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RealFlight 7.5 RC Flight Simulator
Learn or improve your flying without the financial trauma
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Computer sequences recorded from RealFlight 7.5
Posted – 2-19-2015
RealFlight 7.5 comes with a bunch of different schemes beyond just learning to fly. You can quite literally turn this into an arcade game of sorts complete with multi-player capabilities where you can host or join on-line games with other RealFlight 7.5 users. While I did explore those parts of RealFlight 7.5 my primary interest is using this as a learning platform that saves you and me money in the real world.
RealFlight 7.5 comes with a selection of airplanes, helicopters, multi-rotors and sailplanes totaling 140 aircraft. You also get over 40 flying sites to choose from including grass and paved runways as well as some pretty “different” flying sites that will certainly break the monotony if that I even possible with software like this. You can edit the aircraft and the flying fields which can be a huge help if you have unusual obstacles at your field.
RealFlight 7.5 also includes game-like “challenges” that force you to do increasingly difficult things with an aircraft in order to compete. There are special “challenges” for 3D and multi-rotors. Many of these are designed to force you to expand your flying capabilities and you have to complete one level satisfactorily to “unlock” the next level.
RealFlight 7.5 allows you to tailor the on screen appearance through magnification and gadgets such as binoculars. You can record your best flights and even put a digital InterLink Elite controller on the screen that shows the sticks moving in real time as you fly the aircraft.
I bought the RealFlight 7.5 version that comes with an InterLink Elite controller, specifically designed for use with RealFlight 7.5. You can’t fly a real aircraft with this InterLink Elite controller but you don’t have to task one of your real radios to work with RealFlight 7.5 and run those batteries down or forget it is hooked up to the flight sim when you go to the field without it. The InterLink Elite controller feels much like a real transmitter and provides good practice for your flying fingers that translates to your real transmitter very well. If you fly helicopters they include a piece that you can install to get rid of the ratchet on the throttle. Many airplane pilots (me also) also like to get rid of the ratchet feel.
Of course the InterLink Elite controller comes with a “reset” button that we all wish our real RC equipment had. Fly an aircraft into the ground and all you have to do is push the reset button and the aircraft returns to the runway, ready for another attempt. Not at all realistic but its intention is spot on – to make learning faster.
Digital Instructor Pilots
One of the things I really like about RealFlight 7.5 is the training section that has several top level pilots demonstrating and talking you through many of the aerobatic moves we want to learn. The combination of seeing the plane do the maneuver, seeing how the sticks move and hearing the pilot tell you how and why this happens is invaluable. You get to fly in the same environment as the digital instructor and be able to re-play the how-to flight over and over to see exactly what they are doing.
In the Air
I know that RealFlight 7.5 has lots of nice gaming features but I am far more interested in the learning capabilities this software has. Having the InterLink Elite controller makes lots of sense to me and after using it extensively over the last several months I can say with confidence that it feels very much like the Spektrum DX8 I use at the field. So far, if I can do it in RealFlight 7.5 I can do it with my aircraft at the field. OK, I am still working on hovering planes, especially with the tail in the grass. I can do it within RealFlight 7.5 and that practice makes me more confident with my real-world models ad I am bringing the real models closer and closer to the ground.
Practicing in RealFlight 7.5 also lets you find the best way to bail out of a failed maneuver to save the plane and avoid any human units in the vicinity. Getting comfortable flying an aircraft out of a failed maneuver not only saves you tons of repair dollars, it makes you a better and safer pilot. The realistic reactions of the digital aircraft in RealFlight 7.5 lets you work on that skill regardless of the time of day or weather.
The huge selection of aircraft within RealFlight 7.5 means you can try out different styles of planes and actually get a feel for how they fly. You can also buy additional “aircraft packs” to expand your digital air force. This again gets back to the realistic flight characteristics of RealFlight 7.5. I often hear pilots I am helping remark how similar flying their plane at the field is to flying the digital version at home. It is no coincidence that the new pilots who practice on RealFlight 7.5 at home are making rapid progress with the real models at the field.
One of the downfalls for all simulators is depth of field and how the models look in the air in terms of size and distance. RealFlight 7.5 addresses this with the ability to zoom in on the aircraft which helps you see what you are doing much easier. I still fly the biggest aircraft I can find in a simulator because of the visibility and because they seem to be the most realistic feeling when I fly them. This applies to both fixed and rotary wing craft in RealFlight 7.5. This also seems to be true with other RC-based flight simulators I have tried.
The biggest knock I have against RealFlight 7.5 is the difficulty involved in dialing in dual rates and expo. It appears that it can be done but the interface to do so is anything but intuitive. The good news is that the models come with some dual rates and so far, those have sufficed for my current piloting skills. If you feel the need to alter these settings locating a teenager and putting a $20 on him to do it for you might be the least frustrating plan.
I think RealFlight 7.5 is the best flight simulator you can get to help learning to fly RC models or improve your skills. Since coming back to RC flying the students I have helped that were practicing in RealFlight 7.5 always advanced faster. I know this software is not free but its very real ability to save an aircraft makes the purchase price money well spent.
RealFlight 7.5 with the controller as shown in this review is selling for about $169.99 (2-17-2015) and there are other versions that have less and cost less. You just have to Google RealFlight 7.5 and see what you like best. RealFlight 7.5 does not sell directly to the public but their site does have the best info on this software.
Whether you are brand new to RC flying or a grizzled veteran just wanting to practice on bad weather days RealFlight 7.5 deserves a hard look. The realistic flight performance makes what you learn at the digital flying field apply to the real world field. I really like being able to practice a new maneuver without worry about killing an aircraft. Having tried this process many times now I am confident that I can take what learn in RealFlight 7.5 to the field and it is going to feel remarkably similar. I don’t know what more a flight simulator can do.
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