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RealFlight 7.5 - Review

A comprehensive look at the most powerful RC simulator to-date.

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Introduction

Product:RealFlight 7.5
Price:$169.98 -InterLink Elite Version
Developers:Knife Edge Software
Distributed by:Great Planes Model Mfg.

As I sat hunched over my keyboard, burning the midnight oil, trying unsuccessfully to come up with some witty introduction to this review; some sort of clever analogy to convey to you how powerful of a tool RealFlight actually is, I had an epiphany - one that made me stop and think for a few minutes about how I got to where I am today. And the truth is: my professional career, all the interesting places I've traveled to while experiencing this great hobby, and the people and friends I've met along the way, I can ultimately trace back to one day when I was introduced to RealFlight.

I didn't even own an airplane, nor had I ever flown one. I was a scrawny teenager who borrowed his mom's car (if that puts a time stamp on this story) to drive out to the Tri-County RC Flyers field in Savannah, GA. With the sole intentions of just watching some airplanes fly, I was engaged by a kind older gentleman - who on trust alone - let me borrow his copy of RealFlight Classic. Fast forward twenty years, and I'm working in the industry I love, and doing my best to convince you that this software program is the single most powerful tool you can have in your radio-controlled arsenal.

Muscle memory is what's needed to fly model aircraft: Practicing on the sticks, learning what to do when the plane is coming at you instead of away from you, learning what to do when the plane is coming at you and inverted; situations that require your brain to tell your fingers "don't worry guys, we've been here before, you know what to do". It's repetition that makes you a great pilot. But it's also the ability to hit the reset button when you auger your plane into terra firma a few hundred times. RealFlight 7.5 can do that, and a whole lot more. From a physics standpoint it's as real as you can get without actually taking a real plane to a real field.

RealFlight 7.5 versions and controller options

RealFlight 7.5 is available in five versions, all featuring the same software but with varying controller options. From a standard USB connection to a wireless one, RealFlight 7.5 has you covered.

InterLink Elite Controller Edition

If you've flown RealFlight in the past, chances are you have used the Interlink Elite controller. Featuring 8-channels and QuickSelect buttons that eliminate the need to use the mouse, The Interlink Elite has been the standard for controlling aircraft in RealFlight for many years. Additionally, cables are included to connect and use your own transmitter (with a trainer port) via the Interlink Elite. If your personal transmitter has either a barrel jack or 6-pin square trainer connection, you are in business!

Tactic TTX610 Radio Edition

Break the tethered link between your transmitter and computer with the TTX610 Radio Edition. This RealFlight 7.5 edition comes with a functional TTX610 that also works with any SLT receiver as well. The included USB dongle binds to the TTX610, giving you a solid RF link between you and your computer. The only downside to the TTX610 Radio Edition is that you sacrifice 2 channels when compared to the Interlink Elite Controller Edition listed above.

Wireless SLT Transmitter Interface Edition

Do you own a transmitter that uses the Secure Link Technology protocol? If so, the Wireless SLT Transmitter Interface Edition might be for you. Tactic transmitters such as the TTX850 and TTX650, as well as the Hitec Aurora 9X can be used with this version. You can enjoy the freedom of wireless movement and use of your personal SLT-capable transmitter with the Wireless SLT Transmitter Interface Edition.

Transmitter Interface Edition

The Transmitter Interface Edition allows the pilot to use any transmitter with a trainer port to control RealFlight. The interface module plugs into the USB port on your computer and trainer port on your transmitter. The module features a reset/rewind button. Push the button to start over or hold it down to return to a preset point for a quick do-over. It's great for practicing specific maneuvers without returning to the ground takeoff point.

Software-only Upgrade to RealFlight RF7.5

Finally, a software-only version is available for pilots that own a previous version of RealFlight. It's compatible back to RealFlight G4.

RealPhysics™ 3D and Graphics

Because I have a powerful computer and graphics card, I'm able to run RealFlight 7.5 with the graphics cranked to their maximum settings and still maintain a very high frame rate of around 190 fps on some of the HD flying sites. But have no fear, because even with the graphics dropped to their lowest settings, the physics and natural stick feeling of each aircraft remain constant. RealFlight's slogan is "True to Life", and many of the graphics engines in the game echo this statement with names such as TruView, RealPhysics, and Real Rendering. Combined, they offer a unique flight experience filled with small details, accurate lighting, shadow, and sound effects. The idea was to create visuals and sounds as they are experienced at a field.

One of my favorite features in RealFlight is the ability to adjust physics speed and difficulty. While practicing rolling harriers, I turned the physics speed way down to 25%. As I began to understand the stick movements and coordination needed for rudder, aileron, and elevator, I slowly increased it up to 100% over time. The ability to slow down the speed of the model and giving your brain time to react is a valuable feature in RealFlight 7.5

Infinitely Adjustable. Hundreds of Scenarios.

I've been a fan of RealFlight since the original Classic edition, there's no denying it. But until I had the chance to review 7.5, I had never fully explored the simulator and everything it has to offer. For weeks now I've been immersing myself in RealFlight and trying to discover something new each session. I've been successful every time.

There are 36 preset scenarios that offer a diverse experience with different types of aircraft, flying sites, and flight styles. From the typical, to the slightly odd, to the quite absurd, there's plenty to keep you busy and honing your flight skills. If you want to create your own scenario, just click Manage Scenarios in the Simulation tab at the top of the screen and create one.

Speaking of creating, you can design and edit most flying sites and aircraft; through the FlexiField and AccuModel in-game editors, virtually anything is possible. Both editors are accessed in-game by Aircraft > Edit Current Aircraft and the Environment > Edit Current Environment menus.

Challenges

It's fun to take a break from the training aspect and just have some fun in the Challenges section. From balloon bursting to the RC limbo, spot landing and quadcopter trials, the Challenges section of RealFlight 7.5 tests your thumbs in game-like events. I've never hit the reset button so many times in the game as I did trying to spot land a Hobbico NexSTAR EP. Progressing through challenges earns you medals, and unlocks additional challenges, new aircraft to add to your hangar, and new flying fields. The challenges get progressively more difficult as you complete them.

RealFlight 7.5 Challenges:

  • FPV Scavenger Hunt
  • Air Race
  • Balloon Burst
  • Grapple
  • Limbo
  • Ring Race
  • Spot Landing
  • Quadcopter Trials

I found Spot Landing, Ring Race, and Limbo to be the most fun. The most challenging were Air Race, Grapple, and Quadcopter Trials. I found it difficult to judge my aircraft's distance from objects in a few of these challenges.

Multiplayer

Flying with friends and other modelers is what makes the hobby even more enjoyable, and RealFlight has fine tuned their multiplayer feature with many different types of group activities. As long as you have an internet connection, you can join events, start your own session, and even hook up with instructors for flight training. Combat games are also an exciting aspect of the multiplayer feature, and you can choose from a number of different combat styles; from machine guns and rockets, to streamers and paintball, you can square off against other pilots and even target specific players with the targeting system.

To access the multiplayer feature, click the Multiplayer tab at the top of the screen. The drop down menu allows you to setup a pilot profile, join events already in session, and create your own event. Multiple hosting options allow you to specify what type of session you want to host and allows you to drop the ban hammer on problem pilots that just won't follow your rules.

A Multitude of Training Aids

If you've never flown helicopters, fixed wing, or anything that flies, RealFlight 7.5 is the best training tool in which you can invest. From in-game content to video tutorials, there's enough content to help make you a better pilot on the sticks. And if you don't want to watch videos or practice with help, just pick your aircraft, choose a flying site, and become close friends with the reset button!

You can also pick a specific point in flight to reset, for those times that you want to practice a move without having to take off and maneuver into position. By pressing "P" on the keyboard, RealFlight records the aircraft's current location and will reset to that point when the reset button is pushed.

The Multirotor Revolution

Just like FPV, multirotors have become extremely popular in the past 5 years and are arguably the most sought after radio-controlled aircraft types as of late. RealFlight 7.5 scratches that itch with 9 different multirotor aircraft to fly. And just like the real thing, most feature GPS stability and altitude hold.

First Person View (FPV)

FPV is one of the most popular and fastest growing segments in the hobby, and RealFlight 7.5 has embraced this unique flying style with some FPV based aircraft and a heads-up display for a very realistic experience. Multirotors such as the H4 Quadcopter 540, the Quadcopter X, and the Explorer 580 are designed specifically for FPV flight.

The heads-up display (HUD) is accessible by pressing 9 on the keyboard. While it's available for any aircraft and any type of camera view, it's best suited for FPV flying. The HUD presents real-time flight info such as battery mAh used, height, speed, distance and direction to home, compass heading and climb/sink rate. This HUD features an F-16 style altitude ladder and artificial horizon and mimics the majority of HUD displays found on popular controllers.

Conclusion

RealFlight 7.5 is an extremely powerful software program that gives you the power to learn to fly model aircraft successfully. From a training aspect, it helps you develop the muscle memory needed to pilot an airplane or helicopter through advanced flight maneuvers, or just learn the basics of taking off and landing. Even if you've never flown a model before, you can be up to speed and in pattern quickly, thanks to the multitude of training aids in the game.

If you grow weary of flying in circles or practicing the same 3D routine until it's perfect, take a break with some of the available game-style content. From challenges to scenarios, paintball to FPV, there's just so much content available that it's easy to get lost in the fun that is RealFlight 7.5. Thanks for reading my review, and don't forget to watch the video at the beginning.

Aircraft

There are over 140 unique aircraft to fly in RealFlight 7.5. This includes fixed-wing powered airplanes and gliders, helicopters, multirotors, one SkyShip blimp, and one tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey.

Airplanes

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jan 21, 2015 at 03:16 PM..

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Old Jan 23, 2015, 11:16 PM
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Jim T. Graham's Avatar
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Note - We had to move this thread back due to an image issue. When it was moved back out the system stripped out two posts. Please repost. Thanks!
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Old Jan 26, 2015, 12:08 PM
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Habanero's Avatar
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That heli orientation training feature looks very appealing to me, but my PC died last week
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Old Jan 27, 2015, 03:50 AM
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YOUR and YOU'RE - make sure you use them correctly please! Do you guys not proof read anymore?! Shame on you!
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Old Jan 27, 2015, 02:12 PM
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Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muscleflex View Post
YOUR and YOU'RE - make sure you use them correctly please! Do you guys not proof read anymore?! Shame on you!
Don't shame me bro! Seriously though, we proof all of our articles. Sometimes one can slip by; to err is human.
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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jan 27, 2015 at 02:26 PM.
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Old Jan 28, 2015, 10:00 AM
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Joined Aug 2014
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A fun thing to do is to go to Jo's garage HD and shoot the tanker with a machine gun
and it explodes.
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Old Feb 02, 2015, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Gunn View Post
...to err is human.
And to really foul things up requires a computer... lol.

Good review! thanks.
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 11:48 AM
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United States, DE, Felton
Joined Feb 2014
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Can anyone validate that 7.5 can't be run on a VM of Windows 7? I have a Mac and run my Windows 7 on a VM. Hard to justify a separate computer just to run this software but would like to at least test it out to see if this is something I can use to help hone my FPV skills.

Thanks.
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 12:49 PM
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You mean bootcamp? It should run - I run my 6.5 using bootcamp windows 10 on my Yosemite MacBook pro
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Gunn View Post
Don't shame me bro! Seriously though, we proof all of our articles. Sometimes one can slip by; to err is human.
Thanks Matt - sorry
I'll go read the rest of the review now!
Thanks for this article review!
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 01:51 PM
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United States, DE, Felton
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I'm not using Bootcamp - I run Parallels instead to hang Windows 7 Pro on. I'm reluctant to shell out the $130 for it only to find it won't run. Most places won't take software back once opened either so that's why I'm hoping to find someone running my configuration to see what they think.

Thanks for the reply though, muscleflex - one step closer!
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 02:09 PM
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It SHOULD work.. altho I have not tested it but I can't see why not. I almost bought it actually... and I'm still thinking about it purely for the ease of use rather than restarting my MacBook.
http://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/para...-world-2128929

You can email realflight support. They replied to me the next day when I asked them about backwards compatibility between the new interface module and 6.5 - answer was no.
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Old Feb 05, 2015, 02:43 PM
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Just shot them an email - hope they say yes!
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Old Feb 06, 2015, 04:22 AM
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Hey just a thought - could you not download a demo? Not sure if they have a demo available?
Or download a demo of NEXT or PHOENIX? If they run, Realflight should run as well I would have thought...
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Old Feb 06, 2015, 03:52 PM
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Doesn't look like I can get a demo of RF. They did email me back with promising words. Unequivocally stated that they don't support using it on a virtual image hosted Windows image, but also mentioned that they have had tons of feedback from users that have had good luck running it on a parallels version just like I run. So basically wouldn't go on record guaranteeing it, but assured me it would work. I think I'll order it on the next pay day and see how it goes.
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