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RealFlight 6.5 R/C Airplane Flight Simulator Review

The perfect RC item that will fit nicely under a Christmas tree... and one that you don't have to rebuild when you crash!

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Introduction


Transmitter:Interlink Lite
Typical Flight Duration:As long as you wish!
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:www.Tower Hobbies.com and local hobby shops
Price:$199.98
Software Update From:http://www.realflight.com

A simulator will accelerate the skills necessary to become a proficient pilot, and the learning process may be very less stressful. The experienced R/C pilot will experience and refine many new maneuvers with new and different planes, all without the required outlay of additional funds or numerous trips to the flying field.

RealFlight has been at the forefront of simulators for many years, and their latest release, Version 6.5. is the product of many hours of labor, refining, and adding to and improving their product line. One could go on for hours covering all this product can do, so I’ll limit my focus on two main markets: rank beginners and experienced pilots.

The most important benefit of an R/C simulator is that it costs you nothing to rebuild your crashed airplane – you just hit the ‘RESET’ button. The vast majority of beginners fly too far from themselves iinitially. The orientation of the plane becomes unrecognizable, and they experience confusion because the ailerons and the rudder stick directions are reversed. This has to be overcome in order to successfully land a plane. RealFlight is great practice for this. It's also a good tool to learn how to manage speed. RealFlight can be very realistic when it comes to throttle location and speed!

Kit Contents

RealFlight 6.5 comes in a box that is about 10.25” square by 4.75” that will fit nicely under the Christmas tree or next to your birthday cake. The one being currently offered also contains an installation guide, DVD, two interface adapter cords and another DVD titled “Airplane Mega Pack”! All that AND an EIGHT channel Interlink Elite Controller by Futaba! And if you are into Helicopters, you can also purchase RealFlight with a Mega Pack that has additional Helicopters.

System Requirements

Minimum Recommended System:

Some graphical features may be disabled. Aerodynamic calculations will remain high quality. • Windows®* XP, Windows* Vista™ or Windows* 7

Administrator access required.

• Intel® Pentium® 1.0GHz or equivalent • 512 MB RAM • 7 GB Hard Drive Space • DVD Drive • 3D Accelerated Video with: 32 MB Dedicated Video Memory Full DirectX® 9 compliance (Shader model 2.0 or better)

Optimal System:

For best graphical performance. • Dual Core 2.4GHz CPU • 2 GB RAM • 3D Accelerated Video with: 512 MB Dedicated Video Memory Multiplayer Requirements: • Broadband Internet connection • Computer microphone for voice chat InterLink® Elite Controller: • USB Port • Compatible FM or FM-selectable transmitter (if using the Interface mode) Note: The connectors on the InterLink Elite cord and included adapters make the InterLink Elite compatible with the trainer jacks on most Futaba® and all JR®, Spektrum® and Tower Hobbies® systems. Special adapters for use with most older Futaba and Hitec® systems are available separately. Activation Required

Set Up/Installation

A picture on page 3 shows how to install the software. Simply insert the disk into the DVD drive and then follow the instructions on the screen. However, I got the file "error 126." I checked out the RealFlight website and noticed they recommend any firewalls, security programs, etc. be disconnected. As soon as I did that, installation continued without any difficulty!

Plug the SIX FOOT extension cord that runs from the transmitter into your computer’s USB port. The CD took about 10-15 minutes to upload all its contents to my hard drive, and I just followed the screen prompts. The next thing I knew, I was ready start playing. When the software is installed, the main screen appears and the fun can start.

The Transmitter

The supplied transmitter is an EIGHT channel Futaba “InterLink Elite” Controller.This transmitter is set up for Mode 2 (meaning the ailerons/elevator control is on the right control stick and the engine/rudder control is on the left stick – this is the most common arrangement in use in the USA today, but you can purchase RealFlight with a transmitter on Mode 1 if necessary). The left stick is smooth moving (not ratcheted like most transmitters), but you can install a (supplied) metal part and make the stick ‘bump’ or click as you move the engine control. The throttle is the only axis that is not self-centering so you can leave it in a desired position, and it will not move until you want to move it, sort of like cruise control on your car. Double click on any image below to view a larger picture.

For Beginners

If you're a newbie to this hobby and one who has not had an opportunity to be introduced to RealFlight, I would like to offer you a step-by-step approach to using RealFlight. While flying your aircraft, or helicopter you will find the reaction(s) of your input and the effect on the airplane/helicopter to be very realistic to actually flying a remote controlled vehicle.

Once the software has been installed, click on your desktop RealFlight icon, and then click on “Run Real Flight”.

Now push the left stick forward (away from you), and your plane will start moving! Use the right stick by gently pulling back, and you are airborne! Cool huh?

Trainer Tips

After playing with RealFlight, you may want to start some actual training. RealFlight has a whole series of training aids to assist you.

By now you probably have the gist of how this program works, but I'd like to spend some time going over the individual tabs that are found at the top of the screen. Let's start with the "Environment" tab.

Here is the 'Controller' tab. If you're using the supplied transmitter, you probably will not need to calibrate your transmitter.

You are given the many choices of aircraft (there are over 130 ranging from very complex aircraft to simple foamies!); sites (over 40) and a host of other options. As a rank beginner, I would recommend you keep your site as the RF Flight School, and stick with the Hobbico NextSTAR as your plane. You might want to take the trim tab that lies to the right of the (left) throttle control stick and push it down a couple of times. Notice the engine speed decreases. This slows the plane down when you find your landing speed is too fast and you can’t keep from running off the end of the runway.

Also make certain switch #5 (Dual Rates) is pointing towards (low rates) as this will make your model less sensitive to over-controlling the right control stick (elevator and aileron). You want to make smooth movements and refrain from moving the stick all the way(s) to the extreme as the plane will do exactly what you tell it!

Now the fun begins…just play with it and when you think you have the handle on what you are doing, go to the ‘Training’ tab and see if you can take off or land without flying beyond the ‘boundaries’. It can be much harder than you think! After an hour of flying on RealFlight, I would suggest you take some time and go through some videos. On the “Help” tab click on “Video Player” and you will see 23 videos for you to select from – the first I would recommend you select ‘Guided Tour’ followed by ‘RealFlight Overview’. You will now better understand what you have been doing and why it has happened that way.

Now click on Simulation again and go to Physics and take certain the dial is set for Beginner. This setting will be the most forgiving. As you progress in your skills, you can change the Physics to Intermediate and later to Realistic.

For Experienced Pilots

Other than refining your skills you can learn NEW maneuvers! RealFlight has enlisted 4 well known airplane pilots and 3 helicopter pilots to walk you through all sorts of maneuvers. These short videos explain in detail what you have to do to successfully complete the maneuver you selected. In addition you can modify your aircraft (airfoil, CG, etc) to push you to your limit. Many of us fly at fields that have a 90-degree crosswind, so that can be added to the mix in order to keep your fingers sharp.

One point worth noting is that the time necessary to upload a new site or a new aircraft seems faster than previous versions, but depending on your computer's hardware your results may vary. Remember you can always eliminate or add various aspects of the site and if your computer system is running slow. You are in control of what you want to see/do. For example, just switching OFF “TrueView” may increase your computer’s ability to reduce or possibly stop graphic jumps. Overall, I am impressed with RealFlight's realism!

If you are into trying to fly a particular maneuver and want precise plane location, you can switch on the “Sky Grid” (under the 'View' Tab) and are able to visualize entry/exit locations, size of various loops, etc. I personally like to see if I can do those pesky three consecutive loops – all the same size, location, etc. Now add some wind and watch your flight path change. Also under "View" click on 'Trails' and your left and right wing tips will leave a trail in the sky, so you pattern guys can practice precise maneuvers and you can evaluate YOUR performance.

One feature that will assist you in perfecting your maneuvers is to push and hold the "RESET" button and your screen will replay (backwards) your flight so you can see exactly what you need to correct a maneuver. Hold the button down while you push the button to the right of the Reset button to 'step' you backwards. Now you can see where you made the incorrect input on the transmitter and clipped the tree that grew suddenly in your flight path.

“Training Sites” is an interesting site to visit. I have a not had a problem taking off or landing a trainer, but give me a strong crosswind and make my landing boundary real narrow, and it's tough!

When the 3D desire strikes you, try the “Airplane Hover Training” option and see if you can keep the plane inside the circular boundary. They make it easy by giving you a very capable aircraft AND position it vertically (@60% power)….. Oh, that’s easy you say. Maybe add some wind. You might wind up with a lot of broken parts if you go outside the ‘Yellow limit’! My only complaint is that you have to click your mouse to actually start the experience AFTER you are at the correct throttle setting. Things happen quickly when you are that close to the ground!

On some of the more advanced planes, smoke, retracts and/or flaps are available. My only real complaint is the flap switch, which is a rotary dial. This is both good and bad: good that you have an infinite amount of degree deployment but bad in that you have to take one of your hands off the sticks to adjust them. I would have preferred a three way switch, but this would not bode well with the helicopter guys who use this knob for ‘gain’.

This dual usage also requires the retract switch be located on the upper right portion of the transmitter as opposed to most airplane transmitters where it is found on the upper left side. But here again this is where the helicopter transmitter prefer the “idle up’ switch. Oh well, you can’t have everything. So what does RealFlight do to resolve this issue? They have provided "Channel Mapping" where you may assign whatever switch to the function you desire. So now I have my retract and flap switchs in the same locations as my Fubata 9CAP. Gee, I think they thought of everything!

One feature I haven't used too much is the Multi-Player mode, but there appear to be many options available in this mode. I would be interested in some feedback on how you feel about this option.

I did try RealFlight using different transmitters, and everything worked out well. Just remember to ‘Calibrate’ your transmitter every time you change transmitters.

Helicopters

I'm not a helicopter person, but I did try to fly a couple and frequently used the 'Reset' button more than I would like. They do mention 23 different helicopters available with the regular airplane package but remember you can order RealFlight with the Helicopter option (both mode 1 and 2) which also comes with a “Mega Pack’ containing additional choices for helicopters.

For those who desire to LEARN how to fly a R/C Helicopter, RealFlight has three options for you: Heli Hover; Heli Autorotation and Heli Orientation. Look for the RealFlight 6.5 RC Heli version review soon here on RCGroups.com. I managed to ‘rekit’ more copters than you can imagine. Guess I’m just not meant to be a helicopter pilot but if I did, the hobby shops would love me!

Is This For a Beginner?

By all means! This product is for anyone who wants to learn how to fly a remote controlled aircraft or someone to just wants to improve what are currently doing. Want to try a (turbine) jet? How about a glider? Or one of those electric foam airplanes? And of course a warbird! Well they, and many of their friends, are there for the choosing. Just pick and go fly!

Conclusion

After using RealFlight for over two weeks straight I can say I highly recommend this product to anyone in the hobby or anyone even thinking about starting in this fantastic hobby. You can fly your airplanes during the day at your club field and continue flying them in a virtual environment when the light fades or the rains come down. No instructor at your club's field? Just come home and use the 'Reset' button as often as necessary. And for those of you who recently purchased RealFlight 6.0, you may go to the website and update your system to work not only with Windows 8 but also update to RealFlight 6.5 for free.

Pluses:

  • Great graphics
  • point of view of the pilot is realistic in regards to the location of the runway.
  • computer physics are excellent for realistic flight.
  • has option to use end purchaser's own transmitter.
  • SO MANY OPTIONS are available.
  • Free future updates available.
  • Quick options are available on the left side of the screen.
  • Can select Mode 1,2,3 or 4!

Minuses:

  • Default setting for flap manipulation requires movement of a rotary dial (so you may want to map that function to another switch).
  • Too addicting as I spend too many hours on the simulator:).

Now here are some other planes from various flying sites:

Last edited by Angela H; Dec 07, 2012 at 12:50 PM..

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Old Dec 07, 2012, 01:06 PM
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Kris...'s Avatar
United Kingdom, Stoke-on-Trent
Joined Jul 2010
5,247 Posts
Nice Reveiw
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 01:34 PM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,805 Posts
Great review, Jerry!

When my older laptop finally goes blooey, I plan to get a replacement spec'd out to run this sim. I have it, but I have to turn off almost all of the goodies in order to enjoy it. Even so, the difference between this and my old 3.5 is night and day.

This is the simulator against which all others should be measured against. It's a must-have.
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 02:19 PM
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United States, VT, Weathersfield
Joined Dec 2005
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I would like to ad into this discussion, for those who are not aware, there are also quite literally THOUSANDS of aircraft, both new models, and variants of current models, available over at the Knife Edge Swap Pages, all for free download.

Several of us over at the Knife Edge forums will even make a model you want to see in RealFlight on request!

http://www.knifeedge.com/forums/downloads.php
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RightcoastRC View Post
Several of us over at the Knife Edge forums will even make a model you want to see in RealFlight on request!
Like who?
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffpn View Post
Like who?

Hi Jeff! Like Me! (AlternativeRC)
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:18 PM
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I was hoping you were a guy who actually did it!!
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:20 PM
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And not someone who was just volunteering us generous modelers randomly?

I know, I should have said, "might make a model you want, with the proper request post"
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:26 PM
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It was the first point of your last post I was referring to. I didn't know who was doing the volunteering.

As for your second point, all a requestor needs to do is intrigue a modeler, and he'll get his request granted. That's a guarantee. (There's not a "proper" request post. Some requests definitely have a higher factor of intrigue than others, yes.)
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:27 PM
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Anyone out there running this on the new Windows 8 yet ?
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:28 PM
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Yes. Some say it installs slow (fault of Windows, not RF) but runs fine.
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Old Dec 07, 2012, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffpn View Post
It was the first point of your last post I was referring to. I didn't know who was doing the volunteering.

As for your second point, all a requestor needs to do is intrigue a modeler, and he'll get his request granted. That's a guarantee. (There's not a "proper" request post. Some requests definitely have a higher factor of intrigue than others, yes.)
Intrigue definitely helps, as to the "proper" part of it, maybe that's not the right word, but 3-views and pics do definitely help, simply asking "Hey can someone make a Bla-Bla and make it have XX specs?" will not get the request granted in most cases.

EDIT: But you know that.
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Old Dec 09, 2012, 09:04 AM View Post
dineshk
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Old Dec 09, 2012, 08:18 PM
2 Fast 2 Low & 2 Loud
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United States, CA, Winchester
Joined Nov 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RightcoastRC View Post
I would like to ad into this discussion, for those who are not aware, there are also quite literally THOUSANDS of aircraft, both new models, and variants of current models, available over at the Knife Edge Swap Pages, all for free download.

Several of us over at the Knife Edge forums will even make a model you want to see in RealFlight on request!

http://www.knifeedge.com/forums/downloads.php


I have been a closet user of Realflight for2 years now. I learned to fly using 4.5. After a year of sim training, I Upgraded to 5.5 & bought a super cub and soon after that, my first of many warbirds. Plane flying came very fast with all that simulator training. I recommend it to everyone. I have been flying for a year now. I probably fly the Sim 300 times a year... mostly now I fly the warbirds I imported from your forum links in Barnyard 7
The program came with the 3 combat planes; the
Sopwith Pup
P51 Mustang
P39 Aircobra

I have imported everything that shoots including the airwolf heli
I enjoy many of the models you guys have made available...including the
Corsiar F4U-4
BF-109
DO-335 A-12 Dornier
FW-190A
Ki6i-Hein
P-40
P-47D
Spitfire MKV
and the Zero

The following models I've imported fly but the guns do not work or they don't have guns.
F2G-i Super corsair by DHK79 Is a beautiful model without guns. It flies and sounds great.
The F6F Hellcat and F8F Bearcat are without guns?
The Hawker Tempest MkV IS a sweet craft without guns.

I would love to have these craft with guns, some that are described as with guns don't have guns once imported... Maybe I am doing something wrong?
Thanks for all the great files you guys are sharing!
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Last edited by scootrb4; Dec 09, 2012 at 08:36 PM.
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Old Dec 09, 2012, 08:46 PM
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You can add guns to any model in RF. Open up the Aircraft Editor, turn on advanced view, and edit away!
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