Flight Simulator technology has come a long way from its humble beginnings on low graphic displays and with simple CPUs that –Surprisingly– gave the virtual pilot a thrilling way to experience flight in a variety of aircraft with minimal realism. I reiterate, flight sims have evolved significantly.
Today’s super modern graphic generators and processing units allow for highly engaging 3D environments and realistic aircraft –even when piloting on a laptop. By the same measure, the demands of these massive programs can exceed the resources of the average PC.
To be sure you will enjoy a pleasant flight each time you take to the virtual skies –free of glitches, loading times and other errors– here are some important considerations to address before you spend any cash on flight simulation hardware and software …
1. Computing Power
Will the computer you are currently working on support the full weight of the simulator? Like most other computer games that deal with realistic graphics and detailed gameplay flights simulators can make extensive use of your Random Access Memory (RAM).
Additionally, these contemporary games are likely to require a system supported by a top notch video card — and flight simulators are not an exception here! You have to understand that the ability to fully render the Sopwith Camel landing on the Nimitz in a Storm takes a lot more JUICE than opening a word document or microsoft minesweeping.
Serious gamers can invest a small fortune in decking out their gaming stations with the latest video cards, multiple high-speed hard-disk drives, top-of-the-line monitor and speaker systems, A couple gigabytes of extra Ram, special joysticks and more.
Even with all the attachments and upgrades available, these hardcore virtual pilots sometimes get frustrated by the prolonged frame rate progression, jolts and freeze-frames that often come with the latest versions meeting yesterday’s hardware.
For this reason be sure to thoroughly research the system requirements for any program you hope to become very attached to. So that you don’t end up, sitting in front of a frozen screen in frustration.
Flight simulation is a captivating hobby. Most of the flight sim programs are ready to be run once they’ve been installed –in just minutes you will be enjoying realistic vistas from 15,000 ft. and soaring over Manhattan. Of course, you will be controlling your aircraft with the keyboard controls –pitching and yawing with the directional keypad.
To add some realism to the experience, you might consider fitting out your set up with some realistic throttle controls, rudder pedals, joysticks and yokes. If you hope to expand your simulation you will want to be sure you have a program that supports the additional equipment you will want to include.
Most of the controls available today work with standard USB ports and are relatively easy to hook up. But there is always that one simulator that can’t configure that specific control –so, you may consider selecting additional equipment recommended by the software manufacturer.
3. Regular Software Updates
Can you expect any software updates for the program you want? Most flight simulator software is supported by regular updates including new environment packages, air traffic control and weather controls. If this is not offered, then perhaps the simulator has been abandoned by its production company.
Microsoft Flight Simulator had a huge following of enthusiasts who were terribly disappointed to learn that the development team for their beloved program was discontinued in 2009 –not a dry eye in the house or new releases, updates and support in sight.
If you purchase a program that has been discontinued you may find yourself all alone if you hit a problem.
Having a reliable fully supported and functioning flight simulator is a very rewarding hobby. Not only will you be fully introduced to the dynamics of flight but you will be able to take to the skies from the comfort of your home.
However, it is essential to prepare your gaming setup first, this way you will reduce all the negative aspects of flying. Make sure you have selected the best combination of software and hardware to support it by fully researching the system requirements and production company of the simulator you will use.