards of $10,000 dollars or traveling halfway across the world. After only a week of set up time, you can get back into flying with your home simulator and maintain proficiency in aviation. Read on below to find the right simulator system for you.
In order to find the best simulator to fit your home and needs, you must first consider how you will be utilizing it. Ask yourself the following key questions - Will you be training on this tool everyday or only occasionally? What is your current level of technical knowledge? Does your training require customization? And lastly, what is your actual budget? Once you have answered these hard hitting questions, you will be able to determine which simulator is right for you. Luckily, there is pretty much a simulation system able to suit each and every pilots wants and needs. We recommend the three systems listed below ranging from simple to complex and affordable to high end.
Simple & Affordable
- CH Products and Rudders by Microsoft Flight Simulator X - $274.00
This flight simulation kit has been popular for several years now, and is the perfect means for those first getting started with at-home aviation simulators. It seems to be the most inexpensive system that still sports all of the necessary elements a pilot needs. Working most efficiently with Windows XP, 7, 8, 10, and Mac, the Microsoft Flight Simulator X is a simple system that will allow you to plug straight into your computer console. Plus, you don’t have to install any software or drivers as the program opens automatically. CH Products and Rudders includes a yoke with three top-mounted levers for propeller, throttle, and mixture in addition to switches which simulate landing gear and flaps. If you are looking for a more realistic training program, feel free to add rudder pedals to enhance your experience. While the Microsoft Flight Simulator X’s software is becoming slightly outdated, this aviation training platform still remains the easiest to navigate. Plus, it features built in flying scenarios, customizable locations and your choice of weather conditions. The lack of sophisticated technology within the Microsoft Flight Simulator X results in an easier and more user-friendly platform.
A Step Above & Moderately Priced
- Saitek Yoke and Rudder Pedals by X-Plane - $399.97
For those looking to purchase a fully customizable flight simulator with flexible options, look no further than the X-Plane platform. X-Plane is priced just under $400 and features a more modern and updated program. It's latest version, 11.0, offers awesome graphics and has been designed with a more realistic aerodynamic modeling. The customization options within this platform are vast and vibrant with airplane and scenery add-ons. In short, if you can think it, you can probably make it come true within the X-Plane simulator. However, this does mean that the X-Plane system is more complex, so be prepared to give yourself extra time to become acquainted with all of its options. The best part about a more complex system is that once you are up and running, you can expect a very realistic and lifelike aviation training program.
Top Dollar & High End
- Redbird Jay by RD1 Rudder Pedals - $2595.00
With virtually no setup, the RD1 Rudder Pedals simulator is an all in one system from the Redbird manufacturers. While it may be significantly higher priced than its counterparts, it is for good reason as the platform contains a yoke and throttle quadrant along with additional features like a built in computer, full screen vision, and customizable flight simulation software. It has everything you will ever need to begin flying. The only add-on available to this simulator are the Redbird RD1 Rudder Pedals.
- Redbird TD2 by RD1 Rudder Pedals - $7995.00
Considered the ultimate at-home flight simulator, Redbird TD2 is an excellent, high end aviation training tool. This table-mounted flight simulator is built specifically to emulate yoke at its most realistic height and is the first of its kind to do so. Similar to the Redbird Jay, the Redbird TD2 system includes a computer, full-screen vision, and keyboard, as well as a large assortment of switches which simulate device systems and lights. Plus, the platform includes controls for a propeller, throttle, mixture, flaps, magnetos, and landing gear. Choose from either steam gauges or a glass panel setup and don’t forget rudder pedals to maximize your experience.