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RealFlight Generation 3.5 Flight Simulator Software Package

Take a tour with Mike Heer -- lots of short videos to get a feel of what RealFlight Generation 3.5 has to offer. Whether you've never had a simulator before, or own every rev of RF, Mike shows you what's new, including... Night Flying(!), plus enhanced training to learn how or improve as a 3D or helicopter pilot, new flying fields and aircraft.

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Introduction

G3.5 Free For 3.0 Users!

For registered users of 3.0 the new improvements of 3.5 are a free download. It adds a lot to the existing 3.0 system...making this FREE, quick download a must-have!

A Quick List of What's New:

  • Variable Pitch Props, 4D aerobatics (!)
  • Night Flying
  • Improved collision effects (balsa dust, etc. - FUN!)
  • Easier to Use Flying Site & Aircraft Editors
  • Exceptional new training aids and games, streamers and smoke
  • Dynamic sun angles (3D sites only)

Don't miss the new training sessions and aids!! With hover trainers for acro and heli pilots alike, follow-the-leader helicopter trainers and more, it's obvious the RealFlight team put a lot of thought into expanding the making-learning-fun areas.

They enhanced airplane editor features, including reorganization. Click the wire-frame to edit. The camera click to front/side/top views. Plus, now you can: flap a wing, twirl a streamer or rotate a light beacon using their new "wave generator."

The Dynamic sun angles turn night into day & vice versa (3D fields). Select the carnival flying field, edit, sun inclination defaults to -4. Switch that to 90 and click on the flying field and then save it named "daytime carnival". Now fly the carnival at high noon! Set the sun inclination for -90 and it is midnight and the stars are out! (See the video in the games section.)

New Models:

  • FlatOut Extra 330S with variable pitch prop
  • ElectriStar
  • FlyZone Cessna 182
  • FlyZone SkyFly
  • Heli-Max Axe EZ (coaxial!)
  • Heli-Max Axe CP

New Flying Fields:

  • Alpine Meadows PhotoField (don't miss the 'is it real' video below!)
  • Grass Flatlands (Night) PhotoField
  • Waco Field PhotoField
  • Air Race Stadium 3D Field
  • Carnival 3D Field
  • Flight School (night) 3D Field
  • Obstacle course (night) 3D Field

At the night flying fields, the aircraft light up in neon and they have ANIMATED the rides at the carnival as seen in the videos! COOL! (Lots more detail later in the review.)

In a nutshell...Generation 3.5 is a great gift for pilots that already own Generation 3.0! Most programs would charge for this kind of an upgrade, but Great Planes has chosen to give it to their loyal customers, FREE!

Great Planes RealFlight Generation 3.5

Media:3-CD Set
Requirements:See System Requirements below
Supplied Hardware:Interlink Plus controller by Futaba, cables for optional connection to user's transmitter
Multi-player methods:1. 2nd Interlink Plus,
2. Interlink Plus & user's transmitter,
3. Internet play
Price: Free upgrade for G3 owners, $199.98 street price to new customers
Developer: KnifeEdge Software
Publisher:Great Planes
Official Website:RealFlight.com
Available From:Tower Hobbies
and all Great Planes Dealers

WOW! There is so much you can do with RealFlight G3.5!

The beginning pilot will find that G3.5 has so much more information and training tools than the simulators of old, where a beginner was forced to struggle and explore, trying to figure out on their own how to control the model.

An intermediate pilot can learn the traits of a huge range of models, figuring out what specialties interest him before he's ever purchased a first scale, sport, aerobatic, electric, glider, or other specialty aircraft.

The expert pilot will find that the exceptional RealPhysics makes G3.5 the perfect place to be practicing -- be it scale, 3D, slope and now even 4D! -- learning new or working out competitive routines. Or he may choose to just keep his reflexes sharp while enjoying some of the great games and exercises provided.

The gamer family and friends of r/c pilots will find that multiplayer, limbo, bowling, obstacle courses and more just might accidentally teach them to fly!

Bottom line, whether you've never had a simulator before, or whether you've owned every generation of every sim ever made, G3.5 definitely has something to offer.

For me, the real FUN is in the flying of the various planes at the various airports, so I've provided short videos organized around different aspects of the system, but also showing off some of the different planes and airports. I have learned the real VALUE is the flight instruction and training tools as they help me become a better pilot doing focused practice. Be sure to check out the instruction portions of this review. In past generations, I had ignored them, until doing the Expansion Pack 2 review and that "forced" exposure gave enlightenment to this user/reviewer. The professional lessons alone are worth the cost of the system, and that is no exaggeration. Just ask a golfer about the cost of a good lesson series. And, perhaps unlike golf lessons, even the lessons are FUN.

Whether you're a brand new beginner, a sport flyer, or an expert pilot, G3.5 is quite a package. Let's take a look!

System Requirements

RealFlight will work on a variety of computers that run on Windows based software. Whether and how well it will run depends on your computer system, so let's start with the minimum and optimum requirements to run RealFlight 3.5.

Equipment: Minimum Requirements: Optimum Requirements:
Op System: Windows XP*, 2000*, ME, 98 Windows XP
Processor: Intel Pentium 1.0 GHz or equivalent Intel Pentium 3.0 GHz or equivalent
DirectX rev: Direct X 9 (or above) Direct X 9 (or above)
Video Card: 3D accelerated, 32+ MB Dedicated RAM
(examples: nVidia Geforce 5200,
ATI Radeon 9600)
3D accelerated, 128+MB Dedicated RAM
(examples: nVidia Geforce 6800,
ATI Radeon 9800)
RAM: 256 MB RAM 1+ GB RAM
Hard-drive space: 2 GB hard drive space *1.3 GB hard drive space

*NOTE: These operating systems require local administrator access.

Multi-player requires an Internet connection of 56.6 Kbps modem or better.

By hitting TAB on my keyboard, most of the still photos were taken right off of the screen. The photos are stored in the RealFlight program folder on the C drive and can easily be viewed and transferred. Fraps software was used to capture the other still photos simply by hitting the F10 key.

When I recently reviewed "Expansion Pack 2" I used my laptop and it was near the Optimum Requirements but not quite, so there were a few stutters. I since have upgraded my home computer with a Dell XPS 700 and my system exceeds all of the optimum requirements. My video card is the Dual 256MB nVidia GeForce 7900 GS. While not top of the line, it performed everything that RealFlight can do in the highest resolution. The videos were recorded using FRAPS software at 90 FPS. Using FRAPS caused some minor stutters that you might notice in the videos. When not using Fraps I had no such stutters operating RealFlight.

What's in the Box

The Software

The software is on two CDs in 3.0 and three CDs for 3.5. They should self-load with just a few simple question and answers. Two of the questions involve the code numbers found on the back of the CD box and the ILP, so be sure to have these numbers handy. This is the software protection and those numbers have to be entered when you are prompted to do so. You may need your serial # again at a later date, so don't discard the case, or write it down in a safe place. There are good instructions and simply follow them and you easily load RealFlight 3.5 into your computer.

The InterLink Plus Controller ("ILP")

The purchase of RealFlight Generation 3.5 includes the "InterLink Plus Controller" made by Futaba, either Mode1 or Mode2, and some additional wire cables. The InterLink Plus Controller serves multiple functions. It MUST be used to operate the RealFlight system. The InterLink connects to the computer with the USB connector on the end of a 6-1/2 foot cable. Used as a controller it works like a "transmitter" at the field to fly the planes on your computer. It can also be the interface between your actual field transmitter and the computer using the included cables so that the planes can be flown via your own transmitter. The included cables allow you to connect most 4-14 channel transmitters that are FM or FM selectable from Futaba, Hitec, Tower Hobbies or JR. Note that only channels 1-12 will be operational. Additional cables can be purchased for use with Airtronics/Sanwa transmitters.

Using the multiple player option and split screen, plus either a second InterLink Plus Controller (ILP), the original InterLink Controller, or a transmitter connected to the ILP, two people can fly together on one computer.

A Note for Beginners

This simulator is IDEAL for learning to fly. Assuming you've never flown, here's a brief introduction to the controller itself. This sim doesn't leave you to try to figure it all out on your own -- to actually begin learning to fly, please see the virtual instructors, training games and other helpful info in the software itself.

The InterLink's built in controller is based on a real RC transmitter, and has similar controls, look and feel. Per the picture above there are two control sticks with trim tabs -- assuming the user has a mode II ILP controller, the left stick is throttle (power up/down) and rudder (left/right, like steering a car). The right stick is elevator (pull back to raise an airplane's nose, push forward to lower it) and aileron (rolls the model over).

Above the right control stick there is a rotary knob. This has multiple uses depending on the model you are flying. It is used to set flaps on airplanes, adjust the pitch of the blades on a helicopter or rotate the motors on the blimp or the WolfSpider in Expansion Pack 2.

Above the rotary knob and to the right is a two-position switch that controls landing gear on planes with retractable landing gear. Opposite this switch on the left top of the transmitter is a three position switch that is used to select flight mode for helicopters or activate the variable pitch on the V prop system (the throttle controls forward or backward). Just above the left control stick is another two position switch and on some planes it turns dual rates on and off. When you select a plane the description will tell you what the various control switches and the knob will operate on the plane your selecting.

If you're just learning, don't worry about all these buttons and switches. Just work on basic controls. Once you've mastered your basics, then I recommend you check out the functions with each plane as you go to fly it.

Below the left control stick is a red button. This lets you reset your plane after crashes and such within the software.

Over 50 Aircraft in 3.5!!

Generation 3.0 Aircraft:

Airplanes/Gliders:

  • 1903 Wright Flyer,
  • At-6 Texan,
  • Bird of Time glider,
  • BLT Park Flyer,
  • Bulldog,
  • Cap 232,
  • Cap 232 Electric,
  • Cessna 182,
  • E3D,
  • E3D flap mixing,
  • Electro Streak,
  • Extra Special,
  • F-86 Sabre (Ducted fan),
  • F-86 Sabre (Turbine),
  • Fundango,
  • Hawk (Bird glider),
  • L-39,
  • Mistral 3M glider,
  • Mistral 3M heavy ballast glider,
  • Nexstar,
  • Nexstar with AFS,
  • P-51 Mustang,
  • PT-40,
  • Ryan-STA,
  • Shuriken Sloper,
  • Shuriken Sloper heavy ballast,
  • Simple flyer,
  • Sky ship (blimp),
  • Slinger,
  • Space Walker,
  • Space Walker electric,
  • Spirit 100 glider,
  • Twinstar,
  • Ultimate Biplane,
  • Ultra Sport,
  • Wild RC's Mini IFO,
  • Yak 54,
  • Yak 54 with gyro,
  • Yak 54 3D throws & surfaces.

Helicopters:

  • Bell 222,
  • Bell 222 scale head,
  • Bell H-13,
  • Dolphin 46,
  • Dolphin 3D 46,
  • Dominion 3D,
  • Dominion 3D 90,
  • Ecureuil,
  • Ecureuil scale head,
  • Finch .049 heli,
  • Foiler Competition 60,
  • Foiler 3D Competition 60,
  • Huey,
  • Impala 3D heli,
  • Impala trainer,
  • Jet Ranger,
  • Jet Ranger scale head,
  • Schweizer,
  • Spritzer (4-stroke heli),
  • Sun Dog Sport 60,
  • Watt Not (electric).

New Models for 3.5

  • FlatOut Extra 330S with variable pitch prop
  • ElectriStar
  • FlyZone Cessna 182
  • FlyZone SkyFly
  • Heli-Max Axe EZ (coaxial!)
  • Heli-Max Axe CP

Plus, don't miss the free download of the RCGroups' foamy!

Since the first additions to RealFlight classic, they've been great about providing more and more aircraft, more replicas of well known kits and ARFs, and a broad variety of model types to allow the pilot to practice the type of flying s/he prefers.

Not enough choices for you? Check out the Aircraft Editor section and the Swap Shop section below. Don't forget the multiple add-on packs and expansion packs also available! Here are snap shots of just a few of this amazing lineup of choices.

A Total of 24 Flying Fields that are HUGE!

The stock 12 fields are:

  • Buena Vista,
  • Castle,
  • Flight School,
  • Joe's garage,
  • Observatory,
  • Soccer Field,
  • Palace,
  • Sierra Nevada Cliff,
  • Obstacle Course,
  • RealFlight Ranch,
  • Grass Flatlands PhotoField,
  • Sod Farm PhotoField,
  • Air Race Stadium,
  • Flight School Night,
  • Obstacle Course Night,
  • Waco Field,
  • Alpine Meadow,
  • Grass Flatlands Night, PLUS...
  • All G2 sites.

With my original RealFlight Simulator if I flew in a straight line for a minute I was usually out of the flying field having punched through the wall of scenery. Generation 2 had a larger flying field but the limits could still be quickly reached. On RealFlight Generation 3 I have gotten lost and not been able to fly my way home. They advertise that there are over 5,000 sq miles to explore and I'll take their word on that! I enjoy just flying and viewing from the chase view and enjoying my plane and looking at the scenery.

G3.5 includes a five-part wind function and when flying at the Buena Vista, the Observatory or Sierra Nevada Cliff flying fields, it is fun to slope soar the gliders and even some of the regular planes with their motors off. For a different viewing experience, I really enjoyed using the Hawk. It is a glider that looks like a real hawk and looks great in the mountains. It is something different to be controlling a soaring bird.

They even have some of the Generation 2 flying fields to use: Black Rock, Green Valley. Rainbow Canyon, Fun Fly Field and Real Flight Park. It is at one of these fields that you will hear the cows moo as an ambient sound in the background.

Three different fully-adjustable viewing methods + multiple windows = tons of possibilities!

Three different basic methods to view your model:

  • Fixed pilot
  • Chase mode
  • Cockpit view

The 3 different basic viewing methods have been available on previous models of RealFlight, but I enjoy it even more now that the "world around me" is more alive, thanks to RealPhysics and the improvements they have made in the scenery. There are also three zoom modes -- ground view zoom, manual zoom, and auto zoom.

You can view your plane from a fixed position. This is much like being at the field and you fly your plane and watch it from one location. If trees are in the way you lose sight of it and have to hope it will be seen after the tree. In fact, many fields have multiple fixed position starting points, from which you can still adjust the camera further. You can quickly fly too far away to see the plane clearly or you can avoid that problem by using the automatic zoom or picture in picture to maintain a close-up view of the plane at all times.

A second viewing position is trailing the plane with the chase view. You are behind the plane and you see your plane in front of you and all the scenery in front of the plane. You don't follow the same track as the plane, you are more like a glider being towed. Fly your plane in a turn right next to a building and you will likely go right through the edge of the building. But you emerge on the other side of the building and your plane comes back into view.

The third viewing angle is from the cockpit, as if you were the pilot of a full-size aircraft. The video below gives you examples of all three with three different planes and locations.

Don't miss out on the fact that you can now have multiple windows open at one time -- and the orientation and position of the 'camera' for each of those MultiCam views is a click away. Even the home screen camera angle can easily be adjusted! Zoom in or out on your plane at any time using the shift key with the plus/minus keys together. To create the "Multicam" you actually create viewports. To create a viewport select the windows menu and click on the "create new view" option and a small "viewport" appears in the upper left corner of the screen. Do it again and a second small "viewport" appears underneath the first. Click on a viewport to highlight it and you can change the view in that viewport in several ways. By selecting the view options from the top menu bar or using the keyboard. the viewports change views and camera angles just like the main view screen. You can arrange the viewports where you want them on your screen by selecting the arrange option from the windows menu.

Use W, A, S, and D along with the mouse to change the camera position and angle. Hit the H key in the sim to bring up a list of these and other keyboard options.

Also available are NavGuides, again window-within-window, to show detailed flight information...altitude, airspeed, etc. For the beginner pilot having the transmitter on the screen can be helpful. You see your transmitter sticks move as you move them and you see the cause and effect on the plane you are flying.

Downloads

You can record your flights

This is a fun feature that allows you to record the perfect flight and then share it with others and they will never know it took you 126 tries to get it perfect. Simply hit the r key to turn the recorder on or off. With G3.5, when you review the recording at a 3D field, you can even see it using any of the viewing functions, no matter what viewing position you were using when you recorded it. The user's name entered in the program appears under the plane throughout the video, unless you choose to turn this feature off.

Interestingly, you can shoot the video at one airfield, and view it back at whatever airfield is active on your screen at that time. To demonstrate this, the first video below shows a Yak at night at the airport, recorded using the chase view. The second clip is the same recorded flight played back in the fixed view. The second "Bonus" video is the same recorded flight played back at the Air Race Stadium and in two different views at the Cliff.

Downloads

RealPhysics 3D

This is the name they have given for their advanced design software that makes the simulator look and work as realistically as it does. Upgrading from G2 to Generation 3.0, we all found that the software now had improved performance of the planes, especially in doing high alpha aerobatics.

The wind is composed of 5 different types of wind dynamics. Flying slope and seeing how the wind reacts in different areas and to objects in it's path, in my experience, matches their claims that the wind is very dynamic and effected by location just as it is at the real slope.

For scenery, RealPhysics means the scenery is dynamic. Clouds move across the sky in a realistic fashion. Flying by the sun causes glare on the screen. Trees sway in the breeze. Shiny surfaces create reflections. Shadows are realistic and in correct alignment with the sun and the object creating the shadow. On some PhotoFields they have added grass clumps that affect your rolling plane. In 3.5, there is even a dynamic sun angle!

For aircraft performance, the aircraft editor portion of RealPhysics means you can customize your plane with lots of variables, such as changing the airfoil of the wing or the power supply, and the changes truly affect the model's performance. I've modified a variety of aircraft and found the changes in performance to be logical and realistic. As a reviewer I can not scientifically verify the claims of RealPhysics making the models fly exactly like the real thing. I can say that my testing has shown that the planes I have compared on the simulator with RC planes in real life, the handling is very similar, with the exception I have found the top speed on the simulator to generally be higher than the real RC plane. But by reducing the throttle I could get very close match-ups between real and simulated planes.

Sound effects, operating fountains at the Castle flying field and smoke emitters have been added in G3.5. At one of the old G2 fields you can now hear a moo! Even 4 Dimensional flying is now possible! Using "RealPhysics 3D" they have added variable pitch props, and that caught my attention! (See video below). They have also added response to some articles and particle effects. Crash into a tree and leaves coming falling down. Hit a barrel and knock it over and it can roll. Crash your plane and now there is balsa dust or dust kicked up from the ground when you hit dirt.

Downloads

Flight Instruction For Pilots of All Levels!

Do you want to learn how to fly a helicopter, or do a simple axial roll with your plane? Open up RealFlight's Virtual Flight Instructor (VFI) and pick the video on the subject you're interested in and view the recording. The clip will show you the virtual plane flying while the flight instructor is narrating how to do it. I paid no notice to this section with my previous versions of RF, and only really explored it when I reviewed Expansion Pack 2. What an eye opener that was for me! I found the lessons very helpful. I watched and listened a couple of times and then I practiced without worry of what would happen if I failed. I surprised myself and learned how to do a couple of new maneuvers from Jim Bourke. I learned how to do some other maneuvers a little better and more consistently even though I thought I had them down previously. For almost ANYONE serious about being a better pilot, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE LESSONS! I feel a little stupid for not having used them sooner. Below is a video clip form a lesson from Jim Bourke. I watch focused on the plane the first time or two and then I watch the transmitter sticks and learn how to do it myself. My knife edge maneuver is now a whole lot better!

Downloads

Perhaps the best new features are new training systems. One is a traditional RealFlight training session with Brian Bremer showing helicopter basics. There are also new training sessions that allow you to set the functions you want to control and the computer will control the rest. Learn how to do a maneuver by learning one control function at a time until you can control them all at the same time. These are in play on the heli hover trainer and on the airplane hover trainer. Or try and play a game of follow the leader on the new helicopter orientation trainer. On this last one you have to succeed at a task to move on to the next task much like levels in a game. I may become a 3D pilot yet using these features and the instruction. But watch out in the hover circle as there is a price to pay if you leave the circle!

Downloads

Editing to Fit Your Needs and Style

Aircraft Editing

To demonstrate this function I made a ridiculous change to the horizontal stabilizer of a plane (see photo below). While this change is silly it shows up well in my picture. But serious changes can be made to planes for a variety of reasons.

You can repaint a plane to match your model or simply come up with a color scheme you would like to have. Save the plane as painted and it is added to the airforce available to you as a custom plane. (Note: Painting the model requires a separate paint program such as Photoshop. See the manual for complete information.)

Users can change the plane itself by using the wireframe -- clicking on it and making changes step by step. I chose to change the wing angle and the airfoil, for example. Change the way the plane is powered. Take the BLT and make it faster and give it the handling characteristics of the Horizon Freedom to make it a new simulated plane.

You can create any number of planes or you can ignore this section and fly what is already available. The upgrade to 3.5 made major changes to the aircraft editor and has made it even easier to use. Like what you have created? Then share it on the Swap Page with other users.

Swap Page

The Swap Page at KnifeEdge.com is an area that is still being worked upon and improved but it is up and running. It allows owners to post the planes and airports they have modified to share with other owners. The subheadings at this online site include: trim schemes, aircraft, airports and recordings. In trim schemes if you created your own paint job for a plane you can share it here and show it off. If you modify a plane you would share it in airplanes. Modify an airport, and share it under airports. If you have recorded an interesting flight you can post it under recordings. Or you can simply download someone else's work. I admittedly haven't done anything with this feature...yet.

Airfield Editing

My friend Jeff Hunter has utilized this feature to recreate a friend's house and yard so that he can practice his flying in an environment similar to the friend's property where they actually fly. I have seen the field on Jeff's computer and it is VERY different from the field he started with from a standard flying site. The field he used is on one of the Add-on packages, so I could not import it into my G3.5 to show here. I take his word that it is like his friend's property as I haven't flown there in the hills. But you can make major or minor adjustments to a flying field and add or remove a variety of features to a field. Point, click, drag and drop and you have added something to the field and so on and so on.

Move the sun and change the time. Change the time of day by moving the sun's inclination or the time of year by changing the suns azimuth. I mentioned one way to change the inclination in the 3.5 side bar at the start of this review. You can also change it using your keyboard: shift + page up increases the inclination and shift + page down decreases it. Fly with one hand and change it from night to day with the other hand as you fly. Or from the first screen from the tool bar on the left (where you select airports) scroll down and change the sun settings from that editing tool.

Events, Game-Based Fields, Streamers, Smoke & More

Here are some of the new toys, and the fun I had exploring them! The five short videos below show some of these new features, starting with the night obstacle courses.

I like the challenge of getting different aircraft thru the courses. There is a short one of four soccer nets, a circular course and a cross country course. The "natural" lighting is really well done in the carnival and obstacle night time courses. It is twilight as you fly to the west and the sky is brighter in that direction. Flying to the east, away from the setting sun, the sky is much darker and more night like.

The obstacle course at night has some interesting challenges. One that I discovered was hitting trees in the dark. I never do that in the daylight version.

Downloads

Downloads

Downloads

I wanted to fly with streamers and so I flew the Yak 54 that comes with streamers. I then looked into how to install the streamers on a plane. I went thru the headings and initially found nothing that dealt with streamers. I went to help and found one mention of streamers in the 429 pages of instructions. On page 27 it mentions that they are available in Generation 3.5 but gives no further information. I found nothing further despite my search so back to the program I went.

Playing in Editing the Airplane with a T-6 Texan I put the pointer on the plane's wing and clicked the left mouse button and then clicked on the edit heading and I had streamers and smoke and lots of stuff. For adding streamers it wasn't point and click but rather it was entered as numbers for each axis. I initially added streamers that ended up being on either side of the fuselage. I went back to add more and I wasn't thinking and put in 15 feet and the streamers were added 15 feet from the fuselage and way away from the plane. The second picture below shows my third attempt at 1.5 feet and they were close but start in front of and slightly above the wings. The color change was not a pick-and-click either but an insert the number and three numbers give you the blend for the color. With a little practice I will get it down but I went with the standard color for now.

There is a new pylon flying course called Air Race Stadium that lets you practice your left turn racing! Below I used it as the backdrop for flying the plane with streamers.

There is even bowling at the Air Race Stadium(!)

In multiplayer action you can now crash into one another when playing online.

Downloads

Even 4 Dimensional flying is possible! Using "RealPhysics 3D" they have added variable pitch props, called V-Pitch, and that has become my newest interest. Control with the motor going backwards is fairly easy so long as the plane is still going forward, even slowly. When it gets hairy is when you try to actually fly the plane backwards. Try climbing while in a nose down position! To activate, put the top left three position switch in the back position and put the throttle in the middle position for neutral/off. Enjoy the video as I am learning how to control it.

Downloads

I showed you bowling in a video above. I have only found that at one field so far, I don't know if it is available elsewhere. But I know you can always add a limbo, a spot landing or a pylon race contest to any field.

Downloads

Is this for the Beginner? YES!!

This product is for the newest of Beginners to the most advanced of Experts. It should be both fun and educational for everyone. I cannot recommend the training tools highly enough to the beginner. No more of the days of guessing and struggling to figure out how controls work while toying with your sim at home. With the VFI and training games provided, it is so much easier to learn to fly than it's ever been before.

All beginners should start with a flight simulator and this one is excellent.

But is it JUST for the beginner? Absolutely not!

While the beginner may use it to learn to fly, the expert may use it to check out how different airfoils respond to different maneuvers as part of a design project. Competition pilots can practice new routines, figure out timing and choreography, or learn tough new manuevers. Sports pilots can have fun flying with friends online, playing the games, or just relaxing flying at home when the weather or time won't allow a trip to the field. I am using it to learn some of the 3D maneuvers and to become a better helicopter pilot.

Is It RealFlight...or Is It Real?

The following video was recorded on RealFlight G3.5, using the Impala trainer helicopter at the Alpine Meadows PhotoField. I did a similar video via camcorder that I played back on my television -- and I had people convinced I had gotten an Impala. Living in California where we are less then a two hours drive to scenes like the Alpine Meadows made that flying field especially real and natural to my friends. You judge how real it looks! Since reviewing Expansion Pack 2 I learned that I could hide my name in a RealFlight recording by using View-show-pilot tag to turn this feature off.

Downloads

The Fun Continues

(Author's Hint: If you seek to get the add-ons or expansions as presents, make sure each person gets a different number Add-on or Expansion pack to buy! Getting those Add-on packs instead of a tie or two can make for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wish lists aren't just for kids anymore!)

RealFlight currently has five Add-on packs that contain additional planes and landing fields. These are purchased separately and give new life to the simulator, adding additional planes to the airforce and new fields to fly from and new challenges to conquer...well attempt to conquer. The Add-on packs work with any of the RealFlight software, including the earlier systems. I got add-ons 1 & 2 when I had the Generation 2 version (great holiday gifts!). They now also have two "Expansion Packs" that are just for Generation 3 and now 3.5. Here on E-Zone, you can find reviews of several of the previously sold packages.

Conclusion

G3.5 is an amazing product. Simulators have come so far in such a short time! I personally started my simulator journey several years ago with the first RealFlight system and added on each upgrade to the main program through RealFlight Generation 2. I liked Generation 2 so much that I didn't initially see the need to move up to Generation 3, as there wasn't a low cost upgrade to add it to my system. But I started playing Generation 3 at a friend's house and saw it was a lot more realistic and so I purchased mine about a year ago and was never sorry that I did. Now, with all the improvements they have added in Generation 3.5, for FREE, I am even happier to have my RealFlight System. I sincerely think it is a great product.

During my review of Expansion Pack 2 I got into the VFIs, virtual flight instruction. I have been viewing them more since then and I really like the new game style lessons included in Generation 3.5. While I have had limited time playing with them, I can honestly tell you that the VFIs have helped improve my acrobatic and 3D flying and I expect to learn even more with the new systems. Best of all, crashes here cost me nothing. I strongly encourage everyone to explore this section of RealFlight and see what you can learn. I'm learning a lot, and consider it to be worth the cost of the system by itself! Imagine, I ignored VFI for about 8 months. There was so much else to keep my attention!

I give RealFlight an outstanding rating!! Even so it is not perfect. Planes roll too far on the ground and hillside crashes slide too far on the hill. But the roll out on a normal landing does seem more real with 3.5...I don't think it is just my imagination. I also would like dog-fighting and bomb-dropping capabilities added in the future in an Expansion pack. Small matters admittedly when you look at the total package. The variable pitch prop system has turned me on to a whole new aspect of flying that I had previously only seen briefly at Fun Flies. I have just started to explore with it, and I can't imagine trying it for real before I learned how to do it here. Night flying at the carnival is a fun way to show off RealFlight and my new monitor.

Still not 100% convinced? Check out the Free Demo software! This will give you a little taste of the program, with a single airplane and heli, keyboard control, and a look at some of the TONS of great features. It only includes PhotoField flying sites, so don't think you've seen all there is to see after trying out the demo, though!

RealFlight Generation 3.5 is a fantastic flight simulator and takes the field of flight simulators to an even higher level!

Downloads

Editor's note: Jim Bourke, owner of RCGroups.com, and EZone, is an employee of KnifeEdge, the makers of RealFlight. Jim did not have any input into this review, and did not edit it in any manner.

Last edited by AMCross; Nov 22, 2006 at 07:39 PM..

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Old Nov 23, 2006, 09:57 AM
Rat
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Rats nest Grafton ND
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I have hundreds of dollars tied up into this sim with all the add ons and expansion packs but besides the new features in G3.5 such as crash detection with other models on line or being able to move things around or the streamers and night flying. I feel G3.5 to be a step backward due to the ill physics of the flight models when doing 3D type flying or highly acrobatic flying. Also problems have come up for users that have created their own custom flying models for the pre3.5 version.

There are a vast majority of users wishing Knife Edge had not changed the flight physics and they are reverting back to the pre 3.5 version due to the ill flying physics.
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Old Nov 23, 2006, 12:59 PM
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Olympic Penninsula, WA
Joined Dec 2001
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I'm a committed glider guider...is RealFlight the best choice...or does anybody have suggestions for a better simulator for themal and sloping physics and aircraft selection??
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Old Nov 23, 2006, 04:37 PM
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Bloated Pig..
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Old Nov 23, 2006, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
I'm a committed glider guider...is RealFlight the best choice...or does anybody have suggestions for a better simulator for themal and sloping physics and aircraft selection??
If your computer is up to it G3 has nice 3d scenes for gliders. When you increase the wind speed you can see the clouds move quicker and the trees blow in the wind, itís subtle but very atmospheric.

I took up glider flying this summer so I'm making more gliders for G3. Its helped me a lot to practice landings which I have discovered are particularly important to get right first time when you are flying a glider You can download my ASW 24 and JART from here and I'm in the process of making an ASH 25 and DG 600.
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Old Nov 23, 2006, 09:15 PM
Its all fun
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Australia, NSW, Forster
Joined Oct 2004
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OK, what's with the heli training only being set up for Mode 2 transmitters? Not of any benefit to Mode 1 flyers. Is there any way to reconfigure this or is it an omission by the developers?
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Old Nov 24, 2006, 02:42 AM
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OK, what's with the heli training only being set up for Mode 2 transmitters? Not of any benefit to Mode 1 flyers. Is there any way to reconfigure this or is it an omission by the developers?
Its a bug and Knife Edge know about it.
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Old Nov 24, 2006, 07:36 AM
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I surprised that the review doesn't mention anything about the terrible physics of RF G3.5. I had to revert to G3 because I just couldn't 3D in G3.5. If you want a great example of what I mean, load up pretty much any airplane and try to do a snap roll. Watch how it just doesn't work. Also the 3d ships are WAY too difficult to hover, and they won't flat spin.

schu
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Old Nov 24, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
I surprised that the review doesn't mention anything about the terrible physics of RF G3.5. I had to revert to G3 because I just couldn't 3D in G3.5. If you want a great example of what I mean, load up pretty much any airplane and try to do a snap roll. Watch how it just doesn't work. Also the 3d ships are WAY too difficult to hover, and they won't flat spin.

Its a bug and Knife Edge know about it.
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Old Nov 24, 2006, 03:47 PM
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Joined Apr 2001
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I spent over 100 hours exploring Generation 3.5 and working with the software with a variety of planes and helicopters. I only tried to use Mode 2 as that is what I fly. I was surprised to learn about the glitch/bug and it not working in Mode 1. Hopefully after the holiday weekend someone from RealFlight/Knife Edge will come in and address your questions.
As for the 3D problems I am only a novice 3D pilot. I spent my time in that area learning how to fly the variable pitch prop. I was able to do my simple 3D manuevers but at my level of skill in that area it is a question of was it me or the software and since I found it to be working well in pattern, slope and helicopter and general flying I assumed the 3D was me. I would appreciate more specific discussion of what problems are being experienced so that they can be addressed by Knife Edge.
Take on the roll of reviewer and practice with the software and clearly discuss what is and isn't working properly. From my reading of these posts I hear there is a problem with the physics for 3d flying. I have nothing specific to report beyond that from the posts so far. Mike Heer
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Old Nov 24, 2006, 10:45 PM
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There is also a problem with custom user created models. Rick D has reported that his models that he created were messed up after he updated to 3.5. When he rolled back to 3.00.488 his models were even more messed up. I believe he had to completely uninstall then reload G3 to the current 3.00.488 version then reload all his models again. And if you know how many models Rick has then I am sure that it must have taken him quite awhile to get everything back to working correctly.



I really like the game aspect that 3.5 had to offer with the night flying, streamers, collision, and movable objects etc btu I did not liek the ill handling effects the models had when doing the type of flying I use G3 for. It was just not realistic when compairing to how the real models flew.
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Old Nov 25, 2006, 09:00 AM
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Hard drive space

Hi , I was wondering if someone could explain the hard drive requirement as that I'm far from a computer expert. The Minimum requirement is 2 GB hard drive space but the optimum requirement is 1.3 GB hard drive space with local administrator access. Isn't 1,3 gb less than 2gb?
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Old Nov 25, 2006, 09:47 AM
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Your right about the hard drive space requirement. It should be the same 2.0 GB for both. It was changed accidently in the editing process when it was put into the graphic box.
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Old Nov 25, 2006, 02:21 PM
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Canada, AB, Edmonton
Joined Oct 2004
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I must confess that I'm disappointed with the 3.5 "upgrade". It's hard to be specific, but flying in 3.5 just doesn't seem to "feel" right. Some maneuvers (such as snaps and flat spins) are worse than others. One particularly obvious problem in 3.5 is that many crashes are totally unrealistic, with the airplane just bouncing off the ground and continuing to fly. In general, G3 (for fixed wing anyway, which is all I fly) was closer to reality IMO.

The "gimmicks" (night flying, streamers, etc.) are of little interest to me and I wish KE had concentrated a bit more on getting the basics right.

If it weren't for the airplane hover training feature, I would go back to G3 (assuming that can be done reasonably easily). Even the hover training leaves a lot to be desired but the concept is interesting and I'm finding it useful in trying to learn to hover. I have no idea how realistic it is - certainly some aspects of it seem very strange.

I hate to be too negative about the 3.5 upgrade - it was free, after all, and we can't say we didn't get what we paid for. Let's hope KE is working on all these problems and will be able to issue an update before too long.
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Old Nov 25, 2006, 05:09 PM
Ohh Snapp!
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Joined Sep 2005
1,822 Posts
Hmmm, now I'm not so sure I want G3.5 after hearing about the physics.

I've never owned a Sim. I want it mainly to practice 3D and to fly with a friend in RI online.

Bummer. I hope things get fixed. No one else offers online play.
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